When it's my turn to say the prayer at family prayers, my eyes automatically begin to well up with tears. Your sweet big brother Liam rubs my back while I pray, expressing intense gratitude for my beautiful little family, made even sweeter by your presence. Afterwards Liam will ask, "Are you just tired, Mommy?" I'll nod yes - because it's true, I am tired - but then I'll add, "But mostly my heart is just overflowing with happiness . . . and it leaks out my eyes." On one such recent occasion, Soren remarked, "Your heart sure overflows easily when you have a new baby."
Here are some moments over the past week and a half that have made my heart overflow:
I couldn't feel anything from the waist down, but my doctor and nurse propped my legs up in stirrups and instructed me to start pushing. Two pushes later, the doctor said, "There's an arm!" I looked at your daddy for confirmation, and he nodded at me with sparkling eyes. "Here's her head!" they said. And then a minute later, there it was: the sweet sound of your voice. They laid you on my belly, this beautiful squirming creature, all purple and white, and I put my hands on your sweet warm body and sobbed joyfully.
Your eyes are sparkling almond slivers that glitter like sapphires. From your earliest hours, you've looked around with those beautiful eyes, your sweet little rosy mouth hanging open, looking at the world around you with a calm wonderment.
In the hospital, we were reminded of just how loved and welcomed you are . . . Grandma and Grandpa Hanson drove two days from their mission in California just to meet you. Auntie Collette brought flowers. Uncle Scott and Auntie Amanda and cousins Andrew and Charlotte came to see you. Auntie Tailour and Uncle Quentin and Auntie Briar and Auntie Ivy stopped by for a visit. Soren and Liam came by after school. The whole Smith clan came for a visit shortly after we brought you home.
When I have a new baby, the Carpenter's song "Close to You" always comes to mind. I sing it to you often during diaper changes and while we walk around the house. Sometimes in the morning, we'll find a good playlist on YouTube and dance to more 60s and 70s love songs.
Your daddy cannot get enough of his baby girl. You are a sleepy little tyke and we're lucky to see your eyes for an hour or two every day, but he's always so excited to talk to you when you're awake, or snuggle you when you're asleep.
Your arrival has been cause for some adjustments among your brothers. For example, I woke up one school morning, nursed you, and stumbled out of my bedroom to help your big brothers get ready for school. Soren was in the kitchen, cooking microwaved eggs. "I'm making breakfast, Mommy," he said. "I know you're really busy with the baby." Afterwards he added, "Making breakfast is more work than you'd think!" Soren is very protective of you and is deeply concerned every time Liam moves or breathes around his Isabelle.
Another morning, in the wee hours, I heard my bedroom door creaking open. Your were snuggled in the crook of my arm, so I didn't move, but I could see Liam peeking in at me from the hallway. Then the door closed. When I got up for the day, I found him curled up in the recliner in the front room, bathed in a pool of lamplight. He opened his eyes. "Did you have a scary dream?" I asked. "Yes," he said, "Two, actually. But I didn't wake you up. I'm coming a grown-up."
You often crack huge, open-mouthed smiles in your sleep. Occasionally you'll even chortle. I wonder what a few-days-old baby has to laugh about, if you're recalling some hilarious conversation you had in heaven, right before you came here.
Oh, my sweet Isabelle. You are the sweetest, calmest little creature I've ever met. You are small and warm and heavy with milk and sleep, and I love your perfect baby smell and squeaky little sounds and unsure little movements. I'm so glad you've come to our family. I'm so excited to know you better.
Welcome home, sweet baby.