Two Fridays ago, one of my besties continued my friend trend and popped out a baby girl. I have never in my life paced so hard as I did that night between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. awaiting the call to find out health of mother and name of baby. FINALLY! A weary but proud Anna announced her 7 pound bombshell (and my future daughter-in-law) Caitlin Willow. As a sense of relief and excitement soared through my body, I was instantly transported back in time 7 months. I was the weary mom on the phone delivering the news with a noticeable high in my voice every time I said his name. I was the mom looking forward to maternity leave. I was the one complaining about exhaustion and converting my living room into four walls of worship (sponsored by Kodak and my shutter-happy husband).
It was very strange to hear someone else going through those same emotions, especially someone so close to me. The following day we were invited to the hospital to meet the new addition, so Nate and I got Coen dressed in his finest and headed off to play matchmaker. This was my first newborn experience since my own and I dove in head-first! Such a small human being – little wrinkly hands and the finest hair I’d ever touched. This is why they call it a “miracle” people! She truly was. And buried among the fatigue and fear in her parents was complete awe and anticipation for their new, bright, beautiful future together.
We came home that night and I had some thoughts. No, I didn’t have those cliche “new-mom-that-just-held-a-newborn” thoughts. In fact, the thought of doing it all again so close to numero uno made me a tiny bit nauseous and (no joke) gave me one solid week’s worth of nightmares. No. The thought I had came from holding my own little guy in the rocking chair, simply watching him fall asleep. I realized something: I know more about this particular person than ANYONE ELSE on the planet (Nate excluded). And that’s really sayin’ something.
I know exactly how long he will make sucking faces with his mouth after the bottle gets pulled from his lips. I know that he sleeps with his tongue sticking out (like his mama). I know what makes him shake with excitement. I know which PBS cartoons capture his attention and which ones he would love to see pulled off the air. I know just how much facial hair a guy can have before Coen will cry at the sight of them. I know the face he makes when he’s pooping. I know just the right rendition of Ave Maria to play for him when he’s fussing. I know his tickle spots. I know his sensitive spots. I know his bald spots. I know this kid like the, no, better than the back of my hand.
Then, I thought about Anna. I thought about the idea that Caitlin was probably still a bit of a stranger in her house. I tried to recall those first two weeks with Coen – trying to figure out sleep schedules, organizing an assembly line to prep bottles as fast as humanly possible, cleaning for company, googling poop to determine if “that was normal” – you are running on pure adrenaline. By the time you get your head above water, a month has gone by and you’ve subconsciously learned more about your child than you ever knew about yourself.
There is something special about that ability in this particular relationship. Maybe it’s the maternal gene rearing its ugly head YET again, but for some reason, you take pride in being the beacon of knowledge in your child’s life. After ten years, I know that Nate hates when his hair grows over his ears. He can’t sleep on a hard pillow, he sneezes when he walks outside on a sunny day, he can plow through an entire box of shortbread cookies in one sitting, he can’t buy anything without researching the living daylights out of it, and he doesn’t drink Root Beer. I know a billion other idiosyncrasies about my husband, but that doesn’t quite evoke the same feeling you get from your own child. Is it because we are their protector? Is it because we are their instructor? Or is it simply because we are their parent? I choose D. All of the above.
Upon further reflection, maybe I wasn’t happy for Anna just because I finally knew the baby’s name. I think we wish the happiest feelings upon the greatest people in our lives and there really isn’t a more spectacular emotion than a moment alone in a rocking chair with your very own tiny miracle. And, knowing you not only created that miracle, but you get to spend every day going forward learning more and more about her, is an eternal high.
It might not be tomorrow, but someday soon Anna will be the Yoda of all Cate Knowledge. What makes her tick? What makes her sick? What makes her laugh? What makes her cry? What does she look for in a boyfriend (hey, I can throw that in for personal reasons…it’s MY blog!)?
Anna and Steve – I’m so very happy for you guys! Enjoy the ride…