Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream...

She splashes the bathwater, squealing as it explodes from beneath her palms. Her plastic tub sits in the shower. I squat beside it. The glass door with the gold frame has been pulled closed. She has yellow yoke stuck to her skin. I lather my hands with soap and wash her face, her fair hair and fingers. I give her the blue toy boat and she mouths it.  I make silly sounds while I pour water over her head and laugh when she gets me all wet. After a few minutes of squealing and splashing and washing, I pull the plug and drain the water. I lift her slippery wet squish of a baby body into my arms and wrap her in a towel. I carry my bundle up the stairs to her bedroom where I diaper her bottom and put her into pajamas. After, she sits on my lap and nurses a little. Then I show her a cardboard picture book while she chews on her toothbrush. I hold her and rock her. Then I stand and walk and sway and sing. Soon, she can't help but be drawn toward sleep. I lay her down in her bed, but as I pull away, she wakes up, rolls onto her side, flips onto her tummy, pushes up, crawls, climbs to the top of the crib and stands. I don't say anything. She's done this before. It is her newest trick. I pick her up and lay her down a second time. There isn't a pause before she rolls onto her side, then onto her tummy, pushes up, crawls, climbs, grabs, and stands. I pick her up and lay her down. Again she rolls to her side, tummy, knees, feet. I'll let her stand awhile, I decide, sitting close by on the couch, reading. She starts to make sounds, to jump and giggle. She would very much like my attention, I try not to make eye contact. She pretends to cough. I hide my smile behind my magazine, but I peek out and she sees me and laughs and jumps.

I say something like, "Aren't you tired baby girl?"

Eventually she fusses herself into sleepy sobs and I stand and pick her up and lay her down (she can't yet do it herself) and point the pacifier toward her mouth. She takes it and then she rolls to her side, her tummy, her knees, and then up onto her feet. I pick her up and lay her down again. Then I hold my hands to her face and lean over the edge of her crib so that my hair can reach her hands. She grabs at it and pulls. I lean further and let her have my face too. The feel of my locks and cheek cause her eyes to flutter. She starts slapping my face and sort of groaning as she falls further and faster toward sleep, except the slapping makes me laugh and the bar hurts my stomach and so I have to pull away, but as soon as I do, she wakes and whines and rolls onto her side, then onto her tummy, up on her knees, and then to her feet.

I pick her up, but this time, I take her downstairs and sit her amongst her toys in the living room.  She plays while I clean the kitchen and make my own supper since I wasn't hungry when I fed her nearly two hours before. Scott comes home from work. I tell him about my day. He tells me about his. He says I seem heavy. I feel heavy. She wouldn't go down for her morning nap until noon. She wouldn't sleep this afternoon and now it's an hour past her bedtime and she's crawling around like it were morning. I read that two naps a day for babies is important for brain development. I tell him that we went to the farmers' market this afternoon because I was feeling lonely. It was nice, I say. She and I sat listening to music and then I bought strawberries and we ate them together. Juice dripped down our chins and stained our fingers pink.

"What if we went out for ice cream right now?" I suggest. "She'll fall asleep in the car and we can get a treat." We are laying on the floor with baby when I say this and quickly we both roll onto our sides, then onto our tummies, up to our knees and then onto our feet.

As Scott pulls into a parking spot beside the ice cream shop, Amelia falls asleep.

"Just get me exactly what you're getting yourself." I say, knowing he'll order something with toppings.

I sit in the car with the windows cracked, listening to people pass down the hilly sidewalk, flip flopping, laughing, gossiping. After a couple minutes, Scott returns and we sit, side-by-side, spooning our sugary sweetness in the silence of sleep.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Swamp Forest Trail

When a trail is called Swamp Forest, believe that it is named so for a reason and do not take your wild dog and baby there or you'll be picking bugs from your hair and feeling your feet as they wet inside your boots, which sink into the swamp forest ground.

A big bird, a pigeon or dove maybe, swoops down in front of us and into the reeds on our right. I scream. Baby cries. And the dog pulls toward the bird to bite it. I hurry us along.

On this horrid, beautiful path, there are signs on the left reading: NO TRESPASSING/PRIVATE PROPERTY...signs before dry hills that stretch high toward the wind and out of the mud. What would Woody Guthrie say if he were here with me?

We lose a baby sock along the way when I decide to run through the tall muddy grass, the leash stretching taut before me and baby strapped into her carrier, bobbing. I laugh as dog and I sprint for higher ground.

When back on trails with tree markers and firm land, baby fusses. She wants to nurse. I pull out my breast and hope that no one comes by. This is when the dog poops. I need to pick it up. It's right off the path. I pull my boob away, pick up the poop and tie off the bag. Baby fusses and so I pull my sweat-sticky boob out once again and feed away her fussiness. The dog pulls. She needs water and remembers the stream with the bridge up ahead. I start to walk slowly, holding a bag of dog poop and a leash and wearing a baby who's looking up at the green leaves with my nipple in her stubborn mouth, while I pluck bugs from my hair and feel my feet soak inside my soggy boots.

Never again Swamp Forest Trail. Never again.