So, it has been two months since we had a proper night’s rest. So, it has been two months since I took a long warm shower. So, it has also been two months since I’ve gone from deliriously exhausted to deliriously overjoyed.
Some days, I feel like just a kid who had a kid. Sometimes dealing was hard especially when I stank of puke. I find myself asking, would there ever be an ideal time to be a parent? But then I barely have time to ponder the question.
But it has been two months of firsts too. Her first smile; priceless. Her first fever; nerve-racking. Our first date with her along; easily one of the best days of my life.
The priceless first smile
Eli’s first smile was tentative. Almost as if she wasn’t sure what to do with her muscles. She gave it so rarely and so unexpectedly but each time I get the chance to see it, my world lights up. Pure magic. These days she has mastered the smile.
I can clearly recall her first smile that my husband and I witnessed. It used to be a running dialogue each night, her smile. I tell Greg that she smiled that day and he would reply unconvinced, “sure”. I call him to come to our bedroom each time I see a small glimmer of smile. He would come running but it would have disappeared when he arrived. I did not know how to make the smile reappear.
We finally witnessed it on a random night. Eli was restless. Sandwiched by my husband and I on our bed, she seemed not to know which direction to look. When suddenly, our worlds stopped. She flashed, what to us is the most precious smile. It was a toothless and innocent smile. And it was enough to send me to a different kind of high.
The nerve-racking first sniffles
One morning, I woke up to hear Eli’s incessant sneezing. She was also warmer than usual. Confirming my suspicion, the thermometer registered a slight fever. I racked my brain trying to pinpoint who to blame. But there had been so many people that we have travelled with on trains, and one or the other was sneezing. I took to blaming myself too for not adding an extra layer of clothing on one of our days out.
Google, that has become our oracle, ever since we had Eli, showed that it might take 14 days before the baby gets over the cold. What compounded my worry was that it could be followed by ear infection. Just imagining my daughter having difficulty breathing and sleeping for two weeks tormented me.
I was awash with relief when a few days later, her nose started to clear. I still do not know how she recovered so quickly but I am happy that she is well and crying like she’s preparing to be a power soprano when she’s older.
Our first family date
It had been a while since my husband and I went out to have coffee. It came naturally to go for a café close-by to have our usual weekend treat. The cozy Italian ice cream parlor where we had our first family date is also where I felt like we are slowly getting back to the swing of things.
To freeze this milestone, I busied myself taking photos of the place, us, and our order. I fussed over the smallest things, retook photos at the same angle and babbled about how I must capture this moment perfectly. Greg must have noticed this strange behavior knowing that I am not the one who bothers with a lot of photos. He took my hand, squeezed it, and only had this to say, “Don’t worry.”
The gravity of his statement covers so many things I worry about. Are we going to manage? Am I doing enough for Eli? Will Greg and I be able to have our own time to be together too?
Days are not always the same with Eli. Tough days are gritty, trying, and exacting. Tough days demand that I remember there is so much to be grateful for. But just when I’m utterly exhausted and feeling like I’m not handling it, there goes Eli and her generous smile. Everything begins to get lifted. The weariness goes and is replaced by determination to dust it off and get on with it. And to love no matter what.