Hold On

I’m hitting that level of exhaustion I was told about.

Not because the baby is colicky or excessively grumpy…not any more than you’d expect from someone for whom the world is so new and confusing! But at this point it’s just been a while since I’ve enjoyed uninterrupted sleep…so that cumulation is resulting in a kind of zombie state…

Probably I just need an Alka Seltzer!

It’s not as bad as i thought it would be. The tiredness is tempered by compassion and gentleness towards the little unhappy creature who seems so bewildered by the hunger pains and the trumpeting sounds his nether regions are emitting. His bicycling legs and waving arms manage to be sweet even in the middle of his crying…and really, he’s easy enough at the moment to calm.

Crying (actually starts more like sniffing) triggers me to run through the checklist:

-Hungry? (Usually I can figure this one out by asking a second question – is he attempting to stuff his entire fist in his mouth?)

-Wet? (For example, this morning we managed to soak through pajamas, sheets, mattress…it’s too pitiful to make you mad. And the feeling once you get him dry and warm in clean pajamas, laying in his cushion and contentedly sucking his pacifier is enough to make you feel like a super hero.)

-Gassy? (This is the hardest one, since it’s going to come out when it does, and hurt him UNTIL it does, so you try different positions (on the belly, supported by your arm, massaging his tummy and pushing his knees to his chest seems to be the most effective position to pop those farts out. I feel like I’m wielding a weapon.)

If it’s not one of those things, we go through the “Needy” list. Holding, bouncing on a yoga ball, singing, and cuddling all are tried. We see if he wants to look at his flags (he continues to be passionately fascinated by the bright simple colorful geometry of the St Kitts and Puerto Rican flags, and very often will become so interested that he forgets he’s supposed to be crying.) My last resort in the “Needy” list is to tuck him into the infant insert and strap him into my Ergo baby carrier, where almost always he will tuck down looking at me crossly, arms akimbo and pacifier furiously sucked…for about thirty seconds, until the warmth and secure feeling makes him fall asleep.

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Louise just left yesterday. We had a nice visit but I was exhausted and distracted the whole time. Thank God Louise is mellow and knows me well enough to be accommodating when my flag is flying half-mast! I’m not used to entertaining people anymore I guess; or maybe it’s just that the exhaustion from not sleeping is making me lose the plot. But it was great to see her, and she was just coming off a semester of uni so I think she was happy to keep it mellow, cook in the kitchen w the window open listening to tori Amos and eating melon and mango slices. She goes to school in Sunderland near Newcastle and it sounds like it was grey and cold and rainy so getting some Mediterranean sunshine and tomatoes that actually taste like sugar and sunshine…gotta be nice. We cooked simple fresh meals and poached eggs and worked out every day and she even said it felt a little bit like a detox in the end.

I took her to a cave I hike to sometimes. It’s the former wellspring of the Coulazou river, which is now dried up…I guess it used to be a geyser in the spring. Now it’s a deep hidden hole going into the earth. It’s hidden in a stand of trees and a bowl of boulders and most people don’t know it’s there. There are quartz crystals set into the rock. It’s a weird unsettling place…thinking about that geyser…like a doorway to the underworld.

We hiked in to Aumelas Castle the next day which is a castle ruins off in the hills. It dates back to the 9th c. One time my little sister in law Coralie found a heavy silver ring there w a black sapphire and the fleur-de-lys which was the insignia of French royalty. It was very old. The last time it was used was in the 14th c when the Protestants used it as a refuge during the religious wars. It’s very high on a hill overlooking vineyards.



We went into montpellier that night, Friday, and it’s a cool city…because there’s a university, there are a lot of young people and bars and open squares. We walked around…there’s an aqueduct and an arc de triomphe and a plaza with unicorn statues and an ancient medical school w an anatomy theater that Nostradamus went to, in the time of the plague, with a huge ancient medicinal plant garden. We went to a cheese bar that had wine too…sat outside. The baby actually became fascinated with a sunbeam. Really. Totally charming. He was happy to be outside and sat quietly on my lap looking around. (Maybe, mostly looking at Louise? Well, he IS French!)


And then the next day we went to Palavas on the sea, to get ice cream and wade in the sea. There’s a huge old cathedral on an island there called Villeneuve-de-Maguelone, just stone and tombs, no decoration, carvings in the walls and weird statues over the tombs that are kind of crude and worn away…and there was a woman in white jeans playing the cello in the stone domed apse. It was minor key and simple and kind of haunting.



There were white peacocks outside.


Mostly though, we enjoyed good conversation and, best of all, the chance to introduce the baby to one of my best friends. The very last night, I staggered to bed early and the baby fell asleep on Louise’s chest. It’s the best feeling in the world, to have this tiny creature cuddled under your chin, blissful and dreaming, rising and falling with your breathing. I’m so glad she got to experience that! And the next time she comes, the baby will be walking and laughing and getting into things…it’s nice to enjoy a baby at this age. It seems like it all changes so quickly.

And in the end, during the sleepless nights, sitting on my couch nursing, my eyes half swollen shut with sleep, the grey light of dawn behind the shutters, I think of that impermanence often. These precious moments with my baby in the wee hours of morning will pass, and I’ll never get them back. So through the tiredness, I remind myself to enjoy the silence and dark in the house, the sleepy grumpy baby and his gas, the spit up on my pink night robe, the sight of Mathieu sleeping across the room…the indescribable essence of the scene that embodies the tenderness of being a new parent.



3 thoughts on “Hold On

  1. Beautiful. Glad you had the time with Louise. Sleep will come, just not real soon. As always, thanks for the picture pictures as well as the word pictures!

  2. I’m pleased to see you’re becoming aware of how fleeting Nolan and your first little while together really is. He (and you) will get to the point of sleeping through the night soon enough, and before you know it he will be walking, and then running as he waves goodbye and is off to school. Enjoy these blissful moments while you can!

  3. just read this now – and I just wanted to reiterate that I wasn’t just saying that I enjoyed the chilled out mellowness, I really meant it, and you weren’t moody and spacey (at least, no more than I am in normal life, and at least you have good reason to be!) or if you were you hid it well. So many more happy memories of good times, good chats, and a gorgeous baby who i’ve “adopted” as my nephew. 🙂

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