Monday, August 16, 2010

I only have eyes for you

Jack's eyesight has improved remarkably in the last several days. When he was a newborn, his eyes were completely uncoordinated. He could track motion for very short ranges, and he would blink or scrunch up his face when you got too close, but that was about it. There was no consistent direction to his gaze, and he paid far more attention to bright windows than he did to our faces.

This didn't help me with breastfeeding. Everybody tells you about how nursing is such a bonding experience; not many tell you that babies come out lacking the skill to nurse but possessing a desperate wish to suck hard. The truth is that nursing hurt quite badly in the beginning, and Jack and I spent our early days crying it out together. I was already having trouble getting over the pain of childbirth, and the fact that the pain kept up... that this most important task (feeding my son!) was unpleasant to the point of making my toes curl... well, that kind of sucked. No pun intended.

It seemed like every time I handed someone a peaceful, slumbering child, they would hand me back a hungry piranha. Worse yet, he was starting to look at other people's faces, but he only had eyes for my boobs (men!). The early days of breastfeeding made me feel like a tool. I loved the idea that my body could feed my baby, so I was an important tool. But I was a tool, nonetheless.

Enter the miraculous nursing moment of one week ago, when Jack really, truly looked at me for the first time. It was amazing. He carefully contemplated my face as he nursed, gazing steadily at my eyes and following the movement when I turned. He actually found me more interesting than the bright window next to the rocking chair (said had been his steady companion in almost all prior nursing sessions). His careful attention rejuvenated my spirit for breastfeeding. It made me realize that there actually is a little human, a thinking and feeling soul, inside Jack's newborn body. It confirmed something I knew intellectually but often forgot to feel emotionally: he needs me, and that's a good thing.

With each day that passes, Jack sees a little more. He loves to look at faces. He's fascinated by patterns and light. His favorite spot (judging by how quickly it calms him) is perched up on my shoulder as I walk around (it's probably all a blur to him, but I'd guess that it's an interesting blur). Greg showed him a mirror, and he liked looking at the reflection. Tonight, during bathtime, he was totally absorbed by the shadows on the wall.

Keep it up, Jack!

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