I often get asked what my favourite animal is. I could choose a dozen things, to be truthful – Birds of Paradise, hummingbirds, gibbons, bushbabies, lots and lots of things. But if you really were to ask me what little creature makes me gulp with pleasure and delight and interest and fascination, it would be a human baby. — Sir David Attenborough
He has a head full of light brown hair. It grows in a pattern that seems to predict how his hairline will recede in middle age. The back was wild for a while, standing straight up and in all directions no matter how many baths or brushes we gave. Now it’s starting to even out in length, matching the hair in the front that is growing back all fuzzy and soft (Did you know babies shed hair shortly after birth? I didn’t).
He looks just like the boy in the 3D ultrasound picture.
He’s got my round face. Apple cheeks and a double chin, though he’s a little guy. His eyes have a 50 percent chance of staying blue. Depending on the minute of the day, sometimes I think they are mine and sometimes I think they are Brendan’s. They are wide almonds, with long lashes. His mouth is like a cupid’s bow, his lips forever parted when he sleeps.
Oh, and the way he sleeps.
When he’s not swaddled, he stretches his little arms out as far as they can go or throws them up above his head like a goal post. Sometimes he manages to bend them behind his head like he’s relaxing at the beach. He splays his legs out wide. I think it’s because he’s on the small side that he tries to take up as much space as possible. He stretches his hands straight above his head every time he wakes up. He reminds me of a fully grown man when he does that.
He was born on his due date, 4/18, 12 days past our first wedding anniversary, at 4:18 p.m. after a 17-hour labor. His cry was cute even on that first day. He does a soft whimper when he’s hungry or is dreaming. He often sounds like a kitten with the small noises he makes. I had no idea how much babies could resemble animals.
He has started to smile and babble to us, looking up joyfully when we come to pick him up from his bassinet in the morning. He blows raspberries and coos when we talk to him. He drools like a leaky faucet and darts his tongue out to taste my skin, my shirt, his blanket and his toys. When I feed him, he rests his arm on my belly for comfort.
I’m with him all the time. I keep him in the same room as me, even when he sleeps. He’s already seen his fair share of Manhattan restaurants – date nights and outings with friends include a miniature third wheel. He will watch me as I walk away, his neck craning to see where I’m going. Brendan says he’s like a baby koala when I’m holding him.
I must give him a thousand kisses a day, maybe more.
Caring for him can be monotonous. Feed, change, play, sleep. Rinse and repeat. He still wakes at least once at night to eat before he’s up for the day. Last night, it was 3:15 a.m. I’m tired, generally speaking, but not as tired as I thought I’d be.
Even the bad days are good because he’s here and I get to be his mom. I miss him when he naps. I could sit and watch him all day long.
Somehow, it all feels natural for me. The bond was there the minute I saw him. Brendan and I had no idea what we were doing and were scared the first night home. But we learned. We learned how to feed him, diaper him, bathe him, rock him and ease him to sleep. There’s not always a magic solution, and he is always changing.
In my love for him, there is a vulnerability I never knew was possible. He is so small, so fragile, and Brendan and I are responsible for him. There are times I just want to keep holding him because I believe he is safest in my arms. There’s a desire to keep every danger, illness and trouble away from him. Forever. Sometimes the love feels suddenly overwhelming, as if I’m floating in a calm sea that churns intermittently with 10-foot waves.
But most of the time, I just feel lucky and try to be in the moment. I am not a religious person and I know reproducing is something a lot of people have done since the dawn of time. Still, he is our miracle, the little life we created from our love. And we want to make sure he always feels that love.
Of all the things I’ve created in my life, he is the most remarkable.