It’s been 10 years since I had my first January baby.
Born at the tip-top of the year, these babies live in layers. Folded blankets anticipate unfurling—thick fleece and flannel cotton, knit yarns and waffle-weaved—all are used. Peel the blanket back to find footed sleepers, snapped askew at 3am, correctly at 3pm. At the core lies the long-sleeved white cotton onesie, the base of the winter baby uniform.
Cold air bullies his skin into a mottled pattern of veins and capillaries. He has little fat and sparse hair. Goosebumps don’t rise to flag a sweater down or thermostat up. He is solely reliant on wrappings and well-timed snuggles, efficient and merciful baths and diaper changes, the whim of the wind when we go outside.
Hats never fit quite right. They slip down his forehead to cover his eyes, or they are so small they creep up and off in a woven silent moan. My hand cups his head as I nurse him. I kiss his whorled crown often and with a warm exhale when I must put him down.
The desire to stay home is enormous, but we have to join the brittle parade up and out and back again. School, shops, doctors are places to hurry inside. Lingering is not an option because winter is when illness is the biggest threat. Indoor crowds include coughs and colds with simple conversation.
The winter baby is new when the world seems old. It’s the perfect time of year for a mother to be tired because the elements are tired, too. The sun and I move at the same pace through the day, hesitant at first, perhaps a little muted and muffled by mid-day, retiring early at night.
And each day, we shine a minute more.