The Beanstalk

Record of a writer, a family & an adventure.

Month: March, 2013

The dog in all of this.

Everyone is pretty excited about the little penguin except Sidney. Her personality is different – she has inherited this permanent sulk and she sort of stalks around the house with her head down and her eyes all red. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that for her entire life she has spent nine hours, Monday through Friday, in a three by four foot wire box in the back corner of the kitchen. When we would return home from work she would be all bounding out of her skin, knocking things and people over, getting herself into trouble. She slept like eighteen of twenty-four hours in the day. Now, with me at home, she is out all day. I try to walk her (it’s more like the shuffle my grandmother had in the later stages of of her life), but I’m more focused (paranoid) about the stroller veering into the road or the wind bothering Jack’s head or the sun shining too brightly in his eyes, than the dog, with whom I used to carry on entire dialogues throughout our walks.

Mark is trying to be intentional about communicating to Sidney that he still loves her, that she is still his puppy, not wanting to inflict any irreversible psychological damage. He lays around with her on the floor watching March Madness, takes her for a walk in the early morning, throws the tennis ball for her in the back yard, tells her she is a good dog when she sniffs at the baby. I, on the other hand, after these two and a half years getting used to our 90 pound moose resident, have temporarily lost interest in her altogether. She knows it. When I’m holding Jack she stares at me from across the room. Occasionally she will come over and sniff him, but she mainly stays away. If I pass him off to Mark or put him in his crib, she will come over and sniff at me. She rarely licks me now. I feel for her, I really do, but I’m not that heartbroken. She will get over this and used to him. He will be her boy, she will realize that he is the best thing in her tiny little world, and it will all shake out. But until then, I think she still adores Mark, resents me, and is vaguely curious about the little man.

I actually think I feel the same way – I adore Mark. He is very worthy of affection these days, as he is very aware of what is going on, changing diapers and clothes and sheets and all whenever he is home, knowing that all he is going to get back is a very heartfelt, mumbled Yes, thank you, please, do that. I am also pretty curious about Jack, and I resent the fallout of the destruction that happened to my body. So really, Sidney girl, I feel ya.

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Houston, we have a baby.

Jack Marshall is here! Born Sunday, which happened to be Saint Patrick’s Day (he’ll never want for a birthday party).  He was born at 6:15 in the evening, weighing 8 pounds and 7 ounces, 20 inches long. When he came out the first thing I said was “Thank God,” which was a prayer of thanks for many reasons, followed by, “Mark, does he have rolls??” He did have rolls, these little chunky ones on his arms and thighs, which made me feel very thankful and somehow like I had accomplished something… other than delivering a baby.  There were some possible complications so I didn’t get to hold him for a little while after he was born, but I just kept staring at him, trying to focus as my vision returned from the fuzzy haze I had acquired during the delivery.

When they put Jack in my arms and I held him up against my chest he curled like a little tree frog you find on the inside of an outdoor shower at the beach. His ruddy infant face lay against my sternum and his little body just perched perfectly on my forearm and I stared at his dark eyes peeking out from the swaddling blankets and all I could think was he was just inside my body.

You can tell that there is part of him that still wants to feel the way he felt before Sunday evening, maybe even a very large part. He is happiest when his skin is touching mine and he is folded up against my chest. When we lay like that I am more aware of his breathing and of my own breathing, whose intervals are much longer than his. When we sit like that in the dark in the middle of the night with the box fan on, he is completely still. I imagine it is very much like the way he felt in the womb.

Everything else is shocking to him. Sunlight is shocking, he recoils. When we un-bundle him to change his diaper he grimaces and starts to cry. When the dog sniffs him with her big old snout he has a look of horror, he jumps at loud sounds, he squirms at anything wet or cold, loses his mind when his diaper is changed.  All in all it kind of seems like life on earth is a little bit too much to handle and he might rather return to the dark cavern of my stomach.

But what he doesn’t know is that life on the outside includes this insane overflowing of love. How can someone feel this much love? I keep telling Mark how I can’t believe how much I adore this 3-day-old person. Whenever I hold him I whisper, “I love you so much.” Usually when I do that he kind of snorts and I think that’s his way of accepting it. We’re going to try and convince Jack that it’s way better out here than it is in the dark, the silent, the very comfortable inside. Something tells me it won’t take long, and it’s got me thinking how I could probably take the lesson for myself too.

 

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“Are you ready?”

It’s time to have this baby. I have not been able to take off my tennis shoes in weeks. When I get home I lay on the bed with my legs stretched out and Mark unlaces my shoes and pulls them off. This is a new kind of indigence. I am also hard-pressed to stand up from the lounge position on the couch–I have actually started making this sort of gutteral grunt? And painting my toes last night was more like a child splatter painting than anything else. Times are desperate around here. Jack’s due date is two weeks from today (March eighteenth), but the doctor said she thinks I’ll have him before then. That could turn out to have been cruel.

I know that I’m not “ready” to be a mom because it doesn’t seem like something you ready for, like training up to run a half-marathon, knowing you’re able to run fourteen miles the Saturday before you have to run the momentous thirteen.one.  How can anybody really know how to be a mom before she has actually held that little muggsie and stared into his eyes, knowing their a mixture of hers and her boyfriend/fiance/husband’s eyes? 

Even though I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m excited.

I am excited to rest my nose on his little baby head that smells like lotion all the time and sit like that for long stretches of time without anything else to do. To spend lots of quiet time together when he just sleeps or blinks and I talk to him about the books I need to get back to writing and sing songs to him, mostly Patty Griffin probably. The old stuff, before she reformed. To prop him up against the white dove on Sidney’s chest and take hundreds of pictures of them together that are all essentially the same.

I am excited for when Mark gets home from work and takes the two front steps in one, opens that front door and smiles so big because he is happy to see his son. For when he talks sports to the little bug, holding him on his forearm, believing that an understanding of the NFL is sinking into his brain by genetics and osmosis. 

Some things also scare me pretty terribly. I dread the moments when Sidney throws up on my new rug while Jack simultaneously blows out a diaper, when I can’t rouse Mark from the dead black depths of sleep to help me get the baby back to bed, when I don’t have time to shower more than two days in a row and this hair crosses into uncharted territory of nappy, when he screams and cries for really long, long, long stretches and I can’t stand it (because I’m so anti-disposed to loud sounds). I am terrified of cabin fever. Nothing scares me more than cabin fever. Except maybe these terrible rabbit trails my mind chases that don’t even merit description. 

And then we come back around to the fact that I just don’t know anything about this– I don’t know what I’m excited for the most, or what I’m most afraid of. I know NOTHING! But to answer the question I am asked more than any other…

 

YES. I am ready.