Well, to say that it has been an eventful week around here would be quite the understatement. As many of you who follow me on social media know, this past Wednesday our family welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Penelope Mae, into the world. Her arrival was much anticipated and long awaited — my youngest son even told me he felt like I’d be pregnant forever (tell me about it, kiddo!) — so to officially welcome her was an incredible experience to behold. But before I get into more details about the beautiful rollercoaster we’ve been on, I have to pause and say thank you to everyone who reached out to us this week with their well wishes of congratulations and support. Each and every message was so appreciated and received with so much joy and we are sincerely grateful.
A wise person once remarked that “the very best days are when babies are born.” Now having experienced this three (three! still getting used to that!) times myself, I am much inclined to agree. The intensity of the joy and sheer jubilation one feels the moment they lay eyes on their newborn child for the very first time is simply a feeling that cannot be replicated. It is a high that cannot be bottled or bought or frankly, even fully understood — even when you have experienced it twice before. I am always amazed at how just the sight of that new life also erases any doubts or feelings of concern or fear that one may have had even just minutes — or seconds — earlier. The weeks and days leading up to the birth of any new member of the family are often some of the most emotionally charged for mothers; a mixture of feelings ranging from excitement and anticipation to nervousness and worry.
Admittedly I, myself, am guilty of possessing such feelings; the very morning of Penelope’s scheduled delivery I stood in my bathroom, toothbrush in hand, wondering to what degree a new baby girl would swing the pendulum of our family. One by one the questions swirled. Would my boys resent sharing the attention? Would they resent the inevitably slower pace that our lives will have to run on, even temporarily? How much will change now that I am no longer a “boy mom,” a badge I have worn proudly for the last 6 years? Will the boys recognize me? Even tougher — will I recognize myself?
These were questions I had been mulling over in my mind from the moment I found out we were expecting another blessing, and the answer I’d come to accept was an unchanging: maybe yes, maybe no. The thing that made these questions so difficult to process is that they were always followed by feelings of excitement and anticipation for how wonderful it was to be expecting another baby; to be growing our family. Every time I’d catch myself entertaining the doubt, I would be interrupted by the feeling of two four year old arms hugging my large belly, whispering to his Peppa (more on that later!) how much he loved her, or hear my oldest ask, “How many more days until she’s here, Mommy?” Finding a balance between the yin and the yang nature of these questions is much easier said than done, especially while in the midst of one serious hormone trip!
But the moment I saw our sweet pea, Penelope, the other questions disappeared; any doubts instantly irrelevant. The sounds of her cries were the sweetest music I’d heard since the birth of her two older brothers, my husband’s smile the widest I’d ever seen, visible even through his medical mask. In reflection, I realize that the moment any of my babies entered the world, the rest of the room seemed to go instantly silent. All the hustle and bustle of (in my case) the operating room disappeared. I’m not even sure I heard the neonatologist announce her stats (8lbs, 10oz, 21″ long, 9 APGAR if you’re interested in that kind of thing), because all I could hear was her.The two hours I spent with her doing skin-to-skin in recovery were two of the most precious I have ever had in my life. Not having been afforded a skin-to-skin opportunity that quickly following delivery with my two boys left me that much more grateful for that time with Penelope. My husband and I took turns looking at her and then at each other — and then back at her, again — silently communicating the shock and awe over the great gift we had just been given. And even with just four short years separating me from the birth of my last child, I had forgotten the intoxicating feel and scent of a newborn’s skin. I’m telling you, folks, there are fewer things more addicting — or healing — on this planet. Time with a newborn will truly cure what ails you.
And, just when we thought life couldn’t get any more beautiful, our two boys joined us just hours later to greet their new baby sister. More on that, plus a list of helpful tips on how to introduce older siblings to new babies, next time…