Apart from being a little hungry at the beginning, Madeleine was a pretty funny baby. I’d watch her sleeping and she would break into a huge, toothless smile without warning. The way she held her spindly arms and legs reminded me of a baby chicken, so, after a while, I began calling her “my delicious chicken.” Once she began to laugh, she did so with a lamb-like cackle which, of course, made me fight to get her to laugh. She started doing this motion with her arm that looked like she was punching herself in the mouth (she wasn’t though) and whenever she’d accidentally hit her belly, she’d make a musical sound.
I loved getting to sleep with her because a) I was sleepy and b) I loved having her close. My husband, Christophe, was never nuts about finding us asleep on the couch, Madeleine lying on top of me, but the angle of the seat made a perfect nook for the two of us to snuggle into. He did like making the stuffed animals in our apartment talk to her and she seemed strangely engaged in those conversations. Once I got the hang of the Baby Bjorn, it was great to get things done and know that I didn’t need to travel far to know what she was doing. I also had the bad habit of eating while she was there. So, I’m sure that, later in life, the smell of coffee and the snowfall of everything bagel crumbs will always remind her of me.
We found out in those early months that we had to move and I swear she was checking out the apartments as avidly as we were. It didn’t matter that we were rocking her in and out of the car, up and down stairs. She just kept her cool and kept looking around. Luckily, we found a deleaded apartment down the street and by the grace of family and friends, we got everything moved over while Madeleine and her cousins played. [Sidenote: having the help of family and friends in those early months made me wonder how my mom managed to have seven of us with no family help in sight. The meals provided to us alone were lifesavers] By this time, the fears of Madeleine whittling away to nothing due to my breastfeeding woes were in the rearview mirror. Her once spindly limbs were now plump with many rolls. Christophe was also back at work and I had her on days that I wasn’t working. So, I put her in her stroller and headed out into the world.
I was grateful to have been in Mt. Auburn’s Postpartum Support Group shortly after Madeleine’s birth. Everyone was in the same boat here: tired and overwhelmed. I was glad to find that I was not the only goofball leaving things behind at people’s houses and perplexed over the multitudes of baby bottles to choose from. Madeleine and I also began to frequent the playgroups over at the Watertown Family Network. From the get go, I loved this place. The two women who run it organize free playgroups, singalongs, and field trips as well as providing parenting resources to mothers of kids from birth to 4 years old. I may have only taken Madeleine there for a couple of months but the kindness and community there is something I’ll always remember. We also frequented the Watertown Public Library although Madeleine usually chose to play vs. listening to the storytelling. I was hoping that she’d dig the Mama and Baby yoga class at OmBirths but discovered early on that she did not like being put down for very long in those classes. In general, that was the way it was between us: I could not put her here or there, I could not put her anywhere…and that was okay.
[to be continued – Next Stop: The New Frontier]