February 2015

At our prenatal class back in November, we were told not to worry about anything other than simply surviving the first six weeks with the baby. Things would get better after that, the nurse said. We passed six weeks in mid-February, and I guess things are “better” in that we’re now more accustomed to having another little person in the house. It feels more normal than discombobulating, except for those times when it still is more discombobulating than normal.


At the beginning when it was all new, I was convinced I would remember every single thing because it was so radically different from the days before, but even those first days are slipping between my fingers. I realize now how dazed I was then. My body felt more foreign than it did when I was hugely pregnant. The c-section incision, breastfeeding. Something about labour made my vision temporarily blurry and my ankles, which had stayed their normal size during pregnancy, swelled up for a week or two afterwards. I was also afraid I would walk past the stairs and somehow tumble down them while holding Clara. How was I so sure that I wouldn’t trip and drop her? Those fears seem strange now; she’s sturdier and bigger and I’m sturdier too, I suppose.

This month we started giving her bottles so that Andrew could feed her and I could leave the house alone for longer than two hour stretches. I went out to dinner, I went grocery shopping, I saw Roxane Gay read and speak. Before all of this I wondered what it would be like to go out in the world without the baby. I would miss her, wouldn’t I? The truth is that I wasn’t sad to be away from her. I was happy, actually, almost giddy. Not because I was away from her, although the breaks did feel good, but because I knew she was there, at home and waiting for me to return. How amazing that was, this knowledge that my baby was now a part of the real world, that she was no longer theoretical, something that lived only in my head, but a separate creature who existed even without my presence. My body, though, recognizes the absence differently. If I’m away from her for more than two hours, my breasts start feeling full – my body knows its obligations.

I spent one of my solo afternoons meeting my editor for my book, and it was such a great meeting. Overwhelming because I have changes to make, but it’s satisfying to talk to someone who has read your writing with such precision and care. Since then I’ve been working on edits. It’s slower because obviously there’s a baby to take care of, but Clara’s daytime napping schedule has been (mostly) working in my favour. The car seat seems to have a narcotic effect on her too, so sometimes I’ll cocoon her in it, snap the seat to the stroller and go to the cafe down the street where I work until the laptop batteries run out or she wakes up.

We’ve been bringing her out more too, mostly around our neighbourhood, but we also went to Buffalo overnight, a modified version of previous weekends before she was born. She was a good little traveler and when she cried during dinner at Dinosaur BBQ, it was muted by the din of the large restaurant. (I’m pretty sure it was, anyway; we didn’t get any dirty looks, and I looked for them.) She made up for it at a diner the next morning, sleeping nicely while we ate our breakfast.

The biggest change this month, though, is the sense that she has woken up, that while she still sleeps for long stretches like a newborn, when she’s awake she is with us. She smiles, sometimes big and open mouthed. She likes her mobile, she likes it when we play with her feet or blow air on her face. Her limbs flail madly when she’s excited. Welcome again, baby girl.

Writing, elsewhere

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