It has been eleven days since Gatsby arrived earthside. Eleven days of that unavoidable, indescribable sweet chaos that new babies bring.
You forget, I forget that everything changes. A whole day revolves around naps and nursing. A night is measured by how many times you wake up and switch sides.
Everyone is a bit tired and a bit cranky. Everyone feels fascinated by this small creature who sleeps most of the time and has caused all this chaos.
Third time around, the chaos remains. The toddler wants to cuddle the baby and hold the baby but come night time he is distraught that Mama isn’t quite as available as she used to be. The first week is hard for him. He wakes up crying a lot even though during the day he seems as happy as ever. By the ninth day he seems to settle more. He cuddles into your back instead of your front, and sleeps like that. You cry because you miss him, like you knew you would, even though your heart has stretched with love for this new baby.
Your daughter observes, ‘I think he misses you, you know Mama’ and you feel thankful that she takes things like this in her stride, adopting a more motherly approach to the toddler in some knowing attempt to ease things for him. She has a knack for this, and you miss her too. But you’ve both been here before and you both know it will be okay.
Everything slows down. Everything is measured by nappies and middle of the night snacks, once again. And although this is not your first rodeo, you still feel the slight shock of newness this baby has carried with it.
And this baby, whose name you already mix up with his brother’s, seems both new and familiar at once. You touch your stomach at night and try to remember the feeling of him in there, just days before, when you did the same thing, huge and impatient for his arrival, trying to imagine who he might be.
But you’re on the other side now, and it’s hard to go back to before you had held him and known him and loved him at once. Before you had stared at his puffy face and thought, ‘Of course, it’s you.’
Every day food appears at your door by some miracle and you remind yourself that you’ve chosen some extraordinary friends. You burn the candle you bought especially and the bedroom smells of vanilla lime.
You breathe in the very top of the baby’s head for minutes at a time, or wait til he yawns and stick your nose in his mouth, like some insane baby lady (which is pretty much what you assume your neighbours call you).
His fingers are long and his hair is darker than you’d have imagined. Every day his face emerges a little more, a little less new, a little less furled. His eyes are a very dark blue and he smiles and he is the calmest baby you’ve ever held. He watches everything and lifts his head to peer straight at your face.
He looks like his siblings often, and you thread together all the small ways they can become each other in a gesture or movement.
You love him so much you watch him sleep even when all you want to do is sleep, too. But you can’t help it, because that’s how things are now. Topsy turvy and chaotic and absolutely bursting with this new, familiar love.