The baby is soft and smooth all over, except for his clammy hands and sticky feet. His toes squeeze and grip your fingers if you touch their undersides. The toenails are dirty (why?). His legs march erratically, springing back hard after every kick. He sings and burbles and coos like babies do. He whips his head from side to side. He pumps his fists over his head which makes us say, “Champion!” or “Power to the people!” again and again.
The baby’s skin is impossibly clear and uniform. No freckles, pock marks, or evidence of the sun: just a milky white expanse. Speaking of milk, that’s what his head smells like, under a thin mat of damp hair. His face is expressive, comically so. His eyes are enormous. A Japanime artist has drawn them with a straight line across the bottom edge, and a high arc delineating the top side. Above that are eyebrows which lift one at a time, the accidental skeptic. When he’s saucer-eyed and the brows furrow, everyone laughs. Consternation? Concentration? Whatever he’s feeling, the sincerity of its expression is hilarious.
He’s a good baby, we think. We’ve never had a baby before. It’s everybody’s first baby. He seems reasonable in his moods and demands. When he’s overtired, bored, wet or hungry, he cries. Otherwise he smiles and laughs, looks around, hangs out. He is tolerant of the parade of people handling him and kissing his face. He likes to go places— likes to be on the move.
The baby keeps growing. His legs are fatter than in the old pictures. He’s too big now for his newborn onesies, some of which were never worn. He’s interactive. His eyes meet ours, and follow us around the room. He’ll watch any glowing screen you put in front of him, just like we do. When read to, he looks at the book in front of him, even if it’s a grown-up novel without pictures.
The baby is charming. When it’s time for sleep we swaddle him in a tight straitjacket, so that he resembles a cocooned caterpillar, or a burrito. He’s happy in his bundle. Otherwise his flailing arms and legs keep him awake, and sometimes he punches himself in the face. He sleeps in his roll, and when he wakes up it’s time to unwrap him. The wake-up stretch is my favorite thing. I open him up like a present, and once freed his arms shoot up over his head. He makes fists and rolls out his wrists. He twists his head side to side. If you were playing charades and got “stretch,” this is the kind of hammy performance that would be called for, except that it’s just natural and normal and great.
The baby is awake, and his other mom is in charge so I can have a couple of hours to write. His other mom is the love of my life, and every day, even on days that I’m frustrated, or feel overworked or not appreciated, I can’t believe my good luck.
The baby is farting. I can hear him in the next room, grunting and straining. He farted all night. A hundred people told us that the baby would change our lives, and this is proof that it’s true: farts were never funny to me before.
I had to cut this short because the baby pooped all over other mom.