>> Thursday, June 24, 2010
My baby is getting so big.
He's still just a peanut, but when I hold him on my chest, lying on the bed, his legs drape halfway down my thighs.
I just held him like that for a while tonight. Sleeping, sucking his thumb. It felt so good. I have less time with him these days and I'm in no rush to hurry through bedtime.
When he was four days old, I dressed him in a cute hooded outfit handed down from my sister. She had washed it first, and when I slid that hood up over his fuzzy little head, the smells of Tide and dryer sheets stole his baby smell.
I just about threw up.
It was his fresh-from-the-womb, unsullied, concentrated-baby smell. The scent I compulsively, obsessively inhaled as I held him non-stop, burying my face in his hair, peeking my nose under his little stocking cap. The scent that knocked me out, got me drunk, high on baby love. The sweet potion of pheromones that carried on it the last trace of the womb, the fragrance of life on the inside, the freshest breath of new life seeping out his pores.
Snuffed out. Now he just smelled like Tide and dryer sheets.
I felt sick about it. Literally nauseous that I had lost a part of his babyness without having been prepared. There was no ceremonial bathing before which I said goodbye and took one last whiff. It was just gone.
He may be my last baby. I'm operating as if he is -- giving away clothes, passing on gear as we outgrow it. But all the while I tell myself we're not done. We're young, we can wait five years and talk again. It's easier to pass on the baby things this way, easier to let phases and milestones come and go if I leave space for the idea of another. If I knew for certain this was it, I'd mourn the passing of every stage. The end of 0-3, of size-small diapers, of crawling, nursing, whatever.
But this way, it's like parting ways with a friend, all the while reassuring each other --
I'll catch you one more time before you go. I'm sure I'll see you again. We can say our goodbyes then.
So you leave with a See You Later, knowing in your heart that it's over, done; but having avoided the teary, tangled emotion of an official goodbye. By the time you realize you're not seeing your friend again, you've moved beyond the rawness of it, grown accustomed to the way things have become. It's not as hard to acknowledge a goodbye in hindsight than it is to see it, to say it in the moment.
If I never have another baby, here's what I'll most miss.
Never again feeling my baby move inside me.
Seeing my baby for the first time -- laying eyes on him in those first seconds out of the womb.
New Baby Smell. (that head. it truly is the scent of heaven.)
That first glass of orange juice after labor.
With all three boys, after I pushed them out into the world and we made our acquaintances, my husband and midwives helped settle me onto the couch or the bed, wrapped up warm in blankets to counter those post-birth hormonal shivers, and someone brought me a glass of orange juice.
All three times, it was the best thing I've ever tasted.
He's getting so tall we've had to lower the crib mattress all the way down. At this age, we already had the other boys sleeping on a mattress on the floor. But Axel seems too much of a baby - even for all his big kid tendencies - to move him out of the crib.
He fell asleep in my arms tonight, head resting on my chest, his thumb in his mouth.
I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach over the rail and lay him down.
I covered him up and stared for a moment before
I snuck out quietly, whispering
See you later, Baby.