Its a whole new world now that little Levi is in it

Sitting up in bed with my newborn son snoozing beside me, I’m yet again made aware of how loud babies are. Even deep in sleep — a “milk coma” as my husband puts it — Levi is snuffling wheezing, squeaking and snorting. Every so often a noise will come out of him that is so loud, he startles himself — his tiny body tightens, convulses, then relaxes into a satisfying slumber once again.

Lying on his back, his little chest puffing up and down with each breath, he stretches his arms, waving them above his head, and draws his legs upward, pressing the soles of his feet together like hands in prayer. His eyes briefly open, then close, then open again as he wakes, gazing up at a ceiling far beyond his range of vision.

So, I have a baby now. My first. And it’s a strange feeling. All of a sudden I can’t go anywhere alone. Phone calls have to be timed to take advantage of the shortest of naps. I’m quickly learning how to type one-handed, holding Levi in the crook of my left arm while trying to answer e-mails with the right.

Even the smallest action, like going outside to get the mail, takes major preparation — calm the baby, wrap him snugly against my chest, make sure his head isn’t tilted too far forward or back, triple-check that I have my keys. It takes 10 minutes to get ready for a two-minute excursion.

Gazing down at him now, so peaceful and asleep, I might easily forget that at 5:30 this morning, when I was roused by screams coming from the crib, I started to cry. “I was just up with him for three hours,” I told my husband. “Please take care of him.”

I know that my baby is nothing out of the ordinary. Which is why, when my mother came from the East Coast to help out the day after I came home from the hospital, I apologized to her. Repeatedly, and profusely.

I find myself constantly torn between wishing he’d grow up — at least enough to keep his head up on his own — and wanting him to stay so tiny and cute for as long as possible.

Still, despite the sleepless nights and the sudden lack of freedom and the endless feedings and diaper changes and load after load of laundry, I feel so blessed to have this little boy sleeping beside me.

Even now, three weeks after his birth, long after the amazement should have worn off, I still find myself gazing into his face and thanking God for giving him to me.

I’ve never been the kind of person to ascribe scientifically explainable phenomena to acts of God. Of course, I understand how he formed — cells divide, organs take shape, neurons connect — yet the fact that it all came together so perfectly, well, I can’t help but see a Divine hand in that.

It seems somehow fitting that Levi was born shortly before Passover, the first holiday we celebrated as a family.

From the newborn Moses in the basket to the 10th plague, the story of Exodus is rife with tales of babies — and infanticide. It’s enough to strike fear in the heart of any parent, especially a new one.

When we listed the Ten Plagues at this year’s seder, for the first time my heart broke at the mention of makat bechorot, the slaying of the first-born sons of Egypt. All my life I’ve felt a sense of schadenfreude at this part of the story — sure, it’s sad, but they deserved it.

But this week, as a parent, I felt differently. Sitting with my own first-born son nestled quietly and obliviously on my lap, I saved the biggest drop of wine for the last, worst plague, the one I now feel intimately, a deep ache in my stomach. That night, I squeezed Levi a little tighter as I lay him down in his crib.

Of course, he woke me up two hours later, and then two hours after that, screaming his head off. But that night, I didn’t mind.

Rachel Leibold
is a copy editor at j. on maternity leave. She can be reached at [email protected] See page 27 for Levi’s birth announcement.

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