You’d think that given our itinerant lifestyle, we would get used to goodbyes. And yet S still tears up every time we have to part ways, even if it is for only a brief period. D is typically more dispassionate, especially when we don’t expect to be apart for more than a few weeks, but this time he too has a touch of the blues. We still have a few more bureaucratic and medical hoops to jump through before Munchkin can travel overseas, so while D is preparing to return to Moldova tomorrow, S will head back to her parents’ house in Bangor for several more weeks.
In preparation for his current job, D went through a training module on micro-expressions. Scientists have found that regardless of culture and upbringing, all people the world over exhibit certain basic emotions in the same way. As adults, we try to hide these expressions and when our faces betray our innermost thoughts, they do so for only a split second before our mind regains control. Not only do babies lack that kind of self-restraint, but they actually appear to exaggerate their facial expressions — perhaps as a means of compensating for their inability to express themselves verbally. In honor of Munchkin’s 1-month birthday, here is a small sampling of his many facial expressions.
It’s hard to put one’s finger on what exactly it is about having children that suddenly makes everyone else an expert on one’s life. Friends had warned that one of the most trying aspects of parenthood is fielding unsolicited advice, oftentimes from pushy strangers, on how to raise their children. The hubris behind such advice is staggering. It essentially presupposes that parents either don’t care to or don’t know how to tell what is good for their own children.
Modesty went completely out the window with childbirth. During our hospital stay we lost track of the number of people who saw S in a state of near total undress, observed intently as she breastfed, or offered hands-on assistance. Concerned that S might be lacking in mammary tissue, one of the lactation consultants — an older woman with a generous chest — even pulled down her own shirt and showed S her breasts, saying, “See? This is what you’re looking for” — as if S did not understand the concept of cleavage and could somehow will her breasts to grow heavier simply by thinking milky thoughts.
We had four glorious days after coming home from the hospital that we spent as a nuclear family. No more vitals checks, no IV flushes in the wee hours of the night, no visitors. Just the three of us, marveling at our life together, uninterrupted except for the occasional errand or visit to the doctor’s office. Of course, we couldn’t keep our families away for long. Not only do our relatives get to see us too infrequently, but they were also longing to meet Munchkin. Visitors started arriving the Friday before the bris; the next time we’ll have a stretch this long when it’s just the three of us is when we’re back in Moldova.
With the exception of our parents and siblings, to whom we had confided Munchkin’s name, none of our relatives knew how we had decided to call our son, and they were jittery with anticipation as they gathered for the bris. D’s aunt drove nine hours from Philadelphia to Portland, S’s uncle came down from Montreal, and we also welcomed relatives and a few close family friends from Boston, New York, and Connecticut to tell them his story. We now share a slightly abridged version with you: