As expected, these first five weeks of motherhood have been a total whirlwind. And in the midst of this incredible, challenging phase, I find myself trying to etch some of the small, magical little moments into my brain. I know it's all going to pass by more quickly than I expect, so I'm doing everything I can to take notes, write Owen letters, and hold on to the memories. I don't want to forget a thing.
I want to remember the way Owen came into the world, so calm and curious, his eyes wide as Radley and I cried. Radley's face, I want to remember that too. I'd never seen a sparkling joy like that.
I want to remember how our little guy keeps himself curled up, how he lays on my chest with his arms folded and his head resting on them as if he's about to tell me the latest gossip.
I want to remember the albums blaring from our record player each morning because the music makes Owen happy. I want to remember the overwhelming love I feel as I watch Radley bounce around our living room, our son in his arms as he sings Tom Petty songs.
I want to remember the late, sleepless nights — how physically and emotionally exhausted I feel and how it doesn't even matter, not really, as long as he's alright.
I want to remember our trip to the emergency room just a day after we left the hospital. We were running on three hours of sleep when he started choking, and within two minutes we were out the door. As Radley drove us along the dark highway, the streetlights' orange glow flashing across Owen's sleeping face, I wondered aloud whether we were being ridiculous, whether we were paranoid parents. Radley shrugged. "We probably are," he said. "But it's just because we love him."
I want to remember the ER doctor's kind face that night as he told us that, yes, everything was fine, and no, we weren't crazy. He saw our pale, tired faces, the red of embarrassment spreading across mine, and he flashed a thoughtful smile as he leaned back in his chair. "I can't tell you how many times my wife and I brought our baby to the doctor," he said. "Keep doing it. Whatever you need for peace of mind? Do that. The early days are really, really hard, but soak it up. Soak it all up."
I want to remember the way Owen smirks in his sleep, a tiny dimple dotting his right cheek.
I want to remember the morning I sat in bed, his little body braced in the crook of one arm as I looked at him and cried...and cried and cried. I felt so worried for him, an avalanche of anxiety hitting for no reason and, of course, for every reason. I swallowed hard, letting the tears fall silently so that I wouldn't wake him. I just want you to always be okay, I whispered.
I want to remember the sound of his tiny breaths, the sense of calm I feel every time I hear his satisfied little sighs from across the room.
I want to remember how he falls asleep grunting like a goat, how he wakes up groaning like an old man, and how hard Radley and I laugh every single time.
I want to remember the first time Owen smiled, really smiled at me. I was sitting in bed, the sun hot as it spilled through the window, and he'd just woken up, his yawns quiet and sing-songy. "What were you dreaming about?" I asked him. "Were you dreaming about Dad? About Mom?" His eyes got wide, locked with mine, and he broke out into a big, happy grin. My heart exploded.
I want to remember how fun this is, and how terrifyingly hard, and how right it feels. I want to remember the first time someone called Owen my son and how the word filled me right up.
I want to remember all these little things, and I hope I remember the profound realization that came one night at 3 a.m. as I stood and rocked him back and forth in the nursery. There was a pop in my elbow, a sharp pain. I gasped and winced, afraid I might be seriously hurt, but I didn't dare move or stop rocking because his sweet little face looked so content, so peaceful. This is the selflessness they talk about, I thought. This is the mother's sacrifice. Owen was just a week old at the time and that's when I knew it was inevitable: I will always, always put him first.