I fell in love with you heart & soul….it’s lucky this isn’t a vlog. I can’t carry a tune. But you get the idea. When I was full with this little bird in my womb, I worried about all that Zuzu would soon lack. Her upcoming precipitous fall from grace. Her lack of status as the number one, centerpiece of our worlds. I didn’t give her or this little bird the credit they deserved in what they would mean to and for each other. The credit for their rightful place in our little family and world. I worried as most second time mothers often due about how I could possibly fall in love with another little person and how we would make room for her in our lives. I even (as I now recognize as my hormonal state) cried about what we had done by bringing another baby into the house. I couldn’t see the joy of Zuzu getting to care for her little sister, the pride she would feel in her and in herself with her new role. The happiness that she would lap up as the gift of being part of a family. I just worried that she would feel neglect, jealousy, put-out by someone else being in our home and hearts. My mother, upon hearing this told me as only someone who has been a mother to multiple children for many years can; that my worry was ridiculous. Of course everyone would love the new little baby. You just do!
And she was right, you just do. You can’t plan for it, you can’t prepare for it psychologically and emotionally. You can just put out the well worn baby things your first precious used and explain to her what she used to do with each and how much you loved it when she smiled in her swing, giggled in her carseat, grabbed your face from her perch in the sling. And then let her put her own baby dolls in there and talk about how she will care for them. And then one day, enter the new baby… “my new baby” as Zuzu promptly claimed her. The moment her carseat was set down on the kitchen floor on that first evening home from the hospital, as Lovey and I watched on wearily and Gramma’s eyes lit up and urged Zuzu forward to greet her new sister; Zuzu shyly handed us the card she had proudly stickered with Gramma to welcome us home and leaned in and planted a firm kiss on the Quail proclaiming, “I love you baby Abby, Abigail Charlotte” and we all sighed and hugged our relief. That first weekend home Zuzu was repeatedly found trying to hold the baby’s hand and singing her rendition of the Barney, “I love you” alternated with “Happy Birthday”. We had spent much time talking about how the baby would nurse and when that first time to nurse came that first night home Zuzu was so patient waiting for me to get her sister situated and watching on with hound-dog eyes. When I invited her to join us she immediately picked up her sister’s hand and snuggled in.
W’e’ve all waited for our dear Quail. Some part of each of us seems to have known she was coming in one form or another. I feel a completeness when I look into her eyes that I don’t feel with anyone else I’ve met yet. I see where the eyes are the window to the soul now. There is a peacefulness when I sit holding this sweet girl that makes my heart swell with love and pride. I’m so grateful that she has come to us now, in this lifetime, at this time in our lives. From very early on I’ve felt a connection to the Quail. Even in the first few weeks after her birth. She would lock eyes with us when she was awake, she would turn to the sound of my voice across a room. When we pick her up, she plants her pudgy little palms on either side of our mouths and dives in to chew on our chins. When you pick up a receiving blanket she begins kicking and reaching up the second it is laid out over your shoulder. Once she is up in your arms she nuzzles in to your neck for a quick second and then sits firmly parcelled on your hip facing outward clear on her rightful place.
The ease with which she has turned us from a couple with a child into a family is one of the greatest blessings I could hope to ask for. There is a stereotype that children with Down syndrome are angels and filled with joy. When she was born I was annoyed with this platitude. And as she grew and I saw that joy radiating out of her and felt a peaceful quality that was purely from her heart and soul. I felt that I should get the credit for passing this trait onto her, or her sister should or her father- not the syndrome itself. Well as time has gone on I’ve seen that that joy belongs to her and her alone. It’s not the syndrome, it’s not us and what she inherited, it is just her- her heart, her soul, her peace. And how lucky are we that we get the opportunity to love and be with her.
Oh Mom, of course, you were right- we do just love her.