One Month of Him

Dearest Julien,

photo 1I write so that I may always remember.   I write so that you will know that in between the moments and minutes and hours of caring for you, I still think of you.   A mother is never untethered from her children.

Just over four weeks ago you came to be known in my arms.   You looked just like your brother when you were born.  So much so that it honestly took me days to even see you as your own person.   You had his “little old man” hairline and the same juicy lips.  In fact, when I slowly lifted you from the water on the eve you were born, Daddy said he instantly knew you were a boy because you resembled Lyric (and the Steele lineage) so strongly.

untitled-374bw

Photo by Jeanette LeBlanc

It was your biggest sister, Kaia, who in fact announced your gender.  As I laid you on my chest, she squealed “I think it’s a boy!” and the entire room let out a gentle hush.  Everyone present knew that it was my wish to be the one to reveal gender, to take my time in getting to know you and recover from the thunderous work of birth.    I don’t blame your sister;  she was so present at the birth, watching you emerge and excitedly remarking “Oh, there’s the baby’s head!  It has lots of hair!”  After a few minutes of recentering myself and connecting to you – heart to heart – I peered down between your legs and said “It’s a brother!”.  This was met with joyful shrieks from each of your siblings.  Oh how welcomed you were and are, Julien.

photo 2So, here is the obligatory “list” of what you are up to at one month (again, mostly for my own personal record keeping):

  • At one month you are more awake and alert now and we love staring into your peepers.  The kids are obsessed about what color they are going to be.
  • You track the voices and faces of your siblings, and fall asleep on their chests,  and stare at the juxtaposition of shadow and light.
  • You like to nap in Daddy’s armpit.
  • You sleep in long increments still during the day and seem to be experiencing a growth spurt recently (i.e. awake every hour or so at night).
  • You sleep best on your tummy and nestle sweetly between me and Daddy at night.  You awaken me with little grunts and growls and, even in my exhaustion, I am always thrilled to cuddle your warm body to mine and nurse by the glow of my salt lamp.
  • You are fussy only when your tummy hurts, when your diaper is dirty,  and when your diaper is being changed.
  • And so far you haven’t minded the car seat too much…please let it stay that way!  Your brother screamed on every car trip – short or long – until he was over a year old.   May you not repeat his legacy.
  • You love riding in my Moby wrap carrier and instantly settle there.
  • You have one ear that has a small flat part at the top and we call it your Elfin ear.    And we’ve determined you have a rather prominent and beautifully wide nose, which we happen to adore and kiss often.
  • You are a “get down to business” nurser and rarely nurse for comfort.   You are quick and efficient and this is exactly how your sisters were.
  • You don’t mind the chaos and noise of the family you chose and are able to sleep through it.  Often, you nap on the bed while your siblings play and read (and yes, sometimes fight) next to you.
  • You and Indigo have a strong and tender bond.  She can calm you quickly with her innate mothering skills, her gentle kisses atop your fuzzy head, and you seek out her voice.  I’ve caught you both staring into each other eye’s as if you’ve been reunited.  She says she knew you from before and she said this about Lyric as well.  I believe her.
  • All of your siblings made your belly button. :)
  • You came down with an awful cold last week and it’s been the saddest thing to have a sick newborn.   We hold you close all day and night and whisper to you that you will get better;  that your body is strong and wise.

I have loved these last four weeks with you.   There are many moments where I choose to recline on my bed with you asleep on my chest and ignore the unkempt house (and my unkempt body and hair).  Because you will only fit on me for a short time;  your legs still curled under your bum.   Because they way your limbs twitch in your sleep still reminds me of the movements you made in my womb.   Because your head smells like love’s incense and your cheeks are so plump.

These are the sweetest days, my son.   May they linger.

I love you, my bundle of joy.

Mama

Returning: The Birth of Julien Atlas (Part 1)

Dear Baby,

DSC03608Your name is Julien.  And you’ve been earthside now for 18 days.   You, my second son, are the fuzzy peach of the family;  juicy and warm and soft and small and oh so mellow.

The story of your birth is unfolding within me again, just over two weeks later.   When I watch the video,  I can feel the bones in my pelvis unhinge as if you were pushing your way through once more.

I watch your body rise and fall on my chest as you sleep, like a tiny sailboat on a gentle sea;  so easily we still fit together.

I laugh as milk drips from the corner of your mouth and I am reminded that we gestate together infinitely, really.   Through the minutes and days and years we each grow and shapeshift and curl up beside each other in understanding.   We will, I am sure, go through cycles of mystery too.  Just as we did when you lived in the dark cavern of my body.

I look down at my body and notice the linea negra on my belly…it (and 20+ extra pounds of cushion) lingers as one final reminder of our pregnancy.   I awaken in the morning, my hand still often resting on the soft of my abdomen where you were nestled deep inside just three weeks ago.

A few days after you were born, I cradled my jiggly belly in the shower and said over and over “Thank you, thank you, thank you” to my womb for growing my heart inside out four different times.

Julien…your name not coincidentally as buttery and fresh on my tongue as the “pain au chocolat” I devoured every morning in France when you were but a tiny sprouting seed.   Julien;  your name destined to be misspelled for your lifetime but it is true to its French form.   Because when I viewed Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower, I felt like a tiny part of me belonged in that magnificent city.

DSC02845Your birth transpired so organically, both unlike anything I could have expected and yet almost exactly what I had been so gently hoping for.    Our bathroom will always be a hallowed chapel now:  the way the candle’s glow matched the quiet and focused intensity of your birth, the way the salt lamp cast the same warmth as the heat that coursed in my center, the chants and songs that emanated from my bones,  the way the depth of the bathtub encased me so that it became a refuge and altar, the laying of hands, and the certain communion that began and ended in the water.

All the hours I spent wondering how your birth would transpire and, mostly,  how your siblings would be involved couldn’t have prepared me for the astounding beauty of their presence.   Each of them, dressed in pajamas and with mussed up hair, sat in silence on a bench and held my space as I labored.   Jason said he will never forget their faces, peering over the edge of the tub, as I breathed you into the world.   Their voices smiled and Kaia said softly “You’re gonna catch it!”. 

And I did!  Julien, I welcomed you with my own hands and there are only words written in stardust and birth blood that can describe that.   Those words don’t exist on Earth.

DSC02878“Oh, hi sweet, sweet baby”, were the first words I uttered to you.   I remember rubbing your back and your fuzzy wet head and feeling the velveteen of the vernix on your skin.   Let it be known that mamas do what they can to imprint the smells and sensations of birth and of their babies on their own bodies.   Yes, we are made of star stuff.  And of Birth.

And now I know that I birthed in that bathtub so that I could revisit that space, again and again, and remember.

The logistics of your story are still being written.   From my waters releasing at 5:30 pm, to my first real surges around 9:00 pm,  to you on my chest at 11:17 pm…the in-between was a culmination of all of my births sewn together.   I experienced moments of profound peace and connectedness and moments of losing my breath and of wishing to grow gills.

I love the way you slowed me down and pushed me to the limits of awareness with your birth.   Julien, you are something else.   The sweetness of your birth lingers like delicate sea salt on the smoothest of chocolate;  a way to help me  tenderly navigate through the finality of my birthing years.

Oh yes, I have always loved you.  That’s just the way it is, my son.

Julien, my sky, my way home, my treasure.

“I have come to know you

Through the sounds that

Reverberate

Against my

Vertebra

You are played

Like an cello

Into the ocean’s high tide

I have come to know you

In the ripples of the

Bathwater

Where you unfurled

Your very first cry

You are sung

Like one note

Called out between the mountains”

xoxo

Mama

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