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21 November 2012 @ 11:33 pm
Thanksgiving Pensieve: The Family Bed.  
A big day awaits tomorrow for our family, and especially, for my little two-month old boy, as we will be waking up bright and early for a full day of Thanksgiving festivities. It will go more or less like this:

Feed Harrison Second (or Third) Breakfast at 9AM while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Feel mix of nostalgia and pride for native state, New York. Bake cakes, or more likely, watch Mike bake cakes because Harrison will still be nursing. Load up car to get to First Thanksgiving at Dad in-law's house by 1PM. Stay as long as it take for Harrison to a) get hungry, b) finish eating, or c) fall asleep. Head to Second Thanksgiving at Mom in-law's house. Eat copious amounts of turkey (read: eat as much turkey as Harrison will allow me to stay at the table to consume). Resist tryptophan-induced coma as Harrison will not tolerate a sleepy mommy if he is still hungry. Depart for home before nursing marathon begins. Fall asleep with my son pressed against me in the Family Bed.

What a different day tomorrow will be compared to last year. Thanksgiving a year ago, we were barely a week out from having lost our first pregnancy, counting bittersweet blessings with cheerless acceptance. Nonetheless, we managed to find things to be thankful for: the in-laws who rescued me from the empty house when it happened; the family, friends, and coworkers who surrounded us with understanding, experience, and love; the hope of a second, healthier pregnancy ahead; our strengthened marriage.

This year, I am so overwhelmed with happiness, I cannot save my gratitude for one day. It's every other thought in my head these days. My boy - my beautiful baby boy - is two months old and therefore a living record of two months of unencumbered joy in our lives. Reduced to smaller units, our gratitude is measured in Harrison's tiny finger and toes, in the lullabyes we sing, and in the minute ways our son changes before our very eyes. How I wish I could preserve his infancy so I could revisit it long after he trades his little onesies and booties for jeans and sneakers. In that fantasy time capsule, I'd include the following:

- The soft sound of his baby snoring (it sounds like a kitten's purr)
- The split second between Harrison's complacent grin and his big gummy smile (when his eyes light up)
- The shape his body takes when he melts against me as I comfort his crying
- How he manages to scoot toward me in his sleep until his cheek is resting against my chest
- The curve of his head and upturn of his nose as he nurses
- His remarkably effective attempts at communication (a series of oohs, ahs, goos, gahs and ows)
- The little hand that rests over my heart
- Big expressive gray eyes...

It's a tiny snippet of a much larger list, I assure you. Only time is going by too quickly for me to document it all, and my maternity leave is expiring fast (parenthood brings new meaning to the phrase "gone in the blink of an eye"). The only time of day time slows down enough for me to look at my happiness from a granular perspective is at night when we all curl up in the Family Bed. [Note: No worries. We are practicing safe co-sleeping.]

Before having Harrison, I wasn't sure I believed in a Family Bed. My bedroom belonged to my husband and me, and I worried that bringing the baby in it would create habits we would have to break sooner than later. Of course, the logistics of nursing won out, and I realized the world was a much happier place when our little one could drift off to sleep nuzzled against my skin and wake to the security of both his parents on either side of him. When I have to change sides to nurse, I am the monkey in the middle - my baby on my right and my husband on my left - and despite being momentarily squished between them, I am the picture of bliss. It is then that my little nuclear family unit surrounds me in the quiet darkness and I can reflect best on the miracle we participate in daily. I am so full of love for what these wee hours bring that I stay awake to enjoy them long after my son has fallen back to sleep.

Soon, Harrison will move out of our bed and back into his crib. Even sooner, I will have to return to work and leave him in the care of someone who, no matter how credentialed and well recommended, is not me. There will be new things to be thankful for every day as Mike and I watch Harrison grow up, and I shall have to learn to take inventory of them in my mind whenever I can spare the awareness for it.

In the meantime, in the sepia glow of our nightlight, I'll take advantage of my wakefulness to apply tactile observations to the feelings I experience all day long. I'll count his eyelashes, feel the rise and fall of his chest, marvel that he is small, though not as small as he was yesterday. I'll bear witness to this summation of patience, longing, trust, and tears, as I lie wedged warm and secure between my husband and child, insulated from the world outside. And I'll be so, so thankful.

*Touches wand to her temple, draws out a silvery strand, and watches it fall into the glowing basin*
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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Julie: Rubber Duckieaggiebell90 on November 22nd, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. I miss that--the nursing, and the snuggling and being the monkey in the middle after switching sides in the middle of the night. I even miss having to wake up to nurse someone in the middle of the night, although I definitely appreciate being able to get a full night's sleep now.

Thank you for reminding me. ♥
Venessa: H/G Book 7 kissmudblood428 on November 22nd, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :) Is it possible to miss those things before they're even over? Sometimes I see his whole life flash before my eyes and I can't shake the feeling that all these little moments I love so much will vanish before I'm ready to let go of them.

How old are your kids now?

Amber AKA the Crochet Fiend....hp5freak on November 22nd, 2012 05:51 am (UTC)
Your words always move me to tears.

Blessed are you. *hugs*
Venessa: H/G Book 7 kissmudblood428 on November 22nd, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Amber. As are you! Hope you and your mom have a wonderful holiday! HUG
Nate the Great: Cylonmajor_dallas on November 22nd, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC)
Just wait until Harrison is old enough for you to dress him up in cute outfits (its not too far away) and he won't make a mess of them because of baby logistics. That'll be next year I suspect. In any case, Happy Thanksgiving you 3 :D
The Elephant in the Room: Sherlockedpennswoods on November 22nd, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
baby logistics is my new favorite expression.
Venessa: H/G Book 7 kissmudblood428 on November 22nd, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Lol agreed!
Venessa: H/G Book 7 kissmudblood428 on November 22nd, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
Are you kidding? We've already got the outfits on him, and thank goodness for bibs! (Although, true enough, they don't safeguard against blowouts...)

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!
Mrs. B.mrs_bombadil on November 23rd, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
Remind me to tell you about the blowout of all blowouts the next time we get to spend a little time in person.
Why be normal?lunalovepotter on November 22nd, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC)
As always your words are so simple and yet so eloquent at the same time. What a lovely post. I wish you & Mike a happy and safe first Thanksgiving with your little Prince. :)
Venessa: H/G Book 7 kissmudblood428 on November 22nd, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Megan. It's hard not to resort to poetry when you've got a little baby as your subject matter. :)

May you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
The Elephant in the Room: Sherlockedpennswoods on November 22nd, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
What a brilliant Thanksgiving post. I'm so happy to hear about your bliss with your little family in posts like these.
Venessa: H/G Book 7 kissmudblood428 on November 22nd, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Shannon! Are you still abroad? I hope you guys are enjoying the season wherever you are - you are surely missed!
The Elephant in the Room: Sherlockedpennswoods on November 22nd, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
Yep. still in Sweden and living the life.
Rosegestaltrose on November 22nd, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, love. That was simply beautiful.
Clara M.: Sailor Moon Kawaiidrownyour_kiss on December 10th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
I don't have much to add, but YAY co-sleeping! It's the best parenting thing we did and plan on doing again.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )