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*