I find it hard to believe, but Sunday you were four months old. Your due date, the day on which your developmental clock officially began ticking, was only three weeks ago. When strangers see you, they invariably comment upon your size: “Oh!” they exclaim, “A brand new baby!”
I am never sure how to respond. What, this old thing? We’ve had her for ages.
You like to dance. It’s a lazy sort of dancing that doesn’t involve any movement on your part; instead you curl on my chest while I bob around and sing. I recently made us a playlist (what the kids used to call a “mix tape”) with a little bit of everything on it—some Petula Clark, some Stevie Wonder. Mr. Wonder was premature himself, you know. Preemies can get down just as well as anyone else. Maybe better.
You like having the bottoms of your feet rubbed. You like it when your father or I play the very sophisticated game “Crazy Arms,” in which we waggle your arms about in an educational fashion. Other things you like include milk, Madame Penguin, and nudity (your own).
Before we brought you home from the hospital, I looked at swings. I had heard that babies are fond of them, but when I saw how big they were, and mentally placed one in our small apartment, I decided it was an unnecessary extravagance. Besides, I was pretty sure I would never want to put you down. Probably I would just hold you all day and evening, in my arms or in your sling. I would be like a calm, naturally maternal native woman, only with nicer shoes.
I do love to hold you, and you do love your sling, falling asleep as if it has been soaked in chloroform. But sometimes I need to use the stove, a no-no with a baby on oxygen. Sometimes I need to pick up around the house, and all that bustling and bending is hard while wheeling a tank and wearing an infant with poor head control. And sometimes I need to do something extravagant, just for Milk Lady. Like pee.
My solution was to plop you in your vibrating chair. However you were not amenable to this plan, and in the mornings while I raced around the kitchen getting your medicines and both of our breakfasts ready, you would cry accusingly at me from your purring throne. Always, always you want to be held, an understandable preference to be sure, but there are limits, baby. And so I sent your father out yesterday with stern instructions not to return without a swing, and yesterday afternoon we put you in it and turned it on.
A single ray of sun slanted though the hole that had suddenly appeared in the ceiling above us, and somewhere, I could hear the gentle strains of a harp. You adore this swing, and right now while I type you are asleep in it, swaying gently next to me. Sometimes I just stare at you, unable to believe you are really here, and really mine. When I pluck you from your crib in the morning, I feel overwhelmed by my luck, and your sweetness.
Everyone says the time goes fast with children, and while I always assumed the years would skid by, I was surprised at how damnably short the hours are as well. There is never enough space in a day for all the things I want to do with you, and mostly I just manage the basics, and tell myself that tomorrow we will do more. But I never catch up, and you are already outgrowing your first clothes.
In a way it was easier before your due date. It was bonus time! You weren’t supposed to be here, yet. But now it’s official, the sand is pouring through the hourglass, and even your swing reminds me as it sways back and forth: tick, tock, tick, tock.
Every minute I spend with you is a good one, and there will never be enough of them.