Watching your mother hold you, rock you, soothe you. Passing you off in the middle of the night. Competing for who can change a diaper the most efficiently, who can snap onesies faster, who can stuff squirming arms into little sleeves.
Mother-baby yoga, and mother-baby pilates, and daycare, and all the friends we would have made.
Shared school vacations with your cousin A, the same age as you. Evening conversations with my sister, commiserating and complaining about the cousins’ nth grade teachers.
Being bossed around by S, the oldest cousin on that side. Maybe she would direct you in plays. Maybe she would make you chase her around the house and then slip out the front door and laugh as you kept running in circles, looking for her. Maybe she would teach you to ride her balance bike. The rules of helmet safety. Call you a little kid.
Thanksgiving at the beach, watching you eat sand. Being the oldest cousin on that side.
Showing you off at my 10th college reunion, and your mother’s 10th college reunion. Sharing stories of new motherhood with old friends.
Swapping birth stories. Hours of labor, minutes spent pushing, number of stitches. Delivery room battles, hollering, the funniest thing we said to our spouses in the throes of labor pain.
Maternity leave skype-while-nursing with R and her baby. Hikes with T and her baby. Comparing feeding habits, sleep habits, growth, hair, weight, every day with A at school.
My coworkers saying, “I told you so,” when they found out you were a boy.
Showing pictures of you to my class.
Telling my students how much hair you were born with, when your cousins were bald. That’s genetics, I teach. That’s your DNA, that code we’ve been talking about.
The birth we had planned. Waterbirth. Unmedicated. Uninduced. Your mother and me and our doula and my sister and C. Focused, deliberate, one contraction at a time. All the breathing I practiced. Changing positions. Easing you down the birth canal. I would look at your head crowning in the mirror. Touch you. Maybe your mother would catch you as I pushed.
Taking you to the park by our house. Pushing your stroller as the redbuds pop and the forsythia tickles my nose. Counting daffodils.
The woman with a baby down the street who was supposed to be my friend. I pass her house every day. I’ve never met her.
Walks up to Beef Burger to buy softserve ice cream the way my family used to walk us to Zesto’s for a dip cone. We would walk home, licking, dripping, sticky.
Holding you. Kissing your cheeks. Uncurling your thin fingers.
© Burning Eye