At some time between 5 and 5:30, I hear him on the monitor; not a hearty cry, but a sustained whimpering. I roll over and ask Kris, “What time did you feed him?” She says 4 or 3:30 or fifteen minutes ago, but it doesn’t really matter because I already know I’m going to pick him up. He needs to be held or burped or changed. I walk into his room and flip the soft classic Winnie the Pooh lamp on because the bright overhead light hurts his eyes. He senses the light but clinches his eyelids.
I remember Tippy One. She was our calico who roamed. She came back every evening for dinner and we fed her well. My mom gave her cat food. Jake, Jean, and I had a contest: whoever could make Tippy stay on our bed when we slept, won. We snuck cheese and lunch meat to bed to lure her in. They had the advantage because they shared a bed.
And Tippy got fat. And fatter. Around Christmas, she was so big she wouldn’t jump on our beds anymore; we’d have to pick her up to give her the cheese at night.
Three days after Christmas, 1982, I got up between 5 and 5:30 to play with my Castle Grayskull. Mom came out after about an hour, looked about three feet to my side and said, “Oh look, Tippy had kittens!”
And there they were: black, white, gray, calico. I picked up one of the tiny things to look at it. It let forth a tiny meow; its eyes sealed shut.
And that’s the way Zach looks. Tiny sounds and eyes shut tight. I pick him up and set him on the changing table and he squints out at me. I take his diaper off and wipe him. And I grab the A&D cream. I hold his ankles with my left hand and squeeze the cream on my right index finger. It smells mediciny and clean; reminds me of mornings and Zach.
I strap the new diaper on and he’s awake, looking at me. But he should be sleeping. I swaddle him and lay him down in his crib. I cover him over as he stares at me. And smile inwardly at my new routine. And Thank God for two great months.