I suppose I should start at the beginning. You want to hear the birth story, right? Whether I used drugs or did it au naturale? Was there water involved? A midwife or doctor? (Birth has become so politicized). Well, I’m not going to do that. You can imagine the details and I’ll just skip to the ending---I brought home a healthy baby boy on March 5th, one week before my toddler turned three. We named him Dash Oliver. No, we didn’t have any underlying reason. I gave my husband the parameters: one syllable, kind of vaguely preppy sounding? And he came up with Dash all on his own.
I should tell you that everything is so, so very different with this one. Everything I thought I knew before doesn’t matter. I should tell you that for the first time, it is easy. Perhaps even enjoyable? I wake up and his rounded baby cheeks greet me. He is a sweet bedfellow, all smiles and coos. I want to dress him in only white, pure and clean. I am reminded that you don’t need all the accouterments that are marketed to new moms. Just some diapers and a boob. Did I mention that I am breastfeeding this time around? Don’t worry, I won’t judge you if you didn’t, or can’t, or even don’t want to. I’ve been there. But this time, with this baby, I am breastfeeding, and co-sleeping too. It has been going well, mostly enjoyable, but mostly it just . . . is. People ask how the nursing is going, and I squint my eyes and tilt my head, “Well, I guess?” He’s eating and gaining weight and I am only slightly less exhausted than I was with bottles. I am reminded how children choose their own parenting philosophies. At the hospital, while I was trying to decide whether to breastfeed this time, the nurses kept mentioning how “he just loves the boob” and “this little guy decided he wanted to be breastfed!” I liked that. I liked that for once they didn’t make it about me, the mom. My first rarely snuggled and had a terrible latch from the beginning, and this one? Completely different in every way. Will it be like this the rest of their lives? This marveling at how genes could combine in such different varieties?
I want to grasp these early days and hold them tight. Every day he grows bigger and smiles more. My heart bursts. I tell my husband, “Did Charley smile this much? I don’t think he did.” He says he did. But I think perhaps it was the postpartum depression fogging my brain. I can’t remember any smiles because I wasn’t smiling. But this time, this time I have that new mother glow of happiness. I overflow with joy. There is none of that angry, resentful feeling I carried for so long with Charley and I am glad. Is this what those mothers at the library were feeling when I used to bring Charley after crying all morning? Those moms with the sappy grins on their faces that I just couldn’t understand. It’s as if the depression left a scar on my soul, deep and jagged, and Dash allows it to heal. Every day is better than the last. I’m not sure I will be able to say that forever. But every day is bittersweet as well since I know this will be my last. Who knows, I might just be the next controversial extended breastfeeding mom! Life is beautiful and so unexpected.
I am thrilled and honored to be writing in this space again all about motherhood and identity. Two kids is an adventure and the journey is life-altering.