Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This sucks, let's do it again soon

Who knew you could do this, Dad?

Last night, while Mama took Barky out for his evening walk, I fed 3B for the first time. Although I'll never be able to have the complete experience that Mama does, from let down to the prolactin coma, it did give me a glimpse of what is so special about breastfeeding. That brief look at it from the inside has made me want to do it again--soon and often.

I've spent a fair amount of up-close time with 3B--at this point, there's really no other kind of time with him--but there is something tangibly different about that time and the time I spent feeding him. Perhaps it's because we're both focused on one task, one which consumes almost all of our attention.

At other times, his attention strays from this mobile to that light or to those pages that I keep turning in his face or to the discomfort of gas or even to the pangs of hunger, while my attention might shift from finding a comfortable position for him, to what Mama's saying to him, to keeping Barky from curling up on top of him, to keeping him from rolling off my chest, to finding a book that interests him, to staying awake, to folding back the NYTimes quietly enough so as not to wake him. At meal time, however, we both have but one focus.

The whole time he was eating, he stared into my eyes or examined my face closely, as though trying to divine my whole life from those few square inches of skin. I couldn't take my eyes off of him, marveling at his copper-colored hair, his cowlick sworl, his mysterious-colored eyes, his gossamer eyelashes, his tiny red ears, and his sweet, smooth skin. Just as he was, I was trying to figure out who he is, but I was wondering about who he will be: Where will he go? Who will he know? What will he do? I remembered when I was young, although older than 3B is, walking down the linoleum-tiled hall from my room in the morning, then lying between my parents in bed as they were waking, examining the skin of their hands, wondering how they got to look the way that they did: Dad's hands, with each cell outlined in sharp lines, and Mom's hands, so strong, with skin so supple, smooth, and soft.

As we looked at each other, I was aware as never before of the intense affection of his gaze. It is always apparent, especially now that he is responding to our voices, even smiling in response to them when he's in the mood, but there was something different about seeing it while feeding him. Perhaps it has to do with the tunnel-vision isolation of feeding him, or perhaps there is something different about his gaze when he's feeding, or perhaps it was that we were both seeing something different together--that I was seeing him anew, in greater clarity than before, and he was, as a result, not only seeing me differently than before, but also seeing a different me looking back at him.

Whatever it was, I can't wait to feed him again, even to give Mama a break for one of his night feedings. More than that, however, I can't wait to see him in my Mom's hands, the hands that held me as a baby; the hands that hold, carry, and soothe a baby with such ease and grace; the hands that are still so strong, with skin so supple, smooth, and soft.

5 comments:

  1. Aw, Papa B! You got me all verklempt.

    I knew you'd be a great Papa.

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  2. OMGSH
    OMGSH
    OMGSH

    You are making me want to have another baby.

    (okay, it's not that hard to do)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:16 AM

    AHHHH whatever RM did to have your heart removed. It has been firmly transplanted back in and stronger than ever!!

    TCB of that feeding 3B

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  4. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Beautiful sentiments, Papa B. Isn't fatherhood great?

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  5. Anonymous3:28 PM

    you know? the immense love/joy/amazement/pride/ and all the other intense feelings that a child bring... they don't stop to the first one.

    Oh no, the miracle continues.

    ReplyDelete