Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I thought it would have been louder.

Now I know how it sounds when your heart brims so full of quiet, perfect love and joy that it breaks.

It's a tiny, liquid popping sound.

I hear it every time I look at these pictures of the first time my boy met my girl.

I will never, ever forget how, the first time he ever saw and held her, when he would have had every right to be standoff-ish, threatened, squirrely or even outright mad ...

Instead, he smiled. And kissed her head. And handled her as if she were made of glass and he wanted to protect her.

I am blessed beyond measure in my children.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Clorox kind of day

Some nights, when my husband goes up to our two-year-old (who will awaken once a night and need someone to come and soothe him), the poor man falls asleep with our son and wakes up only in time to go to work. Monday morning, however, it wasn't husband's trusty iPhone alarm that awakened him, but the sound of a two-year-old getting sick in bed.

Happy Monday! Here's some of last night's dinner, dad.

The master bedroom is right underneath boy's room, so I knew that something was amiss, because suddenly I heard a lot of adult footsteps, some toddler wailing, and the sound of water running. I had been feeding girl when it all started up, and I imagined that boy's diaper had probably leaked, and that husband was changing it and cleaning up wet sheets. When husband appeared at my door a few minutes later, though, he greeted me with a phrase no one wants to hear at 4 a.m.: "He threw up."

My capable husband handled the carnage, and brought the boy downstairs for a sip of watered-down Gatorade. As our son took his first taste of "juice," husband and I discussed the event, and when I learned that boy's retching bore a striking resemblance to the last time he'd had a stomach virus, I snatched the poor kid's sippy cup away from him so fast that he looked baffled. Because I knew whatever he was drinking now would come back up in about ten minutes. It took twenty, but it did.

And so we did what parents do -- called the doctor, dug out the crackers, doled out sips of water at half-hour intervals, and mopped up the vomit that occurred at intermittent times over the next few hours. As well as the diarrhea. Because vomit, apparently, wasn't exciting enough for us.

To be fair, my husband handled the lion's share of the mess. Since we both were terrified of our newborn catching the bug, I tried to keep my distance from what I imagined to be the seething nest of germs that was my son. So husband held bowls, wiped tears, gave hugs, changed diapers and did all the things that I wanted to do for our poor boy but didn't dare.

As we all know, though, there IS justice in the world. My turn was coming.

Later in the day, RIGHT after boy's diaper had leaked ON THE COUCH -- yay -- and while husband was doggedly scrubbing the cushions with a rag soaked in Resolve, I was changing our daughter's diaper in the master bedroom. Her changing table is right next to our windows which overlook a lovely golf course view. On quiet days like yesterday, we sometimes see deer grazing along the far side of the course. Their graceful forms never fail to arrest us, and it happens often enough that we keep an eye open for the sight when we pass any back window. I'd spotted a doe earlier in the day, and had turned my head to see if it was still there, or if it had been joined by a fawn or two. Unwisely, I chose to do this while my daughter's diaper was off.

Suddenly, I heard a quick squirting noise, and felt a suspicious and startling warmth on my shirt and jeans. I looked down to discover what I already knew -- that I was covered in yellow breast-milk-poo. As any of you know who have had babies, a parent gets really used to dealing with newborn baby poop, because you're faced with it SO MANY TIMES a day, so I wasn't terribly grossed out. Still, it was human feces. And no one wants to wear that as an accessory, no matter how cute the person is who produced it.

What was so impressive was the fact that she'd really just hit me. Her changing table pad was spotless. Basically, I'd been spray-tanned in poop. When my husband heard my exclamation, he had a feeling he knew what had happened, and started yelling, "Did she get you? DID SHE GET YOU?!" He came running in to see the source of my surprise, and when he got a look at me, he laughed so hard he had to sit down.

So I stripped and added my clothes to the overworked washing machine, set it to "hot" and thanked God for running water and soap. And vowed to keep my eyes on the task at hand next time, and to work more quickly.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Dear tiny, breathtakingly beautiful little girl who is mine,

You're here. You're really here.

I have a daughter.

I knew it would be you, sweet girl. For the last four weeks of my pregnancy, I kept thinking things like, "Wow, she's getting big," or "I wonder when she'll get here?" I knew it would be you.

And then, on May 7 at 8:07 in the morning, you arrived. The doctor delivered you, and you let out a yell, and your daddy said, "That ... sounds like a girl." And when the doctor told us he was right, we both started to cry. Because we were so happy that it was you, daughter. I lay there on the operating table, and I laughed with delight, and my tears of joy ran unchecked into my ears.

There is so much I want to tell you. I want to tell you that my first thought, strangely and unexpectedly when I heard you were a girl, was that you would attend Rice University someday. I actually thought, instantly, "She's going to Rice." But of course I want you to go wherever you want to go to school, provided that it's a school that will challenge you academically and socially and emotionally to be a better, more interesting, more well-rounded person. I want to tell you that though you weighed a scant ounce less than your brother did when he was born, you seemed ever so much tinier when I held you. I want to tell you that your daddy and I looked at your face, and knew instantly what we should name you -- the two girl names we'd walked into the operating room with never had a chance -- you just didn't LOOK like an Emma or a Claire. I want to tell you that from the second you were born, you were never away from me for an instant while we were in the hospital -- you wheeled with me into the recovery room, held snug in my arms, and then came up to our room with me, and slept beside me in your bassinet or in my arms the whole time we were in the hospital. For the next four weeks at home, I was never further from you than in the next room, my love. I was always there to watch over you and listen for you and be there when you needed me. Even when I finally ran out to the grocery store and left you in your Nana's capable hands, I must have called home to check on you three times in that hour I was away.

I want to tell you that you are gorgeous. Your hair is so incredibly soft, so shiny and dark. Your eyes are like glimmering black jewels, they shine so brightly. You smell how an angel must smell, lovey -- sweet and fresh and new and pure. Everything about you is round and perfect and smooth, and I can hardly keep myself from consuming you, because you're so deliciously yummy.

Most of all, I want to tell you that since I first saw your face, first KNEW of you when I heard you cry, I have been happier than I ever could have dreamed possible. My heart feels like a water balloon, filled almost to the point of breaking -- I have to hold it quivering in two hands, and at any second, I feel as if it might burst, drenching me in liquid joy. Being near you, getting to know you, having the care of you, having the gift of loving you -- getting to be your mommy -- all of it is a privilege I can barely acknowledge because it's so precious that I'm in constant awe of its perfection.

Just like you. Perfect.

I love you, honey. I am so very, deeply, incredibly glad you're here.