Last night was a rough one in the Dunn household. Alice was in no mood for sweet, angelic moments. She was very excited to scream and cry. Hard. With tears.
Managing my emotions while Alice has tears streaming down her face is more difficult than I imagined it would be. I do my best to stay calm and relaxed, knowing that she will respond to whatever Michael & I are experiencing. I think we're both learning how to keep ourselves from feeling responsible for her irritation and to remain patient in the face of obvious, demanding need for something we don't know. Sometimes we are able to laugh at her adorable face all worked up over nothing at all. Other times I fight back tears and frustration.
In any event, today she has been sleeping much better. Our little spaz, asleep in her crib with the blanket Aunt Jess made for her keeping her warm, her arms high above her head - that's our girl!
Also, this morning I attempted to put her into one of the outfits we got for her (rather than her standard adorable onsie). She's still a little bit too tiny:
Well, yesterday I turned 30 years old! Obviously the best present I've ever received is this little bug:
She amused me all day with great faces, like these:
And then, after a full day of love from Alice, Michael took over. He ran home after work to bake me a delicious cake - his first ever! - butter cake with chocolate frosting. Look how beautiful!:
But I must admit, the highlight of the entire day came after the cake was prepared (but before it was consumed). Our kind friend John came over to babysit for us and Michael and I went out on a date!
Just before John's arrival, Michael and I hemmed and hawed about going. We felt bad leaving our little one in our friend's care, fretting that she would scream and shout the whole time we were gone. But John pushed back when we gave him a way out, and Michael and I went for it.
Let me tell you, I am so glad we did. Michael's and my best dates have always been the ones that end with us sitting across a table from one another - preferably one littered with candles and wine and good tiramisu. That is indeed how last night ended. We ventured from our apartment southward to a new wine bar in the neighborhood. We ordered a half carafe of the SavignonBlanc, some mestizos, a salad and a burger. We talked and ate and enjoyed one another. We ordered another half carafe of wine. And then - truly joy of joys - we returned home to our beautiful baby girl, our Alice.
And, of course, our chocolate cake! John, Michael and I dove in, enjoying the fruits of Michael's labor, and just savoring the evening.
I look tired and 4 months pregnant, but this is me, feeling utter joy.
On a side note... Nicholas Kristof's article in the Times today about the news coming from the Catholic Church was outstanding. Michael and I have discussed this tension on many occasions - the hierarchy of the Church discouraging its faithful, overshadowing the truly honorable and charitable work the Church provides at the local level. His piece is worth the read.
Maureen Dowd also had an excellent piece a few days ago, one I've thought about quite a bit since. The other day, the CBS Evening News did a story on a nun who runs a home for adults with special needs. It was so touching - this woman raising her own flock, giving her life over to serve these communities, providing a maternal love to those who need it. I thought a lot about how spot on Maureen's article was. Again, worth the read.
And that's about as coherent as I get these days...
As you know, last week we had a baby! It's been an amazing few days - utterly inexplicable ones, full of cuddle time, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, overwhelming, heart-stopping joy. I am mesmerized by my little girl and by the love that my husband and I have for her. Watching Michael care for her, soothe her and dote on her, watching him love her as I do further solidifies the reasons why I am with this man, and why I am so grateful to be sharing a life and raising a family with him.
There have been a lot of hazy reflections rumbling around in my brain since Alice was born. One phrase keeps coming back to me: the laying on of hands. In Christian theology, this act confers blessings and calls on the Holy Spirit to be physically present. From Alice's unexpectedly natural birth with our utterly supurb midwife, to the compassionate care of the fabulous nurses at St. Vincent's, to the food prepared for and delivered by friends and family, to girlfriends willing to bring me supplies to help my healing body, Michael, Alice and I have experienced our community reaching out and laying their hands on our little family of three. These acts of love embrace us with blessings and, yes, the Holy Spirit.
Tonight, after Michael came home from his run and I woke up from my nap, we sat our bed in the guest room and read. Before we knew it, the sun had set, and the only lights on in our whole apartment were from the guest room. It was such a peaceful, relaxed and quiet way to spend a part of the evening we haven't been able to share for the past year and a half. Pretty fantastic...
Today is my first day of maternity leave. For the next three months or so, I am not going to be trekking downtown to my office everyday, punching in my 8 hours and trekking home. Saying goodbye yesterday was surprisingly difficult, made harder by the lack of actual baby in tow. The trip to the office and back just became too much, and hours sitting in a chair were more than my lower back could handle any more.
The other big news of the day yesterday was that we scheduled an induction for Monday night. If our little girl doesn't show up this weekend, Michael and I will go out for a nice dinner on Monday (because I'm sure I'll be really ready to eat something), and then check in to the hospital to get this baby born. I would much prefer for her to come on her own, so I warned Michael that we're spending the weekend walking, taking stairs, and maybe even visiting the acupuncturist. Hopefully we'll see her before next week, but it is amazing to know that there is an end date in sight. In a week, Michael and I will have a new addition to our family.
I was surprised by how emotional yesterday made me. Between saying goodbye to my friends at work and setting my mind on a different type of delivery, I guess it was a lot to soak up. Thankfully the weather is going to be stunning for the next few days, and Michael and I will have time to enjoy together. It will be a quiet Easter weekend, but one to savor.
"But when she stepped off the train in New York, her plain little face looked beautiful for a moment, as if the future were opening before her and its glow were already upon her forehead, as if she were eager and proud and ready to meet it..."