It was a day to celebrate my daughter's passage from newborn into infancy. I also celebrated my new life as a single parent, my metamorphosis from mother of one to mother of two, and the simple joy of knowing, this time I won't be raising a baby in an abusive relationship.
It was a simple party but Eliza still insisted on heading to Karinna's in her best party dress. Karinna, by the way, is my mother's next door neighbor who runs a day-care center out of her home. Eliza has been playing with Karinna's "kids" since birth and loves going there to play with her friends. I loved having an excuse to throw Eliza's friends a party.
I showed up with balloons and goody bags for everyone, funny party hats and a cake that looked like an oversized cupcake. Eliza loved it all; the Strawberry Shortcake hats that one of the kids accurately likened to a nurse's hat, the pink maracas in the goody bags and the chance to blow out "the fire" on some one else's birthday cake. It has been a tough time for Eliza and I was overjoyed to see her running through Karinna's spotless white kitchen with her head thrown back in laughter. She not only enjoyed the celebration, she loved showing off her little sister to her friends. She's so proud of being a big sister, it's intoxicating.
Elena is a pretty good baby though she still has her nights and days confused. I can't help but compare the differences between her and her sister. She's a fussier baby then Eliza was but she's still pretty placid. As the weeks have gone on, she's definitely showcased more of a temper and an opinion than the sleepy newborn who slept through most nights at the hospital. She seems less decisive than Eliza, with weak cries that aren't quickly silenced by being picked up or fed. While Eliza screamed until she got what she wanted, Elena cries meekly while I try a variety of different soothers from picking her up to singing to nursing as if to say "I'm not quite sure what I want but I want something." It seems usually what she wants is to be held. I try to fill that need as best I can but I'll be honest, it's harder with two. I guess that's why they say the second kid is always less needy than the first. They get used to not getting what they want on a daily basis.
As my incision heals, I've been able to be more of a physical mother to Eliza. I can play with her more and have her on my lap again. Pretty soon I'll be able to run with her though I realize it's never going to be like it once was. I'm not going to be able to run that fast with a baby strapped to my chest.
I will always remember the morning of April 27th. Eliza's waking up ritual has evolved over the past few months. Back in the apartment I abandoned in New York City, Eliza would leave her room and climb into bed to cuddle with me every morning. Here at my mother's, she'd wake up and call for me until I came into her room. Closer towards the end of my pregnancy, she'd stand at the bottom of the steps to my bedroom calling my name.
On the morning of April 27th, I went down the steps towards her knowing this would be the last morning of this particular ritual. C was arriving that day for my scheduled C-section the following day and I thought he'd probably go to her first thing in the morning. As we embraced that morning, I was very aware that by the next day, everything would be different. What I didn't know was that my water would break later that day and that I wouldn't even see Eliza the following morning.
When talking about beating stress, specialists often suggest closing your eyes and going to that special place and now my special place is reserved just for Eliza and me on that morning of April 27th. All I have to do is close my eyes and it will forever be that day with her at age 3 1/2 and me, still relatively young at 41. I hear her voice say "Mama" and open the door to reveal her at the bottom of the steps with her arms outstretched. I waddle down the steps with my very pregnant belly and feel her little arms wrap around me and I know, this is it, this is the last time it will be just the two of us.