Eve said "uh-uh" for the first time yesterday.
I get it: I'm a mom, so every utterance is loaded with significance. This double exhalation shouldn't count as a first word. It could be a coincidence, that after we told her to do something, or to stop doing something (the litany of directives is already a blur), she responded, "uh-uh" and didn't do it. A coincidence.
One year ago, a midwife I had never met told me that she would be delivering my baby. I didn't hear her say it, but I assume she made some sort of introduction while I clutched any stable surface and yell-groaned. The bombs had concluded their bursting in air, and I had concluded thoroughly traumatizing our unlucky Uber driver on our way to Park Slope Methodist. Eric was an eternal, yet hazy presence, always near me, beside me, gripping my hand or shoulders, but frustratingly ethereal during each contraction. This wasn't his fault. Nothing meant anything, within that pain, except the color white, and sometimes red. And a steady, grinding pressure that felt like tectonic plates and cracking thunder within me. I can't remember the midwife's name, but her eyebrows were impeccably threaded, or plucked, and I latched onto my appreciation for them like a lifeline. Finding those brows every time she entered the hospital room acted as a stabilizing pressure against my sudden spike in anxiety. Damn it, is she going to put her fingers in my cervix again?! vs God, what a fantastic arch!
I don't have any pictures of Eve and I immediately after she was born. I remember those moments so clearly: the sudden loss of her as she was pulled from my body, the dawning comprehension warring with disbelief that I was now here and she was there. A whole entire person, separate from me. Her tiny squeals that stopped, as if someone jabbed MUTE, when I held her. Small and warm and solid against my chest. She latched on, then changed her mind, then sought milk again. Was this the birth I wanted? I thought, and decided I didn't particularly care, not at that moment. How could the answer be anything but yes, when I was holding my baby? How do you find the wherewithal to complain about the race once you've crawled across the finish line? During all of that time, I could have asked Eric to take a picture, and I didn't. I had even retwisted my locs the day before. I kept them fresh during my shower with a specimen bag tied around my head.
Eve is ambivalent about baths and tries to pitch herself off of every mildly dangerous surface head-first. We're pretty sure she ate a button off of Eric's hat last week. She wakes up talking and planks to poop. She has six teeth that's she only recently stopped constantly attempting to cannibalize Eric and I with. She really likes Chance the Rapper and Little Baby Bum.
It's incredibly easy to disregard a day. We put her down to sleep and then we eventually go to sleep and just like that, the day has passed, and we're rushing headlong into the next. And Eve follows us, getting up because we pick her up, and change her diaper, brush her teeth, clean her face, wrestle her into clothes. She sits placidly in her high chair, sucking her fingers and watching me bustle around the kitchen. She eats what we feed her, affording us a blind trust that sometimes takes my breath away. She mimics my silly faces and finds me endlessly amusing, until she doesn't. She crawls along the ground, finding crumbs and small pieces of lint to snack on, and protests when I snatch it from her opening mouth. Parenting is somehow both lost and found in the exhausting minutiae of keeping her safe and happy, fed and clean. Bath-diaper-naptime-bottle. I tidy her toys, knowing that in less than twelve hours they will be strewn all over the floor again. Hours pass, days, months, like flowing water. Inconspicuously, quietly, inevitably.
She whines much more, now. Short bursts of frustration, long shrieks of discontent. She has taught herself how to throw. She is teaching herself how to walk: wobbly, uncertain, then wildly confident. She rarely cries when she falls. Eve. There are so many ways that Eric and I say her name, now. So many iterations we have yet to discover. "Eve!" "Evie?" She deigns to respond occasionally.
When we brought her home, we laid her in the bassinet beside our bed and watched her sleep. Inhale, exhale. She was so shockingly small - compared to the Peanut onesie she was wearing, compared to our bed, our bedroom, compared to us, to our hands. She was both our calm and our storm, the lighted port and billowing wave. So we clasped her tiny hand, knowing we might drown, and held on.