My lips and fingers explore the curve of her ear, the warmth of her neck, the perfect fuzzy sphere of her little head. She is showered with wet kisses from her siblings, and Daddy works to kiss her without scratching her with his whiskers.
She sleeps for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, freeing me up to play with my older children and give them the full attention of my heart and arms. She sleeps for 6-7 hours a night, sweet child, so this mama isn't experiencing the blinding exhaustion one usually has with a new baby.
She's nursing and gaining weight like a champ, her little body figuring out all its functions without much ado.
It's funny how your three year old seems like a giant when there's a newborn in the house.
There are always lots of willing arms to hold Norah so mommy can get a cup of tea or take a quick bath.
Big brother is smitten, and although he'd hoped for a brother, I think he'd fight anyone who tried to take her away from us now.
As I write, Norah nestles in her nursing pillow and starts to rootle around for a nurse. My writing is choppy and disconnected. That's how things will roll around here in the coming while...quick updates without much poetry or style.
I don't give a hoot. I have Incredibaby in my arms.
We joyfully welcomed Norah Dell on the evening of December 11, after a very swift labor.
I spent Tuesday with my husband, children, mother, and sisters, experiencing sporadic, start-and-stop labor. We went for a walk in the beautiful December sunshine, my sister and doula Julie stimulated my acupressure points, ate lots of nourishing food, rested, cancelled my acupuncture appointment and biophysical ultrasound because I thought labor was starting...
Then it stopped. And started. And stopped again.
We rebooked an appointment for acupuncture, and headed into town at 5:00 pm.
When we got home, I had a bath and a bite to eat, and noticed that the mild contractions I'd been experiencing all day were suddenly feeling a bit stronger. I got into bed and noticed that they were suddenly "regular" and that I was making some mild moaning sounds.
I called my sister Lana to check out what was happening, and shortly after we called Julie (who had gone home to check in with her family while I had acupuncture) and the midwives.
Again, suddenly, the contractions became much stronger, and before I knew it I was in full-on labour. It didn't take long to realise that the baby was on her way.
When my water broke, Lana called for my mother and Robin's mother (who had popped in to visit), and immediately saw Norah's head appear. In one or two more pushes, she was born into the startled hands of both grandmothers and her aunt. Her daddy was busy in the next room comforting her big brother, who was very frightened about the sounds I was making.
Norah was immediately placed on my abdomen, dried off, and we waited for everyone else to arrive. Julie pulled in the laneway at the moment of birth, and the midwives arrived about 20 minutes later. The umbilical cord was cut, the placenta delivered, and babe and mom were checked out and given a clean bill of post-delivery health.
Immediately after her birth.
Jude and Violet met their little sister immediately after her birth, and Margot slept through it all. She came down the stairs the next morning full of excitement, and quickly introduced herself to her new little sister. We let the big kids stay home from school, and they spent the day sliding outside, drinking hot chocolate with candy canes under the Christmas tree, playing board games, and taking turns holding the baby.
Birth is beautiful, terrifying, and unpredictable. This fourth labor was unlike the others in many ways, and Norah's arrival was more swift than even I could have predicted. She looks like a baby Snow White, and weighed 7.5 pounds at birth...my smallest babe yet!
I can't say we're all falling in love, because we're already there, completely and madly.
Thank you all for your well-wishes, thoughts, and prayers; this space will be quiet for awhile as we focus in on celebrating this beautiful gift we've been given at this blessed time of year.
I'm a school teacher when not on maternity leave. And I let my kid play hooky last week so that we could have a day together. I had two very good reasons: one, his new little sister is now officially "overdue" and I wanted him to have one day of my undivided attention, and two, we needed some time together to create Christmas gifts for his other two little sisters.
After having crafted gifts with his sisters, it was a marvel to work with him. It wasn't that he wasn't interested...he was just so laid back about it. He chose a simple project from Hillary Lang's Wee Wonderfuls, and started out helping me with the machine sewing. He opted not to listen to Christmas music as his sisters did, choosing instead a mix his dad made...loud, raucous stuff that made my head spin.
He'd stuff a leg...then throw down his work to bust out a few dance moves. Then back to the crafting again for a few moments before doing a spin on the floor. He didn't seem to mind that I was doing a lot of the "fiddly" work.
When the first "Doxie" was finished, she was enlisted to sing back up vocals for House of Pain's "Jump Around".
He put the mic down long enough to let me snap this pic of her, complete with flappy ears and little rick rack leash that also acts as a necklace. What little girl wouldn't love her own little neck-dog?
For the rest of the day, I found myself saying, "Yes" to everything he wanted to do (like watching a Lego animation of Star Wars on Youtube), and checking to make sure there was nothing else he wanted to be doing (aside from running around with his "guys" (action figures), making all kinds of fighting/action sounds). I felt kind of lonely, actually, but was so happy that he was doing just what he wanted to do on our day "together". Wearing pajamas all day, cuddling up to watch "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" in the afternoon, and just playing with no little sisters interrupting him.
Although I'll admit to feeling weary of carrying this baby for an extra week (so far), I am so grateful that she has waited long enough to be born that I could have this special day with my boy.
She waits patiently while I photograph the moment when I take her between my knees as I did with her sister a few days ago, and as my own mother did with me when I was small. She's afraid of the needle, so I put her in charge of raising and lowering the foot, and pushing the "reverse".
She drew portraits of her loved ones on scraps of fabric, which I then stitched with coloured floss (she carefully chose the colours that are the favourites of the recipients). Then we sewed them together, and top-stitched around the edges.
These book marks, inspired by the always-inspiring Amanda Blake-Soule, were a perfect project for the attention span and general impatience of a three-year-old. She printed the letters and drew the hearts herself. I know that down through the years, Daddy will smile at how she always draws him with extraordinarily long legs (from her perspective, they are that long) and a tiny head (it must look tiny way up there in the clouds). Jude is always smiling in her portraits, and Violet's hair is always tousled. When she draws me, my wildly curly hair cascades to the floor, my eyes are big and blue, and I'm always wearing a purple dress.
A new tradition has begun in our home, and everyone loves it: spending a day alone with mama, creating handmade Christmas gifts for siblings.
Oh! I had the delight of a day just with Violet yesterday. This never happens without considerable orchestration but I decided, as I head into 41 weeks of pregnancy, that a solo-day with each of my children was called for. The itinerary is up to them. Violet decided we should take the time to work on Christmas handmades for her siblings.
This is the first year I've attempted to do this (a combination of my children being old enough, and of being "off" full time work during this time of year). Hillary Lang's wonderful book has provided endless inspiration this year for simple, colourful, quirky handmades.
Violet thought Margot would LOVE a little house-pillow to play with. We raided her great grandma's sewing basket for stray ribbon, coloured thread, and straight pins, and I let her choose the fabric. Using my mom's sewing machine, I guided her little hands patiently, repeatedly reassuring her that I would not sew on our fingers. Memories of my mother's hands on my small ones drifted through my mind as beautifully as the snow that was falling outside.
I learned to sew on my mother's lap, and I can't even tell you the joy it brought to introduce my oldest daughter to the amazing thrill of making something for someone special out of fabric and thread. The pins spilled on the ground, I left the scissors on the ironing board, and my huge belly made maneuvering awkward, but she just took such delight in every moment from measuring to cutting to sewing to stuffing.
She was involved in the making of this gift, from start to the finishing stitches that closed the last gap. When I think of my children looking back on Christmas, I wonder if their most precious memories will involve this once-a-year day alone with mommy, creating something beautiful to give to their siblings.
She proudly wrapped her gift, and I know that on Christmas morning, there will be equal doses of mama pride, big sister excitement, and little sister joy as this beautiful handmade is unwrapped. I can just hear Violet's little voice proclaiming:
Our children have finally reached the age where my hair doesn't automatically turn grey when they ask to craft with glitter and glue. Plentiful newspapers covering the table, controlled amounts of glue and glitter, and an additional pair of adult hands helped, too!
We are creating glittery stars for Mary's Star Path...I have hopes of creating a scene before this baby decides to be born. Yesterday was my due date, so hopefully our days are numbered!
Paint the glue on, sprinkle on the glitter, shake off the excess, and on to the next star.
We'll set up our nativity stable on a shelf; leading up to it will be 25 sparkly stars. The four Sundays of Advent will be marked by larger stars. Our simple wooden Mary figurine will travel the path towards her baby's birthplace, finally reaching it on Christmas morning.
We will sing,
"On the golden star path walking,
Mother Mary travels far,
Brings to us the light of heaven
Brighter than the brightest star".
I love creating new traditions and rituals for our children each year, who will surely remember them in years to come: a blurring together of anticipation, hand work, glitter, and joy.
A step off the porch and into the woods, to gather greens for our Advent wreath. A cat tracks our progress (as cats do), a basket is filled, and at dinnertime, we eat by the warm glow of beeswax candles. Anticipation builds for the many blessings December will bring.
The handmaking has begun! I can never resist making gifts, especially for the little ones in our lives. I have a niece who turns nine this month, and also two new nieces, both nine months old; creating their first handmade Christmas gifts has been delightful!
The Mermaiden's are from Wee Wonderfuls by the whimsical Hilary Lang. I made one ugly quirky prototype, trimmed a few lumps and bumps from the pattern, and ended up with the pink-haired version. Their bodies are made from white cotton flannel, perfect for wee hands to grasp and love! The blocks are FUN to make (especially when you enlist your husband to stuff them while you hand sew the openings!) and I expect they'll bring lots of tossing and stacking delight. I hope to make a set for our new babe as well, because I know my children will want there to be something under the tree for her! I didn't use a pattern for the blocks; just cut squares with 5 or 6 inch sides; sew together into a cube, stuff, sew seam, and voila...handmade gifts for all the babies and toddlers you know! Today, I'll be working with Violet to create her handmade gifts for her siblings, and tomorrow Margot will get her turn. After some "pre-labour" signs yesterday, some frantic arranging when we found out two of the midwives were away for the weekend and the one on call was trapped an hour away due to highway closures (freezing rain, car accidents), I'm relieved to get another day, or two, (or three?) to continue with our Christmas "elving"! Are you able to create any handmades this year? Tell me about it in your comment!