Jesse was born ready to embrace life. I was the first person he saw, and I will never forget his fixed look–directly at me, taking all of me in. It lasted a second or two, and then he shifted his gaze to the nurse beside me before she gave him to his mother, when he cried and cried. Later as I held him in my arms for the first time, I felt overwhelmed with emotion, a complete and utter expression of pure bliss.
The hospital stay was a blur as our new sleep-deprived state began to take hold and pattern our existence. Filling out the birth certificate in black pen solidified his identity in the modern world. We had to learn in three days how take care of our son’s basic needs, and soon after, how to balance that with taking care of our own.
Once we got home, the mind-numbing exhaustion kicked in. But here was our baby. Jesse. Everything changed from then on. Right away, somehow, I could no longer imagine life any other way. I was entering the surreal fog that would permeate our new existence, a state that would gradually dissipate in the months ahead but never vanish.
At four months since my son’s birth last March, the fog slowly lifting, I wake up every morning to my son’s wide smile when I unzip his swaddle and announce, as if to the world, “Good morning!” I cherish making him squeal with delight by blowing on his belly and cheeks, even as his high shrill goes directly in my eardrum. And the moments when I feel his warm small round body on my chest as I rock him to sleep at night are as spiritual as any yogi could ever experience in the deepest of meditations.
I won’t lie—my body aches for that day when it will sleep again. Yet I somehow know that from that day on, when my mind is clear as day, when the sky is sharp and blue, there will still be a small sliver of a cloud that will always be there, somewhere up above, as Jesse continues to embrace life with me there with him.
One night in that first or second month of life, I lay my son softly down to sleep and touched his hand, risking waking him from his slumber. He put his little fingers on the back of my hand, and now, when I put him to sleep each night, he sometimes touches my hand just to see if I’m still there.