So it is an understatement to say that the last three weeks have been a blur. They have been a blink of the eye, one sleepless 24-hour stretch of breastfeeding, laundry, spit-up, teeny tiny clothes, thank you notes, and learning, OH, the learning.
This is a short list of some of the things I have learned in the last three weeks:
- When your milk comes in, it feels prickly.
- When your daughter is as perfect and tiny as ours is, people will always tell you how perfect and tiny she is, and you will have no idea how to respond. You will say, "thank you" as though you can take credit for her smallness and her perfection.
- Exhaustion can be manageable, as long as you're tag-teaming, and as long as there is coffee.
- Bottles and pacifiers won't cause her any real confusion, contrary to the teachings of the well-meaning, but slightly overwhelming, La Leche League.
- Dr. Internet is much more knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to breastfeeding tips than she was during pregnancy.
- Whenever anyone offers to help you through the first three weeks of parenting, the correct answer is, "yes, thank you!"
I hardly know how to describe how amazing our little girl is. She makes this face sometimes, eyes wide open, bright, and staring, her mouth a perfect little "o", her hands clasped in front of her, and it literally makes my heart hurt, I love it so much. I want to consume the image, eat it so as to make it wholly mine.
"It's crazy to think that she will never be this age again, that next week she will make new faces, new gestures, totally different expressions for us," Matt says. And I want to burst into tears for how sad it is that the time is literally flying by and that she is growing so quickly, and I want to jump up and down for joy, sky-write to the world about how incredibly lucky we are to have this healthy little girl we get to raise, how amazing it is that she is growing so quickly.
When I hear Mollie crying in another room, I know exactly what face she is making based on the sound of her cry. I love having that knowledge, love being one of the few people in the world who knows that about her. It is so intimate.
I spend a lot of time thinking about motherhood, things I have thought of only fleetingly over the years. I think about women in the Holocaust, unable to breastfeed their children because they were starving themselves. I grieve for those women, I grieve for the pain it must have caused them to know that they were unable to nourish their babies. I think about women who have lost their children, and I hold Mollie closer, kiss her soft head, tell her that I cannot imagine my world without her in it. I think about trying to keep Mollie safe, trying to give her good advice. I realize that I am not as cool as I thought I would be: I do not want her to try drugs and have lots of sex; I do not want her to hurt her body because it is too precious to me. I think about the fact that I have a little girl, that I was once a little girl. I think about being a mother and I think about my mother.
Late at night, I think about sleep.
This weekend our families will be in Boston for Mollie's baby naming. We will formally welcome her into the world as a member of the Jewish community. The ceremony itself is beautiful, a gesture of our commitment to raise her as a Jew, in the likeness of both her fore-mothers and the two amazing women for whom she was named. But more than the ceremony is the fact of her existence, that we have a daughter to welcome, that we have family who have new, never-before-experienced roles like Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent. We will all come together for the ceremony because of this one teeny little girl, this yet-unwritten beauty. I am struck, over and over again, by how different my world is now, how grateful I am for the change, and how quickly one little person can touch so many people.