6 June 2007 to 17 April 2006 · tagged photo
B asked me whether, now that I see how much work you are, I'm more appreciative of what my own parents did for me. I definitely understand what they went through more than I ever did before having you, but appreciative isn't exactly right, for either what I feel for my parents or what I expect you to eventually feel for us. I don't remember or identify with myself as an infant. This baby we're bathing in the sink, because it's funny to try once even though you're basically already too big, is not really you. Not yet. So these pictures can't haunt you. This stuff we're doing for you can't exactly be for you. You didn't ask for it, you can't be consulted for your informed consent, and you'll have to live with the countless mistakes we're undoubtably already making. Asking you to be grateful for all this, in any meaningful sense, seems to me to be tantamount to imposing original sin. At most, maybe, one day you'll do this for somebody else who won't really exist yet. But only if you choose to for your own reasons, not because you owe anybody any kind of debt. You do not owe us your life, we are merely holding it for you in trust. Having you makes me more aware than ever that gratitude for one's own birth is a footstep into an emotional minefield. We, your parents, must be able to unequivocally forgive you for whatever it takes to get you to the point where you become you, for everything you require before you are able to take responsibility for your own commitments and responses. Until then, this work we do cannot and must not be measured in any kind of currency, it must be a gift given freely to the world.
Mostly you sleep. "Mostly" in a statistical sense, at least, although somehow we are mostly not sleeping, so there's something subtly wrong with that term. When you aren't sleeping you are usually eating, or at least circling curiously around the possibility of eating. You have quickly settled on a terse, vigorous vocabulary of two exclamations: "Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh" means that you are hungry; "LLLLA!" means that you are uncomfortable. We are hoping you decide to specialize this latter complaint a little further before too long, because at the moment it is used whether the discomfort is amenable to external correction or not, which leads to your father churning through diapers at an ecologically alarming rate.
You're sleeping right now, and we're listening to songs we like because the only Mozart we have is violin concertos, and for B's sake we try to avoid pairing violins and sleep deprivation. They aren't sure about those Mozart studies, anyway. Basically, we discover the more we read, "they" aren't really sure about much of anything. So I guess we're mostly going to improvise. B is reading up on Montessori schools, even though she should be sleeping or showering or eating. I am taking nearly forever to write this short, bleary blog entry when I should be sleeping or showering or making us some lunch. It's hard to imagine paying somebody $17k to facilitate your self-directed growth, given that you haven't quite figured out how to self-directedly not smack yourself in the eye while you're trying to eat and poop at the same time. It's hard to say much about the process without violating the rule against describing the consistency of individual poops to anybody who hasn't explicitly enquired.
I think we are probably going to survive these first few weeks. I might not have said this so confidently six hours ago, but six hours ago I was too incoherent to say much of anything, so that's just a guess. Since then B and I have both slept about an hour. B has fed you twice. I've changed five diapers and washed my hands fourteen times and made breakfast and started some laundry and forgotten about the laundry and washed up from breakfast and looked up the causes of post-cesarian abdominal pain and taken B's temperature and checked the real-estate listings for a bigger house and made cryptic notations on my chart of your inputs and outputs and chased the cats around a little and cleaned up the glass one of them knocked off the table where I forgot it and made a grocery list whose contents and then location I have also subsequently forgotten. So you see that B has the far harder role.
In some ways, bringing you along into the world is easier than I expected. I had somehow not grasped that you would be so specific, right from the outset. I didn't want to say anything before, but in the ultrasounds you always looked a little generalized. Taking care of an infant abstraction sounded really stressful and difficult. Taking care of an incapacitatingly adorable miniature human is exhausting and mind-emptying, but basically simple. Doing so without sleep, of course, is still really stressful and difficult, but on this little sleep even counting to 24 by 4s is really stressful and difficult. Later, when you learn to count, this will mean something to you.
In the meantime, we are mostly just watching you learn to exist. "LLLLA!", you object. True enough. But it's worth it. You'll see.
My daughter Lyra was born last night, 1 May 2007, at 8:33pm. She weighed 9 lbs 2 oz at birth, and 4140 grams after instinctively going metric as her first official act. Her birthday is exactly 27 days after mine and 27 days before B's, and 27 is three to the third, and she is the third of the three of us, so you see that her well-being is numerologically preordained.
I have changed the first (two) of a million diapers (and have not quite yet lost count).
We are no longer waiting.
Today we hung Cory's vines above the closet doors in your room, and wound little light-up butterflies through them. We also have a turtle that makes stars shine out of his back. There are small parts of your world that we can control, at least for a few moments at a time, for a little while, and they should be wonderful.