Felix has been in the world now for almost a week. The day after he was born, the rains came, but the heat has stayed with us, and it has been relatively warm and wet since his birthday. After his first vigorous cry when he came to earth, that was it: he has been completely peaceful since then. He is able to let me know exactly what he needs with a mew or a sigh. He and I stayed in bed for a couple of days, skin-to-skin, nursing and snuggling. As usual, breastfeeding was a bit painful until day 5, when that ended like magic, and I have once again grown accustomed to the sweetness of it all. Every day has been a precious gift, and every day Felix changes; unfurling limbs like a flower, discovering his own hands, holding his neck up to look around, eyes opening more and more, that newborn soft-focus shifting slightly, lingering when my eyes meet his. It is impossible for me to elucidate how much I love him, and how absorbing it is for me to simply hold him, gazing. Newborn babies are incredible. There are those who say they have no time for babies: that infants are uninteresting, unintellectual, lacking in personality. How sad for you, if this is what you think. My almost-week old child is a zen master: completely real in every emotion, and bodily function. Artless and a masterpiece, unselfconscious, and totally aware. He is himself completely.
As for me, I feel fantastic. Lee and I resolved to take one day off from kiln-building as a family, but he went back to work on day 2. I made it to the pottery studio on day 3 while Lee and Felix cuddled, and then on day 4, we were all out there laying bricks, with Felix in the stretchy rebozo-style front wrap (which I love for newborns, and have used for 4 babies so far). Horus and Treva have continued to be amazing and wonderful and supportive and unceasingly gentle with their little brother, with nary an incident, for which I am so grateful. (Treva, by this age, had already been bopped on the head and pinched to the point of tears, which still makes me very sad when I think about it). My only worry has been that the kids are somewhat overly effusive in their adoration (“Let me pet the baby!” says Treva. “He’s not a pet, darling” I respond. “But you may certainly stroke your little brother’s soft soft skin.” To which Treva has responded, “He’s not a brother! he’s a baby”. Ok.)
I have felt that normal swish and sway of new-mum emotions…wistful already that a week has gone by. I cried when his umbilical stump fell off–last Saturday. I have also, as I usually am during this heady postpartum time, been extremely aware of worldly shadows, and have found it nearly impossible not to sometimes think of the things that are done to babies that Felix will never endure. On his first day, I couldn’t help but think, If you were not my baby, this is when you might have your perfect male parts cut. On day 3, I heard some news hour horror, and couldn’t help but think, If we lived with war, that baby could have been you.
As he snuffles into my skin, breathing me in, and kneading me with his tiny fingers, rooting for a nipple, then finding his target, I can’t help but think, What do people DO when they bottle-feed their infants? How does that work? No judgement on other mothers’ myriad circumstances, only sadness that not all babies have this perfect experience of so viscerally learning how to love and be loved; of learning that food is pleasure and connection and family and mother and home; that food is not plastic or packaged, and yes, that love and food are work. We are just lucky, he and I.