Monday, August 25, 2014

These Days

I was recently telling friends that I think I've been more emotional since Coco's birth than I was after Zuzu's birth. I was so flooded with relief after Zuzu was here and I think that I just rode that high for weeks.

This time I felt nearly the same measure of relief, but I've also had many more moments of sadness. I think that in a strange way, the "normal" happiness we've felt with Coco (as opposed to the mind-blown level of relief we felt after Zuzu) has highlighted everything we were robbed of when we lost Eliza. There was one day when I settled down on the couch with Coco curled up on my chest sleeping, and I just cried because the weight of her felt so exactly perfect and right and all I could think about was how empty and lost and broken I was when we came home from the hospital without our first baby.

I will never forget sitting next to David on our old plaid couches, staring at the windows, waiting for nothing to happen, and wanting to die. All I could think about was how desperate I was to hold my newborn baby girl and instead my arms were literally aching with nothing to hold.

Holding Coco is such a simple pleasure that I will never take for granted, and it may even be a little bittersweet because I know that she will be the last of my babies.

It fills up my heart to see the love and (intense) affection that Zuzu has for Coco, and it also kills me to think about all we missed out on with sisters--all the comparisons and the way Coco looks just like Zuzu as a newborn when they are sleeping, but that she looks so much like her own little person when her big eyes are open... all these comparisons circle back to our first baby and how much I wish we knew more of what she looked like, how even the lovely pictures we have of Eliza just don't do her justice. How much I just want all three of them here together.

Of course, it's easy to let myself imagine some kind of idyllic life with three little girls when of course I know that it would be virtually impossible to have this life we have now plus Eliza. Not to mention that any life with three little ones under four years old is probably a little less than idyllic. The truth is that if we had Eliza, everything would have taken different paths, and we've come too far to be able to turn things back and know how they might have been.

And yet, that rational approach does not stop me from imagining what it might have been like to have Zuzu welcomed home by an enthusiastic big sister, and how it would feel to be snapping Coco into twice-worn onesies.

So, yeah. There has been some of that sadness. Balanced by some crazy, wild happiness:

Zuzu bounding in the room everyday shouting, "I kiss Coco?! I hold her?! My turn?!"

All four of us curled up on the bed on Saturday morning, David reading a book to Zuzu, me nursing Coco, feeling like I just want to bottle up the moment and keep it forever.

Coco's enormous burps and the laugh-out-loud volume of her toots when she fills her diaper.

Zuzu running through the house with a container of Cheerios, being chased by a hopeful Cooper, as she giggles maniacally and says, "Are you having fun, Peeper?"

("Peeper" continues to be the current pronunciation of Cooper, although she can say Cooper if asked. I don't ask her often because "Peeper" is the cutest.)

Zuzu and David having a dance party to the theme song of "Signing Time."

A family outing to the park, through which Coco slept and Zuzu raced around and I could actually keep up with her since the baby was in her bucket seat and not in my belly.

Snuggling (comfortably) with Zuzu in the rocking chair and marveling at how huge and sturdy she became the day Coco was born.

Being more relaxed about nursing and sleeping than we were with Zuzu is also a relief. Don't get me wrong--I still have a couple moments almost everyday where Coco is sleeping so soundly and so still that terror grips my heart until I feel her belly rise under my hand, but overall we are both better-able to enjoy her without constantly fearing that she's about to die.

Which is a terrible way to describe our newborn days with Zuzu, but that's honestly how it was. We were ecstatic to have her and desperately afraid of losing her. These days, the fear is still here. It's just a little less desperate.

More ups than downs, I'm glad to say, but also I think already a little bit of nostalgia for moving past the pregnancy and baby days. I'm relieved to not be thinking about getting pregnant again, but I look at this two-week-old baby and her two-year-old sister and I still don't know how time works...

How can it be more than three and a half years since Eliza died?

How can it be two whole years with Zuzu here?

How can two weeks fly by in an instant?

How can it be 10:30am already when I've barely managed to get myself dressed and get everyone fed?

How can it ONLY be 10:30am when I'm completely exhausted?

And honestly, the time it's taken to write this out has been the longest time I've been able to get all philosophical about things. Because there are diapers to change and babies to feed and toddlers to rock and distractions to invent to keep the dog or the toddler out of the baby's face and laundry to fold and stickers to peel off the sofa and snacks to eat and dishes to unload and mostly if I'm taking a break from all of that, I don't want to do anything except sit and breathe in my good fortune.

If you're wondering, these days good fortune smells like newborn baby perfection and toddler sweat. And, occasionally, it even smells like poopy diapers.


  1. Ha that's the perfect picture to end with!

  2. Yes! This mixed emotions post is exactly how I too feel now with two girls about your girls age and my firstborn not being here. Thank you!

    Now write a post that snaps me out of thinking I should, could get pregnant you, I knew I was done when pregnant this last time but you sound much more sensible.

    Basically I want to enjoy these baby days more because I can this time! Like you said, after with my first daughter I just worried about her living and now that is more muted and instead, for me, I'm held back by the thought of freaking out by the notion of not having more children, ever! If I'm honest there is an fear of moving on and feeling old. (I'm 34 btw, seems important in these decisions)

    Anyway, I'm sure I am not alone with this one. I think anyone whose baby died deals with this specific difficulty.

  3. I agree with T. I can't believe it's been two weeks. I'm glad you can enjoy her and soak her in a little more without that terrifying fear taking over. Because look at that face!! I wish I could just soak her in for a bit.

  4. Dead baby math never adds up, does it?

  5. This is a beautiful post, and also so haunting. I love the look on Zuzu's face in the second last photo- it's totally PRIDE- pride for her little sister. Makes me swoon.

    I totally know what you mean about feeling like you were so fearful in those early days- I'm almost positive I wished Grace's first six months away because I was so fearful we would lose her, too.

    You make beautiful babies. I wish you would have 239425 more.

  6. I so understand just breathing it all in. They're not getting younger, just older. As are we. I am also nostalgic about the marvel of getting and being pregnant (for like a minute until I freak myself out about how damn scary that is) and having a squishy newborn.

    The picture you painted about all being on the bed and Zuzu being read to and Coco being fed just gave me warm fuzzies. I just love those moments. We have them each morning and now it's a very gleeful Claire bouncing up and down to her brother and it's the very best in the world. Feels so incredible.

    The cliche "freezing time" bit is serious. I want it all and don't want it to be wished away like I was also guilty of doing a bit with Benjamin. These days are just so sweet and so much gratitude. xo

  7. I agree with Melissa Long - the last picture is the most adorable thing I have ever seen.