Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Creative Activity and Rest

For me, there is something that happens after the birth of a child that results in a total surge of creative activity.  Which sort of makes sense, because at its heart, having a child is the ultimate creative endeavor, isn't it?  All of a sudden, there are sewing patterns lying around and new recipes in the kitchen, and new knitting patterns, which really seems like it should not be the case when there is a one week old baby in the house.

But then again, I think there is something very creative about being in a state of rest.  That's the rationale behind retreats, right?  That when we quiet our minds and bodies, and create a blank space on our calendars, it creates space for the divine to speak to us.  

In my own house, I am suddenly sitting much more than I am accustomed to.  Sitting and nursing a tiny, perfect little human.  And from that state of rest, I have been noticing such glimmers of beauty all around me.  Dorothy creating a little perch for herself in the baby's bassinet, where she can keep an eye out for the neighborhood cats.  Heavy ripe oranges falling from the tree with gusts of wind.  Lily, unprompted, guiding Hugo to our bed to read him aloud a book at bedtime.  Or sweet little Josephine, totally asleep, taking a break to stretch her tiny arms.  Are these things new, or am I just now noticing them?

We are slowly returning back to a sense of real time, and there are reading lists and potential trips and menu plans swirling around in my head.  I might get around to some of those things, but I do have some serious distractions, including a set of rambunctious twin toddlers and a very sweet newborn baby in my arms, and those things by themselves would be enough to make my heart full.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This Time Around

It's amazing how, even having been through this whole new-baby-in-the-house-thing a few times before, there are things that have taken us by surprise since Josephine was born.  Her smallness, for one.  Her fragility and beauty and newness.  The way her siblings really love her, in a way that makes us so thankful that we can give the gift of siblinghood to each of these children of ours.  How could I have forgotten those things?  

Of course, things really are different this time around, partly because there is just one baby involved!  It has taken a little bit of getting used to to realize that there is just one baby to diaper, to nurse, to hold.  It feels as if I've always forgotten something, that sneaky secret twin I should be burping.  But can I just say it is oh so much easier?  A single baby fits in my arms (or a sling/carrier/a sibling's or daddy's arms) no problem.  It feels so healing to realize that I can care completely for this one baby.

Even amid the miracle of a new person being born, life has a way of slowly yet rhythmically moving forward.  Our kids are old enough that they have their own routines, their own activities and friendships which set the pace of our daily life.  Homework is done and meals are prepared and books are read.  It is incredibly soothing and fulfilling to be able to count on those rhythms and look forward to them,  simply with a new baby in our arms.  Realizing that our lives are enriched but not utterly changed.  It's a gentle shift.

One lesson I have learned over the course of the pregnancies that I've had is that it is truly good to rest following a birth.  To largely if not entirely stay at home, to take naps and sleep late and nurse the baby whenever she wants.  Where after Zosia's birth I was itching to do anything and everything-- from going on long walks to going to restaurants to going to yoga and entertaining-- over these years I've relished the pause that a new baby offers.  There is nowhere to go, nothing to do except the very basic things.  And these basic things seem to involve a lot of staring at a newborn baby (by each member of our family!).  Oh, I could gaze at Josephine for hours!  They should have a netflix station that is just real time footage of newborns, I would watch it!  Ben has a wonderful paternity leave, and it has been so lovely to watch him bond with Josephine, who has him wrapped around her finger, or play legos with Hugo, or cook something delicious for dinner.  

So that is all for today.  Gushing about newborns (sorry!), ordinary daily things, and rest.  And because it is Friday, a quote from Pope Francis for you:

"All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful brings us to God.  Because God is good, God is beautiful, God is the truth.  But the most beautiful thing that God made, the Bible says, was the family.  All of the love that God has in Himself, all of the beauty that God has in Himself, all of the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family.  And a family is truly a family when it is able to open its arms and receive all of this love."

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Josephine Rose
Born Friday, January 22 at 9:26 am
7 lbs 13 oz
20.5 inches

Oh my goodness, it has been quite a week.  It started with many long walks, very few signs of labor, and what had become my longest pregnancy yet.  And then somewhere by the end of the week, one acupuncture appointment and many natural labor inducing techniques later, she came to us, gently, quietly, on her own time, in a tub in our bedroom.  Perfect timing, just like always.

I cannot tell you how curious I have been to meet this person, to look at her and hold her, and what absolute bliss it's been to be able to do exactly that for just about every minute since she's been born.  When her siblings streamed in after her birth to meet her, I was struck with the fact that this little one is being welcomed into a whole community of love.

Everyone, from Zosia, who prides herself in being allowed to carry the baby in a sling, to Lily, who has always had an intuitive knack for babies, to Hugo, who proudly announces "Newborns are the best!  They let you hold them, and hug them and kiss them.  Not like my two year old sisters, who say 'No!'" to Clara and Dorothy, who are absolutely obsessed with this baby.  They kiss her and bring her books and practice putting newborn diapers onto one another just in case they might need to lend a helping hand.  And then there are so many more family members and friends and all I have to say is that this is one lucky baby.

It has been a really wonderful week, one when I feel joy and relief and accomplishment and such very deep gratitude.  And I think for the first time since we moved from Virginia I had zero reservations about living somewhere else, because I have no idea what we would have done in that snowstorm!  Yikes! Instead, we had a California baby on a balmy January day, here in the city of Saint Joseph.  Our very own sweet Josephine.