Vignettes - Peter's Four Month Journey
2 weeks after Peter’s Birth
I found myself unexpectedly missing you. Just an hour before I had tucked you into the rocker, milk drunk and already sound asleep. Your siblings were polishing off pizza and cheering for the Penguins, your dad encouraging me to attend post-natal yoga at the birthing center. We had been there earlier today, you and I. First occupying the music room, the room of your slow, but largely uncomplicated birth. The hearing screen put you to sleep. You then continued to doze through a heal prick, dropping dark spots of blood onto dime sized circles with hardly a break in your breathing rhythm. That was earlier in the day, our two-week post-partum visit.
Yoga felt so wonderful after these weeks of sitting, resting, healing. Prior to your birth I had attended every week, sometimes twice, this exact class. The movements were familiar, my body vaguely different. We had just concluded a couple of intense poses and moved into a stretching flow that ended in child’s pose. I dropped my forehead to the mat and waited. Waited for your kick.
It never came.
I found myself unexpectedly missing you. Your movements and kicks telling me my yoga practice was not wholly my own…until tonight. All of your life will be concentric circles leading farther away from me; growing physically, mentally, and emotionally independent. My overwhelming response is joy and peace, desiring for you a full and free life unto the glory of God. Yet, tucked within is loss. At the beginning you knew the world from inside of me, a part of me. Bear with me darling one, my gorgeous son. When I cling too hard, when the tears flow with embarrassing freedom, when I hesitate to give a blessing – sometimes that response surprises me as well, an intensity of feeling rising from formerly typical expectations.
Tonight I missed you, and it hurt. My forehead touched the mat again, my body relaxed into position. The image of you sleeping sweetly, surrounded by love and life surfaced briefly into my mind’s eye. As the stretch deepened further I smiled at the memory of baby kicks to the ribs and let them settle into the past.
2 months after Peter’s Birth
You are snuggled in my arms, barely two months old. I gaze out the big bay windows of my room, our room – mine, Joshua’s, yours – for babies take up residence not only in our hearts and early morning hours but also in our bedroom. It is warm, calm, and abnormally quiet as the other four beings have relocated into the glorious sunshine of a mild December day. A curly haired beauty – your eldest sister - wields a child-sized spade, lightly jacketed in a pink and black plaid button down, pink fur lined coat. Will she always defy conventional stereotypes with unabashed confidence? I can only pray so.
As we watch, a gangly and overly energetic Doberman-mutt dashes toward her, avoiding a collision at the last moment. The dog is still a puppy, the bane of an outdoor kingdom formerly accosted by imaginary nuisances. Your sister ignores her, a new response and one I am proud to witness. The dog disagrees. A long snout pushes up into the long coat, finding fluffy faux fur too good to resist. She nips. Your sister spares no look, but flicks her fingers at the dog and pulls the tempting garment out of reach. My heart swells with joy at the response. What had days ago elicited crying, rage, and refusal to continue playing in the backyard no longer held power over her.
You begin to whine in my arms, ready for a tight swaddle and a gentle rocking to sleep. These days feel preoccupied with you, and I wonder if your siblings are receiving the attention and care needed for their growth and development. Catching sight of Kenzie has reminded me that her growth and development is different from yours, and that of Judah, Olivia, and Cora. Perhaps she (and they) have needed this time, more independence from me than I would honestly have expected. It is a good thought, and we turn from the window intent on rest.
Almost 4 months after Peter’s Birth
It has been nearly a week now that our freedom from Cora vanished. When we first brought you home and I retreated with you to nurse or cuddle or put you to sleep Cora demanded to be included. We allowed her in, for as long as the newborn sleepy stage lasted. Once you needed less distraction and more quiet for those activities she was kindly but firmly left on the other side of the closed door – often wallowing in tears and anger. A week ago Cora Ruth learned how to open doors, and we now live ever in her presence.
Today I managed to slip away with you while she was engaged. You were swaddled, given a paci, and I rocked you to the dulcet tunes of Christy Nockles “Be Held” album – our absolute favorite lullaby list. Just as I laid down your heavily breathing, warm, still self I heard the door knob. Irritation rose, a frustrated response swiftly on my lips. The door cracked open and I saw Kenzie’s pink tennis shoes.
The pink tennis shoes nudged in, Cora’s pudgy little hand wrapped around the doorframe with her triumphant grin following. In an instant I was five years younger, watching a two-year-old mini-me stumble proudly around in my one pair of high heels. The years returned and there was my youngest daughter prancing lightly in her oldest sister’s tennis shoes. We closed the door behind us, leaving you to rest, while I exclaimed with amazement at Cora’s footwear so proudly displayed.
It has sat lightly upon me, waiting for my acknowledgement, and I think now I see. In each of you, my five children, are the others. Not just their presence, or their shoes, but a piece of their essence. You share more than DNA or blood. You share a culture and atmosphere that I can help cultivate and cull but not create. Sleep now little baby, adventure and mayhem and siblings (with closets full of tempting footwear) await.