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.

11 thoughts on “Firsts

  1. I think if you want shoes, you probably have a good reason for that choice. If you can express the reason when you send them, it sounds like maybe Ruth and Nora are more open to things right now and you might be able to slip them through. That’s a terrible attitude, but if Cricket’s invested in Joey stories right now, shoes that come with a Joey story might be of interest to him. And he’ll be choosing his own clothes soon if not already. (Trust me!)

      • Is it bad that I always suggest you be somewhat manipulative with them? I just think it’s the only way for you guys to get any traction. In any event, I’m glad Cricket gets to join the rest of your adoring public in being a Joey fan!

  2. I can imagine how cool it is to witness Joey’s many firsts–he sounds like such an adorable little guy. I’m happy to hear that Ruth has been sharing stories lately and that you guys have been exchanging emails. Shoes sound like a lovely gift and it would be awesome to see pictures of Cricket zooming around in little clodhoppers you guys gave him.

  3. I read this then zoomed out & thought about it all day long. And how, before Saskia was born I just couldn’t imagine C wouldn’t change her mind once the baby arrived. I thought it was because you know, tiny human baby, but I see that what I was really informed by was three kids, all those moments you describe so beautifully. It was as if I was bringing hindsight into the beginning.

    But we can’t really do that, can we? Bring hindsight in?

    I do like that at least for this moment there’s a more open door /window /heart sense between R & N & you guys. May that somehow take soft hold & mean you get a little more everyday feel even though you aren’t in everyday round the corner or same house life.

  4. Is it totally terrible that I sort of resent you right now?

    Reading your posts can be very depressing for me.

    I wonder what it will be like when I have my own kids. That Joeyriffic slice mixed with the melancholy bitterness of the adoption slice. I worry. And I’m jealous of you, that you have your Joey now. I know that doesn’t make sense/isn’t fair, but you were right when you said we were on parallel paths for awhile and now they’ve split, and I’m stuck in a downward spiral of self loathing while you are tentatively testing the waters of motherhoody happiness. I’m jealous.

    Joey sounds fucking adorable. The sneezing, the patting, the loving. I really liked the list of stuf you made, his likes and dislikes. I want to make a list like that for my tiny human, but I’m not there to give him a bath, or tickle his feet.

    Gah sorry, this comment has really devolved into deep self pity, and I’m sorry. I know things are confusing over there for you, and I think you are doing a bang-up job, from what I can tell. I’m really happy for you. I resent you. I wish and hope for you all the very best in the world, and the same for tiny Joey, and the same for slightly less tiny Cricket. And now I will stop typing.

    • If I can be equally blunt, I think you’d have to be a little crazy (or deep in denial) not to resent me right now. I got the baby. Oh sure, I don’t have your son, and I did lose one myself, but good god, you are a grieving mother, and I’m surprised that you can bring yourself to read my blog right now.

      I had Cricket for about twenty-four hours, and then I didn’t see him again until he was almost six months old. I still have no idea what he likes best, or what his habits or, or even exactly what he looks like right now, and that makes me a little bit frantic if I dwell on it. I’ve mostly dealt with all of that by feeling less connected to him—not a path I either recommend or warn you away from. It is what it is. When I was where you are, I stopped getting dressed every day and started buying baby clothes; it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, and if someone had come to our house to show off a new baby, I would have wanted to throw myself off the roof.

      I’m sorry.

      • I get that you have had to distance yourself from Cricket to get on with your life emotionally. I just hope that you will do your best not to make that clear to him as he’s older; that is, to make him feel lesser than Joey or any future kids you have. Most adoptees I know, including myself, want to be accepted and loved by our first families.

        When my own first mother told me that she feels nothing for me as her child, that I am like some nice person she met in a grocery store and would consider having conversations with, it hurt. She says that she considers herself only to have one child, my younger brother. And her attitude shapes the way her family deals with me, as well as cutting me to the core. I would hate to see that happen to other adoptees. We carry the careless words of our first moms with us, and they can be caustic.

        I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to leave your child with others, forever. I am sorry for your pain, but please remember that your kids still need you and want you to be present for them.

      • I do hope that the distance isn’t permanent—I want closeness with Cricket—it just doesn’t seem possible right now. But my hope, when I’m not just being grimdark, is that I won’t end up having that talk with Cricket because the distance won’t exist anymore.

    • Just want to point out that the tiny human is your own kid. He is as much your own kid as any future kid. You’re just not parenting him. Which sucks. I am sorry that this was the choice you felt you had to make, but I am happy that you are doing your damndest to stay present in his life, even though it is painful for you. Because it’s about him as much as it is about you. I know many people say that babies don’t give a shit who takes care of them before they’re six months old, but I think that’s nonsense. The tiny human knows who you are; don’t give up on the relationship you have with him.

  5. That is really nice of you Kara to try to stick up for the children who are being impacted by these decisions.

    I wish more people valued the children who have to deal with the fall-out.

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