He had been at Hershey Medical Center for a week, transfused and under lights, getting his bilirubin count down. We had visited, but he had been out of my arms for a week. And although at 8 lbs., 6 oz. he was by far the largest baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit, it is torture to see your child blindfolded, with electrodes pasted all over him. And heartbreaking to know it was torture for him, too. This was the baby who cried in his cradle but quieted instantly when he was laid beside me. The one who matched his breathing to mine as we slept.
So when he was discharged and we picked him up, I, who gave talks on the importance of seat belts and child safety, removed him from his car seat to nurse. I should tell you now that I lucked out; the drive was without incident. The sun set on our long drive home. The sky filled with gold and purple, Neil Diamond sang, "I Am, I Said" on the radio, and my baby nursed on.
That's always been a vivid memory, the baby so real when I think about it. How long do babies last? Everyone advises us to savor the first year because it goes by so quickly. It's true, and after the first baby we know all too well how true it is, and yet the second one's first year flies by just as quickly as the first. Our infants disappear, just as our two-year-olds will turn three, and our eight-year-olds will turn nine, and our twelve-year-olds will become teenagers.
Most of the time we're not aware of the loss. We're too busy trying to keep up with the changes, for one thing. We just naturally accept each metamorphosis. And I'm happy to be able to report that it does even out after a while; thirty-seven is just not that much different from thirty-six. :-)
But I recalled that sunset tonight, and Neil Diamond's song, and that gorgeous baby snuggled into me, and I wondered if perhaps the baby felt more real today than he should, considering that his own baby will be born this year. It's time for another metamorphosis of sorts, a time to welcome the new. And believe me, the new will be most welcome.
I just realized that almost exactly a year ago I wrote this. What is it about late February and nursing baby memories? Perhaps I have had enough of the cold.