Thursday, May 17, 2018

on mamahood: months four and five

Dear Birdie,

Your mama fell down a well of sleep deprivation these last two months, so I apologize but you are getting a two-for-one letter. And by 'I apologize', I mean -- I gave birth to you and wipe your bum every day, so... we're even.

You turned 4 months in April, and now you are 5 months old. 

That sentence does not even compute in my brain. 

I was looking through old photos of you on my phone just now, and baby, you were the size of a chihuahua! A pea! A pearl earring! 

And now? You are an ever-loving, full-sized Pinocchio little BOY.





Your big personality is becoming more clear. You are also no longer a newborn!
Here are things we know about you in Month 4/5:

- Your eyes are beginning to show hints of brown and sometimes a tinge of green, so my bet is that they will settle on hazel

- You smile at strangers-- so evidently you have your father's extroverted personality, not your mother's hide-in-a-hole one. 

- You learned how to shriek, so I'm not sure why I haven't entitled this letter: Dear Velociraptor 

(Seriously, you shriek so much. Can you stop? Your dad has sensitive ears, and he looks shell-shocked after one of your arias. It's like ahhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhh eeeeeeeeeeee ahhhhhhhh and all our neighbours must worry about how we are treating you.)

- You understand what toys are for!

- Things you love: putting everything in your mouth, pulling mama's hair and baba's beard, when Gong Gong makes the clucking noise at you, being thrown in the air, any source of light that is on, touching your toes, Mr. Fox

- Things that have changed: you no longer cry and cry when you first wake up. If you are well rested, you smile so big, and are delighted to re-enter the waking world. You no longer require milk IMMEDIATELY or ELSE. Actually, you get super distracted and stop feeding if you notice other voices or movement. You graduated from your bassinet and sleep in a crib, in your own room.


So in other words, you are completely different yet wholly the same loveable being, and you're probably heading off to university next month.



//

We went on our first family trip this month!

People like to say that once you have children, you don't go on vacations anymore -- you go on trips. Vacations connote laying about and sleeping in and like, I don't know --margaritas. Trips, on the other hand, require a subaru full of so much baby stuff that you can't see out of the rearview mirror, and probably an extra day on either side to recover. 

For me, it was another juxtaposition of what pre-you and post-you life is like. Before you, we have made trips to Saturna that included me on the back of our motorcycle, or where we carried everything we needed in our panniers and biked the steeped hills to the cabin. I used to read books for hours there. Now, we pretty much kept to our schedule at home of eat-poop-play-nap repeat, and tried to not do anything drastic. Since you are getting older, you actually can't just sleep anywhere anymore, and so we prioritize being home for most of your naps. (#babyprison)

Still, it was really special for your Baba to be able to introduce you to Saturna Island. Oh love, this place is very important to our family. It's where your grandparents ferried over with your dad and your uncle when they were little just like you, where your mom and dad got married, it's where your cousins have tumbled and romped in the meadow, it's where there is calm and magic and the Salish Sea.

So yes, a lot of work to go on this voyage. And also, like everything we do with you: worth it. 














Real talk: these past two months were hard. 

In that fourth month, my sleep deprivation resilience hit a wall. All those lovely protective good hormones ran their course, and I was left with good ol' cortisol and some momsomnia and a fistful of anxiety.

It used to be that I wore sleep deprivation like a proud badge of honor -- oh yeah, I'm a proud parent of a newborn now, of course I don't sleep. But as the months dovetailed together, and you began waking more and more in the night, it became more a scar than a badge. Hello, sleep regression.

We had passed your 100 day milestone, and I naively had thought: we are out of the woods now, hey? The hundred days of darkness are over, yeah? Parenting is now just successive moments of beautiful photos on my instagram and endless joy?


It turns out that in many ways, it was harder once I was out of the fourth trimester. By month 4, you've been at the parent thing for long enough that people stop asking you how things are going, and your support system can pause. Not at all because people are unkind, but because life moves on, and your baby's newness has faded. People assume that things, while probably still being tiring, have at least reached some sort of homeostasis. 

So. There I was, exhausted and lonely. 

On one hand, not able to spend a ton of quality time with people because I'm taking care of you, and on the other, not totally being able to be present when visitors come over, because I'm eyeing you like a hawk out of the corner of my eye. Lonely either way.

There were some big gulps of tears this month, and they all said: who am I now? 

(A mama).

Why is this so hard?

(Because you're forging a new identity, and pain is as much a part of it as joy.)

Will it be like this forever?

(It feels like it. But I don't think so, love.)



You know what it is? It's like back in the day when I pretended like I was a Cool Girl for your father, ("Ohhhh you ride a motorcycle, that is so rad, like totally"), there is some societal pressure to be a Chill Mom. Like the kind of mama that goes barefoot with ripped jeans and is super relaxed and able to go with the flow, no schedule.

But in order to keep you alive? With no previous track record of having done so with any other human infant? I kind of have to be vigilant. I kind of have to keep all the bad dark shadows away from your halo of light. 

So I'm actively trying to embrace the part of me that is SO not chill, that is SO fiercely protective of you, even if it is not a cool way to be. Because the truth is, she is doing an amazing job of helping you thrive. 




(Thank god for your grandparents. 

They are the only reason I didn't have a thousand panic attacks and starve this month.)





I am gaining my footing in the new role, little one. It is the most challenging thing I've ever done.

Thank you for choosing me to be your person.

Love,

Mama

Saturday, March 24, 2018

on mamahood: month three

Dear Birdie,


This was a big month for you and me.

It was the first official full month that was just the two of us, day in and day out. To be honest, I was nervous and doubtful of my ability to solo parent you.

I would count the hours in the day -- watching the clock, and give myself pep talks. "Ok, it is 3pm. Husband will be home in 2 hrs. I can do this." You would cry, and I would feel overwhelmed. You would need me, with your beautiful grey eyes, and I would be unsure.




Somewhere in the hard mornings of those initial first days, we got accustomed to one another. Or, maybe more than that. I think we fell in love as a twosome, instead of the love we have as the three of us. You told me about your rhythms, and I listened and took notes (for real notes, not metaphorical ones.)

I learned how to shower, eat breakfast, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and do the massive piles of laundry -- all in the sparse moments in between your bird calls. I started to see these mundane activities as REAL accomplishments in my mornings. Like, somehow if I was able to complete all 5 of these goals during one of your 45 min naps, I felt like a rockstar. 

Sometimes, our timing would be off and I would hear you wail as I was stepping out of the shower, and have to come rushing to soothe you, eyes frantic and hair dripping. Or, I would optimistically assemble a bowl of cereal and then take the literal gamble of pouring in the almond milk --- only to have you screech, a moment later. Soggy cereal was a theme for us this month.

I promised myself I would be real with you in these letters, as I embarked on my mission to write them. I think there is value in honesty, especially as you get older and if you choose to read them, that these early days were hard. I love you, and it is hard to get used to having you around.

We spend our lives as adults looking after ourselves, and wiping our own butts. We don't really anticipate the true nature of what it means to be selfless, so feeding you first and caring for you first, is an adjustment. There are days that I want to run away and eat with both hands and curl my hair and wear a shirt that doesn't have to be breastfeeding friendly and just carry with me my wallet and keys instead of bag stocked with diapers and take a walk for no reason, not just because I'm trying to get you to sleep in your stroller and and and and --- 

And, I love you. Even so.


Some facts from this month:

- Your eyes are still grey, but sometimes they look blue in certain light, and sometimes it seems like there is a bit of brown creeping in

- You are no longer the baby with tons of hair. You thrash around so much when you're on your back that there is a ring of baldness. Like Friar Tuck, or Friar Kai. 

- You love to smile and there are a few kinds. There is the big, toothless, gummy smile where your whole face becomes a rainbow, and the one where you look shy and bashful, like you're at your first Gr. 7 dance.

- Your neck has become super strong and we don't have to worry as much about your poor little floppy head. 

- You like tummy time! (for about 3 minutes)

- You are still the longest baby in the world (maybe not really, but in the 85th percentile for sure.)

-  Your new favourite trick is making a fist and staring at it. Then you show me with this really proud look on your face. I think you are realizing that you have HANDS.



 

This next picture breaks my heart. 

I took it after you had passed out from crying, when I took you to your first immunization appointment. You actually look sort of content here, but trust me when I say that you started purple-in-the-face-crying even BEFORE the doctor began anything, as if you knew what was to come. My ears had never heard this sound before. Yes, you cry, but the kind that a boob can fix. This, was not that. You screamed as if the world was coming to an end. And for me, it was. My heart shattered as I held your little, hot as a furnace body, as you struggled and fought. I tried to bring you to my breast to calm you down, and you just hollered into my nipple. That had never happened before to us: it was as if my surefire magic trick had been yanked away. 

When she finally jabbed you with the needles (THREE of them, oh my heart), the look on your face and the screams crescendoed. I fought to hold back my own tears, and felt irrationally rageful at the good doctor. She left the room, with apologies, and you wouldn't even look at me. Your tears dripped hotly down your tiny face, and you whimpered and hiccuped because your crying had been so violent. Then you closed your eyes, and fell asleep.

You cried yourself to sleep. I thought that was just a saying.

(Please don't be a daredevil like your dad and go down hills fast and break bones in your body -- I don't think I will be able to take it. )



Speaking of your Dad.

Your Baba really misses you, sweet baby. He has to go to work and bring home the bacon, and it was really hard for him to leave us. When he gets home, it is dark outside and more than likely, you're down for a nap and it's time to make dinner or do chores anyway. He gets very little face time with you anymore.

The weekends when we can all be together are our very favourite times.

When you grow up, I want you to thank him for all of his hard work and sacrifices. He would rather be here with you, but I strong-armed him into letting me be the one to be the Always parent. I will remember to say thank you more often, too.







Ok, signing off for month three. You're looking at me from your chair like: why are you staring at that silver box again?

Love you to bits, my every day twin. I hope you get all the best parts of me.

Yours,

Mama







Sunday, March 18, 2018

kai's birth story





On the evening of Dec. 8th, I was a week past my due date.

I was oscillating between feelings of peace that baby would know when to come, and anxiety that somehow, the moment would never arrive.

We had had brunch at Bandida's earlier that day, after my second stretch and sweep at the hospital to try and get things going. We ate corn bread muffins with honeyed butter. He and I at the corner table, with a view of the Drive. Then, a cold, cold walk around Trout Lake to wake baby up. When we walked across the crosswalk at 12th, my insides twinged for several seconds -- not unlike a cramp. I brushed it off as nothing, it felt so small and miniscule, and instead worried that the sweep hadn't worked, the walk hadn't worked, that baby would need a jumpstart from the hospital to arrive. At 10 days overdue, they recommend starting the induction process and I only had 3 days left. My due date felt like a deadline that this perfectionist was struggling to keep calm about.


I don't remember what I ate for dinner. But, I googled "what if I have to be medically induced?" before I went to bed. Fret, fret, fret. I really didn't want to be induced.




At 1am, I woke up feeling the same twinge-y cramps I had had on and off the day before. They had unceremoniously gone away many times previously, so I thought nothing of it. I lay awake in the dark, noticing these sensations ebb and flow.

At 3AM, Bryan woke up and I was squirmy, albeit stoic. Still brushing it off as nothing. He decided to time them, and they were irregular, but certainly not going away. He bit his tongue as I remained in denial about what was happening, and held my hand as the 'twinge-ys' (no, not contractions -- they couldn't be contractions, right?) got more intense.

In the pitch black night, we decided to forgo the bed for the couch, and I remember seeing the dense fog surround the houses and trees outside our window, and heard a gang of teenagers party and holler across the street at the elementary school.


































I remember thinking, is this it? It can't be. It feels alien, but also normal and not out of control like it looks in the movies.

"This is not like what it is in the movies" was to be a refrain that echoed in my head for many moment of this birth.

B lay on the rug at my feet, and clutched my hands above. I would close my eyes and try to rest in between the surges of intensity, and then arch my back and squeeze him tightly as they rose like a wave. So there we were, him falling back to sleep every 5 minutes, and then us both tensing and muscles coming alive as I gripped his palm for 90 seconds. Resting. Bracing. Resting. Bracing.

//

In the presence of fear, there might be a moment where you dig your heels in and decide to stay and fight.

I learned sometime during that hour that I had powerful tools at the ready. From my time in theatre, I had my breath and my double-bass resonator from deep in my belly. So every time a contraction threatened to knock me over, I would reach down deep and ommm like a didgeridoo. (A more beautiful image than a cow, but yes. That too.) It was something to concentrate on, and it let me not unravel completely. There was an urge to panic and shriek, but the deepness of that resonance reminded me of ritual, of prayer, of strength.

From my time now as a counsellor, I had my mind. I let it be my ally instead of my foe. I repeated to myself variations of:

I can do this.
I am doing this.
Each one done is another step to meeting baby.

I envisioned that I was a bird, or a surfer, cresting this wave. In these visions, I was strong and powerful and free.

I think what I was doing, really, was surrendering.

Something I had read when I was really scared of labour helped. I tried to experience the sensations of the pain and contractions, without being tied up in the suffering part of it.

Surrender, without suffering.










































Daylight arrived.

I had retreated to the bedroom to distract myself from the steadily increasing-in-pain-holy-fuck 'twinges' by watching Sex in the City on old, scratched DVDs on my lap top. I couldn't concentrate, and as I struggled to keep up with the old familiarity of Carrie and Big, the surges were starting to take my breath away. I cried. I shut off the lap top.

It seems ridiculous to type this, but I still didn't think this was labour.

Labour. It's so big. It's what you have been waiting 9 months to reach. So when it arrives, and there's no omniscient narrator announcing: this is it!, a person like me can't be sure. I mean, Bryan was sure. But you don't listen to your spouse when important things are happening, do you?

I began to need to be doubled over on my knees, bracing against whatever furniture was nearby. An aerial shot tracking us might see B trailing me from couch, to bed, to chair, to baby's new dresser, back to bed.

He said: I called the doula.

I asked: Why?



 

Reinforcements showed up. Sister and Ken with grapes, miso soup, cookies. They heard me groaning, human, stripped of social niceties, as they came up the stairs. Becka, our doula, arrived simultaneously. Everyone was hushed, reverent. Later, they likened the feeling of the moment to be holy like a temple. I was of two minds: half embarrassed to be sounding so vulnerable within earshot of other human beings, half beyond caring about anything of this world.

I was getting close to labourland.

Becka got busy as she came into the nursery, where I was bracing against contractions by myself. She gave me strong, loving counterpressure during every contraction. They were surging pretty intensely by now. At one point, with her hand on my back, she said you know -- it's totally your call, but I think we could start heading to the hospital.

The hospital? I wondered. Already? It was about noon. She reassured me that given how hard I had been working since 3am, she would be surprised if they turned me away at this point (my fear.)

I said. Ok. Let's go.

Bryan breathed a sigh of relief. (He had not been successful thus far in convincing me to go.)

Things began to move in fast forward as soon as I made the decision. There was a flurry of activity and packing the car. I remember sipping my miso from a yellow mug.

I clung to my sister, and wept a bit. I was so tired. She shouldered my tears, and gave me strength to be strong some more.





We got into the car; me in front, B at the wheel, Becka in the back. I waved goodbye to my family on the sidewalk. Or maybe I didn't-- I don't know. Things are fuzzy at this point. I remember thinking, things will be different when I see you next. It was sunny outside, and I remember a couple walking leisurely down the sidewalk. It was bizarre to me that the world was still spinning, people were still living life, when ours was so clearly being blown wide open.

Lowering myself into the passenger seat, was difficult, to say the least.

I sealed my eyes shut. Contractions began to come rapidly, fairly close together as B began to drive. He steered us calmly, and with great intention. I continued to make very, very loud sounds. As we would roll up to stop signs, I imagined with a certain degree of horror that pedestrians and cyclists were gaping at the groaning pregnant lady in the green subaru. I willed myself to keep on being above the judgement of others, that it would make for a neat anecdote if passersby had the opportunity to witness this National Geographic moment in action.

(Later, when we compared notes, B said that we literally never stopped alongside a single soul.)

This was the longest car ride of my life. Somehow, Oak street felt like hours away as I felt every speed bump.

//

I don't have any pictures of these next moments as we arrived to Women's hospital. Maybe you can just imagine the comedy of Bryan filling in our paperwork and other people making small talk, business as usual, as I held both fists against the wall, wailing from deep in my soul. The juxtaposition of this versus that, struck me as ridiculous even as I breathed through the pain.

It was like, I hurt so much, I wonder how other people are still standing upright? Shouldn't we all be writhing on the floor?

My midwife examined me. I was 6-7 cm dilated. We would be staying. Baby was going to meet us, possibly even today.

From that fluorescent room, a wheelchair was summoned and B pushed me as my entourage followed closely behind. It is really difficult to endure contractions when you are sitting down in a wheelchair.
I remember my midwife whistling, and I felt a hot and annoyed at this detail.

WHY ARE PEOPLE NOT ALL WRITHING IN PAIN.




We finally got to our birthing suite, and through my squinted eyes, I noted how big and roomy it was. With relief, I got into the tub after Becka ran me a warm bath. B set up a picture of baby in belly, and our salt lamp, and left to pay for 2 hours of parking.

Midwife continued to hum under her breath. I tried to ignore her.

I sank into the water, and felt my whole body shift. The lights were dim in the room, and Becka and B continued to talk softly to me.

You are safe. 

You can do this.

You are doing everything exactly right.

After each affirmation, I would repeat it to myself. It was my lifeline when the pain started getting very, very dark for me. I couldn't open my eyes any longer, and my voice was increasing in pitch and fear. Even surrounded by people, including the love of my life, I felt very alone. Not in a sad way, but in a -- no one but you is going to do this thing, so you're going to have to do this thing, alone--  kind of way.

During the huge contractions, I would struggle to flip around in the water to get on my hands and knees. After each one, I would turtle myself back to floating, facing the ceiling, exhausted.

At one point, I felt something torpedo out of me during a contraction with tremendous force, and I yelped. Is it the baby?

No baby. My midwife, with a look of concern on her face, said maybe it's time you get out of that tub. I think your water just broke.

My water had broken underwater.

//

Things moved swiftly at this point.

I rose, unsteadily to my feet in the tub. I stepped out. Towels were wrapped around me. As I moved a footstep towards the bed, I shuddered with the supernova of a massive contraction.

Midwife became a warrior, a general in a battle, and said: you get over to this bed right now. You are not having another contraction. You are not going to have your baby on this floor.

Yes ma'am. Thank god, she had become in charge.

I climbed, with help, onto the bed. I faced the wall as everyone else huddled behind and around me. B's hand was ever ready on my back, or trying to offer me coconut water. I was oblivious to everything except for the pressure mounting within me.

There was wailing. I will not lie to you and say that it didn't hurt. It is the weirdest mix of being as close to death and birth in the same breath, as I have ever known. I felt like I was going to die, that I might be in mortal danger, while simultaneously feeling like I would never feel this alive again.

Midwife said, when baby comes, I want you to reach down and we will pass baby towards you.

Later, as we compared notes again, B and I shared the same sentiment and bewilderment that she was saying this to us now. I literally had just begun feeling pushing sensations, and we both thought that it would take a long time. Like in the movies. The hours of pushing, you know? So we were like, you are so weird. Tell us that later, when it's time.

10 minutes after this sentence, and a few pushes later,  I felt the ring of fire.

Oh my Lord, I thought. She was right. From my reading, I knew the ring of fire feeling meant that baby's head was crowning. BABY'S HEAD WAS CROWNING.

She told me that I was a good pusher. Too good. On the next urge, she wanted me to pant instead, to slow down. I tried my best. It is really hard to slow down a bowling bowl that has begun to make its quick descent down the ramp, man.

Suddenly, midwife motioned for Bryan to come over to my rear. I heard Bryan shout: Oh my god!
He was seeing the top of baby's head.

In a blur of heat and sound and electric bolts and lava and volcano and adrenaline, I pushed one last time, reached in between my legs, and they placed what felt like a slippery sack of jello in my arms.

I don't think our 2 hours of parking had run out yet. It was 3 o'clock on a sunny afternoon.

I could smell time stopping, or taste time, or was touching it. I had never felt more like I was knee deep in the present moment, as I gingerly flipped back over with this warm, sticky bundle in my arms.

I peered down as the feeling of jello became the vision of a real, gorgeous, pink, squirming little baby with fingers, and toes, and just oh my god.

Oh, my new God.




That face says everything, doesn't it?

Looking down at that beautiful being was the most human moment I've ever had in my life. All of the pain receded into the background, I had no awareness of how many staff were in the room with us, and I just drank in the little nose, the rosebud mouth, the darkest eyes.

I was dumbstruck by the knowledge that I was holding my baby while my husband stood beside me.

Someone asked, is it a boy or a girl?

We had forgotten that that even mattered. Bryan looked down and said, it's a boy.

Our boy!

(I knew it.)







A note on being a woman:

I felt so high, for so long after this. Never mind the extensive tear and millions of stitches because of how fast he came out. I had faced a fear and my body had reclaimed a birthright that womankind is more than capable of. It was as if this act had erased every moment in my life previously that I had ever felt weak, or small, or powerless.

What I want to say to you is: I am powerful beyond measure. 

Do you hear me, women? What I am saying is also: you are powerful beyond measure.

No matter how your babies come into this world. 

What still can bring tears to my eyes, three months after the fact, is just how strong and awe-inspiring our bodies are, and how under celebrated this fact is. WE GROW HUMANS IN OUR BODIES. WE THEN (MAYBE) PUSH HUMANS OUT OF OUR BODIES. Why is the world not run by women?

I will try really hard to never doubt my power again.

In regards to birth announcements, I was careful not to say: my baby was born on...

Friends. I birthed my beautiful, dreamy baby on December 9th. 

Because, holy fuck. That verb is in the active tense, not the passive tense. Ok? 






So that's it. The birth story of Kai Bennett Liu-Green.

But as I finish writing this, I also think: it is the birth story of a woman named Joann Liu.


Friday, February 9, 2018

on mamahood: month two




Dear Birdie,

Oh my gosh. Look at you.

Look at your fingers! Your expression!

You are no longer my wee, grunting newborn. When I first met you, I loved you but I didn't know you.

60 some odd days later -- I know you now. We know you now.





I stare at you so much that it would be embarrassing or awkward if you were anyone else. I feel like I know your face more than I even know your Baba's, because all I do anymore is watch, riveted, while you sleep, eat, cry, poo, smile, laugh, think. (I've never stared at him as much. That would be creepy.)

Your cheeks have been kissed 1 billion times by Mama. I told your Dad the other day that you are now one of the top three dudes I have kissed most in my life (the winners being you, Baba, and the ex that shall not be named, LOL.)





You are sleeping as I write this, and I stop typing every few minutes because I think I hear you.

It's as if my heart literally falters for a minute-- I catch my breath and freeze. Is he crying out for me? Both of the last times this has happened in the past hour, it was a crow in the backyard.

Oh, Birdie.










Things that make you sad in Month 2:

- If I am even 5 seconds late with boob
- The pain of your fart gas bubbles.

As you can see, this list has not veered much from last month. You are predictably simple, pure, easy to please.




Things that make you happy in Month 2:

- Seeing Mama's face after she feeds you and cleans up your butt. It's as if you didn't know it was her doing it all this time, and then once your primary needs are met, you go "Hey! It's this lady again! I like her a lot."

- Bath time with your Dad. He gives you massages and is so careful and loving with you.

- When we play, "Who's that baby in the mirror?" You love your reflection and it is the cutest because you think it is another baby, and whoever you think he is, you get so bashful and sweeeeet in his presence.

- Pretending to participate in conversation. You are babbling up a storm, with all manner of expressions on your face. The other day, I was belting out Beyonce and you joined in with me at the top of your lungs.










This month, we went from the three of us goofs, pal-ing around every day to just you and me.
Baba had to go back to work after 7 weeks off with us, and it was really sad. It was and is a huge transition, since we all three got so used to our tight family unit. He was pretty bereft about it the night before he went back, and when he told you his big feelings, you looked at him as if you understood his pain.

Rest assured, not every day is magical. We are under slept, for sure. Sometimes I gesture for your dad to just take this baby from me, exasperated, but it is not from a lack of loving you. It's just that we used to have different identities before becoming your parents, and we are blindly finding our way to seeing if we can own both at the same time.

And yet -- We have been lucky peaches to get this baby bubble together.

Babes, I can't believe you and I have a 2 month old!



Some words from your beloved Dad:


"Things I hope not to forget:

The rewiring of neurons when the wet cloth hits his tired and hungry body, a cry like no other, unforgiving, a bottomless call to serve, so strong that I must do everything, so dissonant I lose motor skills.

The look of surprised interest in his own bowel movements, like developing a taste for tuna sashimi with wasabi, kinda of painful at first, but then wow, that's pretty good!

The guilt of letting him squawk or fuss a bit longer because I really, really REALLY just want to pour this fucking coffee and get some toast in me.

The awe of his growth rate. His every change being so important and yet for every other parent that's said "he can hold his head up for almost 5 seconds" it's been like, "whatevs".

The hard truth that you, my wife, are so so so tired and just fell deep into that sweet and oh-so-needed sleep, but he's hungry again, and I know you will not get back to sleep for the day has begun, and naps are hard to find, and I always get more rest than you, more time than you, but there you are, 20 minutes later, shining your love down on him, I hear your sweet words, and am filled with pride and wonder at how truly completely you love him, regardless of all the above.

The paranoid checks when he burrows deep in my chest, limp-spined and curled into the Ergo where I can not see him, so I have to put fingers in his hand and gently squeeze until he startles, moves, sighs, or shows other signs of life.

The sense when he smiles that I am one of the precious few - that this moment is distinct from the multitude of frowns and cries, that his love is beaming back at me, matching mine and somehow amplifying it beyond measure.

The realization that maybe watching Black Mirror or TV in general while he naps on the couch next to us may not be perfect parenting.

Him on my chest, the soft weight, the slack contentedness of his body, helping ground me, to focus on this, and breathe, and lose myself in the feel of his soft head in my hand, his tiny arm draped over my ribs, his beautiful sleep telling me that he knows he is safe, and loved, that I'm doing my job, fulfilling the best and most cherished role I could ask for, that of Papa."

I know, right? He is pretty great, that one.




In the daylight hours, it's mostly me and you now. Po Po and Gong Gong pop by a lot, and are a huge help to us. They are completely smitten with you and will teach you to speak Cantonese, hopefully better than I can.

On the days that it is just us, I feel my confident spine growing taller. I can fulfill your needs. I can push past fatigue and change your barfed-on outfit, just one more time. I can survive the hours of the work day until your father comes home.

I thank you for being patient with me as I sometimes flail. You forgive me so quickly.





Love you, Goof.

You are my favourite child I've ever had.

XO

Mama