June 23, 2015

Our baby, Fox Carroll McGinley, was born on May 23 accompanied by a great big howl of a voice and two eyes that refused to open for a long time. When they finally did, it was just one eye squinting suspiciously at me for at least 20 minutes, and I finally wondered if there actually was a second eye. Guess what? Two eyes!

He is beautiful: 10 fingers and toes and an amazing smirk that he utilizes regularly to make me laugh even in the middle of the night. 

I have to admit that I'd had a really hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was carrying an actual human- not a reptile or alien. The various lumps and bumps were hard to identify and match with real human parts. The midwives kept saying that his feet were the bulge on the side of my abdomen, but part of me kept wondering if it was actually a second head. The last couple months of pregnancy were filled with unexpected worry and extra medical appointments and testing, and finally an order to induce labor 3 weeks early. So imagine my surprise over two things:

#1-- a rather undramatic and even joyful (though fast and furious) labor where all of the things that I'd been told could Potentially Go Very Wrong went right, and where I felt insanely loved and supported
#2-- giving birth to a perfect little human that I fell fast in love with

My brain had been so absorbed with pregnancy and anxiety that I hadn't spent much time thinking about all of the awesome things that would happen afterwards-- that there would be a real baby. I want to remember sitting there in the hospital room marveling over Fox's sweetness, and the strange and wonderful mix of my features and Ben's on his face. Ben's first known blood relative! I want to remember Ben saying over and over to me: he's cute, Laura! look at how cute he is! with the biggest grin I've ever seen on his face. I want to remember the whirlwind of bringing him home, and how I felt insanely confused and sore and overwhelmed but so happy it truly didn't matter. How Ben and I kept saying to one another this is the biggest win! How we couldn't even believe what had just happened to us or how much our hearts hurt from loving so much and feeling so fragile and vulnerable: our hearts now outside our chests! How we truly cried with joy- often. Because joy really can be the scariest emotion.

Ben and I spent a lot of those first two weeks just staring at Fox while he slept and then looking over photos we'd taken of him earlier in the day. We talked about his spontaneous smiles, the wrinkling of his brow, and how he puts his arms under his face, senior picture- style. He looks pleased with himself, and I hope he is. We talk about the day he will actually do things! He will swim in pools and play in the sand and eat delicious food and see beautiful places. It's all far away. For now he grunts in his sleep, and continually shifts positions. We talk about being proud of him- of his sleeping patterns and bravery when his heel is stuck by yet another doctor. We congratulate him on overcoming jaundice and on kicking his feet. His greatest challenges are moving from sleeping to waking and surviving a diaper change. We applaud each victory with seriousness. He is so small. He shrinks down almost a pound in that first week and he's practically miniature-- still with a formidable nose, just like me.

I want to remember all the friends who stopped by with food and celebrated Fox from afar and send encouraging emails and sweet gifts. I hope we were all loved and celebrated like this the moment we were born!

Did I mention the crying? Our crying, not his. The combination of the hormones and the lack of sleep and the vulnerability of loving a tiny human so much that you regularly wake to check on his breathing makes for tears of fragility. We talk about the people we know who have lost children and loved ones. We talk about the people we know who are trying to have children. We talk about all the people we love. This openhearted state is amazing and exhausting. I want to remember it-- feeling that open. 

I was thinking about this fortune I received with my Chinese food a couple of years ago: yesterday was a dare to struggle. Today is a dare to win. This first month of parenthood has felt like the biggest win. We have felt like the absolute luckiest, and every hurdle has felt worth it. I want to remember this victorious feeling. I think about the shitty times and the emotional gunk and Ben's transition towards sobriety and my miscarriage, and they all feel small in comparison to this feeling.

I'm a big fan of talking & writing about the hard stuff. But I was reminded this month that it's equally important to mention the life wins- to avoid being humble about them, to accept them without surprise or question and even bask in them a little...these reminders that the universe is conspiring in our favor. I want to bask in this, the biggest win. I want to talk about this little person with the double chin and how light his presence has made me feel- how calm; how certain.

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