Tue 12 Sep 2006
Oscar cut his first tooth yesterday. i was so proud, you would have thought he’d sculpted the Pieta or achieved world peace. he seemed less tickled, himself. apparently having a hard, sharp object come bursting through one’s gums isn’t much fun. and the thing really is rather sharp, i can testify. :)
the milestones suddenly seem to be coming in a big clot all of a sudden, leaving me breathless. the tooth cut through the very morning after he spent his first night in his big crib, and i would have thought those two firsts were enough for a mama…er, baby…to adjust to in one week. but hot on the heels of the tooth has come his first cold, replete with his first runny nose: he’s none too thrilled about this development, so far as i can see.
but he is quite fascinated with his left foot, which suddenly entered his consciousness this afternoon. we were in the midst of our third round of “Doe, a Deer,” which has an astoundingly calming effect on O when he’s cranky: i suspect my Julie Andrews impressions are so incomprehensibly off-key that they stun him into silence. somewhere about “la, a note to follow so,” (the weak link in the lyrics, in my own personal opinion) i noticed he was no longer paying attention. he was, instead, grasping his stripey sock, mouth agape and cooing. he’s spent a lot of the week chewing away on his hands to ease the trauma of his swollen mouth, but i imagine the fat little foot looked far more promising and tasty, once he noticed its presence. the sock got a good gumming henceforth.
it’s funny that all this is happening at once, and this week. as the 9/11 anniversary commemorations were invading our airwaves and consciousness yesterday, i was marking a more private anniversary for O and i; a gentler one, less in line with the infamy the day’s become synonymous with. it was exactly a year yesterday that i got the BFP (that’s big fat positive, for those of you who aren’t babycenter.com addicts) on the pregnancy test; since the awareness and anticipation of Oscar began for me. it’s a happy anniversary, for us, and one of wonder, for me…only a year, and he already has teeth? amazing.
but listening to the broadcasts from NYC yesterday didn’t seem so out of place as O and i celebrated his tooth and our own anniversary. with the anticipation of Oscar – the realization that i really was carrying a second potential child – came the bleakest, scariest fear i’ve ever known. it slithered up under my skin and twisted itself around me, chilling me. it wasn’t just the fear that comes with parenting, the kind that makes you leap out of bed to check and make sure the baby’s still breathing. it was the kind that comes after. after they stop breathing, after the unimaginable loss…after the unthinkable has happened and you can no longer just ramble along assuming that the heartbreak of the world will not visit itself on you. it was a fear of hoping…and a fear of forgetting, too. i heard a lot of that fear in the voices of people interviewed yesterday. their voices were like mirrors for me, except that their stories trailed back five years, and mine only one.
i spent the first weeks and months of carrying Oscar almost paralysed by my fear. i counted off days like rosary beads; in thrall to the superstitious, obsessive tallying of semi-random numbers that Joan Didion calls magical thinking. only forty-three more days until we were safely out of the first trimester, only twenty/twelve/two more weeks until the baby reached viability. only however many weeks until we passed the 26 plus one mark at which Finn was delivered…and only however many weeks backward since i’d held him in my arms, where he’d died. last September, those two sets of numbers – forward to the new baby surviving, back to the lost one slipping away on us – were almost even. every time they shifted in the favour of a living child, i tried to mend myself, pull little shreds of belief and hope back together. i never entirely succeeded.
now, when i look back on that torturous round of calendar watching, it feels as though it were a part of another life. because it is. time has healed me, in a sense…just as the passage of five years has offered some peace and distance to the wounds of 9/11. but time isn’t enough on its own, as the voices in yesterday’s coverage pointed out. for me, it has taken Oscar, and the practicality and purpose of caring for him. and the wonder of watching each milestone line up, too – seeing him bloom into a beautiful little person, and taking comfort in his being in the world. i’d like to say more about that, but he’s crying the husky, throaty cry of the teething, and he needs me.
so i’ll just say i’m grateful, for him and for the year gone by.