One of my wishes for Nora's birthday (she would have turned 8 yesterday) was to do something together as a family outside. Initially a hike to the lake sounded appealing but with chillier temperatures and not having attempted such a long outing with Terah in the pack, it sounded potentially stressful, which was not our goal for yesterday! So instead we planned to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and do some raking together. By the time we got breakfast in everyone and chores done and I got Terah content (meaning asleep) in the front pack, I only got maybe an hour or so of raking in. But I savored that hour in the fresh air and sunshine, listening to Alida's monologue, watching Kali rake and then take a break to climb to the tippy top of a tree and to be working in the same general vicinity as Jason. Those times feel precious and while they are not reminiscent of our time with Nora, the falling leaves are.
This particular anniversary of Nora's birth didn't include long times of reflection on the actual day of her birth but instead little bursts here and there throughout the day - reading Jason's writing about her birth, thinking of her in the early morning hours as I was up taking care of Terah, watching a smattering of videos, and talking together as a family some about our memories (or in Kali's case the lack of many very clear memories). I'm so grateful to have some little clips of Nora at various times in her life (thank you, Aunt Anna!) and it felt like such a gift to watch them together last evening, letting Kali see how sweet she was with her very first little sister. Here is the most treasured compilation for anyone interested:
I think the most poignant thing about yesterday was thinking about Nora while simultaneously having most of my day wrapped up in Terah's care. I find that ever since Nora, taking care of a newborn is not quite the same for me. My memories of the intense nature of Nora's care gets all mixed up in the normal needs and demands of caring for a newborn. It was even more so with Alida, so this time around I'm more relaxed when Terah spits up and am even getting acclimated to her loud squawks, which are getting easier and easier to calm as we get to know each other's rhythms. I may be reading into things, but it seems to me that Terah is starting to gain some confidence in our desire to meet her needs as quickly as we can figure them out and she seems to be attempting to extend some patience to us as we work to assess what she needs. It's so sweet when she looks at me with her big bright eyes and then after a few moments just lets out a solitary squawk as if to say, "I'm trying but you better figure this out pretty soon or I'll have to complain louder and longer." In general caring for her feels so much more relaxed than those early weeks with Nora, which included getting to and from the hospital, the whole washing up ritual before entering the NICU, and the constant worry and anxiety that characterized each day as we attempted to care for her, while not knowing what the future would hold for her (and therefore us). I feel forever changed by those experiences and by Nora's entrance and departure from our family, and I feel grateful for the ways I am a better, more whole person because of them. I can even muster up a bit of nostalgia for aspects of that time, but mostly I feel thankful to not be attempting to manage the levels of anxiety and heartbreak that I felt all throughout the fall of 2007.
She seems, in general, to be waking up to the world around her and thankfully is doing most of that during normal waking hours (it's not that she isn't cute in the midnight to 5 a.m. range, but when my eyes are not as bright as hers it's hard to fully enjoy it). We are getting more smiles and her sounds are changing, to the extent that Alida has exclaimed on multiple occasions, "She's learning to talk already." She seems to soak up any number of people adoring her at any given time. The other night at dinner we were all surrounding her and giving her lots of kisses. She just looked at us as if it was perfectly normal for four people to be taking turns loving on her. I'm so glad that she finds her world to be a place in which she is treasured. I wish that for all little people!
She'll be three weeks old tomorrow and as of yesterday she made her first contributions to our humanure composting system. She's become such a pro at going potty in the sink that it seemed worth shifting the location to the actual toilet. The first time she grunted for awhile and didn't go until I carried her over to the sink, but the following two times were successful (I just have to work at holding her so she hits the hole with her explosions!).
The part of Terah's week that she was most unimpressed with was our attempt to give her her first bath. Let's just say it was a very abbreviated bath and she was maybe just a tad cleaner after it than before. It was her first time immersed in water and while it felt very comfortable to the rest of us inside, my guess is the combination of being naked, wet and a bit chilly did her in. As soon as she got wrapped up in a towel and in her daddy's arms, she calmed immediately. And after a little warm milk made its way to her belly, she seemed to have forgiven us. Maybe we'll try the next one right up by the wood stove and see if that helps matters. I imagine what will help the most is her getting a little bigger and a little older and so until then she just might smell more like regurgitated breast milk than soap.