“Look how he reaches out to you” – at the pediatrician’s office.
“He hears your voice and just stares!” – my mom at my house
“Oh he only has eyes for you!” – sales clerk at Barnes and Noble
I don’t see it.
Sometimes, when I come into his room in the morning and I’m unwrapping the swaddling blankets he’ll give me a gorgeous, gummy smile. I feel like that is more his general love of waking up in the morning than an actual excitement to see me specifically. Yeah, I know – what do I want, right? Do I need him to say, “Hi mommy, I love you!”? Actually… yes, that would help.
It was nice and cool this morning, so we went and sat on the porch after Dork Dad left for work. There is still too much to be said between us and I needed a break from the house. Some shade and a breeze to help clear my head.
He was a warm, soft, wriggly presence on my lap, staring at the designs on the pillows and the pattern of tile on the floor, generally occupying himself with taking in every detail of the day in true baby fashion. I rested my chin on that soft baby head and my life with him replayed in Cinemascope.
The ultrasound picture where we saw his face in (almost) 3D. A recognizable nose and mouth. The one where we saw those HUGE feet. Paddleboards. The one where we learned he was a boy and not the girl I was completely sure I was carrying. The one where he was almost seven lbs. The one where he was losing weight because my body was a terrible mother long before my mind broke.
From before he was born I couldn’t handle it. My kidneys couldn’t process the extra fluid and so it built up in my body and began squeezing him. My cervix wouldn’t dilate even after 12 hours of labor so he had to be cut out of me.
The night I woke up to find that he had rolled out of my arms and was sliding upside down on the blanket, about to hit the floor head first.
The night I gave up breastfeeding because it hurt too much.
The night I was walking and jiggling trying to get him to sleep and realized that I was jiggling waaaay to hard and had to put him down while he cried.
The night I just sat and cried with him and prayed for the Zoloft to kick in or for him to just GO TO SLEEP.
The times I have handed him to his father and backed away.
The times I couldn’t even look at his beautiful baby face.
Yesterday morning, when I left for two hours and then came back and ignored him and his father for the rest of the day.
Why? Why would he watch me? Why would he love me? He must know that I shower him with kisses and cuddles to ease my guilt and for my own comfort. Those wise eyes don’t meet mine when I hold him up in front of me. The books and boards all say that your baby will be staring into your eyes at this point. Is he doing that and I just can’t see it through the haze of my self-pity and guilt?
Or is he actually not looking me in the eye because of what he sees there?
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