Saturday, June 18, 2005

"Don't Shake the Baby"

My brother Carlos and his wife Celine recently had a baby, too. A boy named Lou. Not Louis, Luis, or Louisiana; just plain Lou. My brother and his wife call each other Woozer, or Woosy. I don't know why, but they do. My sister and I have talked about the importance of not accidentally nicknaming Lou "Loser."

Carlos called me every day after Clara was born. As he was waiting for Lou to show up, I could tell his anxiety was mounting.

"Hey Christa, it's Carlos."

"Los! What's up?"

"How's it going? Do you like motherhood? Do you love Clara? Is it fun?"

Do I love my daughter?

Yes, I love her, I say.

Is it fun?

A newborn is not exactly "fun." A newborn is hard work. Scary and challenging, especially if you've never had your very own newborn before. They are like fragile inklings of what is to come. And you hope that they make it with your help.

"Yeah, it's fun."

"Really?" he says. "you don't sound sure."

"Well, it's hard, too."

"What's hard about it?"

"I don't know Carlos, it just is. Sometimes it's frustrating."

"Don't shake the baby!" he warns, as if it might be my next move.

"I'm not gonna shake the baby, Los."

"Good," he says, "or she could go blind."

The day Lou is born, I call to congratulate Carlos and Celine. Carlos answers.

"Congratulations, Loski. How's it going?"

"It's great," he drawls. "Greeeeat. I already love him."

"That's great, Los."

"Yeah," he says. "'s pretty fun...So far....It's hard, too. Isn't it?"

"Yeah. It's hard," I say, "but it gets easier every day."

For some reason, all the cliches about having a baby are true. Why is that?

"Mom says he's cuter than Clara was when she was born," Carlos says.

That's so not true, but whatever.

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