Henry, Hank, and I are all getting to know each other. In the calmer moments, we actually seem to enjoy parenting quite a lot, and neither Henry nor I can imagine life without Hank. There is usually one point in the morning where we are all together, no one is tired, no one is crying, and we are all feeling happy. This morning it was during "tummy time" -- we had Hank on the floor on a blankie so he could exercise his head and neck muscles, and at the end of tummy time we washed his hair again. We love washing his hair and combing it into funny shapes. He is pretty tolerant, but doesn't like it all that much, but we more than make up for it at the end by bundling him up in a towel and giving him all kinds of hugs and kisses. We love him so.
There's been a lot of hard stuff, too. The sleep deprivation has been a real challenge, but we seem to be getting through that fairly well. The hardest thing has been breastfeeding -- well, not the breastfeeding so much, as the fact that Hank still hasn't gained back any of the weight he lost after being born. We've seen lactation consultants and pediatricians and everyone has different advise. For me this has been extremely emotional and upsetting. We have to supplement every meal of my breastmilk with formula. The first time we had to do this it just broke my heart -- not so much that we were giving him formula, but that I felt like I was failing at feeding my kiddo. Like I said, this has been an extremely emotional and difficult thing for me to go through, but by the same token I also know that we need to do whatever we have to do to get Hank to put on weight and start growing. We go to Kaiser again tomorrow for a weight check, so hopefully we will see some forward progress. I will just fall apart if he's lost again, though.
Another hard thing has just been the hormonal crash I've been on. Luckily I was warned about this in advance so I was expecting it. But it has been quite a roller coaster, with lots of tears and headaches and (the worst part) night sweats and anxiety dreams from which I wake up thinking I've been nursing Hank in bed and can't find him in the sheets and blankets. I wake up soaking wet and freezing cold.
But like I said, for every hard moment there has been an equally lovely one. Everyday Hank looks older and wiser and begins to show signs of interacting with the outer world. He makes all kinds of new sounds, including this high pitched shriek that has earned him a few new nicknames -- Pterodactyl, Dinosaur, Mommy's Little Bird of Prey. And even when he's screaming bloody murder on his changing table, I'll look down at him and just sigh and say "he is just soooo cuuute!!!" Some days I can't even believe that I made him. I am completely in love. Other new nicknames include The Boob, Little Boob, Pumpkin, and Hiccupy Hank (which will also make an excellent cowboy name one day).
Over the last couple of weeks I've been remembering a couple of things I keep meaning to write down. These details are probably meaningless to anyone other than myself, but they were observations I made and when I notice these things again they will remind me of this massive life transformation.
1. Persimmons. Early in the pregnancy I looked out the bedroom window on to the neighbor's persimmon tree. It was still late spring, but tiny green persimmons had begun to grow. I remember looking at the fruit, and placing a hand on what would become Hank in my belly, and thinking, 'when those persimmons are ready to be picked, this baby will be ready to be born.' Throughout the pregnancy I watched those persimmons grow. In the last weeks the persimmons turned bright orange, and I started seeing persimmons for sale in grocery stores. The weekend before Hank was born the neighbors were outside picking their persimmons, and I just knew it was time.
2. Fingernail moon. When we were driving to labor and delivery the night before Hank was born, there was a tiny sliver of a fingernail moon hanging in the sky. This has always been my favorite moon. We had a fingernail moon grace our wedding, so these are meaningful for us. By the time Hank was born the next afternoon, it was a crystal clear perfect fall day.