Long Story Short(er), Part I: Last Summer

Sorry for all the false starts there. I had to put those out there, kind of like, when on your sixth chocolate chip cookie the only way to stop is to announce, “This is my last one,” and then again after the seventh cookie, “This is really my last one” before finally breaking the inertia.

So, to make a long story short, the bleeding stopped and did not return and I gave birth last May to our fantastic and wholly healthy baby girl. Monkey Pants.

I feel like I’m tempting fate just by writing about it, because it’s the luckiest, happiest possible outcome. An uneventful and even enjoyable pregnancy, a smooth labor (maybe I’ll tell the story here some time), and a great baby girl. With bright blue eyes, a delicate little mouth, long legs and arms, and big round cheeks.

Most of last summer, the Monkey and I spent on the couch, nursing. The “My Brest Friend” took on the shape of my (still very round) body, as well as (warning! shameful housekeeping revelation ahead) accumulating a coating of milk in various stages of digestion. The Monkey was born big, grew fast, nursed a lot, spit up a lot, and then nursed some more. And I sat on the couch and nursed her and read A Fine Balance and As the Crow Flies and many issues of The New Yorker and, embarrassingly, every book I could find on the subject of infant sleep, and watched her sweet little face.

And, unlike (apparently) the babies of every friend, acquaintance, and television personality we know, the Monkey did not like riding in the car. Early on, she would occasionally drop off to sleep in the car seat after some yelling. But then there was a period of many, many weeks where a car ride pretty much meant “they’re killilng me!” type screaming from door to door. So, for a while, there wasn’t a lot of car travel. Except for stressful and quick runs to the grocery store or the post office (5 minutes away), sometimes interrupted by (God, did I really do this?) several nursing/comforting stops only a few blocks apart. And more than once ending in crying in the front seat as well as in the back.

Every day, though, I’d take the Monkey out for a walk or two around the neighborhood in the sling or (later, when she got more squirmy) the Baby Bjorn. She loved—still loves—looking at the trees and watching the world go by. We got to know the neighborhood (pretty new to us) so well that it started to feel like maybe we should move to a new house just to have some new walking territory to explore. Those were sweet times, those walks. People I met all wanted to peer into the sling and talk about their own babies, and almost without exception the baby was peaceful during those times. Sleeping or gazing up at the leaves.

On the one hand, the whole summer seems kind of like that: dreamy. A timeless time to just be with the baby, a time I feel so, so fortunate to have had. On the other hand, I was utterly sleep-deprived, perpetually smelled like rotting milk, and was desparate for adult conversation. The extremes of it were pretty amazing.

That was the fourth trimester around here: nursing, walking, and not driving a lot. Next up: the end of the honeymoon.

Meanwhile, a little note from the present. It turns out there is still a lot to learn about my neighborhood. I discovered this afternoon that not six blocks from our house there is a place where you can get gold decorations (for lack of a better word) applied to your teeth. This is not a dentist’s office; it’s more like a nail salon.

And now, while the Monkey keeps sleeping, I will zip out to the front yard and plant the big bucket of hostas that a friend cleared out from her garden and brought over this morning. Did you know you can split each plant into four pieces and each part will grow big again? How fortunate for them, don’t you think, that they have such an easy time reproducing. I wonder if gardening will continue to be fascinating when I am no longer such a novice.

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