One week ago, life changed completely.
Suddenly, Luke and I are responsible for a tiny new life, our daughter Chiara. She’s so small, and so perfectly formed, that I can spend an entire hour lying next to her, watching her sleep. She doesn’t move much, but I’m endlessly fascinated. I brush the fine hairs on her head with my fingertips, and run the back of my fingers against the soft skin of her cheek.
We had a scare about four days into her life when we looked at the table we received at our breastfeeding class that listed how many wet and soiled diapers Chiara should be producing and when. We suddenly realized that she was way behind schedule, and that since I was breastfeeding instead of bottlefeeding, there was no way to measure how much Chiara was taking in, if anything at all. Suddenly, we panicked and I cried about how I had been starving her for an entire day, as she had gone that long without even a wet diaper. Luke was worried too, but he tried to be the stoic one for both our sakes. We called our pediatrician, who sent a nurse-practitioner over for a home visit. She was calm and unfazed and gave us some advice to make it through the night. But the next morning, with just one soiled diaper in 12 hours, we called and spoke with a pediatrician herself and heard the sanest thing: throw away the table! Don’t worry about diapers as long as she is proactive about nursing (she definitely is!). Eventually, whatever is going in is going to come out.
And, a day later. It all did. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that we rejoiced like drunken idiots over a monumentally soiled diaper at 4 a.m.
Sleep, ours, is of course one of the biggest sacrifices we’ve made to parenthood. The other night I found Luke sleeping soundly with Chiara on his chest. Not exactly a safe perch. I woke him and asked him to move to the center of the bed, at the least, in case she fell off. Then I asked, Luke, how did she get on your chest in the first place? (He had to have gotten up, walked across the room and lifted her out of her sleeper, then returned to bed with her.) And he replied, still dazed and half-asleep, “It’s the method. No. It’s the process. The method has changed.” He alternated nodding yes and no, and kept mumbling about the method and the process.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to teach myself to understand the baby’s signals. When she cries and how, and what she is seeking. I astonished myself when, after holding her during a crying bout, I said, “Shhhhh” in a soothing voice and Chiara actually stopped crying! I realized that I hadn’t spoken to Chiara at all since she’d been born. That since she’s not speaking, I hadn’t spoken either. But now I talk to her all the time, and she responds.
So, that’s week one of Chiara’s life. I’ll try to record the important little details for her to read about when she’s older. The most important details, though, are that she was born into a large and loving family. All her aunts and uncles, grandparents, great grandparents, grandaunts and granduncles have been waiting for her arrival and are so thrilled to welcome her to the fold. And it does take a village. Close friends have dropped by for a little bit of holding time or just to gaze at her. Love is all around.