Monday, February 3, 2014

Hope Lives Here

We brought Hope home with us on Saturday.

In many ways the day was far from perfect. The kids, who have been remarkably healthy all winter, managed to catch super germs during the exact window of time I was scheduled to give birth. They were a bit tired and cranky and coughing and sniffling. They wanted to hold their new sister and I wanted to be all casual new mom super chic chill about the whole thing, but then I would look at their hacking sickly faces and scream “NO!” and they would run fleeing to the other side of the room. Their longing to want to be close to their new sister was touching, if not impractical.

I, naturally, have caught their super germ. So in addition to sporting the fun post c section glow of having been cut in half, put back together, and still looking approximately 7 months pregnant, I also have a nasty cold. I am tripping on all sorts of weird post-surgery meds and cold medicine and just general newborn lack of sleep which, when you combine the three makes for some wacky dreams. At one point on Saturday night I dreamt I was trying to yell to the children to get back in their beds but they couldn’t hear me because I had one of their Twilight Cloud B Turtles stuck over my head and face. And I just kept yelling “get this turtle off my head!” in my narcotic induced sleep, which really scared the hell out of Hope and Phil who were trying to grab a midnight snack in the rocking chair in the corner of our bedroom. It was a sweet first night home for her, while I yelled strange and nonsensical things at them.

On Sunday morning, Ruby tried to serve us some food from her mock restaurant which includes those solid wood Melissa and Doug donuts. She wanted to give Dylan the chocolate donut which looked like it had a smiley face. This would have been so thoughtful had he not gone to reach for it at the exact moment he went to sneeze. I lunged to move the baby out of the path of his sneeze and nearly popped a stitch doing so. And in the chaos of the moving baby beneath his feet and the unsteady post-surgery mother combined with the general power of his sneeze, shook the wooden donut from his hands, grazing the side of Hope’s head.

It is day 1 of being home. And she’s already taken a donut to the head.

My milk just started to come in this morning but because of a daily medication that I take that is believed to pass through the breast milk, it is unsafe for me to breast feed. So I am bottle feeding, but when your milk comes in and you don’t use it this really hurts. My mother was a huge fan of a strange but oddly useful tradition of stuffing cold raw cabbage leaves against your bare breasts to help relive the swelling. If you don’t normally feel unsexy enough post pregnancy and c section, you should totally try walking around like a bowl of human coleslaw. Which is where I find myself right now. It is my husband's least favorite part, where he tries to reconcile how it makes sense for me to make salad in my bra. I don’t disagree with him.

And I was kind of thinking about all of this and how crazy it’s been and wishing more for her, something else. A different kind of homecoming. But what? A more scripted one? Starring people who are less sickly and are bathed in better lighting and with less narcotic induced sleep swearing and cabbage smelling bras?

All of this made me reflect back on a book I hadn’t thought about in years. It was one that I read back in high school by Barbara Kingsolver, called Animal Dreams. In it, Kingsolver wrote this: “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

And so this is the state of things. We are sickly and disheveled. We wear cabbage in our bra and chug Mucinex like Sangria. But there are also toothless smiles and tangled curls, soft snuggles and the kind of truly selfless and unique love that can only come from sweet smelling newborn babies and siblings meeting for the first time. And this? Well, this ridiculous bunch is all I could ever have hoped for. A home made up of honest, noisy, true love. None of us fit anyone’s standard of perfection. It is actually one of my most favorite things about us. We are these odd shaped pieces that fit best, when put together.

Indeed, as Kingsolver describes, this is all I’ve ever hoped for. The most I can do now is live inside this Hope, under her roof. And dream of what is possible, what’s to come.


  1. Cabbage? You poor thing. What you need is a breast pump, asap! That is how I survived the 10 days I wasn't able to nurse my son when he was in the NICU and I was sure my boobs were going to pop. I had no idea they could stretch so far! :)
    I've been through the 3-kids-newborn-C-section recovery and I know how hard it is. Hope you can get some extra rest somehow.

  2. Yikes! Welcome home, Hope! And yes, be careful of the cabbage. It can completely dry up your milk.

  3. We brought our 4th home to much of the same chaos, while living with my parents. As you know, it gets better. Not easier, but chaotic in a different, not so urgent way. Love to you, momma!