Prior to the birth of my baby, I fully expected to say things like “Whoa, which end was that?” and “I’m gonna eat all your piggy-wiggy-wittle toes.” And in the weeks since I welcomed my son into this world, I’ve said those things. A lot. But I’ve also said some stuff both to him and near him that I never, ever expected to hear come out of my mouth.
Â “How did that fit in there?”
Of course I knew I was pregnant, and of course I knew that Baby would likely be around seven-ish pounds and twenty-something inches. But you really have no idea what seven-ish pounds, twenty-something inches means until it’s laying on your chest, post-birth. Even though my belly now resembles a big bowl of pudding, it simply doesn’t seem possible that all that skin and flab once accommodated my real, live, kicking newborn.
Â “You’ve got some mealworms there.”
My son was born with peach-colored grubs for fingers and tiny corn kernels for toes. His feet looked like something served with soy sauce at a dim sum restaurant. His skin, after being scraped clear of the cheesy substance with which he was born, was as baggy as an empty coin purse. When he cried, he would scrunch his face until it looked like a past-its-prime tomato. Did I love him any less? Heck no. Duh. Do I continue to name his body parts using food metaphors? Yup.
Â “What day is it?”
Way back when I was pregnant, my husband and I used to wonder about paternity and maternity leave. How did people pass the time? We fantasized about long afternoons spent reading long novels or, at the very least, watching BBC miniseries based on long novels. If I could, I’d travel back to that time and slap us with one of my breasts, now big enough to inflict some serious cranial damage. I know now that my days would be spent in a haze of almost hourly changing and nursing.
Â “The breastaurant is now open.”
I once heard human infants described as the most highly evolved parasites on the planet. I thought of that description often during my son’s first weeks of life, when all he wanted to do was nurse. As far as he was concerned, I wasn’t his mother or his father’s wife or his primary caregiver, let alone a writer or reader or thinker. I was a breastaurant, where the food was always good and the ambiance always nice.
Â “Do I have to wear a shirt?”
Running the breastaurant practically 24-7 meant going topless. At some point I simply forgot there was a time when I wore shirts, let alone bras.Â And since leaving the house would require me to put on clothes, I mostly stayed at home while my son was very small. Frankly, in those early days, most activities simply weren’t worth the trouble of putting on clothes.