Sunday day came and went, then Sunday night and nothing. Not a flutter. Not that cavernous stomach feeling. I didn't do the end-of-summer depression clomp or dry heave in the shower. I never felt like I was snorting 7-Up. I didn't yelp as the sun set.
"I don't get it," I said to Chuck.
"So now you're worried about not being worried?" he said, clarifying the situation.
"Oh," I said.
Going back to my Daily Obligation was fine. I snuck a few peeks at the PBG while I was getting ready to leave, but made it out the door while she was still asleep. I wore clothes-clothes and not the yoga pants-tank top-cardigan combo I've claimed as my signature look. I listened to pop music in the car. I applied lipstick at a stop light. I wore my new sunglasses and I drank Naked Juice while en route. I checked in with friends and caught up on three months worth of whatever. I didn't mistakingly refer to anyone as "my little lima bean." I feel like an awful person saying this, but it was pretty sweet getting back to the business of being a part of a society that doesn't think of my areolas as a dinner plate.
On my way to lunch I looked into the window of an empty storefront and thought: "I have a daughter. I have a daughter. Oh, her? She's my daughter. A person I made." At Subway, a couple of the Sandwich Artists asked to see photos. I flashed my phone, they cooed and asked for details and ... I felt like I was lying. Like this was some elaborate ruse I'd rehearsed so well that people actually believed that I'd had a baby. "I have a daughter. Her name is this. She likes the Lakewalk and hates the book 'Green Eggs and Ham.'"
Baby-wise, I was stable unless anyone asked me to express an emotion about being eight miles away from my little person. For the rest of the day I stayed focused by making the universal sign for Time Out whenever someone cocked a head and asked: "How are you dooooooing?"
"Let's just not talk about it" and a quick spin in the opposite direction got me through it.
Day 2 was another story. I got her out of bed, changed her diaper, kissed her pumpkin head as she cozied up on the couch with Chuck and a bottle. Then I forgot my phone and had to go back inside and repeat the goodbyes. I felt my voice pitch higher as I choked "I better [croak] go."
Eight hours later I was sick with missing her, almost dizzy and breathless. It was like my body had only promised to hold it together until 6 p.m. Then a second after that I caught a flu-like love sickness. It was the worst. I went to pick her up from Norway Hall and the traffic lights and parking options waged a war against me. I thought I was going to hyperventilate every time I was stalled or thwarted. Finally, with a full-on fever, I parked and quick-walked to the building just in time to catch the Norwegian Wonder leaving, carrying my sleeping baby. I wanted to rip the PBG out the car seat and hold that warm little body against me. Feel her do that back arch thing she does when she's liberated from the seat.
Gah. My aching heart.
"What in the hell is that on her face?!" I shriek at Chuck, who is holding the baby.
There's a grey-ish gob of goo connecting her nostril to her lip. I remember that I just heard her sneeze three times and do the math: Baby's first massive slug of snot.
Chuck oozes it into a Kleenix while I stand by gagging. He tugs and tugs, the old magician-with-infinity-hankies-in-his-breast-pocket trick.
"I swear it was that long!" he says afterward.
"Did you get any on you?" I ask.
His look says: "Please, woman. You should see the things I've gotten on me. This is nothing. Those mustardy seeds are curds of milk, you know."
Later he reminisces: "It looked like someone stepped on a tube of wasabi paste."
THE BIOLOGY OF DIAPERS
Through some cruel trick of biology, my favorite time with the girl has become diaper changes. She's always all-smiles as soon as her back hits the table. She practically tugs her own clothes off all while emitting mermaid-frequency squeaks. And because it's already feeling a little festive, I make a big show of removing her socks, cracking my knuckles, chanting "PANTS OFF DANCE OFF!" painstakingly describing what I'm seeing in her diaper and then applauding her effort.
I'm slow to re-dress her. She likes to hang loose, but she also likes the part where I velcro the sides of her diaper. She almost giggles when I pull her feet through her pant legs. We're both always a little disappointed when it's over so I let her chill a little longer and we both stare at each other smiling like "Wasn't that hilarious?" "Yeah, totes."
This basically makes Chuck the luckiest bastard in all of diaper land.
Today the PBG burped centimeters from my open mouth and I could taste it. After posting about it on Facebook, she did something similar except with projectile milk curds. My mouth? Again centimeters from hers. I didn't get any in my mouth, but it was close, man.