Monday, December 21, 2009

The Shortest Day

Ode to the dying light, which brings me back to the days of my childhood in Sanders Theatre...

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

by Susan Cooper

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Couldn't you just eat her? Really, though, there is this thing about a newborn baby where it's as if you can't get enough of them, you can't get closer to them. I remember a friend of mine saying he wanted to put his babies into his mouth, he just couldn't figure out how else to get them where he felt they were possibly close enough to his heart. And Fiona Clementine is one yummy girl.

Tonight, while my support group happens without me, I am scheming about how I can go back to it. I really, really want to go back. It absolutely feeds my soul and to boot, I have been taking this absolutely kickass Motherwoman Facilitator Training and I'm dying to put all my new ideas to work as soon as I go back. And also? I'm a control freak and I can't help but just wonder what's happening without me there. There's that.

And then there's Fiona Clementine. Who I obviously can't leave, obviously. I really want to try to acquire an invisibility cloak that I can just lay on top of her while she snoozes quietly in my lap. Hmm... I have this new plan, though, which might work better than the invisibility cloak. The next meeting isn't until the 27th of January, at which time my little bubs will be nearly 11 weeks old. Some people manage to go back to work by this time, and what I'm working on is trying to finagle a two hour support group meeting... and what I've come up with is that I need to bring someone with me, a chaperone for Fiona. We'll go upstairs to a nice lobby area I know of, and I'll nurse her, and the chaperone, armed with a working cellphone, will wrap her up on her/his chest nice and tight and start to take her for a nice walk in areas where no bereaved parents will see her. Then I'll run downstairs where Greg will have dutifully set up our meeting, and I'll run the meeting with my cellphone in my pocket, in case my sweet darling wakes up at all and needs her mama. In which case I could be to her in about 1 minute. And, geographically, I won't be more than a few hundred yards from her. I think I could handle that six weeks from now. I really think I could. Because I would be doing it for Charlotte. Historically, Charlotte is the only person who can help me to separate from my babies. The first time I left Liam and Aoife, in both cases, was to go to support group meetings because I felt like I had to carve out time in my life to be Charlotte time. And so, I shall do it again. I am posting it here and this will make it less likely that I will back down: next month it shall be, I will begin again.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Random thoughts at bedtime

How do you ever put her down? asks my hairdresser, as she is snipping away at my handsome little boy's tresses.
I don't, I tell her, and what she doesn't realize is that this is almost true.

It's not always me holding her, not always. But she is an up baby for sure, destined already not to sleep through the night until she is three or so, and I could care less. She rides in my moby wrap, she naps in the sling, and at night I cherish the long hours with her curled in my arms while we sleep together. She is so tiny and darling and amazing and irreplacable and I really don't, I really can't, put her down.

There are times, of course, where I must. The shower, for example. I simply can't hold her in the shower. So if Greg's not home (and I do sometimes let him hold his daughter for other reasons besides me showering) I will get Liam to hold her on my bed or sit with her while she is in her little seat, which we dragged up from the basement the day Greg went back to work last week. Even Aoife is trustworthy to sit with her on the couch, with a boppy pillow on her lap for safekeeping, while I do things in the kitchen (within reach and sight, of course!) that might not otherwise be condicive to babywearing.

So I like to hold her, and my parenting style is obviously one where I hold her a lot. But the thing that makes me different from maybe someone who reckons themself to be that kind of parent as well is the fact that I hold her to keep my blood pressure down, to calm my nerves, and to soothe my soul. If I'm not holding her, I feel my pulse quicken. I am instantly anxious without the feel of her on my body, even when I can see her across the room nestled in the arms of her ever-so-doting and loving father, I have to supress the urge to sit next to them and bury my head in her neck and breathe in her milky sweetness. I want her like a drug, I need her so desperately and I am so absolutely and completely satisfied by having her with me. She really does feel intoxicating to me. Are these hormones? Is it just love? The return of the infant to my life?

And I also just still am reeling, reeling, reeling... after the 15 months or more of never getting pregnant, thinking I would never have this child, and the 9 months of feeling sure she would never live, and the mystical, ethereal birth experience, it is still just a surprise to have this new child in my life. She looks just like the rest of them but she is fresh and new, with her own little personality emerging. Fiona is quiet and snuggly, and when she gets hungry she lets out a sharp cry-- almost like a quack or a bark-- and then goes quiet again. This quick, simple protest is her strategy for most things, she doesn't let things pass by unnoticed but doesn't feel compelled to fuss about them for longer than a quick mention. Her body is so lovely and calm, she lies quietly and peacefully almost all the time, melting into the body of whomever is holding her. She nurses quickly and messily, sometimes getting overwhelmed with the let-down and letting the milk overflow all over her face and all over me. Thus she is exceptionally milky and delicious to smell and even sometimes has the cutest little milk moustache to boot. She is starting to smile at us and her previously dark eyes are lightening up to a deep royal blue at the present.

And-- something that I think of now, and let myself think, because of who she is... I am so grateful that Aoife has a sister here on earth. I have two sisters, and I honestly don't know how I would get by without them. It absolutely broke my heart to think that Aoife's only sister was dead. While I mourn that she will not have her two sisters as I have mine, I am grateful that my girls will at least have each other as they grow together. And they will also have what I always longed for-- a handsome older brother! How could they be so lucky... How could I be so lucky. Lucky after all the bad luck. Imagine that.
Strangely I feel as if our family has gained back many of the things we lost along with our beautiful Charlotte. With the birth of Liam, we gained back the ability to be parents. With the birth of Aoife, we gained back the experience of having a daughter, and Liam was blessed with the experience of having a sister. Now with Fiona's birth, Aoife also will be able to know what it means to have a sister. For all of us to have these contexts in some ways means we only know more what we are missing. But it also allows us to dream more fully of what could have been, and I am grateful for this. I do miss our big sister so very much...
And I find myself sometimes having difficulty looking at the photos on our wall (which are everywhere) of me holding Charlotte in my arms. She is this beautiful little infant who so looks like her new baby sister Fiona who is here with me now... and I look at that little infant in the photos, and I feel the infant in my arms, and I half remember and half repress that I had that infant and I had to give her up and never see her again, and my nervous system recoils at the idea that I actually had to do that. How could I have done that? How, how, how? How could it be that that gorgeous body, that fine dark hair, that soft skin, that perfectness that I grew and created was reduced to ashes within days of my one day of holding her?
It was, and is, too much to take in. I wonder if that could ever change.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Three of them living!!

This seems too good to be true...

I told some women today, as Liam was getting his hair cut and they were cooing about how he must be such a good big brother, I said, "These are the luckiest little girls to have Liam as a big brother."

Then later, in the car, he told me, "I am sure Charlotte would have been a great big sister, too."

And she would have, and he remembers that.