The baby is sleeping, a little soft sandbag of warmth that smells tender and sweet, like milk warming. It is lost to the world, adrift in dreams, limp and warm. Its cheeks are flushed pink and the hair damp. It is exquisitely soft.
You hold this baby against your shoulder, its head lying like a weight, lips pursed and eyelashes like tiny strokes of a fine pen dark against the skin. You are thinking about dinner, errands, your need to go to the bathroom soon, and you are thinking about the baby being very warm against you. You are holding still, unwilling to move in case it might wake and fuss. But the baby is motionless save its regular breathing. Its arms are lying one flopped here under your chin and one there over your arm, both shorter in length than the distance from your wrist to your elbow.
The baby is dreaming now, its eyelids moving, its fingers curling and then unfurling. It sighs deeply and goes back to quiet respiration, breathing perfectly. How tender its skin is and how vulnerable it is to everything. It is just like a doll. How can a baby dream who has never done anything or been anywhere? What memory can it have?
Your mind shifts from chores to thoughts of other children, small and large, who were once this small not long ago. You remember yourself small, how you could see your parents up above you if you looked up with your head tilted back, parents eyes far above you, looking down as if from a distant place.
You forget about chores and time going by and feel the several pounds of tiny human being, a pleasing not-heaviness which is substantially light, alive there right next to your heart. The baby is soft yet firm, robust but delicate, glowing with life.
Who will this child become? Whose shoulder did you sleep upon? You love this peace and stillness, know it will not last but feel a quiet ease in all the rush and worry of the day. The baby seems to have sprawled against you to hold you down, make you realize that moments like this, moments of stillness, refresh your spirit and center your soul. You close your eyes and breathe in time with this little one who knows nothing, its life just beginning. You are in love you realize, just because this baby has fallen deep asleep on you, pinning you - you feeling helpless and amazed - both your hearts beating side by side.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way