By Tilly Dillehay
You need to know something about me: right now, for at least the next few months, there are only a handful of subjects that I am capable of discussing.
If you talk to me about other things, I’ll listen to you. I’ll nod my head and I’ll ask questions even, and I’ll smile. But the whole time, I’ll be wondering how anyone can stand to talk about anything except the following list of things. I’ll be just counting seconds until we can get back to the Important Stuff, the stuff related to my 3-week-old Norah.
These are the things that I’m currently able to discuss with you:
- The fact that everything smells like Norah.
My clothing, my couch cushions, my hair. It’s a sweet smell, something I’d never smelled before until I was holding her. It must, I assume, come right out of her very pores, but there are elements of sour milk and baby powder in it. It almost feels like I’ve got it in my nostrils—even when I’m not near her or anything she’s touched, the smell hovers around me.
She’s all over everything already. And she’s only been out here in the world for three weeks.
- That little cry that she does in her sleep. She just makes this one little sound, one little mew. It is very quiet and you have to be holding her to hear it. It probably could be sold on iTunes.
- A rotation of the following topics: She has so much hair, She makes so many faces, All other babies look enormous, and Don’t you love her name?!
- The fact that my husband is a super hunk. He helped me make her. If we’re not talking about her, we should be talking about him. How he looks when he holds her, how he looks when he’s waking up and taking her from me to change her, how he looks when he comes back in the door after working all day and kisses us both. I will also talk with you about these things, all day long.
- Why are you not ALL LIKING EVERY PICTURE I put up of Norah? Are you heartless? Have you no eyes? What are you doing all day that is stopping you from scrolling your feeds constantly, looking for pictures of Norah? If I wasn’t holding her all day long, that’s what I’d be doing. Just think about it. That’s all I ask.
- The fact that my husband and I both do things that remind us of Norah.
When I stand at the fridge and scarf down something, hungry with that special breastfeeding-mother hunger, I remind myself of her. She eats like that—breathing fast when she’s about to clamp down, excited or desperate, rooting like mad, latching on with a little smile and getting a mouthful… then pausing. She always pauses right at the moment of the latch, closing her little eyes and going perfectly still. Then she goes on. When I stand at the fridge, ravenous, I find myself taking the first bite a little desperately and then pausing and just breathing… ahhh. Thank goodness. I found food.
And I’m acting just like Norah. Or she’s acting like me? Who’s aping who here?
My husband yawns like her. He throws his head back into the yawn and really lets it go, and at the end, gives his head a big shake. Is he imitating her, or has he always done it like that?
- Is it normal for me to be crying this much? Is it normal to be both outrageously happy AND crying this much, and for it to be BECAUSE I’M SO HAPPY? (and also because of that hymn or sermon… or Pampers commercial…)
- Let’s talk about her sleeping habits. Let’s talk about her eating habits. Let’s talk about what her poop looks like and whether she’s spitting up enough, and how much she weighs. If it’s related to infant health, I want in. Please bring notes because I’ll actually read them. (I finished my breastfeeding book and have run out of things to google.)
- The fact that my parents are awesome. I can’t believe they got to do this seven times, and then they also did all those other parts, like the parts where the kids get bigger and more complicated and then get old enough to start having babies of their own. I can’t believe they’ve done all those stages with so many kids… is this what it was like for THEM?
- The fact that God has placed so many gorgeous designs into this process of lifegiving. So many things that work so well, with such timing, and such wonder and symmetry. The family, the hormone, the infant skull, the breast, the human soul—material and immaterial, they all show such a mastery of purposeful art. It feels so close to me right now: the dance, the story. I feel like such a small part… but a participant. A participant! If you want to talk about something even remotely larger than this little 8 lb person in my arms, I think I have the stamina to talk about this… for a while. (Then we’re going back to the poop conversation.)
So there you have it. Don’t push me. I’m just not strong enough to venture very much farther than these ten, and I even know why. A nurse at Vanderbilt told me that studies have shown the IQ of new mothers drops by a significant number of points after a newborn arrives.
Do they get it back? She didn’t say.