me and maggie love

Here we are again.

At the hospital, the pretty young nurse with false eyelashes tells me solemnly that they don’t really recommend swaddling for babies anymore – “we like for them to self-soothe,” she says. That’s nice, I say. And I go on swaddling my babies, carefully, safely, lightly, but still: I know how babies like to sleep, snuggled in and held tight in these early days. There are plenty of days for learning self-soothing, these aren’t those days. I believe in spoiling babies: in snuggles and anytime-you-want comfort nursing, in warmth and being held close while they sleep like I believe the sun rises in the east and the necessity of a year of maternity leave. Schedules are over-rated, I find my way in the rhythms.

Here we are again.

I’m sitting in the corner of the couch, a nursing pillow wrapped around my soft and stretched out belly. I’m holding a hungry newborn to my breasts, guiding her to a full tummy and me to a full heart. We’re skin to skin, her mouth is searching, and I am the answer for her.

Here we are again.

Dashing into the shower in the early morning, determined to get dressed, put on make-up, brush my hair. I’m my father’s daughter: I believe in the small dignities to keep life steady in the midst of change and chaos. I hear his voice in my head, look good and feel good. So I make beds, I put clean clothes on everyone in my care, I empty the dishwasher, we eat at the table. Normal structures, normal routines, all around an extraordinary newness. It’s true, I do feel better but now there’s a houseful of people who all feel better when I feel better. I’m accepting of my status as axis for this family now, watch me keep us moving through the nights and the days while holding us all together. The laundry will never be done.

Here we are again.

With a gaggle of bright eyed children enchanted by the littlest one. If I had known how much easier it is to bring home a baby to a houseful of big kids…. well. It is. Easier, that is. It’s easier than three-kids-in-four-years, for sure. The big kids either want to help or get on with entertaining themselves, heading outside the surprising spring weather, leaving me in the corner of the couch by the big front window to “keep an eye.” I knock on the glass if I see anyone getting out of line and the guilty party turns to the window to grin and wave, “sorry, mum.” They come inside with grubby dandelions and detailed schedules for whose turn it is to hold her. I have comfort books (Anne of Green Gables), comfort food (beef stew and bread), and I have comfort television: Saturday  night and we watch Hockey Night in Canada by lamplight. My son holds his little sister and whispers his chants of “fight fight fight fight” during the game, wary of waking her. Earlier in the day, a sister reads books to her and I’ll be darned if it doesn’t look like this six-day-old baby is intently listening to every word she says.

Here we are again.

Gingerly walking, slowly healing, taking all help that is offered. I remember the first-baby-me, the one who wanted to be seen as capable and together, and bless her heart. What a waste of energy on independence. Now I eat meals other women prepared for my family and I praise them at the city gates. I lean heavily on my mother and my sister for disciplining my children, for an extra set of hands, for help cleaning the kitchen. I am humbled and so I receive from my people. I cry when my milk comes in and I sort through our delivery, my recovery, my emotions, receiving prayer and wisdom from friends. One day again it will be my turn to make the meals, to lay hands and minister with prayer and perspective, and a folded load of laundry, I will be ready.

Here we are again.

The house is at sixes and sevens and so at my own early bedtime, I move through the house restoring crayons to boxes, turning off lights, sweeping the kitchen floor, loading the dishwasher. How did we get so many washed-until-worn receiving blankets out during the day? I tuck in babies and big kids. I restore my own soul by restoring the place where I am right now. I slide into our bed and stretch out on my back, I turn to my husband, “I’m so glad I’m not pregnant anymore. God, this bed feels good.” He’s already asleep.

Here we are again.

The days are already melting into each other, one after another, too quickly somehow. I am wearing the same clothes again today, praising Jesus that leggings are still in style. Everything in the world feels a bit far away in these cocooning early days. There is plenty of time to re-engage in the world, to remember to watch the news, to answer emails as they pile up, I know this now. But right now I want a bath and a pint of Guinness, I want to sit beside the man cradling our last little baby in his strong arms and lean my head into his shoulder, memorize this exact moment, I want to stay here in this pause for just a while longer. It’s quiet in my head when I’m fully here.

Here we are again.

In the dark, in the wee hours, in the early light, nursing in the corner of the couch, the end of an episode of Gilmore Girls while the rest of the house sleeps and I lightly pat a baby’s diapered bottom into blissful sleep. We smell like baby soap, her hair puffs out like duck fluff. Her mouth is a triangle tent, her breath is an anointing. I could go to bed, I could go to sleep now, she’s ready for a long stretch of sleep. But instead I sit here in the dark, for just a few more minutes. She’s stretched out on my chest, curled up with her legs tucked under – she’ll only do this for another few days, I know, this newborn froggy-leg thing. I stay there, sniffing her hair, patting her bum, breathing slow with her for just a while longer. I can feel the earth turning, time is still moving.

Here we are again.

For one last time.

 

Introducing Margaret Love!
Dangerous Women
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