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.


iMuslimah said...

You have a way with words! This entire post has most definitely lowered my blood pressure!

The love you describe for your baby Fiona is incredible.

Beth said...

wow... the feelings across the board are really incredible. having lost a baby girl, when i see girls now, i long to have another one. i wanted so badly to RAISE a little girl. i had a patient last night with the sweetest little dress and bow in her hair to match. i want that. it's so unfair. and ive thought like you said too, if i do have another girl, she wont get to grow up with her sister. i never had a sister. always wanted one. will i have only one more little girl, cheated out of a sister? the difference for me, i NEVER had one. so it's not like i was ACTUALLY cheated out of one.

how how how.. how could this have happened?

im not sure you follow my blog, but im having a particularly hard time because i had a negative pregnancy test today, despite being 2 weeks late. my body just cant do anything right.

Cara said...

Carol - with her in your arms you looks joyous, light; I can see the calm. I, too, faulter when I realize the 'things I've done' under a haze of shock and others words. Of all the haunting images that have faded, or at the very least come less often, the memory of handing my daughter, MY daughter over to a stranger knowing I'd never see or touch her again is emblazened clearly. It plays in slow motion, mocking me.

Housefairy said...

Precious healing baby. So so happy for all of you. You are a wonderful writer.

Anonymous said...

i love showing with babies! (any other context and it might sound wrong) but really i do!

being a navy wife with a hubby gone quite a bit, i had to figure out the logistics of showering and not having to wait til they were napping and such.
so i just showered with them. i got quite adept at holding them and washing my hair, sitting on the edge of the tub and shaving. all of it. not to mention it was soothing to them as well. we'd stay in there for long long periods of time. often nursing and staring at each other through the steam.
so lovely.
now i'm huge with #3, and i have the boys playing at my feet while we do our routine.
just saying.. you can hold her in the shower too ;)

Birdies Mama said...

i am melting into these beautiful words. YES. it is that intoxicating feeling that still keeps me wearing Holdyn (at nearly 15 months!). I still cannot get enough of him. Fiona is so blessed...all of your children are so blessed to have you for their mama!

kris said...

Only you can fill my heart with joy while breaking it a little, Carol. I love the portraits of Liam and Aoife with their baby sister.

Charlotte's Mama said...

Yes, indeed, I could shower with her... and I have showered with little ones before. But the joy for my little boy to have that responsibility? Priceless. That's worth something too, and Fiona's not missing out to be doted on by her big brother :)

TracyKM said...

Do you have a shower sling? Saved my sanity!