...and she's absolutely gorgeous! I've been asked several times if I intend to continue blogging, and the answer is a resounding "yes!" - I absolutely intend to continue. This is just the beginning for a new chapter, my inspiration fresh and my mind clear of many of the issues clouding it for the past few months. During this post, I will pop a few pictures in of her in these last few days - the very first of her life.
So yes, Bella is growing beautifully - at her one week checkup she had actually gained 3oz over her birth weight and came in at a hair under 8lb 2oz, which is fabulous news! Now, at almost two weeks old, she is looking round-faced and very sweet indeed! She's certainly bigger now than she was, and her hair is growing at an alarming rate. She has a little swirl at the back of her head now that wasn't there before - you can really see her hairline. Her hair is mid-light brown with a little hint of red under the right light. Rainbow hair. How ironic!
I do often find myself looking at her and thinking "gosh, I just wish I could have kept them both..."
But, that's natural. I compare them to one another as equals: Josie had very dark hair; Isobella's is lighter. They look remarkably similar but not *quite* the same. Sometimes when Bella is asleep I catch Josie...just a whisper. Isobella's hair is growing - and there I am, sometimes, thinking how it would have been lovely if Josie's hair could have grown too... Every time I hold Bella, I feel myself holding Josie as well. I hold them both at the same time, next to one another, and I feel both are loved, and both know they are loved equally.
I think it might be like that for the rest of Bella's life. Not that she is a replacement, but that because of the close proximity of their births and the circumstances of everything, they are closely intertwined.
Breastfeeding has been wonderful. It was something I was looking forward to enormously with Josie and never got to do. With her, I did express some milk and then put it on her grave and after that, my body seemed to know it had some something for her (there is more to that little ritual there but I won't go into it now) and the engorgement went down. Nevertheless the situation was completely tragic - having the food but no baby - it's unbelievably heart-ripping, I can tell you. So this time I was determined. Bella was a "barracuda baby" as Yale scientists would put it, and brought in my milk vigorously and vociferously. I had all of the "early breastfeeding complaints" - sore, cracked nipples, blisters, blood, pain, all sorts - but I knew it would get better and being a Taurus, continued to persevere every day.
Sure enough, after about a week it got to be perfectly comfortable. And I tell you, it is wonderful - just wonderful and so healing to see that my body can sustain life both inside and outside the uterus - make it bloom and grow, even! I enjoy it for that reason and for all the other reasons that breastfeeding mothers enjoy breastfeeding. It's SO natural feeling. I can't imagine giving her a bottle at this stage: it would be...weird! Even if it had breastmilk it it!
So, her cord fell off three days ago, at the tender age of ten days. Thank goodness, because for the two days before it fell off it was super stinky! I did keep it though. Apparently the stink wears off! It's wrapped in gauze. So then we took our first bath! She really enjoyed that after she got used to being immersed - but the most noise she made was a bit of an uncertain whimper. Then we got down to business: we got washed up and played a bit, and I poured water over her with a washcloth and a cup. By the end of it, she was looking pretty chilled out and sucking the water off her fists, so that was nice!
So...milestones. We reach milestones and I am joyful. And at the same time, once again, feel myself leaving Josie behind because Josie never made it past the "just born" stage. Josie never grew and never changed after she was born - she remained in that stage forever. In some ways I felt like I had part of Josie back there for a few days after Bella's birth - but not because I thought Bella was Josie (and here I had the help of R to describe how it felt) - more that the veil was so thin after Bella was born that Josie was able to reside with us as well for just that first part. Those first few days. I think perhaps she was able to come out and get a cuddle. I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone, but it somehow does to me.
Milestones are wonderful though. As I look into my freshly-born daughter's eyes I can see this soul shining through - this little personality attached to her mama. I am fully aware of my responsibility toward this little being, and never have had a shred of doubt that I can do this. I'm not afraid, any time. She is safe with me, this little one. She will be fine. I don't feel overwhelmed at all: I feel complete. Ready. Grateful. Awed.