If I had thought about the number of firsts that happen with a newborn before having one, I suppose I could have reasoned that there are a nearly infinite number, but having watched a number of them sail by, I’m now thinking about them. I’m not talking about the baby book stuff that I anticipated—first real smile, first babble—but the dozens of tiny firsts that pile themselves into personality: the first time he sneezed while nursing, spraying me with milk; the first time Joey turned his head to avoid the burp cloth on my shoulder and spit up into my hair; the first time he started smacking his lips when I grabbed the breastfeeding pillow. I must already be forgetting firsts, and it makes me a little sad; this is all brought on by this morning’s first first, baby’s first diaper blowout, so I am clearly being sentimental to a really idiotic degree, but there you are.
Of course I’m thinking about Cricket; he’s the ghost in that first paragraph. It’s one thing to know that you’re missing a nebulous “everything” and another to have a long list of things you certainly or probably missed. Ruth has emailed me several times since Joey’s birth (more on that later, probably), asking questions and telling Cricket stories, which I cherish. And perhaps partially for that reason, and because of the time of year, and because of having a baby around, I’m thinking of him more, in a more concrete way about the pragmatic loss of not parenting. I’m not getting depressed, but I am thinking more about the details of him that I have missed, and will miss. It has led me back to an old, odd desire of mine—I badly want to send him a pair of shoes. I haven’t given them clothes for him since that very first visit way back when, since I realized that we don’t have similar tastes and saw that he never wore the stuff (at least not in any picture that I ever saw, or at a visit), and my want to see him in something I gave him had gone dormant until now. I don’t know why this is the way that I think I’d feel connected to him above and beyond all the ways that are actually available to me—gifts, letters, occasional visits, maybe even a phone call!—but then again, maybe it’s the very homeliness of clothes that appeals. I only get special occasion connection, not the homey kind.
Tuesday night, Joey decided that sleep was for the birds, so we were up from about 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., and I was feeling pretty discouraged and exhausted by the end. After a few hours of morning sleep, though, he was in a really sweet mood, grinning at me and babbling a bit, and it had all been so clearly worthwhile. At one point after he’d finished nursing, he patted my breasts and smiled at me, and it is so easy to be in love. Being kept up all night is so much easier than being so very far away.