Thursday, July 19, 2012

The inventory of easiness

Graham at eight and a half months
Aron and I went with Graham to the video store a few weeks ago and caught ourselves in an interesting lie. For the last two months of her pregnancy, we had been telling Ashley (Aron's sister) and Paul, her husband, to take as many naps and watch as many movies as possible before Eva was born. (Eva is now one month and one day old.) We had been warning them that once Eva arrived their napping and movie-watching opportunities would surely depart. But as we perused the new release section at the video store a few weeks ago, Aron and I kept coming across movies we had seen since Graham's birth. In total we counted four new release movies that we had rented and watched, but I also remember a week of watching only Woody Allen movies on Netflix (my favorite:  Hannah and Her Sisters)—so between Graham's first and third month, Aron and I watched eight movies. It was strange to both of us to realize that. We had both felt certain that we hadn't seen a movie since I was pregnant, but in fact we've seen several.

During our video store visit (which, before making the new release discovery, we thought was Graham's first time in a video rental store), we rented Carnage and Shame. We were able to watch Carnage over the course of three days, with the volume very low and the subtitles on, as Graham slept on top of me. I was too afraid to watch Shame around Graham. Even if it were on mute and Graham's eyes were closed, and even if his head were facing the other direction—even if he were deaf and blind. I shouldn't have rented a movie that we can't watch around Graham's eyes or ears, because we are never far from Graham or his component parts.

Graham doesn't nap alone. If he did, I don't know what I'd do, so unused am I to not being a mom mattress. And I love being a mom mattress. But I guess if I weren't Graham's bed I'd be able to watch a movie during the day while he slept in his crib. Watching movies has gotten more difficult, impossible even, because we don't want Graham to even peek at moving images or hear dialogue in his sleep. But movies are probably the only regression we've experienced since Graham's early babyhood. Everything else about life with him has gotten so much easier. 

I remember on the first day of one of my classes last semester everyone having to introduce herself to the rest of the class:  every student had to say his or her name, major and why she signed up for the class. I said my name, my major and that my new baby was the reason for every one of life's "whys." And then I was asked how old my baby was, and I remember saying, "Ten weeks." And I remember the class gasping collectively. 10 weeks felt old to me then, and now, of course, it seems so young. Later in the semester, a student doing a presentation asked his classmates to raise our hands if we had (or didn't have, I don't remember which) a smart phone, and I whispered to the kid sitting in front of me, "What's a smart phone?" and all the students sitting near me looked at me like I was an oddball for not knowing. I thought a smart phone was a brand of phones, like a Blackberry or something, not just a type. Later in the semester the word colostrum came up, and I enjoyed seeing my classmates look confused about it. 

Anyway! Ten weeks. Graham was ten weeks old when my most recent semester of school started. (Since I didn't take a semester off, Graham was only two weeks when I returned to school the very first time, but there were only a couple of weeks remaining in the semester before winter break.) When Eva was born she had skinny legs that I marveled at. I honestly didn't remember Graham’s legs being as skinny, but just two weeks ago I saw a picture of his legs at seven days old:  they were just as thin as Eva's, maybe thinner. Sometimes I think I don't remember a thing.

Yesterday Graham and I went to Publix for asparagus and granola, and Aron stayed home to work on his Italian homework. When Graham and I returned to the house, I put the granola on top of the refrigerator while I was holding Graham with one arm:  his legs were wrapped around my hip, and he was holding my chin and smiling as I made it and his hands move up and down, and he started to laugh, and then I started to laugh, and I said, "I miss you." And Aron, who was sitting at the kitchen table watching Graham and me interact, said, "Why do you miss him?" I didn't know why. I was holding him that moment, and I hadn't been away from him all day. But I did have a missing him sensation, and I realized that Graham is growing so fast, and developing so many capabilities over such short amounts of time, that I sometimes don't recognize him as my baby. My baby, for example, couldn't pull himself up on the coffee table. Graham can. My baby didn't try to eat my flip flops. Graham does. 

Making an inventory of things that have gotten easier and more impressive about Graham helps me realize that his growing up is as good for me as it is for him. Here's what the easy inventory looks like:
  • SLEEP!:  Although he doesn't nap alone, Graham has grown into a stellar sleeper! During the first month, Aron and I got (or felt like we were getting) fewer than four hours of sleep each night. (I always found it difficult to follow the "sleep while the baby sleeps" advice during the day. When Graham took daytime naps, I wanted to wash dishes and fold laundry. Clutter makes me crazy.) These days Graham usually sleeps the first four hours of the night in his crib alone. After those first few hours, he wakes up and needs to be cuddled back to sleep, and I tend to keep him in bed next to me for the rest of the night, which feels easier than risking his waking up by lying him back down in his crib. I rarely get fewer than eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Eating:  The past month has been the only time in Graham's life that I have felt confident that he's eating enough. (The pediatrician has never doubted that Graham was getting enough food, but I still worried.) Graham eats about thirty ounces of formula a day and six to eight ounces of solids, including stage thee meals like minestrone and ratatouille! He also takes excellent poopies.
  • Sleeping/eating:  Because Graham eats so well during the day, he has started to sleep through his former nighttime feedings. Sometimes he gets hungry around 4:00am, but for the most part he sleeps from 8:00pm (minus a frantic waking or two when he needs some snuggles) until 7:00am. 
  • Laughter:  Graham makes me laugh. I make Graham laugh. Graham makes himself laugh, which makes me laugh. We live in a funny house!
  • Mobility:  Parents of crawlers and amblers used to tell Aron and me to enjoy having a non-crawling baby. They told us that a crawling baby is an exhausting baby. That's true, but a crawling baby is also an impressive baby. And although I am halfway heartbroken each time Graham wants to get out of my arms and onto the floor to play, I am also discovery that it's nice to be able to use my hands for something other than holding Graham. The openness of our house allows me to cook in the kitchen and still be able see Graham's adventures in the living room. And our house is small, so he's never closer to true danger than I am to him. And I'm quick, quicker than he is, for now.
  • Reading:  Graham doesn't enjoy being read to as much as I enjoy reading to him, but as he's crawling around contentedly it's easy for me to sneak some poetry into his ears without him becoming a restless audience member. 
  • Cognizance:  Graham is increasingly aware of the world around him. He waves to the birds he hears chirping in the trees. He waves at strangers on the street. I think he attempts to sing along when I start the the "A B C" song (though it's true that I have optimistic mom ears). In August we are going to take him to the aquarium. I am so excited to see his eyes see all the animals stolen from the sea for a profit. I'll work on developing his moral cognizance when he's a little older. 
  • Games:  I try to relax and allow Graham to explore the house without constantly hovering over and redirecting him, but there are certain spots that are dangerous, and he just doesn't get it. Graham is very interested, for instance, in Aron's bike, which we keep in the hallway. I am, for Graham's sake, very afraid of Aron's bike, but there really isn't anywhere else we can keep it. Graham seems aware of the fact that he's not permitted to play near Aron's bike, because as he crawls toward it and I come from behind to redirect him, he looks over his shoulder and laughs before speeding up in pursuit of its pedals. And when I get on the ground to crawl with Graham, we take turns chasing each other. My saying, "I'm going to get you! always makes him laugh.
  • Robust stuff:  Graham spends the day standing and falling, usually on his butt but infrequently he'll bump his head. He almost never cries about it. He just pulls himself up again.
But I do sometimes miss the baby we brought home from the hospital, even if he didn't let us sleep.

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