To the man who stole the three oldest away early this morning and still hasn't returned, who taught Mildred how to make cheesy scrambled eggs on the stovetop and fruit shakes in the blender all by herself so I find one lone little girl busily whipping up breakfast, who is blind to messes but who cleaned the whole house squeaky-clean for his hospital-bound wife who can't help but notice them, to the man who indulges and disciplines and gives, who is often more tender and patient than I am, who is not perfect but who fills the role of Papa so well, Happy Father's Day.
I love you, and your Hope, Delight, Songbird, and Littlest Pip do, too.
I could be, should be, would be in bed, but for a little Bright Eyes who likes to peer around and squeak this time of night. Thank you all so much for your prayers throughout this pregnancy, for your kindness during it, and for your rejoicing with us on the safe appearance of Piper in the Great Big World. We are glad our thanksgiving and joy finds a counterpart in this space!
I've exchanged snapshot-ing for gardening of late, and after much scowling, lots of sweat, muttered grumbling, and absolutely no romantic odes to green and growing in the 90-odd degree sun, I finished late this afternoon. It's three weeks late, but, hey, a baby's better than a timely sown garden any day...
Oh, yes, that baby!
Here's the sweetest thing we grow around these parts.
I said I've neglected snapshot-ing, which is true, but I made up for lack of frequency with sheer volume the two times I took pictures of our Pipsqueak.
I took these because I wanted to remember what she was like when she was this bony, this asleep, and this naked. I apologize for the similarity of them all. It's hard to stop taking pictures of a sweet, sleeping baby.
When she's on her belly, she curls her legs tightly under her. On her back, she bends one leg perpendicular, like an old man sitting in the shade. Almost always, though, she has at least one hand against her face, just like she did when she was inside of me. Sometimes when she mews in the night, it's because her hand is bound inside the blanket. I free it, she brings it to her face, and she immediately falls back into peaceful rest.
A few nights ago when I remembered that we'd taken one solitary picture of her with her eyes open, I rushed to the waning window light to take these funny pictures. I barely fit her in the frame in some of them, but my arm just wouldn't stretch any more.
She began with the pursed mouth face, which I love.
Then she realized she was hungry.
So she thought about her options.
And did her best to reach her goal.
And tried some more, with pointing.
What gives?!? This woman is too busy taking pictures to build my belly!!!
She sampled her hand, but it wasn't tasty.
She displayed such pathos in her defeat that I took pity immediately.
Here are the other pictures on the camera; between Piper's two massive photo shoots, they were just barely able to squeeze in.
Flush-faced Millie climbs UP the fire pole for the third or fourth time on a nearly 100-degree day. I don't understand...
John douses the girls with water on another scorcher.
I rest with Piper. (Yes, I'm paler than the moon, but give me a few weeks and several painful sunburns, and I'll be a bit more pink than pale.)
Resting some more. Same shirt; different day. (Snapshot by John.)
John took Mildred and Annika out on a day-long date, and Susannah stayed home to bond with me.
and she watered some plants. (The poor girl didn't know she got the bitter end of the bargain, either.)
To cap it off, here again is our star, yawning. (Note the one leg perpendicular. I told you she does that on her back!)
Born: Sunday, June 1st, 12:36 p.m.
Weight: 4 lb., 12 oz. (Plump compared with my hopes for a four-pounder!)
Length: Good question. She was 18 and 1/4" today, so I bet she was about that last Sunday.
Gory Information: After a gorgeous day on Saturday, John and I were up late watching a movie in the bedroom when I suddenly lost a lot of blood. We sped to the ER, and since I hadn't felt Buster move since the initial rush of red, I was hugely relieved when they determined that most of the blood was mine and not hers. The bleeding continued more slowly but steadily through the night, and the next morning my doctor threw us a c-section party. He didn't want to risk transferring me to a nearby hospital with a full NICU because he was afraid the jolts would cause a catastrophe before we got there, so he opted for transfer after the birth if Buster was in distress.
God is so good. The placenta was easily removed, I had only an average amount of bleeding during the caesarean, and Buster didn't lose enough blood to go into serious trauma. Although she had to wear glorified Tupperware over her head for the first day and a half of her life before being placed into an even larger Tupperware box, she thrived. On Sunday night, I was able to go to the nursery and stroke her knobby knee. Late Monday night, she was taken off the oxygen, and I held her close and nursed her for the first time. On Tuesday, the moniters were snipped. On Wednesday, her IV was removed, she was transferred from the isolette to a regular bassinet, and John was able to hold her for the first time. On Thursday afternoon, we busted out of the place!
My doctor removed my staples on Tuesday morning and was willing to discharge me early. This is the first (and hopefully only) time that I gladly chose to stay the full sentence! I felt like myself by Tuesday, apart from the nasty spinal headache I developed, but even this headache was a blessing. Because of it, I was given free meals and a room for the night only slightly further down the hall from Buster after my Wednesday discharge, instead of crashing in the lounge as I had planned to do.
I am thankful for too many things to recount here. After the c-section, my doctor told me about two women who had just lost their babies due to placenta previa, and my empathy for them mingled with my joy for us. God not only brought Piper safely into our arms, but He did so with a minimal amount of worry. Each day, I was impatient and tempted to snatch her from the plastic and bring her home, and this with only a five day stay in the hospital. During constant restiveness, I remembered my brother and sister-in-law talking about meeting other parents at the NICU in Philadelphia during Gussy's one-month stay. I was abashed at my impatience with all things well.
Events like this distill self in both painful and startlingly good ways. I don't understand the mysteries of life and death, but while lying on the hospital bed Saturday night, bleeding my way into Sunday morning-- holding my belly and my breath while waiting for a kick or two-- I saw with sharp and unpleasant clarity my failings and weakness. There are times when it is impossible to dismiss or ignore one's nature. Arrogance, pride, cruelty, selfishness, presumption, resentment, and more were all strung out in front of me, stark and obvious like clothes on the line.
It's necessary to be struck down by one's need like this, because the only Balm waits beside us. The good comes after, when one has relinquished those sins again to the Christ who drenched them with His scarlet blood and sorrow. I sat in the nursery rocking Piper in my arms, singing her newly-made lullaby, whispering truths that I forget so easily, whispering to us both over and over again, "Remember this." Her beauty literally caught at my throat. The simplicity of life pierced me through, life inscrutably poured into the bones and scrawny sinews of Piper Joy, who was finally out and whose shallow breath warmed the skin beneath my breastbone. "This is life," I thought, "This is living. Remember this."
I pray that if things had gone differently, I would still be thankful, that I would still state, "God is so good," but I am small and weak. God is good. He was good when He chose to preserve our Wombkin, but He would have been no less good if He had allowed her and us to struggle with more than simple impatience. May He strengthen us at all times. Praise be His name.
Here are a few pictures of Piper in the hospital.
Sunday night. (Doesn't she look chubby here?)
On Wednesday, with a smile about to split my face in two.
Mulling over names and how marvelous her little features are.
Happy! Smiling! We're coming home! Tired! Happy! Tired! HAPPY!