Two years ago today after a 5 day induction process that included approximately 12 rounds of cytotec, many varying IV levels of pitocin, a foley bulb, two manual manipulations to turn my baby from sunny side up to face down, 10 midwife/nurse shift changes, countless bland hospital meals, an entire season of “The Good Wife” on hulu, and so many tears . . . the fetus known as Seafoam was born via cesarean section at 6:20pm MST. He didn’t breathe for the first 5 minutes of his life outside my uterus, then coughed and flung his eyes open and started inhaling and exhaling, though he did not cry. Ansel, german for God’s protection, was born into the world on the feast day of St. Patrick.
It feels like a lifetime ago. But also, I can still feel the aching shivers in my body, tied to an OR table, and I still leak tears thinking of those first moments when I couldn’t see him and had to trust that the world outside my body would care for him now. I met him for only a second before his Mommy accompanied him to the NICU for a brief stay. Those moments echo through his first few years: he is still fiercely calm in the face of danger, wide eyed and watching, and my heart is still not quite as strong as he is.
At two, Ansel is fearless and deeply loving. He is curious and insightful, deeply empathic and intuitive. He is very funny, very laid back, so brim full of joy. I am so excited to see how he lives into himself, how these traits that have defined him since his first moments will continue to express themselves, what else we will learn about him, how he will become himself.
At two, Ansel loves trains and other things that move (buses, cars, planes, but mostly trains.) He loves pretending – with food in his kitchen, that anything tangible can fly, that his new baby doll can also build with magnatiles. He would only eat ruffles potato chips and ketchup, if we let him. But he also still loves hummus, just like he did a year ago. He likes dancing by spinning in circles, and prefers to do so in a tutu or a skirt, to early disco or R&B classics. He loves his “mom-I” and mama and often just wants to hold our hands or know we are there next to him. He snuggles and gives kisses and hugs, though they are coming less frequently as he wanders farther afield from us. He is content to play by himself, but also looks wide eyed at bigger kids and (mostly happily) plays next to his peers, O & K.
At two, Ansel continues to nurse before bed, when he wakes up, and often other times as well. In the last two weeks I have noticed a drop off in the length of time overall, but he continues to seek it out and ask to nurse fairly frequently. I continue to feel positive about it 85% of the time, which continues to meet my threshold for continuing and allowing him to self-wean. Two years ago my biggest fear was that I would not be able to breastfeed him. While it feels a bit silly now (and I feel a strange amount of shame for how deeply insistent I was about him only having breastmilk), I can also remember the anxiety and fear and struggle very, very well. And I believe there has to be a better way to support new parents who want to breastfeed, as well as those who don’t or can’t.
At two, Ansel is both everything I longed for in the many years it took to make him a reality, and also nothing like I could have ever dreamed. Parenting is both so much simpler, and also so much more intensely difficult. At two, I am no better than I was although I sometimes get fooled into thinking I might be. I live in fear and anxiety of the day he climbs out of his crib, or when he starts pretending to shoot guns, or when he asks about homelessness or when we have to tell him someone died. At two, I am confident about how to get him to sleep and bathe him, but I feel overwhelmed some days with how to live into my parenting values when time and energy is in short supply, and it feels like the whole world is trying to undo my best laid plans.
Today, Ansel is two years old, and I am two years a mama. I am grateful every day for the gift my son gave me: making me a mother.