The evidence is clear. I’ve sorted through the mounds of data and must declare the truth: I’m old.
This can be the only explanation for why I wake every morning with stiff, creaky elbows that shout accusing words of pain. I know why they hurt. I have a newborn and he prefers to be nursed in the football hold. This is nothing unusual. Many of my other kids loved the football hold, too. Despite Oliver’s dainty size, it doesn’t take long before my arms—held at that odd angle for a half-hour on each side—begin to tremble. Even when I use pillows for supports, my elbows howl. When I switch sides, I’m like the mumbling, rusted Tin Man when Dorothy applies oil from the little hand-held can. Except I never bust into a song and dance number.
Last night, I asked my half-asleep husband why this was happening to me. He proposed it’s because of my age. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m in my 40s now and have a newborn. I have grey hair, some obvious facial creases, and the skin on my hands and on my neck is starting to do that creepy crepe-y thing where it doesn’t spring back right away. It retains shape when I pull on it. The simple solution: Don’t Do That!
The signs of aging can’t be denied. My body feels it and it’s especially heightened by recently giving birth. I can see why child-birthin’ is usually the domain of younger women. When Aidan was born, I was 26 and I know for a fact I never had to ease myself out of bed or wince while lifting a much-needed coffee mug to my lips (which are rimmed by a few fine lines and wrinkles.)
My elbow pain ebbs as the day gets underway. I can sit here and type without cringing. But when I sit down to feed Oliver in about an hour, it will creep back, reminding me my body will never be the same. I’ll consider his concerned, wrinkled forehead and his black newborn eyes. He blinks. He stares right back up at me. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have an opinion on my crepe-y neck or the lines around my eyes. I’m pretty sure he feels steady and safe in my crooked arm.