Want to hear something creepy? Sometimes, when Cian’s face is right beside mine, and I hear his little lungs working, I breathe in as he breathes out, so that I’m breathing the air that just left him.
I know. Go get my straitjacket.
I did it with all of my babies (I love how I say “all of my babies,” like I had a herd. Three is a lot. But three is not a herd). There’s just something so…I don’t know. Pure. Amazing. Miraculous. His breath is from the same lungs that were practicing this move a year ago, inside me. He was once a part of me. I was once a part of him. And now he’s here, almost nine months later, growing because of me, or in spite of me, I don’t know, but regardless, he’s flourishing. And it’s awesome (I mean that in the awe-inspiring way, not the “dude, I just totally scored a coupon for a free pumpkin spice latte!” way) to witness.
His bedtime feeding is my favorite part of the day. I love the dark room. I love settling into the glider with him in my arms. I can hear David and the girls reading a book in their room, and I know that the hard work of the day is finished. I’m exhausted, and muscle-sore, but sitting there in the dark, letting my mind wander to whatever reaches of the universe it travels when it actually has a free moment to think of something other than the week’s meal plan, is the best twenty minutes of my day.
Cian’s a fast nurser these days. He’s all business: one side, done, other side, finished, and he’s looking around for something else to grab his attention. I remember the same happening with the girls as we approached the end of this first year. I don’t know if it’s because he’s more mobile and doesn’t want to be sitting still, or if my milk production is decreasing (if you’re like, my brother, and you’re reading this, sorry dude. Not the kind of boobie talk most people expect from the internet…), but this is how I know the end of this year is coming. And it will soon be here.
His sisters absolutely love their schools. I think about them the entire time they’re out of my sight–not so much wondering what they’re doing, but worrying about them (of course), and just…thinking about them. I’m always aware of their presence in the world. But I’m okay with them going to school, with growing (away from me, yes, but that’s part of the deal, I’m afraid). Cian, even at just nine months, is on his way, too.
Tonight after I fed him, I held Cian’s little (okay, twenty pounds-worth) body against me. He looked at me for a moment and grinned, then touched his forehead to mine. His nose followed, brushing against mine before he opened his mouth wide and globbed on to my face (he was aiming for mouth, got the chin) with the kind of big slobbery affection only a baby can dole out.
I questioned my faith a lot growing up. I was expected to be a Catholic–my whole family, outside my dad, was Catholic–and I didn’t like not having a choice. I explored so many options, interested but not serious, until I sort of fell in and out of Catholicism (i.e., I went to mass when I wasn’t hungover) during college and my early twenties. It was always there, though, inside me–the faith and the interest and the want to participate–but you know. All those RULES.
But then I got pregnant with Saoirse. And then I almost lost my pregnancy with Saoirse. And then I met Saoirse, and I knew in an instant I would never question anything like this again. Because when a child is near you, God is present. And to be a part of a child’s life in any way is validation that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I couldn’t ignore it any longer, sulfite-induced headaches or not.
As I lay Cian in his crib tonight, I mentally said the prayer I always say for him, every night, and walked out of his room. His breath was my breath. My breath was my mother’s. And all of us, going back to the beginning, came from something in order to be something, and pass it further along into the future.
So tighten my straitjacket, if you must. I’ve decided I like keeping it on.