It seems impossible that one can be nostalgic for a time that was less than a year earlier, but my husband and I were looking through pictures last night, and discovered quite to our chagrin that we are nostalgic for January. As we looked through acres of photos of the bun and us in all stages of exhaustion (nothing's changed on that front, except perhaps an acceptance of our fate), we noted how tiny he was, how crossed his eyes were, how little he did. He slept primarily in our arms for almost two months when we were awake, and slept in our bed when we went to sleep. I lived in these hideous pajamas when I had clothes on at all (my sister-in-law noted when looking through these same photos, "There sure are a lot of pictures of you in your bra.") and the house was in a state of complete disarray.
The bun was so new we lived in fear of breaking him: my husband's personal terror was that he would trip and fall on him in the middle of the night; mine was that I couldn't figure out how to change his diaper or that I would suffocate him. We slept for a good month and a half with a light on, my husband and I making question-marks of flesh squeezed to the very edges of the mattress around him while this eight-pound tot ruled the roost with far more of the bed to himself than even giants have reason to expect.
We went through those first few weeks in a suspended state of reality. I remember thinking one day as I was propped in the shower trying to get my faulty boobs to work that I didn't know how I would ever go to the store, or for that matter even leave the house, and cooking seemed like an insurmountable task. In truth, it took me a few months to figure out, and I'm not sure that I really have it knocked. But we haven't starved yet, so I must have figured something out.
In the photos we can see little objects specific to the time around his birth. In one photo (now indicative of our confusion which was encompassing and absolute) the bun is in his bouncy seat swaddled so completely that all you can see is his little face peering out. But the bouncy seat is on the coffee table, which seemed to make sense at the time (I think we imagined him more visible there, as if we kept eye-level with our own chairs nothing would happen to him) and now is endearing but obviously dangerous and insane.
Surrounding this bundle of bun is the detritus of our trip to and return from the hospital: the vitamins they gave me when I was discharged, a cup of coffee (I doubt that was mine--I was too timid to drink anything that wasn't 100 percent healthy until I realized that I was going to lose my mind), a bag of cookies, and most charmingly the piece of paper that my husband wrote the times of my contractions on right before we realized I was in the home stretch (he can map out exactly what was going on for each one. We were watching "The History of Britain" when the beginning of the end was nigh: isn't it odd the mundane details that accompany the momentous occasions in one's life?). In the background is the suitcase I took with me to the hospital, still unpacked, and the exercise ball I was to use for something which eludes me now. Under his bouncy seat I can see the tiniest edge of his hospital footprints on a blue boy-flavored piece of paper.
It's a charming photo because it illustrates our blinding innocence in all things baby-related. We were rank amateurs and this photo encapsulates it. I can remember so clearly trying to prepare everything I could in advance, as though I would never be able to set the thermostat once he was born, almost like I was playing house, trying to imagine imponderables as if I was incapable of doing anything but watch him like a pot of boiling water once he arrived.
There is another photo taken less than ten days after he was born where I'm in the hideous pajamas and laughing. Behind me on the counter is the glue that we used to put together his outrageously complex and altogether insane birth announcements. I pointed it out to my husband last night, and we looked at each other in shock. "What the fuck were we thinking?" we both wondered. "Why did we think we had to get those announcements finished when he was so small? Was the world going to stop because we hadn't gotten them in the mail by the time he was a couple of months old?" It now seems like part and parcel with the collective baby-related madness that on top of figuring out the basics, like feeding, clothing and changing the bun, or dealing with boobs that were unruly and painful, that we hand-constructed eighty eight-page passports, complete with photos and glued bindings.
Now as I chase behind the bun, childproofing just barely ahead of one disaster or another, I can't believe how much has changed. He's a real boy now, and not quite a baby anymore, and nearly three times the size he was when he was born. We can identify the machinations of his rapidly developing brain, and he's reaching for anything and everything that he can get his hands on (and then stick in his mouth). But barely half a year ago, he was this tiny little person whose eyes couldn't focus, whose limbs flailed helplessly about and who had us immediately and completely whipped. The latter remains true, but the former was fleeting and we're left gasping as we try to keep up.
It's a wild ride, one that might kill us but that is definitely worth the risk.