Today is a happy day at our house. Today, my RubyCakes turns two. Or as she would announce to you in a shout-y voice, “I two year ooooooold!”
She is very excited. And that makes me very excited. I can’t help it. I’m her mama. Plus, I love, love, love that when we ask her about birthday parties she immediately wants cake and a hat. The teachers at her little school once called her, “A party in a person.” Who wouldn’t want to celebrate a girl like that!
So today, on her second birthday, our little family will dance and cheer for all the little and big things God has done in the past year of this life. For talking and ‘zooming’, shoulder dancing and outlasting Rotavirus. For learning her ABC’s, for teaching me to be a little less serious. For making her first friends and then learning to pray for them. I could go on.
Instead, I thought today would be a sweet day to share a part of something I wrote about bringing Ruby home from the hospital.
When it was time to leave the hospital, I was so ready and at the same time so desperately unprepared, a perfect picture of new motherhood. There had been a lot of medical attentiveness during our stay, but not much else. I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly. Perhaps more patience with my questions about nursing or more help with my inconsolable newborn during the harrowing middle-of-the-night hours. I guess I just thought the nurses were going to be a little more, “Oh, honey, how can I help?” and less “Good luck with that.” But I had overlooked the facts; they are nurses, not nannies, after all.
Although the day had come, I was still slow getting up and a little unsteady on my feet. But I was very eager to get our little girl home. I wanted to be in our house, cozy and safe, just the three of us. I wanted to show her the nursery we had painted La Paloma Grey with the help of some friends. And the crib that her daddy put together and the framed cross-stitch alphabet my grandma made for me when I was a little girl. We had done all we could to prepare our space for her, practicing making room for her in our life before she even arrived. And I wanted her to see it.
Before we left the hospital, I took a long shower and reminded myself that we could do this and that we wouldn’t be doing any of it alone. As I carefully got dressed, I could feel my heartbeat quicken. I was a little nervous, but only a little. More than being afraid, I was giddy. While drying my hair, I kept stopping what I was doing to tip toe over to her in the bassinet and look at her. It was the first time we had really been alone in the room together. It was the middle of the afternoon and the floor was peacefully quiet and the nurses had stopped checking in on us. I just stood there with my head tilted to the side smirking. It was the first moment I was able to reflect. I had faced labor with courage and had done the hard work of delivering our baby out into the world. She and I had worked together on our first endeavor and we had succeeded. And now there we were, just two girls getting to know each other. I wanted to tell her everything I knew and catalogue the names and stories of all the people that she would be meeting, who had been praying for her and who already love her. But she wanted to yawn and wriggle and keep on sleeping. So we compromised: I whispered meaningful secrets to her while she carried on snoozing.
And then an hour later, with some help from a very kind nurse, we got our Ruby into her car seat, signed our discharge papers and were on our way. I remember thinking, while being pushed along in the wheel chair with Blaine walking beside me carrying our baby, that we were a couple of lucky assholes. There are a lot of reasons to be wheeled down the hallway of a hospital and not all of them are nice. But this day was beyond nice. It was outrageous in its goodness. I breathed deeply and slowly as I thanked God for giving us this kind of day.
As we pulled away from the hospital, I wasn’t worried about driving slow or how other people were driving fast, the way some new parents fret. I wasn’t gulping about being careful or clinching my jaw about getting into an accident. Instead, I was preoccupied by taking pictures of Ruby on her first adventure. Every little face she made seemed to deserve another quick shot. I sent more than a few photos to my parents, letting them know how brave and mature we all were, on our way home from the hospital together. And I laughed at how corny I felt already.
I sat there, in the back seat next to my brand new best person, listening to Mumford & Sons and the sound of the windshield wipers. I ran my hands over the blanket that we had tucked around Ruby and snuggled my nose down under her chin. Her breathing was slow and steady and her cheeks were rosy and warm.
I looked out at the grey drizzle and thought, what a beautiful day.
Happy Birthday, RuppertPie. We love you more than all the stars.