Being Called Home

E. is starting to do what I call pre-crawling, and when I see her pivot her long, thin body towards a toy, I cheer and do that kind of asinine clapping thing that only parents do. You know, the one accompanied by a gooey voice and the word “yay”. This is number 36 in the list of the things I swore I’d never do before I had children.

But I don’t care. I have no shame about any of it. We have to celebrate every tiny thing. E. got a great report from the neurologist recently— it appears that she’s cognitively on track along with the social/emotional stuff. Thank G-d. That is what I care about the most.

Her gross motor is another story (she’s a few months behind) and the feeding stuff is actually scary. Not even just because of my own internal tsuris (which definitely also exists). But because she has a Failure to Thrive diagnosis. That’s the scariest name of all. It sounds like the worst thing imaginable, because it includes both failure and the lack of thriving, all wrapped up in one compact label. No cheering there, that’s for sure. On the hard days, it adds up to hours and hours with the two of us alone in her blue nursery, alternating between different feeding strategies. These range from the classic book-reading distraction plan (book in one hand, bottle in the other) to Joni Mitchell-era song medleys. And when things are not going well, I sing the Sh’ma.

It’s amazing how this all has become What I Do and How I Live and it’s so, so easy to let myself slide away. I’m overall pretty good at getting my needs met. Before E. was born I was at the gym two times a week and doing all kinds of things beyond family life. Social justice stuff, friendship stuff. Spiritual stuff. I haven’t been a pushover since about 7th grade. But give me this baby that needs me paired with my love for her that is basically insane and I’m like, yeah, I’ll get a nap and a vacation sometime in 2017. That drive to keep her alive and well is beyond anything that I can describe. I’m not saying I’m happy about it. But I have a purpose and I know how to dig deep to get through it. And when I just don’t think that I can dig any deeper, I call my mother and cry to her on the phone.

Last night we got a sitter, just for E. My folks had A. overnight (more on their seriously inspiring and nurturing generosity later). Among our favorite household sayings currently: “one is the new zero.” Meaning, when we have only one kid around it’s a hell of a lot easier. So, we were looking forward to the kind of night out where you don’t even have to make anyone dinner beforehand or do any sort of bedtime shananigans. We decided on Bario, a Mexican spot a few blocks away. I got right down to business with a beautiful looking blood orange margarita. Acts of freedom can be small, and sometimes it looks like this: not timing your drinking to your baby’s nursing schedule. By the time I was finishing my first taco, I got a text from the sitter that little E. sparked a fever and wouldn’t take her bedtime bottle. And since she’s about two sneezes away from needing a feeding tube (and basically as small as a pumpkin seed) and on top of it she was wailing, well, of course we came right home after one solid hour out on the town. It took me an hour to get her calmed down and her sweaty little body into bed and by that point I was just tired and wishing I was in California or anywhere but here.

I fell asleep with a heat pack on my stomach at 9:30. It’s a regular where the wild things are.

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