Monday, December 1, 2008

Moments with Mommy and Daddy

In the fourth week of baby Nathaniel's life, mommy and daddy are, for the first extended time, home alone with their son.

We returned last weekend from a trip to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family in the mid-Atlantic region. It's the second time Lee Ann (who has her own blog, by the way – a really good one, I might add – at has seen Nathaniel; she joined us days after he was born and helped Michelle with a litany of newborn-fueled crises in the first days we returned home. She also cooked a mountain of comfort food, including lasagna, chicken cheese casserole, cinnamon buns, apple pancakes, glazed salmon and other delicious dishes that I no doubt have forgotten.

Then along came Michelle's mom and her sister. They flew in from Iowa and like twin tornadoes, took care of any and every need that Michelle and I had, thought we had, and never even knew we had. They came with us to church at baby N's first service. (He seemed to like the music. Psst! Wait until he finds about rock n' roll.) They cooked. They cleaned. They took N when he got cranky or when one of us, or both of us, looked on the brink of emotional collapse. They catered, they caressed, they cared for us.

And then they left.

And then arrived my mother. She came from Atlanta, and seized any and opportunities to cuddle with her newest grandson. (my sister has three children and is the wise one among the child rearers.) In between nuzzles, Mom made her signature spaghetti and sauce, chicken casserole and fried chicken. We've still got half a breast and two legs left, plus some spaghetti sauce.

Three days into that visit, my mother, Michelle, baby N and I drove to my sister's. We left on Wednesday morning, a little later than planned and headed west through the bottleneck they call the NYC area and headed south, through Pennsylvania farmland to our destination. It's never an easy trip, really; and around Thanksgiving, with a baby on board, and a mother who was too excited by it all, it was one long journey. Baby N was remarkable. He slept nearly the whole time, and when he did wake up and cry, he took the bottle with vigor, downed it like a good drunk and slipped back to sleep.

My most vivid impression of the journey was how thankful I was for any gas station restroom that was outfitted with a baby changing table. Don't get me wrong: I've noticed these things before, mostly out of fleeting curiosity that faded away about the moment I exited the stall. Now, I was really looking for them, almost desperately. Where are they, dammit! Doesn't anybody care I have a baby loaded with poo and no respectable place to place his ruddy butt?

No, of course, they don't care, and neither did I until about a few weeks ago. But I sure care now, after resorting to changing baby N. on the bathroom floor a few times. I am happy to say that Michelle planned for something like this by buying an elaborate diaper bag with myriad pockets, pouches and more hidden crevices than a den of bears could make use. It also had a clear plastic, add-on pouch with a plastic mat designed expressly for those times when you need to shield a baby's privates from the dank world of bacteria and germs.

Thank goodness someone was thinking.

So, now we've returned home and it's just mommy, daddy and baby N for the next week a half, before my father and stepmother come in from Texas. Make no mistake: We are so, so grateful to our families for their help during their visits. But finally, it seems, we'll have some time to ourselves, and time to learn about, commiserate over, get frustrated at, make funny faces and just smile, smile, smile at our new son. Michelle and I are really excited about this bonding time. The first month of baby N's life has rocketed by, and, boy, we hardly knew ye. Or so it seems.

We're going to make up for some lost time.

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