Changing Isla’s diaper, a task that should only take a few minutes often stretches into half hours involving frequent handwashing, changing of the entire changing table linens, doing a load of laundry, and changing three different pairs of diapers and outfits before we are finished.
I am still fat, tired and alarmingly squishy in the middle. Esther stepped on my stomach in bed the other morning and I screeched like a child and doubled over crying. It is hard to describe the feeling of a sharp blow to the empty womb. It’s like my insides are totally exposed. My womb is an open wound where once it was a blossoming, rock hard, life-carrying vessel. I remember this same empty feeling after giving birth to Esther. It is as if there is just this big, vacuous space, and my insides are in danger of falling out if I don’t’ tread lightly. I am so happy to have baby on the outside, yet I feel as if I have lost something.
Speaking of losing something...
A substantial piece of my placenta came out the other day while I was peeing. I examined it for a few minutes while standing over the toilet, unsure of whether I should save it, show it to Ian or just flush it away and forget I ever saw it. I ended up flushing it. I opened my hand and let it drop into the water, flushed it down and washed my hands. Gone. The last remnant of my little Isla living inside of me just swirled down the toilet and flowed into the earth. How bizarre, really. I called my midwife to make sure I hadn’t given birth to an alien and she reassured me that this was normal and I wasn’t in any danger as long as I didn’t have any fever or excessive abdominal pain.
I am trying to get to know this new little person in my house, but she won’t stop sleeping long enough for me to learn who she is. I suppose it has only been a few weeks yet I am anxious to understand her, to know her. She still sleeps so much. When awake she is just quietly alert, taking it all in. A pretty peaceful child so far.
It is coming back to me now. Being the mother of a little baby. The details, the small things. Pushing a stroller down the dirt road, determined to get some fresh air, some exercise, some sanity, but the stroller is empty because you are carrying your infant child who is crying. You are miles from home because she was sleeping and the walking felt so good. Now she is awake and crying, and your back is screaming, yet you continue to carry with one arm, and push with the other.
Ian and Esther are now dancing in the living room to, “I Could Have Danced all Night,” from My Fair Lady. We listen to this soundtrack again and again. It gets us through the dark November evenings. Whenever this song comes on, Essie grabs Ian’s hand and they go to the living room and dance romantically. A little girl and her daddy. A father and his daughter. I am jealous sometimes of their easy way with each other. I feel that tingly scalp, heart squeeze thing when I watch this and resist the urge to hunt down the video camera and miss the whole moment in the process. Will Esther ever forgive me for having so little to show her, any moving pictures to prove to her that she and her daddy had the greatest love of all when she was too young to remember?