Over the moon

Her name is Emilia. She was born last Friday, the 25th June 2010, at 4:31 post meridian. Neither Angela or I were allowed to be in the room for her birth, which we initially thought would be hard, since we were present at Mara’s birth. But we joined the young mother’s parents, brother and best friends in taking over the entire lobby of the childbirth center, and so we had a wonderful day of bonding within the very unusual community that we embodied, and we played Hearts and Bananagrams. In the end, the only person the baby’s mother wanted in the room with her besides the nurse and doctor was her boyfriend, the baby’s father. He, I must say — an eighteen-year-old boy not particularly beloved of the birthmother’s family — really stepped up and saw the journey through.   

Emilia getting an early dose of sister love, and Mara suddenly looking very grown up. The shirt says "Big Sister".

For reasons touched on in my last post, it was a very difficult time for Angela and myself, but it was a difficult time for everyone involved. And the two days after the birth, during which the birthmother stayed in the hospital to recover and the baby stayed with her, felt like very sad days. We watched the birthmother and birthfather holding and weeping over the life they had brought into the world together and were about to entrust to our care forever. We felt mixed, a little like thieves or crows waiting, but we kept telling ourselves, as they also told us, that we were the answer to their prayers as they were to ours, and that they wanted us there, even to witness their grief. It was actually pretty damned awfully hard. But it was beautiful too in a way that we will never be able to forget, nor describe adequately.

We brought Emilia home Sunday afternoon, and after a hard, sleepless first night we spent yesterday doing only what was necessary. Laundry, a grocery run, lots of dishes, quick naps. My parents visited. Mara has been waiting a long time to be a big sister and is a tireless “Holder of the Baby”. I wrote this to some friends and family last night:

Mara held Emilia in her lap for three solid hours today and wants to whenever she can, gets petulent when one of us gets a ‘longer turn’ than she does. Mara’s main problem is that we did almost nothing today and so she didn’t get the physical playtime she needs, so she was a little pent up and ornery by day’s end. Otherwise, she was a peach.”

Today was park day, a day when homeschool families gather at one of the local parks so kids can meet up and run around, climb stuff, and turn the volume up to eleven. Angela and Mara have been going for several months. Mara needed this today. I am off work for two weeks, so I went too, and met a few of the other parents — there were perhaps fifty, mostly the women — for the first time. Angela had Emilia in a Moby Wrap, which is a very very long cloth that you wrap around your torso several times in such a way that it creates a nifty seat and cover for the baby and holds her against your chest.


A number of the moms gathered around to congratulate us and admire Emilia, who is lovely. One of them said to me, “You must be over the moon!”

I thought about it for a second and said, “Yes, that’s a great way to put it. That’s exactly it.”

I know she meant the phrase the way it is classically used — giddy with joy to the point of leaping like the storied cow. And we are. Giddy with the silly, bubbly kind of giggling that comes of being anuzzle with a newborn. But to me the phrase also sounded like a place where the emotional poles and currents are all alien and unintuitive and you retain your bearing only by looking back at a world so tiny and fragile and in need of compassion.

As we said to the birthmother’s mother, a dear woman who understood that we were not able to celebrate this event the way people normally celebrate a child entering their family, “We’ll get there. There will be a lifetime for celebration.”

And we ARE getting there, very quickly. Tonight while I was writing this the birthmother called us, and it was great to hear her asking how Baby Emilia-pants is doing (“pants” is an endearing suffix in our home). It was healing to hear her laughter and know that she is going to be alright, that she can handle being in this bizarre relationship. Her phone call felt like permission to finally start leaping for joy.


12 Responses to “Over the moon”

  1. 1 Lisa June 29, 2010 at 21:40

    Congratulations! She is beautiful and I love her name.

    • 2 jstwndrng June 30, 2010 at 19:45

      Thanks Lisa. Yes, I love the name too, although we seem to be calling her everything but her name. It’s a tribal thing. We do love our endearments.

  2. 3 Librarian Girl June 30, 2010 at 11:08

    Sweet, so sweet!

    My week this week has been much more full of good news than bad in my world (hooray!), and this can be added to the lovely list.

    • 4 jstwndrng June 30, 2010 at 19:48

      Thanks LG. I’m so glad to hear you’re getting a break. You’re fun to read in any weather, but especially so when you’re feeling all skipperdee…

  3. 5 George June 30, 2010 at 15:49

    Congratulations Matt and Angela! She is beautiful! The look on Maras face is incredible! She appears enamored! I can’t wait to meet someday the 3 F–s I’ve never been honored to share space with!

    • 6 jstwndrng June 30, 2010 at 19:51

      Howdy Pard. Thanks. Yes, Mara keeps surprising us with her grown-upness. She really is an appreciative and reflective child. I know we’ll all get together someday. I want to make that happen.

      Sorry I had to edit my last name out of your comment. I know it looks whack now, but I keep us pretty anonymous on the blog here since Homeland Security and TMZ are all out there reading this.

  4. 7 Louis July 1, 2010 at 04:02

    Congratulations to you and your family, Matt. Emilia is a lovely name. The past week has been cold, grey and rainy. Thanks for bringing in the sunshine.

    • 8 jstwndrng July 1, 2010 at 08:38

      Thanks Lou,
      Yes, we’ve needed the sunshine of newborn cooing around here. It’s cold, grey and rainy in our neck of the world, too (Happy July!). I almost felt like laying a fire this morning.

  5. 9 Jana July 3, 2010 at 08:16

    What a beautiful family you make together. I love her name, too. Congratulations!

  6. 11 Janet August 17, 2010 at 01:11

    I got caught up in dipping into your blog this morning. Lengthy reading. I’m so happy for you to have added another little one to your family. It’s almost 2 months ago now so I must read some more recent entries to trace her growth. This morning’s entry about the bottle tightening has set me to thinking but I don’t have a suitable comment formulated yet.

  7. 12 jstwndrng August 17, 2010 at 08:07

    Hi Janet,
    Dip, do! I imagine it is lengthy reading, yes, and I can assure you it’s pretty long writing. I’m trying to slow down the Internet by providing extremely low-viscosity content.

    I haven’t posted a lot about our new family member and I’m not exactly sure why. I think it’s about protecting some part of her dignity. I don’t know why it seems different writing about my adventures with Mara, except perhaps that Mara is already a self-directed individual in many respects, so it doesn’t feel as though I’m putting cute hats on her and then posting photos and writing about that.

    Thanks for being happy for us! And I hope the packing in Dublin is going well…

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