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Babies Are Weird

June 10, 2014

Sometimes when I am holding Acorn, I press my face to her head and inhale the scent of her. There is something in that smell that makes my instincts shout “THIS IS MINE.” It is a smell that is both comforting and deeply satisfying. I have been tempted to put a worn onesie into my bag to take with me to work and I haven’t yet decided if having that will help me cope with being away from her all day or just make me miss her more. When I’m away from her, there is a hole in my chest that I long to fit her into, an empty place over my heart where her little body fits perfectly. When someone else is holding her, I have to resist the urge to snatch her away from them. Even my own husband is not immune to these reactions. I recognize all of this as being very animalistic reactions, driven by pheromones designed by evolution to ensure the survival of one of the most demanding offspring in the known universe. And the recognition that despite all of our sentience and intellect we are still nothing more than animals is very weird. Hell, babies in general are just weird.

Babies are these tiny doll-like creatures that move on their own, blink at you with huge trusting eyes, and flail about because they haven’t quite figured out how their arms work. They have independent needs, desires, and personalities and absolutely no way other than crying to communicate any of that with you. They poop and they pee and they spit up and whenever someone told me that I would feel different about all of that stuff when it was my baby, I would smile indulgently because there was no way in hell any of that stuff would not be gross to me. But (for us at least) it’s true.[1]  Acorn recently had an epic spit up all over her car seat and Moose’s first reaction was to take a picture.  He thinks her farts are completely hilarious.  I think my daughter’s dirty diapers are cute, even the really stinky ones. And that’s just weird.

Everything about her is just under the surface of her skin, so close that I can feel her body working under my finger tips.  Her little heart pulses away in her chest made up of bones that are both fragile and flexible.  Her joints sometimes crackle and while I was afraid that something was wrong which I first felt those tendons pop, apparently it’s perfectly normal, especially in girls.  Tiny little bones make up tiny little feet with not so tiny toes that learned how to pinch before her tiny little fingers did.  When she is feeding, I can hear every gulp as it travels down her throat and hits her stomach. It gurgles and burbles and I feel like if I pressed my ear to her tiny little tummy I would be able to follow the track of her meals through her miniature digestive system.

All of that food? Is coming out of me. I am apparently not the only mother who looked down on the tiny creature latched onto her chest and thought “Holy cow. I’m a mammal.” This part of my body that before now has always been viewed as an object of desire is now producing this weird fluid that normally comes out of other creatures. Milk is a thing you get from cows and goats and other animals with udders. And now I’m not only producing it, I’m collecting it in little plastic bags so that someone else can put it in a bottle and feed it to my daughter when I’m not there. I have this machine that I carry around with me and regularly strap to my body for 15 minutes at a time. After a few uses, I finally identified the hissing noise it sometimes makes as the sound of milk hitting the back of the valve connector at high speed.  And even though I sometimes feel like crying when I strap the thing on, because I want so badly to be feeding her myself instead of a machine, I still do it because I want her to have it.  I simultaneously can’t wait until she’s ready for solid foods so I don’t have to be her only source of nutrition and dread the weaning process because I will miss that precious time when it’s just her and me in our nursing embrace.

She smiles at us when we play with her and is currently fascinated by fans.  And sometimes when I am holding her it strikes me all over again that this tiny new creature is real.  Just a few months ago she was a squirming Other inside of me that was just a concept and a nickname.  Some time around this time last year, she wasn’t even that.  Just a couple of cells that smashed together and started multiplying.  She is a creature which didn’t even exist and now she does and all of that is profoundly weird.  Beautiful, amazing, glorious, and utterly awe inspiring.  But still weird.

[1]  I have some very complicated feelings about people who flat out state that it’s different when it’s your own child, especially to people who don’t want children, because sometimes it’s not and what if that’s just the way it is and just how much would it suck for both mother and baby if it wasn’t because it’s not like there’s a 90 day return policy and I will probably write that some day but not at this exact moment other than to write what may very well be the longest foot note I’ve ever put in any of my writing ever.  I’ve been reading a lot of Pratchett.

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