We haven’t been that interested in food around here.
Oh, maybe I should re-state that. We’re always interested in food, in the sensory pleasures of it, and the politics of it. (If you haven’t read this piece about the price of off-season tomatoes, oh gosh. Click over.) If nothing else, we have to eat.
So let me start over, because I haven’t been that good at expressing myself lately. I stumble over words and stop in mid-sentence. Lack of sleep renders me sloppy and mute.
There haven’t been many meals that take hours to make around here. Or even complete meals. It just hasn’t mattered as much as…
walking Little Bean up and down the hallways in the middle of the night, propped up on our shoulders so her poor little nose can drain. Or rocking her in the green chair, until she falls asleep on my chest, and I sit there all night long, holding her, keeping myself awake so I don’t drop her. Or sitting in the sauna we’re calling the bathroom, the steam rolling across the shower curtain bar in puffy clouds toward her nose, so it can clear enough that she can drink something.
Rice and vegetables and whatever meat is in the fridge. That’s what was in this bowl. I can’t describe it. It was good to eat, after listening to her sob and not knowing what to do.
Little Bean looked up at us with these sad, worn eyes, asking for help, and we walked through the house broken-hearted. We breathed, for her, seeming calm, so that she could stop heaving sobs through a stuffed-up nose, only making it worse. And then, when she slept, we walk into the living room and burst.
For a couple of days, she stopped eating. Our kid. No food.
Poor little tuckered pumpkin.
(Those of you who wrote to me when I was pregnant, angry that this might become a mama blog? You might want to come back later.)
* * *
It’s hard to be parents sometimes. But this enormous love we feel, accompanied by a thin thread of constant worry, means that we have chosen this life where our happiness is tied to this small, snuffling creature. And there’s no way to describe it. I feel like I barely write about her here, or anywhere. The number of sentences since she was born are so small, only crumbs compared to the warm bakery. I can only write around the edges of her, of my love for her.
This befuddles me as a writer.
It’s two different worlds, the time before, and after. No matter how much I love my husband, my family, my friends, before Little Bean arrived I was alone in my mind. And now, I will never be alone in my mind again, because the thought of her is always there. Always.
Even with the crying, the steamy shower bathrooms to make her nose run, scary nights, and driving around the island for two hours just to make sure she gets a good nap, I have never been so happy in all my life.
* * *
A couple of days ago, Little Bean would only stop crying after half an hour (poor little bean) if I put her in the Baby Bjorn and walked her around. We walked slowly through the backyard, back and forth, the suddenly warm Sunday air good on both our skin. I walked more and more slowly, trying to meditate, breathe in her pain, breathe it away, calm myself.
And then I looked up and saw the cherry tree and blue sky. There are buds up there. Soon, there will be blooms. And perhaps by the time of her birthday in July, she will be eating cherries from her own backyard.
* * *
Last night was hard. Little Bean’s cough turned for the worse. She looked depleted, after an entire day of not drinking anything. So we went to the emergency room with her, fervently hoping she’d recover quickly.
It was hard, of course. You don’t need me to tell you that. But one of the blessings of those first two weeks of her life is that nothing feels that big to us. We knew she needed hydration — she didn’t even have tears when she cried! — and that can be really dangerous. But we just figured we were headed to help.
We could even laugh about the fact that, because of all the craziness, we hadn’t eaten all day, and so we grabbed the only portable thing in the kitchen — a Niman Ranch ham steak — before heading to the ferry. So there we were, driving our daughter to the emergency room, tearing off pieces of ham with our hands, cracking up.
I feel so grateful to have Danny, every day, but particularly in these moments. He’s just the best.
She’s fine, now. She has a nasty viral infection, and one of the side effects of it in babies is a lack of interest in food and liquids. So we just have to give her liquids all the time. But she got some at the hospital, and she’s doing so much better now. We caught the 2:10 ferry home, she slept the whole way there, and through to 9 this morning. She spent much of the day giggling at Itsy Bitsy Spider, bouncing on my knee playing pony girl, and looking up at us with clear eyes. We seem to have turned the corner.
We moved slowly today. We were supposed to have been on a plane to Colorado, where I was meant to speak at the IACP conference on Wednesday. Instead, we napped, talked on the phone, twittered away.
And doesn’t the world always look more beautiful after a night in the emergency room, temporarily, for these mundane details and her giggles?
* * *
Our marriage started with a yes. It will continue, this yes, through moving stories and baby’s coughs and late nights with spit up on our shoulder instead of kissing until dawn and greeting the dawn with a smile instead of grumbling and quince blossoms and dirty dishes and the love that just continues to grow.
And making food.
After the chaos of last night, it felt good to stand in the kitchen this afternoon, the sun coming through the window on my fingers, chopping onions.
Somehow, I had not cooked since we arrived in this new home. This sight — food lined up, spoons and spatulas, measuring cups and Dutch ovens — made me so happy I had to take a photo.
* * *
Little Bean will be fine, soon. We’ll never be the same. We’re honed by every cry, every time she lifts up her arms and wants to be picked up, every time she wakes in the night. We are here. And thankfully, so is she.
It feels like life is finding its own balance again.