You are ten weeks old and soon I will go back to work and leave you for almost eight hours a day with someone who is not me. Thinking about this moment makes my stomach do a freefall into my gut--how can I be away from you? What will happen to me without you? When your sister went to daycare, I cried every morning and rushed there to see her after work. I imagined her falling and someone else having to kiss her booboos and I died, a little, knowing this. Letting her go, watching her get big and run off was hard enough, and now at barely three months I have to let you go, I have to share what was once completely my own. Is that what parenthood, then, is? A series of letting go, each moment harder than the one before it? Or will I grow accustomed to it, hand you off to daycare easily instead of with a lurching ride into the pit I have already titled Without You?
Every morning I check your hands and clean them while you nurse. You hate it, and your fists ball even tighter as I pry them apart. I check for hairs, which wrap tightly around your pudgy fingers, threatening to cut off circulation. Once, it took me ten minutes to unwind the hank of my hair that was snaked in and out of your fingers. I clean under your knifelike nails, which you despise and which makes you yell in indignation and suck harder. I wipe your hand clean with mine, and then, finally, I kiss the back of your hands, over and over. Who will do this when I am at work? Will I have to worry about your poor trapped fingers all day long?
You smile now, sometimes mid-cry. Everything about you is delectable and lovely--your wrist rolls, your wrinkled forehead, your creaky door noises as you wake up, the way you sleep on me, arm flung carelessly, claiming me as yours. When I take off my shirt, you coo and smile. When I take you off me before you're finished eating, you squawk. We call you Stevie Wonder because you move your head from side to side, we call you Creaky Door because you make these old hinge noises as you wake up, we call you Poopy McGuillicutty because sometimes you poop on and on and on.
I love the balls of old millk that congregate in your neck rolls and make you smell, always, like coming home. I love your always-damp strawberry tinged hair, your curling hand on my shirt, your downy ear tufts. I love when you smile during sleep. I imagine that you are dreaming of more milk, of a land of many boobs and warmth and mobiles to watch and coo at, of mirrors to check out, of soft bellies and hair massages, and kisses, your offered cheeks sweet, ripe mangoes.
I can't believe I have to give you up, even for part of the day. It is too soon, too soon; I have only just begun to know you, baby.