Nearly two years ago, I wrote one of my first blog posts about Little K and our difficulty bonding during my postpartum depression and what I thought at the time was his collicky nature. I haven’t looked at the post in a long time, and reading it now makes it clear just how far K and I have come. It’s honestly a little unreal. But it’s also clear how much work we’ve all put into getting to know him, and how much work he’s put into letting us inside his fragile little shell.
Little K has never spent a night sleeping in my arms or in my bed. Unlike his brother, who would spend every night wrapped around me to this day, K wanted his space. He would nurse and then scream, but never would he just settle into sleep at night with me. I longed for his warm little body against me, his soft baby breath on my arm. But he wrapped himself instead in his solitary bubble. At times it was nice to have a baby I could set down to nap by himself, nice to roll over whenever I wanted in my own bed because there was no child in there to worry about. And although I worried and took it as a personal failure, I kept reaching out while giving K the space to decide when he would reach back.
And it happened, when I least expected it to. In a hotel room on the ocean in San Diego, after a long August day at the beach, he asked me to lay between him and N in their bed. He grabbed my face in both of his sweet little hands, turned my head to face him, and said, “Mama, give big hug and sleep cozy me. I wuv you.” And then he fell asleep, both hands still resting on my cheeks and a smile on his face. Never have I seen something so amazingly beautiful, or been given something so intimate as an invitation into Little K’s perfect space.
So today, we are here:
Nose to nose, a still rare but increasingly less so naptime, snuggled up as close to Mama as he can get, with one little fist relaxed on my chest and his sweaty little head soft on my shoulder. No arching away, no “go-way, Mama, I sleepy,” as he tells me from his crib on many days. Today he is a different child, and I’ve been given access to his world. He’ll lean comfortably on me to read a book, or rub my hand when we play a game. He’ll collapse tiredly in my arms or his dad’s when he’s exhausted, and he’ll take kisses and back rubs when he’s hurt. He wants the love, and he offers it in return enthusiastically. My Little K – he’s still so hesitant to widen that circle, but I’m just thankful to be one of the ones he’s letting inside.