It's 9:15pm and Stella is taking a bath. Kari is sitting on our living room rug, legs crossed, tits out, crying those deep guttural tears, the kind that stem from that lethal concoction of exhaustion and feelings of failure. Leo sits in her lap, his long torso stretched out across her belly, crying those piercing hunger tears.
my knees, hovered over Kari, arms wrapped around her shoulders, my lips
against her forehead in a solemn attempt to understand her suffering, even though I can't possibly understand.
Her milk is drying up and her uterus hasn't contracted down, the
latter issue influencing the former, both working in cahoots to prevent
Daaaaaaaddddyyyyy, Stella yells from the bathroom, for the thirty-third time in the last twenty minutes.
Just a minute buddy.
I gotta go poo-poo! she says, as she exits the tub and flips up the toilet seat.
Call me when you need wiped.
Moments later, in pure kid fashion, an hour past her bedtime, she
is bounding out of the bathroom, trail of foot prints in her wake,
rounding the corner to find her helpless parents entangled in an awkward
She shakes her pale rump in front of us, unwiped and unashamed, while singing a song about looking at her butt. The moment is the perfect picture of the great dichotomy surrounding our lives over the last year. In the middle of the grief, Stella was there to show off her butt or tell a funny joke or do something that amazes us.
She wiggles her rear and we laugh and it's damn near 10pm.
It's 1am and I am feeding my son with a syringe and some tubing. It's called finger feeding and it's what you do when your kid isn't getting enough milk and your wife isn't getting enough sleep and you don't want to use a bottle.
I microwave a coffee mug full of water. Then remove mug and drop
in a bottle of breast milk, three ounces worth. Then get
my syringe and tubing ready. Then wash the hell out of my hands, the
kind of washing that changes the color on your cheap wedding ring you
purchased from a street vendor in Oaxaca. Then use the syringe to pull
out an ounce of milk from the bottle. Then attach the tube to the end of
the syringe. Then tape the tubing to my right index finger, so the end
of the tube is near the end of my finger. Then insert finger and tube
into Leo's mouth. And then pump milk down the boy's throat. Repeat
another ounce. And another. An hour from start to finish.
He stares at me with steel gray eyes and it's just the two of us and I couldn't ask for anything more.