The Pains and Pleasures of Motherhood

Ian brims with ideas of late.

Recently during a particularly stressful few days I was having trouble lactating. Naturally the baby was crying more than usual, poor thing. As Ian and I discussed this he came up with a plan – start a website called GheeGhee dot com. (Ghee Ghee was Alexandra’s word for nursing for a while although she’s getting better at pronouncing it as “hungry” now.) Ian’s idea was that this should be a website where moms come to get cheered up when they are nursing so they can keep up their milk supply. I explained that this is how I use Hulu. But really, it’s a very good idea.

Sometimes his ideas are very childish. At my mother’s funeral, he tried the direct approach: shook her coffin a little and said, “Grandma, wake up!”

But he learns quickly.

Last night as Ian, Alexandra and I were falling asleep side by side, I told Ian, “Bearing you was the best present ever.”

“What?” he said, startled.

“You know, bearing you. When you were born.”

“Oh! I thought you said ‘burying’ because that’s what I heard.”

“I see. No, I bear a child, I bore a child, a child was born of me.”



Pensively he said: “Burying someone you love is the worst present ever.”

Sometimes his  ideas are very mature.


Alexandra’s pediatrician was trying to palpitate her hips at her first appointment, and having a great deal of trouble pushing back against her resistance, considering that my baby was supposed to have hip displaysia. (She was misdiagnosed by a staff resident at the hospital and there go hundreds of dollars in pointless medical bills. Urg!)

“Wow,” the doctor said, “she’s really strong!” And it’s true – she’s a fierce little thing.

When I first tried taking Alexandra to bed with me in the early morning so she could nurse and we could fall back asleep right away, I would lay her on top of a pillow with a slight indent in the middle so it would slope up on either side and she wouldn’t slide off. She would sleep so happily there, near to me. Soon we were going to bed like that from the get-go, and suddenly we were sleeping during normal sleeping hours instead of drifting off miserable and exhausted around 2 or 3 in the morning.

After a few weeks of this, Lexy decided she didn’t want to be up on the pillow any more. One night when I laid her down, asleep, on the pillow, she began crunching herself together at the belly and then straightening out again, making the funniest most determined grunting noises, while keeping her eyes closed. I watched in fascination as she performed this very odd series of actions. Each time she straightened out she came closer to the edge of the pillow. Finally she reached the edge, then slowly toppled over the side, landing with her limbs curled up under her, face-down on the sheet beside me. She sighed contently and fell into a deep sleep, while I laughed silently.

Now she sleeps between my body and the pillow. I figure if she’s strong and smart enough to get herself there, she’s strong and smart enough to keep breathing all night there. Sometimes during the night I’ll feel her inch herself up and press her head closer into my side, then give that same contented sigh and go back to deep breathing.

Last night I put her down for an early evening nap in her usual spot on top of a baby quilt in my bed. I decided I needed a photo of her in that position, so I came back a few minutes later with the camera. It was dark in my room so I needed to use the flash, but I was nervous that she would wake up unhappily. I went for it anyway. The first photo flashed brightly and Lexy started stirring right away, so I held her hand and felt her grasp back.

I pressed the camera’s button again. The second flash revealed my baby smiling widely in her sleep.

And I wondered: how many infant smiles blossom against my body in the darkness of the night?


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