My obsessive side is happy. This well-used blue baby bathtub fits just-so in our new, elongated bathroom sink. I use a towel to pad the inside, close the plug, and squeeze two drops of lavender soap into the bottom. I turn on the faucet just past the red dot. The water is warm. I turn up the pressure to make bubbles. When there’s enough, I turn off the water and step over to the bed. This is where the baby kicks at his blanket, gazing toward the window. His hands are moving, moving, moving and his chest goes up, down, up and down with rapid infant breaths.
I pull his white onesie up over his head. Reflexes make his shaky arms reach out in a curve. I put one hand steady on his chest so he knows he’s not falling. I take off his diaper, cradle him, and move to the bathroom before he can potty-paint anything. I lower him into the half-filled little tub. I keep my left hand on his chest, holding his hands, my wrist propping up his head. My right hand gets the washcloth wet and washes his feet first. I am multi-tasking.
He likes the bath. His kicking slows, his breathing deepens, his cheek rests heavy against my wrist. I wash his legs, his middle, his arms. I run the cloth into the tiny creases. It’s important to get the creases clean. Last, I wash his hair. I’m careful not to get drops in his eyes. I’m careful not to let him get cold—I scoop warm water over him here and there the whole time. I breathe in the lavender. I take in the sight of a pink, perfect newborn, dependent on me for everything. I marvel that it has come back easily—the caring for a new baby. It all came back.
I love this boy.
I drape his towel along my left arm. I raise him up and out and into the towel and wrap up his squirmy, slippery self before he gets upset. I put the hood with the embroidered sheep over his hair and walk him back to the bed. I dry every spot that just got wet. I diaper him, I lotion him, and snap on his gray-dotted pajamas. We sit in the yellow gingham rocker, the one I’ve rocked three other babies in, and I nurse him to sleep.