John Coltrane blows steadily through his tenor sax as the black canvas on the umbrella over our patio table flaps mightily in the icy wind: yet another contradictory image as I glance outside my kitchen window on this frigid November morning. Josh’s “lawn-mowing shoes” are half-buried under a blanket of white; the Fisher Price swing hangs still in the catalpa tree, heavy with a seat full of snow and dried leaves; rosemary branches with frozen goodness arch stiffly out of the herb boxes. We needed one more week – one more week of fall – for Josh to prep the yard, clean up the long-ignored dog doo, put away the patio furniture, and rearrange the shed to gain access to the snow blower, before the snow began to fly. But, alas, that was not to be so. The first snow of the season caught us by surprise last week, and we have been unable to fully crawl out of the igloo its left us in, since we were busy in the hospital having a baby boy.
But oh – what a joy! And what a difference a year makes. Little Oscar Thomas arrived on Saturday morning, November 8th, at 7:53 a.m. A full two pounds heavier than his older brother (born four weeks early) and ready to nurse at first latch. I couldn’t help but think of the Milan Kundera quote, most recently in the news, as it was attached to the Alyssa Milano breastfeeding tweet:
“Ah, the joy of suckling! She lovingly watched the fishlike motions of the toothless mouth and she imagined that with her milk there flowed into her little son her deepest thoughts, concepts, and dreams.” ~Milan Kundera
And now, here we are: parents of two boys, brothers, sons. It’s almost hard to fathom. I have to keep saying it out loud as I look at them, hold them, nurse them, and ask Josh if he can believe it. Of course, the full reality of this new chapter will not set in for awhile, I’m sure. It is only the first Monday of my maternity leave, sans Josh (who returned to work today). There will be new lessons, new ways of doing old things, and new joys to behold. I’m not in any position to make one of those “25 things the second child teaches you” lists, but here’s what’s new so far:
- Confidence is not overrated when it comes to parenting infants. Not only did I take a shower today, but I left the baby monitor on the kitchen table – a far cry from the days when I would move Dylan – in his infant seat – to the bathroom floor and shower with the curtain half open, just to keep an eye on him.
- Dogs are harder to handle in the wintertime. Another no-brainer, perhaps, but consider this: our thermostat tells me that the outside temperature is 10. I’m seeing a whole new side to our dogs and the pent-up, daytime lives they live when relegated to the kitchen, the back hall, and the bathroom. Now that I’m home, they’re also allowed the living room, but it only creates a longer launch pad for their leaps around the house. Moose, the 2-year old, runs circles around Rummy, the 5-year old. Rummy looks at me with tired, irritated eyes, and I begin to understand that it is Moose who is the destroyer of all things in our house. No longer do I bother to covet a new couch or pair of shoes or coffee table book, for I know, as long as the dogs are a part of our life, these, too, will be chewed in time. Only this past week – a week when both Josh and I were home with the dogs all day, no less – did we discover two of my favorite college texts – Norton Anthologies – completely ripped to shreds, lending a whole new meaning to the phrase “dog-eared.” Apparently, the dogs need more than just our presence; they need exercise and our attention. Napping upstairs with a new baby is not allowed. Needless to say, I will be utilizing the baby gates to quarantine more than just Dylan from unwanted areas in the house.
- Skin-to-skin time is as good as I remembered. Yes, thank you, and more please. I’ve decided this is my priority, and I’m going to make the most of my time off by soaking up the soft sweetness of my new baby boy.
- I’m also going to try to blog about my time with Oscar…though the darkness of early winter has a hypnotizing affect on me, and I find myself more drained this time around. Of course, it could also have something to do with the energy my 17-month old demands…but we’ll see. For now, there’s the warmth of good coffee and the prickle of static cling in the house to keep me going.