Maybe, in a few years, we will forget all of this. Maybe, when life speeds up and obligations multiply and priorities shift, we, my wife and I, will forget the small things that made this first month of parenthood the greatest, and fastest, of our lives.
Maybe we will forget eating Jimmy John’s subs in bed at the birth center, fulfilling my wife’s nine-month vision for cold cuts after the restrictions of pregnancy had finally, gloriously, been lifted. Maybe we will forget the drive home a few hours later, in the dark of night, as I clutched the steering wheel harder than I ever had and Carly, the new mom, sat in the back seat with the newest member of our family, a sleeping seven-hour-old baby girl named Mayla, speaking to her softly. Maybe we will forget first carrying her blanket into the house so the dogs could familiarize themselves with her scent before she, an intruder, entered the space they’d devoted their lives to protecting. Maybe we will forget that first night, a haze of FaceTiming and unpacking and, finally, sleeping.
Maybe I will forget scooping her from her bassinet as she awoke in the middle of that first night, softly placing her on my chest as I read Lord of the Rings on Kindle. Maybe Carly will forget having to wake up every two to three hours, every night, indefinitely, to feed our growing daughter by lamplight. Maybe I will forget the fruitlessness I felt for not being able to feed her myself and occupying the far less important role of Mid-Feeding Diaper Changer to ensure she’s alert for the second half of her 3 a.m. snack. Maybe we will forget the sporadic, hopeful naps the following afternoons, sleeping, as everyone advises, when your newborn sleeps. Maybe we will forget frantically waking up at 2 a.m. to make sure that she was in the bassinet next to us, that we didn’t doze off with her in our arms in bed. Maybe we will forget, once that panic had passed, touching her sinking and rising chest to make sure she was breathing.
Maybe we will forget the countless appointments, checkups, and weigh-ins with different doctors and specialists, each of them offering a version of the most important truth: both mom and baby are healthy and strong. Maybe we will forget putting Mayla on the porch to soak up some Vitamin D and reduce her moderately high levels of bilirubin. Maybe we will forget what the heck bilirubin is. Maybe we will forget the gratitude we felt for her first-time grandparents and aunts and uncles, who arrived from out of state to take care of the people taking care of the baby. Maybe we will forget the sheer joy they felt once they held their grandchild or niece for the first time, all of their worries melted away almost instantly.
Maybe we will forget the diapers soiled by yellow, seedy poop, a development that would have been concerning had the doctors not told you it was normal. Maybe we will forget our daughter’s propensity for peeing only when we had removed her diaper before putting on a new one, soiling the changing pad liner more times than we’d ever expected. Maybe we will forget the looks of grim determination or grave concern as she felt, or forced, a bowel movement. Maybe we will forget her first blowout, which somehow resulted in poop coming out the front of her diaper, staining, for good, the clean white shirt she’d been wearing.
Maybe we will forget staring at her, for minutes straight, watching her watch the world, her eyes a window into her days-old mind, trying to decipher what she’s thinking and learning and feeling. Maybe we will forget the furrowed brows and pursed lips and open mouths, or the sudden, instinctual punches and kicks. Maybe we will forget the grunts and moans and squeaks and yawns, the new, adorable soundtrack to our lives. Maybe we will forget her round cheeks and thick hair, her chunky legs and searching eyes. Maybe we will forget her sneezes, full-body contractions that seem to surprise her no matter how many times they come (six in a row one night). Maybe I will forget reading to her in the gray chair in the nursery, feeling her warm milky breath on my chest as she slept or stared out of the window, paying little attention to my reading of dozens of words that rhyme with llama.
Maybe we will forget the crying, and the challenges of breastfeeding, and the stress and short fuses caused by lack of sleep. Maybe we will forget failing to adhere to any type of schedule because newborns are fickle and need to eat when they need to eat. Maybe I will forget feeding Carly appetizers on the couch as she feeds Mayla, holding a bowl of salsa steady so she can carefully dip tortilla chips into it, a hilarious food chain. Maybe we will forget our realization that they weren’t lying when they said parenting your first child was hard.
Maybe we will forget all of this. Maybe this first month will be nothing more than a fleeting, blurry memory, a series of half-remembered moments that we will embellish with time. Maybe we will look back on them and feel completely different than we do right now.
Or maybe not. Maybe there are some moments that you will remember forever. Maybe, one night, your daughter will have trouble feeding and your wife will be understandably frustrated, her clothes wet with excess milk. Maybe, as she is upstairs showering and you are in charge of heating up burritos for dinner, your daughter will start crying. Maybe you will pick her up and put on the song that inspired her name; as the lyrics came through the speaker — “And all I have to do to rise/is look into your eyes” — maybe you will look into her wide blue eyes. Maybe they will stare past yours, over your right shoulder, into the middle distance. Maybe it will seem like she is watching her entire future unfold, right there in the kitchen, and she lay in your arms, a curious, half-smiling expression painting her face. And, maybe, in that moment, it will just be the two of you, and nothing else will matter, and it will feel like time slows as your eyes become warm and wet and she continues to stare past you, and then she will look at you, and right then you will feel something you’d never experienced in your life, a surge of pure love, and you will know then that she is the most important thing to ever happen to you.
No, I will not forget that.