Monday, January 23, 2012

My new life


I type this with one finger while James sleeps on my chest. We are at home in his apartment on his fifth day of life, with his mommy and daddy. Daddy goes back to teaching today. Mommy will have a visit from a nurse to check in.

I have been living in the organic multi-day emergence of a new human being. In some ways it is a blur of minutes, hours and days, without clear delineation of what happened when. Yet we are constantly counting, in the way of civilized humans. The number of hours in labor, of hours pushing, inventory of fingers and toes, how many minutes at the breast, how many poos and pees in 24 hours. Time with its quantities is our way of measuring health and wellbeing, and with the major systems of eating and digestion well established, and my daughter’s healing underway, we ease into the stream and rippling flow of the journey.

All this amid the unspeakable wonder of exquisitely intense intimacy. The now-ness of every second. His phenomenal beauty of face and body. His peaceful countenance. His downy and fragrant temple against my lips. The whisper of his breath, the snuffles and squeaks of his voice, and the quiet smacks of his lips. I have plenty of photos to take with me today when I leave him for home and work. But the feel of his weight on my chest, the sounds of his breath and sighing voice, the scent of his warm head—these will be swaddled in the memory of my senses for a few days, until I snuggle with him again.

I am saturated and unsatiated in love. Yet there is a growing awareness that time and work call me back to their necessities. Just as James will grow past these first days of utter dependence—so beautiful and desirable to me now—I, too, will grow into my life, with new tendrils sprouting from the grafted stem.



Maureen said...

So much beauty in your words, Ruth; words from the heart's swell of love.

ellen abbott said...

brand new babies are the most magical thing on earth.

erin said...

how is this even possible? how is it possible, ruth? (please keep repeating this question for hours and days and years. there is no answer. there is only wonder.)

you two are gorgeous.

i kiss his head and know the heads of my children, the heads of my own grandchildren which will (perhaps) one day come.


Louise Gallagher said...


Your words make my heart sing.

ds said...

He is so beautiful. You (your words) are so beautiful. Beauty and wonderment--all is right with the world. Revel!

cathyswatercolors said...

Your words and thoughts are almost as beautiful as your James. I am tearful with joy for you and anticpating my journey with my new grand daughter. xoxo love and enjoy

The Solitary Walker said...


The Broad said...

He looks so thoughtful and so very dear ... Lovely words, Ruth. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhh how darling...

And what lovely words you spin out, to tell of your first time, with him. Lovely... Lovely... Lovely...

Gentle hugs,

'And what are you reading, Miss-?'
'Oh! it is only a novel!' replies
the young lady ...
with affected indifference.

~Jane Austen

Rosaria Williams said...

Get this post on a card, a letter, a printed testament of this moment!

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Ah! I could feel his warmth and hear his breath just then, when reading your lovely words.

Allison said...

So so lovely. Thank you.

elizabeth said...

What joy!
What a beautiful, much loved child.
Sending you lots of love and blessings for this lovely little new one.

Shaista said...

Yes the weight on your chest, and then later in your arms, and then... Off they run! And all you want is that first weight - so light in it's heaviness. And those little snuffling noises that escape.. Yup I'm pretty much ready to be an aunty again ;) although I obviously wouldn't want Rafi to read this... Do babies get jealous? I suspect so!!

George said...

Beautiful words, Ruth, but no words could ever match the beauty of those sparkling eyes of Sweet Baby James.

The Bug said...

Oh he's gorgeous! I can almost smell that new baby smell now...

Vagabonde said...

I know what it’s like Ruth – words sometimes cannot describe the wonder but your words are eloquent and tender. He is superb – a handsome newborn!

Gwen Buchanan said...

I am overjoyed with happiness for you Ruth.. Your life will never be the same... and your heart grew a full size, didn't it!!

sandy said...

Great photo and congratulations gramma.

He is adorable.

Pat said...

You described it so well! He is so beautiful and cuddly! It will be hard to tear yourself away! This is the time where you can just sit and stare at him for hours on end!

Kathleen said...

Sweetest baby in the world! As is each one.

Margaret said...

His downy and fragrant temple against my lips. The whisper of his breath, the snuffles and squeaks of his voice, and the quiet smacks of his lips.

these will be swaddled in the memory of my senses for a few days, until I snuggle with him again.

You ARE poetry Ruth, and James is a perfect work of art! I just feel like I am sucked into that photo and time is erased! I am so happy for you.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

wonderful , wonderful moments .

VioletSky said...

such sweetness.
adorable (you... and he)

who said...

Congratulations on the new one in your family Ruth. Much of the reason for the titles "Grand" that goes from a baby to the set of special parents, is especially due to the Maternal sides of the family.

Barb said...

Such perfection. A baby's promise both physical and spiritual shines in your photos and words, Ruth.

Shari said...

He is adorable and the pictures are so sweet. I am so happy for you and your family. I know you have many happy times ahead.

Jeanie said...

Oh, Ruth, this is such a gorgeous post, filled with the depth of emotion and passion that one can only hope to feel at some point in their life. Oh, re-entry will be hard for you, I think, but how wonderful to have had this time. "Swaddled in the memory of my senses." Yes. Perfect.

Dutchbaby said...

Your expression of bliss and wonder is an inspiration. What a terrific portrait of this sweet handsome fella!

Unknown said...

They fill the heart to overflowing, don't they? Perfect child, perfect words.

Nancy said...

Ruth, thanks for sharing James with us. Your poetic descriptions, and the pictures of him are sumptuous. Some one above commented that new babies are miraculous. Amen to that! I hope you'll be able to visit him soon, because as soon as you are away, you'll want to be immersed in him again!

C.M. Jackson said...

James is a beautiful boy...I can hear your heart beating here...filled with love...

GailO said...

O Congratulations Ruth to you and the entire family! James Lawrence is a sweetie! Your words are the best!

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

What a definition of birth: "organic multi-day emergence of a new human being"

You do so well with one finger, Grandmother. I, too, hear and smell this wee one. :d

Ruth said...

Maureen, thanks so much. I think this was one of the hardest experiences I've had of putting my feelings into words.

Ellen, agreed. Thank you.

erin, I watched him grow in her, and I watched him emerge, and now I breathe him in. I find that your question is my question, how is this possible? The question is far easier than any answer. Thank you. xoxo.

Louise, thank you for joining this chorus. I'm so happy.

Ruth said...

ds, thank you for feeling his beauty, and feeling what I needed to express. I could have written a book with the one finger, but the book would have perhaps been hieroglyphs and symbols, only shorthand for what is in my heart.

Dear cathy, you are in for such a treat. How did I not hear or know or understand about this until I was going to become a grandparent? I think it's a well kept secret from those who are young, though even if they heard it, they would not understand.

Robert, exactly! Thank you for feeling it.

Thanks to The Broad, we sometimes call him the philosopher, after his father.

Ruth said...

Auntie, thank you for the hugs for me and our wee boy. He is so small. If you saw him in my arms you would see how wee he is.

rosaria, thank you for understanding how momentous (!) it was for me to actually get something written down. I like your idea very much. I think that writing it out would make an important keepsake.

Cranky Crone, thank you for reading and opening your senses to our little boy.

Allison, thank you for your comment and for feeling my joy.

Ruth said...

Elizabeth, thank you for that love and blessing, it means a lot to me. I feel overwhelmed with it in fact.

Dear Shaista, "so light in its heaviness" . . . yes. Your little Rafi is probably already growing fat and ready to toddle. How is it possible?

Dear George, thank you for feeling his beauty with me! Swimming in his eyes is the absolute best.

Dana, thank you! And what a fragile package he is.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, I know that from experience you understand so well. Thank you for hearing and feeling what I needed to express. I agree, he is handsome! Thank you!

Oh hello, Gwen, thank you for sharing my bliss. Yes, my heart fills my whole being. I know you feel this with your own grandchildren.

Hello, Sandy! Thank you. I have been envying you for so long. At last I am in the gramma club!

Dear Pat, yes, everything you said! Soon enough he will be so different. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Kathleen, thank you for your comment! It is a blessing.

Dear Margaret, "time is erased" . . . yes! I feel this acutely. It took a good deal of work to pull myself back into a framework of time, even to put all this into words. Well I couldn't put all of it into words, just too much.

Welcome and thank you, SmitoniusAndSonata!

Dear Violetski, oh thank you. Don't you just want to gobble him up?

LeenaH said...

My heart is full of love and tenderness with you, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Dusty, thanks so much! I am interested in what you say, and I ought to learn more about "grand" since that is what I am now. :-)

Hi, Barb! "A baby's promise" . . . oh yes. And so very present. Thank you.

Shari, thank you very much. I have been watching you and your grandkids with longing, as you know.

Jeanie, I thank you for reading and sharing my feelings. It's just indescribable, yet I am compelled to describe it.

Ruth said...

Dear Dutchbaby, thank you for sharing this long journey with me, and feeling my bliss!

Susan, dear friend, just over the top. Thank you for everything.

So right, Nancy, life goes on, yet I want to be with him always. I asked Lesley if she would mind having a live-in Nana? Thank you for your wonderful response to my attempt at expressing something of what I feel!

Hello and thank you, C.M.! Maybe my heartbeat is like James's sound machine, which is a womb sound. :-)

Ruth said...

Oliag, thanks so much. I have been admiring your grandchildren through your words and lens for some time, and I'm thrilled to join the party. xoxo

Dear Amy, thank you for reading and feeling my bliss!

Dear Leena, my friend, I am so grateful for you and how you lead the way in grandmotherhood. xoxo

Aisling Literary Services said...

Oh, that is JUST so adorable! CONGRATS to the new Gran. I'll be doing much the same come August with my first grandchild - both a treasure and hard work. I've already had a taste of it with my stepdaughter's child, so wonderful in our lives, who is now close to two years old. Enjoy!

Nathalie said...

Ruth these are some of the most exquisite words you have written. Your description of James ring so true for all of us who have engaged in the intense intimacy with a newborn. I can see that James's start in life is one of steady love and care - what more could a new human being need.

All the best in your new life as a grandma.

Nathalie said...

PS - I had to chuckle at your comment about our need to count and measure everything. This is so true!

Arti said...

Your eloquent and moving post just complements all the numerical statistics you'll treasure in your memories. Your words make a beautiful rendering of a new, precious life. What an exciting new page for all... I'm excited for you, Ruth.

Montag said...

Wonderful! From Central Blue comes the angelic Greyhound Bus with this bit of heaven!

Jill of All Trades said...

I'm so, so, so excited for you and look forward to MY first grandchild in September!!! I can hardly wait.

Unknown said...

It's all such miracle. And how you sing.. oh such love.


rauf said...

Ruth, you have entered a different world where there is only peace and tranquility. But soon little James would be asking question for which you should have ready answers. Normally children ask questions to their grand parents.

Patricia said...

I watched an old interview of T. Berry Brazelton by Bill Moyers today.
His descriptions of how we bond with our new babies was perfectly in synch with your beautiful post.

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

Welcome !
Victor HUGO (1802-1885)

Lorsque l'enfant paraît

Lorsque l'enfant paraît, le cercle de famille
Applaudit à grands cris.
Son doux regard qui brille
Fait briller tous les yeux,
Et les plus tristes fronts, les plus souillés peut-être,
Se dérident soudain à voir l'enfant paraître,
Innocent et joyeux.

Soit que juin ait verdi mon seuil, ou que novembre
Fasse autour d'un grand feu vacillant dans la chambre
Les chaises se toucher,
Quand l'enfant vient, la joie arrive et nous éclaire.
On rit, on se récrie, on l'appelle, et sa mère
Tremble à le voir marcher.

Quelquefois nous parlons, en remuant la flamme,
De patrie et de Dieu, des poètes, de l'âme
Qui s'élève en priant ;
L'enfant paraît, adieu le ciel et la patrie
Et les poètes saints ! la grave causerie
S'arrête en souriant.

La nuit, quand l'homme dort, quand l'esprit rêve, à l'heure
Où l'on entend gémir, comme une voix qui pleure,
L'onde entre les roseaux,
Si l'aube tout à coup là-bas luit comme un phare,
Sa clarté dans les champs éveille une fanfare
De cloches et d'oiseaux.

Enfant, vous êtes l'aube et mon âme est la plaine
Qui des plus douces fleurs embaume son haleine
Quand vous la respirez ;
Mon âme est la forêt dont les sombres ramures
S'emplissent pour vous seul de suaves murmures
Et de rayons dorés !

Car vos beaux yeux sont pleins de douceurs infinies,
Car vos petites mains, joyeuses et bénies,
N'ont point mal fait encor ;
Jamais vos jeunes pas n'ont touché notre fange,
Tête sacrée ! enfant aux cheveux blonds ! bel ange
À l'auréole d'or !

Vous êtes parmi nous la colombe de l'arche.
Vos pieds tendres et purs n'ont point l'âge où l'on marche.
Vos ailes sont d'azur.
Sans le comprendre encor vous regardez le monde.
Double virginité ! corps où rien n'est immonde,
Âme où rien n'est impur !

Il est si beau, l'enfant, avec son doux sourire,
Sa douce bonne foi, sa voix qui veut tout dire,
Ses pleurs vite apaisés,
Laissant errer sa vue étonnée et ravie,
Offrant de toutes parts sa jeune âme à la vie
Et sa bouche aux baisers !

Seigneur ! préservez-moi, préservez ceux que j'aime,
Frères, parents, amis, et mes ennemis même
Dans le mal triomphants,
De jamais voir, Seigneur ! l'été sans fleurs vermeilles,
La cage sans oiseaux, la ruche sans abeilles,
La maison sans enfants !

Ruth said...

To Catfish Tales, thank you, and how wonderful for you to have this to look forward to ... congratulations!

Hello, Nathalie! Thank you for coming by and visiting James and me, for your kind words, and for your blessing.

Dear Arti, thank you, my friend, for your warm response and for sharing our excitement!

Hi, Montag! I don't understand the reference, but I like it all the same, because it ends in heaven! Thank you.

Ruth said...

Oh Jill, thank you for sharing our enthusiasm, and congratulations on this joy to look forward to!

Dear deb, thank you, dear friend. More love than I can possibly hold.

rauf, the wisdom I have heard in the past about such things, and found to be helpful with our children and nieces and nephews, is to answer only what the child asks, and no more. And sometimes answering with a question is good! But I think if I don't know what to say, I'll just say "I don't know." And maybe, "Let's find out." Anyway, I don't think there are very many absolute answers.

Ruth said...

Patricia, how wonderful! We used to consult Dr. Brazelton a lot with our kids. I am interested in what he had to say in that interview.

Ruth said...

Merci, Deslilas! Me permettre de partager une traduction du poème par Hugo.

So beautifully he expresses the magic of a baby in a home. . . .
Thou art my dawn; my soul is as the field,
Where sweetest flowers their balmy perfumes yield
When breathed upon by thee, . . .

Infantile Influence

("Lorsque l'enfant parait.")

The child comes toddling in, and young and old
With smiling eyes its smiling eyes behold,
And artless, babyish joy;
A playful welcome greets it through the room,
The saddest brow unfolds its wrinkled gloom,
To greet the happy boy.

If June with flowers has spangled all the ground,
Or winter bleak the flickering hearth around
Draws close the circling seat;
The child still sheds a never-failing light;
We call; Mamma with mingled joy and fright
Watches its tottering feet.

Perhaps at eve as round the fire we draw,
We speak of heaven, or poetry, or law,
Or politics, or prayer;
The child comes in, 'tis now all smiles and play,
Farewell to grave discourse and poet's lay,
Philosophy and care.

When fancy wakes, but sense in heaviest sleep
Lies steeped, and like the sobs of them that weep
The dark stream sinks and swells,
The dawn, like Pharos gleaming o'er the sea,
Bursts forth, and sudden wakes the minstrelsy
Of birds and chiming bells;

Thou art my dawn; my soul is as the field,
Where sweetest flowers their balmy perfumes yield
When breathed upon by thee,
Of forest, where thy voice like zephyr plays,
And morn pours out its flood of golden rays,
When thy sweet smile I see.

Oh, sweetest eyes, like founts of liquid blue;
And little hands that evil never knew,
Pure as the new-formed snow;
Thy feet are still unstained by this world's mire,
Thy golden locks like aureole of fire
Circle thy cherub brow!

Dove of our ark, thine angel spirit flies
On azure wings forth from thy beaming eyes.
Though weak thine infant feet,
What strange amaze this new and strange world gives
To thy sweet virgin soul, that spotless lives
In virgin body sweet.

Oh, gentle face, radiant with happy smile,
And eager prattling tongue that knows no guile,
Quick changing tears and bliss;
Thy soul expands to catch this new world's light,
Thy mazed eyes to drink each wondrous sight,
Thy lips to taste the kiss.

Oh, God! bless me and mine, and these I love,
And e'en my foes that still triumphant prove
Victors by force or guile;
A flowerless summer may we never see,
Or nest of bird bereft, or hive of bee,
Or home of infant's smile.

Translated by HENRY HIGHTON, M.A.

Ginnie said...

Your new life will never be the same, dear sister. Never! You have every right to eat up every precious second and memory. Please keep sharing the tiniest of bits so that I can see it all through your eyes. Thank you.

Loring Wirbel said...

Absolutely adorable, grams!

J.G. said...

Five days, each one a miracle in itself.

Happiness to all of you!

Unknown said...

so beautiful Ruth and what a handsome young man ... love the woods new tendrils sprouting from the grafted stem....