Robert and Christina Have a Baby: Announcing Marcus Omer

Week Six Update | Birth Certificate Fun | Linguistic Ruminations | Quotable Quotes

Quotable Quotes: Selections from my latest reading on birth, babies, and motherhood

On birth:

Giving birth is this peculiar combination of determination and compulsion. It’s you pushing, and you push in a more concentrated, focused way than you’ve ever done anything, but in another sense you don’t decide or try to push or even want to. You are just swept away by the action. It’s like a cross between running a marathon and having the most enormous, shattering, irresistible orgasm of your life. And then suddenly in the midst of all this excitement and action, agitation and exhaustion, there is a small, warm body lying on your chest and a tranquil, quiet. . . face. . . .Maybe it’s just the natural endorphins flowing through you. . ., but instead of collapsing, as you might expect, you feel a kind of intensified alertness. You’re preternaturally awake, and everything is clearer and sharper than usual.

--Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl, The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind

On new motherhood:

I wish he could take longer naps in the afternoon. He falls asleep and I feel I could die of love when I watch him, and I think to myself that he is what angels look like. Then I doze off, too, and it’s like heaven, but sometimes only twenty minutes later he wakes up and begins to make his gritchy rodent noises, scanning the room wildly. I look blearily over at him in the bassinet, and think, with great hostility, Oh, God, he’s raising his loathsome reptilian head again. When I go over to the bassinet to pick him up, though, he looks up at me like I’m Coco the clown—he beams, and makes raspberries, and does frantic bicycle kicks like he’s doing his baby aerobics. Then I feel I can go on. . . .

Things are getting better now. They’ve been easier for a month. People kept telling me that I just had to hold on until the end of the third month and everything would get easier. I always thought they were patronizing me or trying to keep me from scrounging up cab fare to the bridge. But I remember a month ago, when he turned three months and one or two days—it was like the baby looked at his little watch calendar and said with a bit of surprise, “Oh, for Chrissakes, it’s been three months already—time to chill out a little.” He sleeps every night, and doesn’t cry or gritch very often, and just in general seems to be enjoying his stay a little bit more. It’s much better. I’m much better.

--Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

On a newborn:

He’s very brilliant, this much is clear. He’s learned to comfort himself. . . by sucking on his hands and fists, like a lion with a bone. I wish I could sit in public places slobbering away on my own fist. It looks very comforting. . . .

He lies on his back for long stretches now, totally alert and totally spaced out at the same time, like he’s on acid or in the presence of God. . . .

I bet that life must be like a dream for [him]. It must be such a surprise for him to wake up every morning and for the whole thing to still be going on, the same way it must have been a joy and a surprise every morning for the primitives when the sun came up again.

--Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year


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Created: 10/5/08. Last Modified: 10/5/08.