Thursday, January 18, 2018

on mamahood: month one

Dear Birdie,

You have been with us for one month now, and while your Baba is reading a comic and you are taking a nap, I thought I would write down some words. They may be quickly dashed out, as I never know when exactly your squawks will lead me back to you; my boobs back to you. It's so nice to get a break to do something just for me.

( Simultaneously, I miss your face and smell and wonder when you will wake up.)

You might be wondering why the nickname. Why doesn't Mama ever refer to me as Kai? Well, for one thing, I generally very rarely call the people close to me by their real names. For instance, the day you hear me call your Dad by 'Bryan' to his face, is the day that he has done something that has me very mad. Your auntie is called Sister, your auntie Maggie is Marge. You get the drill.

So. You are Birdie. You and your squawks and cheeps and downright SCREECHES.

Baby, you have changed so much in this month that I'm not sure what even to say. When we brought you home, you were this small tiny human -- Baba could pick you up off the change table with one arm. You looked kind of like an alien; dark eyes without hardly any of the whites showing. Furrowed brows and so many frowns, that your neurotic Mama googled it to make sure nothing was wrong. Long piano fingers. Your hands and feet would often turn purple, as your circulation was still finding its way.

We held our breath so often these last 30 days. Is he alive? Is he still breathing? More than once, I would hold my finger to your nose to make sure I could feel a puff of air. Bringing you home that first day after the hospital was maybe the scariest night of my life: we foolishly tried to will ourselves to stay awake into the wee hours of the morning, terrified that if we both fell asleep, the very earth would swallow you whole and take you away from us.

We had just met you, you see. We didn't know if we would lose you. We had never been the stewards of anything so small, so precious, so beautiful before.

I can report that we are gaining confidence, as each night successfully yields its way to dawn: another day of triumph, another day where we did not wreck you. (You think I am being dramatic, in my use of words, child? One day, you may find yourself with 7lbs of flesh that depends on you too, and then we'll talk.)

Your first bath, sucked. You hated it SO much. You cried, and cried, and cried. Surely, we were torturing you. Dad thought this was an omen that you might hate the water as you got older (like your mother), and secretly was nervous that you might not share in his love of ocean and sea. Curse your DNA, Mama. I rolled my eyes.

A few weeks in, he tried again. Guess what? You love it. When the temperature of the water isn't tepid, and no shampoo gets in your eyes, and you've got your loving dad washing your cute bum, what's not to love?

I'm trying to think of the mundane facts that I will forget by next month, because of my extreme sleep deprivation and the fact that every day something new changes about you.

A tally so far:

- Your eyes are gunmetal grey

- Your hair is dark brown

- You are longer than you are wide. Who do you belong to, Big Bird?

- You love your soother, boobs, sleeping on your Dad's chest, being swaddled, being sung to / music

- You hate the inbetween of waking up and not having a boob in your mouth, being cold, wet wipes in your bum crack when you are hungry. Basically, when you are boobless.

- You tolerate: tummy time, when Baba is wearing you in the Ergo and crumbs fall onto your head because he is eating, and when Mama is on a mission to pick your nose.

- Mama's favourite part of you: lips. Perfect ears.

- Baba's favourite part of you: lips. Chubby arms.

Near the end of the month, you started to coo and oh BOY is that the sweetest sound? I didn't even know what a coo was before you, as a single, childless ladyperson. I googled it too, when the nurse told us that we could expect to hear that soon. The baby in the video was making such cute sounds, but trust me, it is even better when it comes out of the mouth of you.

Recently, you started smiling and chuckling in your sleep. The next few days, you smiled at ME, your FATHER, your POPO and your GONG GONG.

Anytime you do something terrific and amazing like that, I call you my little Valedictorian (your Dad was Valedictorian of his grad class) or my little Class Poet (your mom, her grad class), and your Uncle Vee overheard me saying that and told me I was going to give you a perfectionist complex one day. Yep, probably.


Listen, my little love. You are the heart that beats outside of my chest now. It is a homing beacon that always tethers me to you. There are days that are long, monotnous, tiring. There are days that I don't know how to be your Mama, whether anything I'm doing is right. Where the tether is hard to bear, to wear.

But then, we will be alone together in the orange rocking chair at 3AM as your Dad sleeps in the next room, your little body tucked firmly against my chest, and your face is peace and bliss. Breastfeeding can often be tedious, but there are these seriously poetic moments where I look down at you, watching as you relax because you are safe, cradled, nourished. I feel beautiful and strong, like the most important person on the planet. Because at this moment, I am the most important person to you.

I love you, Bird. What a pleasure to be around you.

Love, Mama


  1. you describe the precious joys of the early days of motherhood beautifully. xox

  2. Thanks Joann...lovely words and pictures. Iris looks very content! Hope we can come in again about March. Love,. Karen

  3. Oh, I can leave you messages now, great!

  4. Moving as always. Exquisite balance of grit and humour. I hope you go pro one day? Great photo for valedictorian. You inspire me to get pen to paper. Guest contribution one of these days! Things I hope not to forget:

    The rewiring of neurons when the wet cloth hits his tired and hungry body, a cry like no other, unforgiving, a bottomless call to serve, so strong that I must do everything, so dissonant I lose motor skills.

    The look of surprised interest in his own bowel movements, like developing a taste for tuna sashimi with wasabi, kinda of painful at first, but then wow, that's pretty good!

    The guilt of letting him squawk or fuss a bit longer because I really, really REALLY just want to pour this fucking coffee and get some toast in me.

    The awe of his growth rate. His every change being so important and yet for every other parent that's said "he can hold his head up for almost 5 seconds" it's been like, "whatevs".

    The hard truth that you, my wife, are so so so tired and just fell deep into that sweet and oh-so-needed sleep, but he's hungry again, and I know you will not get back to sleep for the day has begun, and naps are hard to find, and I always get more rest than you, more time than you, but there you are, 20 minutes later, shining your love down on him, I hear your sweet words, and am filled with pride and wonder at how truly completely you love him, regardless of all the above.

    The paranoid checks when he burrows deep in my chest, limp-spined and curled into the Ergo where I can not see him, so I have to put fingers in his hand and gently squeeze until he startles, moves, sighs, or shows other signs of life.

    The sense when he smiles that I am one of the precious few - that this moment is distinct from the multitude of frowns and cries, that his love is beaming back at me, matching mine and somehow amplifying it beyond measure.

    The realization that maybe watching Black Mirror or TV in general while he naps on the couch next to us may not be perfect parenting.

    Him on my chest, the soft weight, the slack contentedness of his body, helping ground me, to focus on this, and breathe, and lose myself in the feel of his soft head in my hand, his tiny arm draped over my ribs, his beautiful sleep telling me that he knows he is safe, and loved, that I'm doing my job, fulfilling the best and most cherished role I could ask for, that of Papa.

  5. We are urgently in need of kidney donors in Kokilaben Hospital India for the sum of $450,000,00,For more info
    WhatsApp +91 7795833215