I’m sorry, baby. You’re still so tiny and new, and you should be sleeping in the quiet at home instead of grabbing a nap all curled up in my lap at the coffee shop, but your dad is already back at work (two weeks of paternity leave are NOT enough) and your brother had math tutoring this afternoon. People talk about the importance of routines for babies, but those people have never juggled the reality of eight.
You were very loud in your opposition to the bottle your brother offered you in the car. It wasn’t quite the warm comfort of the breastfeeding that you are used to. Class schedules don’t make allowances for hungry little sisters, and nursing on demand doesn’t go the way I wish it could when we spend so much time in the car.
I’m so sorry. I wish that I could give you the warm and peaceful babyhood of your eldest sister. Days and hours blended together as I gazed in wonder at the tender perfection of her tiny features. I snuggled and sang to her within the tranquil confines of our tiny house on its quiet street. We wrapped her world in a soft silence where here world moved in routine and order, but your world doesn’t work that way.
The screeching laughter of your 5-year-old sister startled you from your nap for the third time this morning before you were ripped from your bassinet and dumped into your car seat. You mewed softly in protest, and then scowled as your brother popped a pacifier into your mouth. It wasn’t but a few moments before your quiet complaints became full-blown gargle-y cries of hunger. My chest grew heavy and tight with the need to feed you, as you were offered the hated bottle and sputtered your rejection. And up there in the driver’s seat I cried for both of us. It should be different than this.
We were barely back through the doors of home before your brother lifted you from my arms. You melted into the crook of his neck, and breathed a deep sigh of contentment. His long graceful fingers gently stroked your soft baby-fluff hair and you relaxed into a boneless sleep.
You didn’t stir an hour later when you were passed into the waiting arms of your 9-year-old brother. He whispered secrets for only you to hear, and shared the warmth of your blanket with you. The corner of your mouth twitched in laughter, but you slumbered on.
By the time your eyes peeked open in innocent wonder at the world, you were safely enfolded in to nest of blankets on your big sister’s lap. She had been drawing anime characters and sketching out story lines as you slept, but greeted your thoughtful gaze with a slowly spreading smile.
When 6:00 rolled around, you had been nursed and cuddled before going back into the car to head to the skate park. You fell quickly asleep under the watchful gaze of your older sister who sighed and said, “I think she must be the luckiest baby ever. There’s always something going on in our family, so she’ll never get bored. There are so many people in our family that even when you’re busy she gets held and loved on. And I get to feed her so she knows I’ll always take care of her. I bet she’s really glad she’s our baby.”
I’m sorry, baby, that in wishing for what “should have been” that somehow I missed that the way it is may be the way it ought to be after all.
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