Breathing Sighs of Baby Wisdom in Her Ear by Annita Woz

damfeetchippewafallsForming a circle of defense against the world, we stood facing the other soldiering parents, denying that our first official dinner out as new parents really had been declared over when the infants started fussing just after seven o’clock. 

We were all first time parents, brought together by seven weeks of birthing classes and a variety of delivery stories. Bonded by growing bellies, breathing exercises and the inkling that it would take more than just having babies born the same spring to make a leap into a long lasting friendships, we reunited at the home of one couple brave enough to think they could converse and comfort their tiny bosses while hosting a group dinner party for their former labor and delivery training mates.   

Picture this.  Mom A holding the easy-grip brand carseat complete with crying child stands next to a Dad B in denial that this is what fatherhood is all about. As Dad B swings the seat of his first born, a baby probably gifted with fine ball handling skills,  he tries to soothe his son, a son that is currently belting out wailing objections to the nervous energy that is starting to fill the room. 

The tiny home looks overrun with tiny suitcases of the newborn and an equal amount of  new-parent survival gear. Each couch cushion is filled with a diaper bag and neatly packed compartments offering everything a natural baby disaster might require while simultaneously offering the attraction of organizational calm and order that calls out to weary mothers who are realizing all they can really control lately is the stockpiling of supplies. 

No gear has been overlooked; the blue suction bulb in case of nasal obstructions is easily accessible. The pacifier and a spare , should one tumble to another mother’s linoleum, is tucked near a spit rag,  which is next to a burp rag, which is under the carpet protecting pad and the obligatory tube of A&D resting near the bottom of the bag.   A jar of udder  ointment might replace the tube of A&D depending on how far north the grandparent advice on diaper rash hails from.

When these future child growers dove into the “creating part” of starting a family, all was bliss.  They knew that having children would keep them young, but what they didn’t realize is that the first year of no sleep would cancel out any age savings benefits they hoped to preserve.  

One salve to these sleepless nights, is the generous few days or weeks,  when after the work of delivery is done, the grandmoms arrive to take over the house and show us how it is done. 

All hail the blessed opportunity to nap, to shower, to exit that shower stall  having shaved both legs this time, without needing to respond this time to the needy whimper that calls all new moms from under the spray, to peek at their offspring safely snuggled in an apparatus positioned on the bathroom floor a few inches from the shower door.  Grandmom has arrived! Oh, the glory of soaking up a mother’s  admiration of a grandbaby with glowing words bestowed upon the new family of three, about the little life that we made all by ourselves, truly the best gift a new mom could be given no matter how wondrous the baby shower had been. 

Grandma’s visit allows the lucky mom to rest in her bed with new found respect for her own childhood. New mother is awed by how effortlessly grandmother drapes the content infant over her shoulder, sits down on the couch, opens the newspaper and then demonstrates how someday soon she too will be able to enjoy a cup of coffee while the little one breathes sighs of baby wisdom into her ear.

Tonight baby swings, bouncy seats, brightly colored rattles and brain stimulating toys complete the decor of the home hosting a gathering of parents, these recent grads of the hee-hee-hee-hee breathing technique. 

Tonight six babies, six moms, and six dads bond over a lot of dinner that hasn’t been been touched and sits mocking the dinner guests.  None of the moms are comfortable with breastfeeding while eating, each sure that no parent in the room would admit how many times it had been done in her own home.  And since no mother-respecting father would  fill his plate and enjoy it while under the telling gaze of his wife,  would not dare to eat after comprehending the silent message  of solidarity that his wife sends with set of her jaw.  New father finds the strength to deny food for himself before his baby is fed.   

Their eyes flit around the room, admiring a toe here, a cute outfit there, all trying not to focus on the sound of the crying that painfully churns the heart in every new mother and father’s chest. 

Baby holding new parent Mom C has ditched the seat soothing method, steps out of the protective cirlce that  surrounds the feast on the table and and in an attempt to put her tiny protege to sleep on her shoulder is swaying to some internal lullaby that plays in her head whenever she holds this tiny body. 

Mom C stands next to Mom D.  Mom D is frantically wiggling a carseat with a wailing child but is still able to wonder what Mom E is doing with a new hair cut. Mental notes to self, are secretly being categorized in her head, observations that would interrupt her thoughts tomorrow will be intertwined with flashbacks of an admirable woman,  standing alone with a beverage in one hand and a very empty elbow. 

Together-looking Mom E has her child sleeping in that cocoon wrap that the hospital nurse uses to create rows and rows of viewable offspring behind the window of the hospital nursery. Her silent one is safely parked on another soft pink blanket arranged on the floor, behind the armchair, safely shielded from those nasty June drafts that only new parents can detect. 

Where is the sixth mom? Her child, oblivious to the pressures of the first dinner engagement, seems to have a timing issue and a willingness to reject societal pressure to put on good manners at parties. She wants nothing else but the comfort of mom and to nurse through the entire evening in the far corner of the host’s living room, where mom has been sitting all night, half- hidden under a modest blanket and seated behind protective Dad E who does his duty to deflect those who walk over to chat, giving the whispered but proud warning, “The baby is almost done nursing. ”  He wisely never slips and says, “she is letting the baby feed, ” having been clearly instructed that such a statement would be more of a reference to cows grazing and an insult to the miracle of growing a child just from his wife’s contribution of the liquid gold that sustains his growing child. 

The ohhs and ahhs over the wee ones  are diminishing and the small crowd has begun to involuntarily rock in unison, in a new harmony that is so far from the concert tours that formerly consumed their Saturday nights. They are twelve, standing in a circle in someone’s kitchen,  shoulder to shoulder, sharing the memorable melody of new parents and measuring up to the enormous responsibility of creating peaceful slumber on this the first of many summer supper gatherings.

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