Happy Hallowe'en (thoughts on the wonder of babies' bones)

It's 11:30pm. I just got up from nursing Sweet Baby James down (again), and although there are people -- beautiful people, people I love, people who live in other countries -- I should be writing to, I just wanted to share this: Sweet Baby James is sleeping in a glow-in-the-dark skeleton shirt that I bought at Chloe's Closet. And he's lying there, sleeping in his little fitful way, and he's my little skeleton.

There's something bizarre about a little baby wearing a skeleton costume. It's overly intimate, like he's more than naked; he's showing his bones. Maybe that's why this costume isn't actually meant for an 8 month-old baby (it's for a 4 year-old. srsly). I love the costume (he's cute! it's cute!) but I also find it mildly disturbing. Especially at night.

Especially when it glows up at me from above the bed covers.

When I think about babies (particularly this one), I think of fat, roly-poly, chubby little monsters. It's difficult to think of a baby's skeleton, that frailty underneath. It reminds me of the horror of starvation, disease. Famine, both real and fictional (Cormac McCarthy's The Road, anyone?). Prospects scarier than any child's hallowe'en costume.

But though I don't like to think about it, I'm also more aware of Sweet Baby Jame's skeleton than anybody else's. I felt it form within my body, after all. I used to lie awake at night as he kicked me from within and now I listen at night to make sure his own ribcage is rising and falling. I massage his little body after the bath, running my hands from forehead to toes, casually feeling for irregularities just as new mothers examine their babies' fingers and toes in the first few minutes after birth.

I would never want to see his skeleton, but I know his bones.

And babies' bones are amazing. Here are five reasons why:

1. They are many: Babies have almost a hundred more bones than adults do (Babies: 300. Adults: 207).
2. They aren't real: Babies' bones are mostly cartilaginous. And since cartilage doesn't break like real bones do, babies are more likely to survive falls and other impacts that would be serious for adults. Doesn't that make you sleep better? They literally bounce back. Do you remember the terrifying/miraculous story of the baby who got dropped from the Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver? The baby survived. The baby was fine! Holy sh*t!
4. It's impossible to bang a baby's knees: There are a bunch of hysterical postings on the internet from concerned parents wondering why their babies don't have knees. Fortunately, babies don't have knee-caps. Girls get knee-caps around age 3, and boys around age 5. All the better to tummy-time with.
5. They never grow up: We all have baby bones. Human bones regenerate, in their entirety, at least every 20 years.

Happy Hallowe'en, everyone. Have you hugged your skeleton today?

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