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First Weak Back (That's Not a Typo)

You may be wondering how I’ve been holding up this week with the new baby fresh home from the hospital. Or not. You may just be wondering what you’re having for lunch. But in case you’re interested, here’s the run-down:

Day One Home: Greeted in the a.m. by my hubby bringing me breakfast in bed. Could this be heaven? Then I feel my body and believe I have been assigned a place amongst the damned.  Maddie sleeps til 7:40, nurses. Pees on me when I change her. I sleep. Mom does laundry. She does a lot of other things too. Somebody plays with Drew. Probably Mom. Maddie nurses again and it feels like ice picks with every suck. I apply lanolin, but because it is not a complete boob amputation, it only helps a little. My insides churn, ratcheting themselves back to their original shape and structure. I take mega-doses of Motrin. I drink four gallons of water. Time for bed. Maddie doesn’t sleep ‘til 2 a.m.

Day Two Home: I don’t remember much except that Maddie looks like Derek Zoolander’s son at the end of the movie when he makes “the look”; mostly because of her killer eyebrow arch of which I am already jealous, and her sweet pucker. “She’s going to be hot,” Gordon sighs, as if admitting an unavoidable and gloomy fate. I sleep. Mom does a bunch of stuff. Somebody plays with Drew. Maddie pees on me. I smell her head when I burp her and she smells like lanolin and love.

Day Three Home: I hobble around; I play trains with Drew. Maddie pees on me when I change her. I look down and two foreign objects have moved in overnight like a couple of squatters: The Twins. They bend my back; I have to protect them in the shower. Maddie shows no mercy. “Your body thinks you’ve had triplets,” observes Gordon. “More like triplet linebackers after the Superbowl” I say. Mom does a bunch of stuff—my meals appear before me, my clothes are clean in my drawers. We take Maddie to the doctor. She is pronounced healthy, but they still have to draw blood from her heel. They heat her heal with what looks like a tiny ice pack (except hot) and then poke it and squeeze out a tiny vile of blood. We are traumatized, but not as traumatized as we were when they did this to Drew. (You can tell the first-timers at the pediatrician’s office. They should give those people Valium at the door.) At night, we give Maddie a bath. She hates it, but we laugh and Mom takes pictures.

Day Four Home: See Day Three Home, except for the bath and pediatrician appointment. Some of the hospital flowers are starting to wilt. I develop Maddie’s new nickname: “Thing Two,” in honor of Dr. Seuss. And her being number two. 

Day Five Home: Friends bring meals. Thing Two opens her eyes for 5 and 10 minute stretches and I think her eyes look bluer than the generic newborn blue that all babies have, including Drew, who now has light brown eyes. Maddie pees on me when I change her. We go to church, to the evening service with my parents and siblings while my mother-in-law watches Maddie sleep at home. We come home and I nurse her, prodding her to stay on for 15 minutes (about her max), and then we head to Mellow Mushroom for pizza. Maddie looks so tiny, almost inconsequential, in her car seat. She’s not even 7 pounds; our house specialty pizzas weigh more than she does. Mom leaves tomorrow. The dusk hour looks a little sad.

Day Six Home: The handymen continue hammering on our storm windows outside in 105-degree heat and I wonder whose body is more miserable, theirs or mine.  I think I am finally getting The Twins under submission; haven’t used the lanolin today. Took a Motrin. Mom does a bunch of stuff today, like she has been doing every day. I wonder if the house will commit suicide when it sees she has left it. Thing Two pees on me when I change her, like a teensy serenity fountain overflowing. The maids are here, bulldozing the baby and toddler crud. Mom leaves after Gordon gets home from work. Drew and I watch her drive away in her silver Toyota. And that is that. With Drew, I cried when she left because I was afraid of him and afraid of myself and afraid of the squirrels I was convinced were conspiring to kill him in the stroller as we walked up the sidewalk. At the time, letting mom leave seemed like a reckless gamble. But this time, her leaving is serene. My boy is next to me; he is waving goodbye. He is proof of my competence, if not my confidence as a mother. I think that if you can avoid having your first baby and can skip right to the second, you would be very fortunate. There’s nothing like the crucible of the first-born. I take a Motrin.

Day Seven Home: I am alone with the babies all day. It feels like a dance between two partners who are both trying to lead. It is also kind of, well — there’s no literary way to put this — fun. I take a Motrin. Thing Two and Thing One (Drew’s new nickname) are oblivious to the other’s existence but are kind to me. They sleep at the same time in the afternoon. I write 10 thank-you notes. Gordon gets home from work. We go to Target and buy things. We come home and eat a meal prepared by a friend. We piddle around the house. Drew goes to bed. Maddie goes down on the infant lounger in the TV room and Gordon and I watch "Mad Men." She sleeps through the show. Maddie’s due date isn’t technically for another three days (August 6) and we figure she thinks she’s off the clock until then. Fine with us. Lights out. Until 2:13 a.m., that is.

Etc., etc., etc…