Thursday, September 12, 2013

First days

It's been awhile. A very long while, actually.

But I have a pretty good excuse.

This little person--Sylvia Gabrielle Nelson herself--arrived two and a half weeks ago, at 12:33 AM on Sunday, August 25th. Her labor was fast--so very, very fast--and her story will follow sometime soon. But I need to do it justice, and that requires writing it in detail first. I'm working on it, but it will be the official record, the one and I read and re-read just to make sure I never forget it. It's worth taking my time.

She is a lovely little person. So different from Peregrine, so very, very calm. I didn't expect that, honestly. She moved constantly inside me. Her position changed by the day, by the hour. She explored every nook and cranny of my womb and contorted herself into positions I couldn't figure out (some, my midwives couldn't figure out). I was expecting a little tornado. But she's not. She's a beautifully peaceful little thing, generally happy to just watch the world go by, to soak it in with her enormous eyes and round mouth, both of which have earned her the nickname "Owl Face."

She's not without her challenges (the main one being her decided disgust with the night for being dark and having nothing to look at). She's requiring some re-working of my baby paradigms (unlike her brother, she's easily overstimulated and overtired, and all my bouncing/rocking/swaying/sucking/distracting tricks tend to just irritate her). But she's really very easy overall. She's so calm. She lets me put her down (sometimes). She lets me gently rock her (in a rocking chair! sitting down!) when she's tired. She eats calmly and without gulping frantically. She loves being in carriers and actually scrunches up and bends her legs.

She's making me really glad I had Peregrine first.

Peregrine wasn't a difficult baby, per se, but he wasn't an easy one, either. He wanted so much out of life so early on. More rocking! More swinging! More things to see! And woe betide me if I ever stopped walking, sat down, or relinquished him to a bouncy seat or something. Mealtime was always a frantic and hurried affair, and involved swallowing a lot of air and crying when it took me five seconds to unbutton my shirt. And his little body was so tense. Seriously, I think it took the kid six months to learn to bend his legs.

If I'd had Sylvia first, Peregrine would have come as a shock. And I would have thought something was wrong with him. I would have been unnerved by his tension, his neediness, his anxiety, his zest for life. As it was, I took it in stride. I accepted it as part of him. I tempered his fierce with my calm, instead of adding my anxiety to his. I think he'd be a very different person if I'd treated his infancy as though something was wrong with him. A lot less happy, a lot less adaptable. I'm glad he was the baby I learned on.

Not that there's no learning with Sylvia. There's a lot of it. But there's a lot more with the first.

And speaking of Peregrine, he has taken her in stride. More than that, he's adopted her fully. He loves her, as much as a 2-year-old can. He laughs at her faces and constantly monitors her whereabouts. He's memorized the contents of her closet. He worries when she cries or spits up. He talks to her for me. She'll fuss and Peregrine will say, "It okay, baby, it okay, little sister, I nurse you again soon!" It melts my heart.

But it will be hard, parenting them together. Mostly because Peregrine's needs haven't really changed. He still wants more more more out of life. Go places, do things, have a routine, talk constantly. Boredom does him in. (It makes him destroy things, too). And yet, I'm so tired. It takes so much energy (and so, so much time!) to get both of them in the car. I can't carry them both at the same time. And Sylvia's needs are so primal. She needs to eat (a lot). She needs to be held. She needs to sleep, and needs help to get there. She's so little. Yes, she has to wait for him sometimes, but she can't really just scream for five minutes. Mostly because she has no concept of five minutes. She's so very, very new.

Peregrine's taking this like a champ. But I feel for him, still. I've been there. I've been the older one, the one shunted to the side because a baby is newer, and needier, and has no concept of five minutes. It has to happen. But it's hard, nonetheless.

We'll find our rhythm, though. I think I have to see the next season of my life--the next four, five, six months--as set aside for doing simply that. For learning what it means to be a family of four. If I think of that as my job, my mission, for this time in my life, that makes it seem easier, seem doable (and not just scrape-by-able, but really, truly doable). It will be messy, and I will be late to preschool, and some days the dishes won't get done, and some days I won't get to sit down. But that's the end goal--finding our rhythm and learning to be family. Someday, that will come.

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