Not-in-Labor Day

Week 35: 9/3/07


Much ado in these parts in the last week: Our cabin is almost built, a friend had her baby, and I am finally breathing through both nostrils.

The cold that Sylvia had last week lingered in me, and then turned into a wicked sinus infection. I thought I was experiencing sleepless nights before? Ha. Suddenly, it was hot, I had constant sinus pressure and headache, and couldn't stop hacking under the most serene of circumstances. I tried acupuncture, which kind of worked--at least the horrible headache and pain went away. But then I got a fever, and still couldn't breathe. So after clearing it with the midwives, I finally I called my primary care doctor, whom I'd avoided because I thought she might suggest antibiotics.

But it turns out you can take antibiotics while you're pregnant--certain of them, at least. I don't know where I got the idea that they were verboten. I'm sure it'd be better not to take them, but according to my doctor, they're classified as the same level of harm as Tylenol, and I had certainly been taking that. And the sympathy made the pills go down even easier. "You poor thing!", she said. "I'm all for alternative approaches, but what you have here is a really bad bacterial infection." The pitying eyes! "You need to rest, and take care of yourself and be relaxed so you can have this baby." Now that's the kind of pampering I need.

But enough about the inside of my nose.

I got to hold a newborn last night--my friend's baby Eamon, a sweet, yewling little thing, red in the face, and a mouth just like his father's. It was Sylvia's first time in recent history seeing me hold a baby, and she immediately wanted to get on my lap. I didn't handle it quite right. In a bossy tone, I insisted she wash her hands (which was right, of course, I just could've been nicer about it), and then sort of helplessly tried to fit her on my lap along with the baby and my belly. Then the pacifier fell out of Eamon's mouth and I didn't notice, and my friend sort of moved to get it, and probably to signal me to start paying a little more attention to her helpless infant. It was kind of a mess. Until...

Aron swooped in to save the day. "Can I hold him?" he asked our friend, and then fit Eamon in snugly and securely in his arms. That man just looks so right with a newborn, like nothing you could do would shake a baby loose. Eamon settled in, happy again with his pacifier, and Sylvia draped herself over my body. Thank goodness there are two of us.

It is shocking to see Sylvia anywhere near an infant. I remember when a friend came over with her two kids after Sylvia was born. She must've noticed the deer-in-the-headlights look in my eyes as I took in her 18-month-old and 4-year-old. "When my first was a newborn, I remember thinking that older kids were just animals," she said, and yes, it's true--that's how they seemed to me, too. Galumphing, snotty, unpredictable, not-really-cute-at-all beasts that had no connection to the compact and pure little bug in my arms. Well, guess what? That little bug is now galumphing and snotty, doesn't let me finish a sentence by saying "Excuse me, Mama. Excuse me, Mama. Excuse me, Mama" and is only pacified by a bribe of peaches and ice cream "if you're good!" when we get home.

But I could've stayed and just watched our friend hold and nurse little Eamon for hours. She sat with him on the Boppy as we ate dinner, and he was just so... still, there, intent on his feeding and blind to all else. He was warm and sweet-smelling, and when he opened his mouth to yawn, his shiny gums bordered a dark cavern. Our friend wondered about how long she should keep him bed with her, and nipple confusion from pacifiers; getting out of the house is overwhelming, trying to anticipate all that could happen and they might need in order to be prepared for it. All of it was mysteriously intoxicating to me.

I cringe at saying it seemed "simple," because in no way do I mean to downplay the intensity of those first months--and our friends really seem so much more comfortable and relaxed than we felt after Sylvia was born. I mean "simple" in the sense that parenthood, in the beginning, is so much about fulfilling and figuring out your child's basic physical needs, and being a physical presence for him or her, and experiencing your child physically. I had forgotten that. Today, our struggles with Sylvia--all typical for a preschooler--are so tangled and behavioral and philosophical, in comparison, so hard to know where they start with us and end with her.

And lastly, just in time for nesting...

Our little nest! Our very own beautiful cabin in the woods, more than halfway there. This is where Aron and I will have offices, and guests will stay. I'm also imagining it as a great place to take a crying baby in the middle of the night, if I don't want to wake up Sylvia. This cabin's existence also makes it possible for us to finally set up the baby's room--currently my office--which I'm itching to do. Home stretch, here we come!

Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.