Saturday, January 15, 2011

sweet one

Dear Mirabel Ruby,

This morning a low winter mist hung around much of the morning, shushing the bustle of the sunrise and softening the crackly brown outlines of the leafless trees. It is your first birthday, and I was grateful for the stillness outside, because my heart is having a bit of a time accepting the fact that it has been 12 months since our lives changed forever. But there they are, the naked trees and heavy gray clouds I gazed upon for two weeks from your space in the NICU. Outside is the breath-puffing chill, and the sidewalks look perpetually damp. It is January in Boise. It has been a year.

Has it been a year? Can it be? It seems so much more surreal since you are still my eternal baby, still equivalent to a six-month-old in that you sit and smile and roll and are fed pureed baby food, but you don't crawl or pull up or walk or feed yourself or have teeth. You gaze at me with those surprisingly cornflower blue, almond-shaped eyes and you're fine with everything. You're fine with the rolls upon delicious rolls along your thighs and arms, you're great with the bouncy seat and the physical therapy. You're content. You don't complain. Far from complaining, you radiate true goodness. You are a little goblin of goodness.

You smell of Weleda calendula baby lotion. It's the smell of my babies, and I'm so glad I stockpiled several bottles of it from the clearance bins at Fred Meyer. You smell soft, and warm, and natural and pure. The other night you uncharacteristically started screaming from your crib a couple hours after I had put you down. That uncanny mother's instinct kicked in and, although there was no telltale way to know, I said "Her cheeks hurt." I gently smoothed some of the Weleda lotion on your rosy-dry cheeks, and you were breathing softly into my neck moments later.

You still wake up once in the middle of the night, between 3 and 4 a.m., and I pad up to your room and feel the soft weight of your sweetness and the warm cotton of your footy jammies as we nurse in the glider, both of us mostly asleep. Some of my very favorite moments with you are just after you awake in the morning around 6:30 a.m., dawn still a tease out the big picture windows, and I clutch you to me and bring you back into our bed, where we snuggle, nurse, and doze for close to an hour. You often break away to babble - "buh-buh-buh {inhale} BAH-buh-buh-buh-buh" - and then snorkle right back into me for seconds and thirds and fourths. Luciya wakes up around 7:15 and usually comes into the room to join us, and the four of us enjoy happy family snuggles for a while. It is the sweetest way to start the day. I beam when I see my two morning-eyed beauties cuddling up together.

While everything about you is ingrained in my being right now, I know this too shall pass and I may forget, so here is what you are right now, physically: You still have a smooth nursing callus on your top lip. Your lips are shaped exactly like Luciya's. You hands are butter-soft, and have the yummy rubber-band roll at the wrist. I need to trim your fingernails often, because you are a lip- and nose- and chin- and waddle-grabber, and your father and I have each recently born bloody proof of your scratches on our noses. Your cheeks have become rosy from the dry cold. Your nose is constantly crusty from some sniffles that won't go away. Your thin hair is light brown and rapidly growing into a fine mullet. Piggy tails are possible and a near-daily style. You show no signs of sprouting teeth yet. This worries your great grandmother to no end. Your belly is round and soft. You pull your toes into your mouth for a snack. You eyelashes are long. Your eyes are deep, swirling, changing from blue to dark green, like a stormy sea. You have an enormous fontanel that gives us telltale warnings if you're nearing dehydration, like you were last week after your first bout with pukey, diarrhea-filled stomach flu.

You weren't quite your self this evening when we had family over for a simple birthday dinner; there was residual yuckyness hanging around and you were fussier than normal. But we toasted you and sang - twice - and you were passed around in your little brown dress and polka dot tights and you patiently observed your sister tearing open your presents. You had your first taste of whipped cream and delighted in it. We celebrated you.

Tonight, as I was gliding with you before slumber, I reached down to stroke your head and check your fontanel. And you pulled back and smiled at me, a simple, hearty, happy smile. A smile to smile, a smile because I stroked your head and it just felt nice. And so I stroked your head again and again, drifting my fingers through your fine hair, laying my palm upon your wide forehead. And that happily contented smile kept sliding across your face. And I suddenly wanted to devour you. I nuzzled your cheeks and planted kisses all over your sweet head and inhaled and inhaled and inhaled you until my senses were filled.

And I celebrate you today and every day for the past twelve months:

Happy birthday, Mirabel. I look forward to celebrating you for many many years, in many many ways.

Thank you for choosing us.

I love you, Mirabel!



Michelle said...

happy belated first birthday! what a cutie she is!

MsBorges said...

Oh, happy baby day. May we all be as perfectly open to being loved as you've described Mirabel.

Allison in AK said...

Hi there!
I should introduce myself, since I've been reading your blog from the day Mirabel was born, thanks to our mutual friend, Tiffany Borges (whom I had to ask what your name was ~ Hi Emily!). I'm Allison and my kids and I really enjoy your pictures and insights and stories of Mirabel (your big daughter, too!). I am just amazed (such an overused word, but I truly am) at your acceptance and love and, and, all those things. My first son was born with cystic fibrosis and it took me years to make peace with it. That's a story for another day, though! So you have this cyber friend in Wasilla, "visiting" and gushing over your girls!
Warmly, Allison

Shyane said...

Happy Birthday Little Mirabel!!!

Elaine said...

Sweet Mirabel is our family rock and inspiration.