It’s frightening being home alone with the two of you. This isn’t the first time, but it’s the first time I know you’ll be awake, wailing for me to feed you. There is an order to things, a particular way of doing, and I won’t do it the way your father does. The right way, will be the less efficient way, with me. The new mother way, where I’m not quite able yet, to grab you with only one hand. You’re resilient and hardy, I’m sure. It’s what they say, but you’re mine, and I have dreams of dropping you. And enough of your life will move too fast, so we’ll live, in these moments, stretched out, and tortured, not savored, because it’s all I can do. I just want you to be back asleep, quiet, so I can sleep too.
I’ll have to navigate the changing table alone, first one of you, then the other. I’m frightened your cries will throw me into a panic. I’ve got the DVD rigged with stacked chick flicks, bringing you both into that world of mine, where things are scripted and endings are happy. It’s a sing-song world where if babies are crying, everything is still right. I’m afraid of being overwhelmed. Of all the steps and all the minutes and all the ways to do things. Of snapping out the changing table above your bassinet, placing you there, undressing you fast enough to soothe you again, turning a filthy defiled diaper into a rubber glove, getting into all the cracks and folds good with a wet wipe, then wrapping the diaper up tight and new, hoping the plastic lace is all out, that you won’t soak it through. Swaddle you, feed you, listen as the other of you wants your turn. It’s hard and frightening and overwhelming when all I want to do is hush your cries, so I move too quickly and forget to breathe. Babies cry; it’s what you do, but when I hear it, and it’s my turn, when it’s all up to me, I want to soothe you as quickly as I can, which leads to your mother as a blur, in a blink, passing by, rushing forward, with clumsy hands she’s trying to keep steady. It’s why I need the chick flicks with the happy endings, to comfort me, to get me through the race of your lives.