And Then There Was Nicholas

I can't believe it's been 5 weeks since I wrote a blog has been a busy time but the truth is I couldn't decide what to write about. Every idea that floated into my mind seemed to float right back out without finding a place to land...

Then today I got to talk to Nick for a little while and tonight it is very clear.  It's time to introduce our son into this adventure we lived in Nairobi. This article comes from a story I wrote for the newspaper in Michigan. I hope you enjoy it...

Our New Addition

Here I sit, about to write the story of the century - well, the story of the decade at least. I put the paper in the typewriter, set the margins, hit the first key and... Wait. What was that?


I begin typing again and... I know I heard something. I stop and listen.

Silence again.

Then, just as I am about to forget the world and dive into this story, "it" comes again. That noise. That little grunt. That sweet, pitiful little cry that says, "Momma, I need you.  Food, momma, food.  Pick me up - QUICK!"

So much for the story of the century. Or anything else for that matter. 

Nicholas Alexander Ziegler was born April 2, 1991.  My life has not been the same since. Time is now marked by before Nicholas and after Nicholas.  Before Nicholas I could sit down with my husband and enjoy a leisurely dinner. After Nicholas that has proved nearly impossible. It does not matter what time we eat, it seems Nicholas has an internal alarm that calls out, "Wait! I need to eat first!" So momma waits and daddy eats while everything is hot.

Before Nicholas I slept like a log. Now every noise awakens me. I am just sure it must be time to feed Nicholas again. It is so funny how having a baby changes your perspective. I used to think I would die if I got only four or five hours of sleep. Now I think it would be heaven to sleep five hours straight.

Before Nicholas I could sit down at the typewriter and not get up until the story was finished. Now...well, you read the beginning of this article. It seems I just get started and he cries or coos from the bedroom. Either one sets me running.

It is wonderful being a mom, but oh, what a distraction my son can be. Even if I leave him at home while I go out I get distracted. Nicholas is my favorite topic of conversation. I can be in the middle of an intense conversation and somehow Nicholas' name always comes up.

"Whoops. Sorry. What were we discussing?"

Before I am even aware of it, I'm in the middle of telling about Nicholas' latest trick. I am sure my friends get tired of listening, but they indulge me. I guess they have been around new moms before.

Nicholas is such a good baby. He rarely cries unless he is hungry (which is often. Nicholas now weighs 15 pounds) or needs to be changed. He plays very well by himself.  Sometimes too well.  At times I can hardly resist the temptation to smother him with so much attention I know he might be spoiled.

I think every mother has pet names for her babies. Nicholas is Mr. Milk Lips after he eats. He also performs in the Mr. Piggy Show when he is hungry. That boy grunts and snorts so much you would think he has not eaten in days. The last name I will leave to your imagination and preserve his dignity.  After all, he is going to be embarrassed enough when he sees the photos of himself naked that I took to send to his grandparents.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with living in Africa. Not much. But I could not resist the chance to tell as many people as possible about my baby. I could tell you all the details about having the baby in Africa, but compared to telling you about the baby itself, it all seems boring.

For example, my doctor here is as good as any doctor in the states. Since Nicholas weighed in at 8 lbs. 3 oz. at birth and since my body is equipped to deliver a 6 pound baby at best, I had a caesarean. Tom was with me during the surgery and he has now seen me inside and out.  Obviously, there are no secrets in our relationship.  He has seen every layer of fat in my belly.  I must admit that made me nervous...until he assured me I have an "average amount of fat." 

Kenyans dress their babies a bit differently than I learned in the States.  For example, the weather here is warm most of the time.  It is usually between 70 and 80 degrees (Fahrenheit).  I normally dress Nicholas in a little shirt and his nappy (diaper). But Kenyan moms take their babies out with a t-shirt, sweater, sweater pants, and booties and then wrap them in a couple of blankets.  Walking down the street I see babies with sweat pouring down their little faces.  But I am often scolded by women I do not know for not dressing him properly.

Then there is the way that Kenyans hold their babies. If the baby is not wrapped in a blanket and cradled close to the mom's body, the baby is not being held properly. Nicholas, however, does not like to be held that way.  He wants to be up by my shoulder to see the world. Unfortunately, he has grown faster than his mother's strength so instead of looking over my shoulder, I hold him so that he looks past my biceps. He can still see, just not up as high as he would like. 

Having Nicholas has been a highlight of living in Africa. Some people I speak with still seem surprised that I had him here instead of traveling back to the United States, but I have no regrets. Well, maybe one.

Nicholas has  not gotten to meet his grandparents yet. That will come I'm sure. In the meantime it is true that I may never finish the story of the century. I will, however, thoroughly enjoy having this wonderful new distraction in my life.

                                          Tom and Nicholas

Lori ZieglerComment