may 28th, 2018. i have thought about this day, at least once a day (if not numerous times a day) since that day. it was a day that started with a lot of unknown, a lot of nerves, a lot pain. it was a day where i decided i should probably shower – which looking back now, am so thankful for, since it had been 4 or 5 days since my last one and would be another 4 or 5 days before i was able to get another following my baby girls’ births (ironically enough, it was only about an hour after i showered that my contractions came on like fire and we were on our way to the hospital). it was a day where the city felt quiet, the hospital halls and elevators were unoccupied, and me – with my insulated cup full of crushed ice that i refused to let out of my sight – kept looking around thinking, but where iiiiisssss everyone?! …it really did feel eerily unpopulated in a horror movie kind of way.
but when i think back to this day as time has carried on, i mostly just feel a tremendous sense of gratitude. here we are, 365 days later. an entire year has passed. there are moments where it has felt like an eternity. that this birth took place 5 billion years ago and we are surely in our 80s by now. but in a funny way, it still feels like it was just a few minutes ago that both my girls were placed in my arms for the very first time. taking in their smell, their soft skin, our first feeding together.
each of my birth experiences, while so very different from one another, has taken up residency in my head where nothing can go near, nothing can write over the memories, the smells, the little details of those minutes around their arrivals. it’s as though an outer castle wall has been built around these precious little moments and while i can’t even remember what we ate yesterday or where i put my keys last, i am so thankful these moments have found a safe place to reside where i can revisit them frequently. i can see the clock in the wall, i can hear the doctor’s voice. i can vividly make out each of my baby’s pouty little expressions and long stretched fingers as they reach out and breath in their very first breath. these moments are among the most sacred moments i have experienced on this earth, and it is difficult to articulate how they have changed me. but change me they have. and for the better. with a heart full of gratitude – for knowing them, for being in this role of mother for them, i feel immensely blessed.
these beautiful girls have taught me so much. i’ve been jotting down notes late at night on my phone over the past few weeks as i started writing each of them a personalized birthday letter and while it surprises me how far the three of us have come in this one year span together- i am mostly amazed at how much i still had to learn this year in this role (and even more learning in the future, i am sure) even though this role has been one i took ownership of over 8 years ago when eleanor first made me a mother. it’s been a year. but it’s been a really really good one.
i am saving my little letters for the girls to read on their own someday, but because i am a mama and a mama who loves to share, i want to tell you a few things i love about each of my beautiful girls.
i love madalena’s determination. she is going to do incredible things in life as she cultivates her will and desire to find a way to do whatever it is she has her mind set up to do. she is strong. she is curious. she reaches for and finds her sister’s hand frequently and tries to hold it. she has a chuckle that sounds part serious, part old soul and i really really love hearing that chuckle. with the sweetest big gap between her two front teeth and a head full of swooping curls in the back, this girl is such a beauty. she reaches out towards anyone and sends a friendly wave in their direction. she has spent a large part of her first year with a pacifier in her mouth and a second pacifier clutched in her hand as back up. she doesn’t even blink when her sister beatrice (who does not use a pacifier herself) takes her first pacifier away from her- she just plops in her second pacifier and continues on like nothing ever happened. something i love about madalena is the look of pride and love she gets on her face when she sees her older siblings. she adores them to the core. but what i have really loved observing about this sweet baby girl during her first year is the relationship she has formed with her papa. if he’s in the room, she wants to be in his arms, no one else’s. he’ll come through the door and she crawls at lightening speed in his direction. she loves to be carried in the baby carrier by him, and she likes to touch and hold his beard. i have loved and appreciated her cuddles, her open mouth kisses when i haven’t even asked for a kiss. i have loved and appreciated her patience at times where she has taken her pacifier and just chilled while i nursed her sister first. and i have really loved and appreciated the way she can drop it and shake it and dance like no one is watching. girlfriend has moves and i cannot get enough of them!
i love beatrice’s sweet temperament. she stays calm and cool and collected at almost all times. if she catches your eye, she’ll bust out the biggest smile you ever did see, often lifting up a shoulder and resting her head to the side while doing so. she just loves to smile and i love seeing her smile. i love how she clasps her hands together in the most daintiest and proper way in her highchair while patiently waiting for her dinner. i have appreciated the way she has laughed at my attempts to make silly faces or sounds or moves. beatrice has such a sensitive spirit, the loudest sound or raised voice will frighten and upset her and has helped our family reset and prioritize how we communicate and interact with one another. beatrice is crazy smart, observing and watching you do something and then doing it just so. it blows my mind how she does this. she is also comfortable and confident in playing on her own, wandering our apartment by herself and just independently keeping herself entertained. she chats and sings frequently during the day, occasionally with her arms behind her head in a relaxing sort of position that brings out the biggest laughs from her siblings (especially samson). she kicks her legs in excitement whenever she sees someone she loves. she loves to spit out water like a fountain and i feel like i am frequently fishing something out of the back of her mouth, she’ll find the most random little things and just hold onto them in her cheek as the day goes by. i don’t know how we haven’t had any close calls with choking because that girl likes to hide lots of tiny things in her cheek. i love her laugh. it is just contagious and brings such joy. she has the biggest and most beautiful grin, with eyes that smile as well and make your heart wanna melt. and i love seeing her mind at work, whatever it is she might be doing. she can open up anything, she has incredible fine motor skills and she likes using her fingers to unlatch her sister when they are both nursing at the same time which really bothers her sister (mostly because after she unlatches her she dives in and tries to steal her milk instead.) gosh, i just adore my little beatrice.
and while i have you here, i want to publicly express that the girls and i would not have survived this first year without the army of people behind us giving ample support and encouragement and love. from my husband josh who has done literally everything while i’ve slept less than i ever have, to the stranger on the subway train going out of their way to help me with my double stroller. it takes a village, or a city in this case, and i have felt it. every single day, i have felt it. so thank you so very much.
happy birthday to my beautiful beatrice and beautiful madalena! thank you for making me your mama. i love you, forever and ever.
photos by my dear friend amanda petersen.
also, photos from when eleanor, samson and conrad met their new sisters for the very first time.