Yes, there is a moment or two after childbirth when you might think, "That was horrific," or something like that. But it's funny how even just 24 hours later, you're thinking, "That was awesome! I did that! Let's do it again!" Somehow your memory can soften all the edges, when you think of how much noise you made, and how much you cursed, and cried, and pounded the floor with your fist. You just remember the mighty feat accomplished. Looking at my little Carolina Grace softens the edges of everything. She's named for my mom Carol. Since she came into the world a week ago, I've gotten a new full-time job - besides my other two or three full-time jobs of mother, sometime housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, etc etc - of sitting in one place staring at her face. Very important work, that. And by the way, if you ever saw my other girls as babies, you've seen what I'm staring at - black hair like M's and her dark complexion and eyes, dimples like S and the wide cheeks and pointed chin straight out of a Maurice Sendak illustration: Carolina Grace.
She's the most popular person in the family right now, by far. And my heart is the fullest. I have four children! I have four children. One night this week, I put her down for a minute in M's arms when I was tucking them all into bed, and I ran downstairs to get something - maybe J's paci or his "buppy" or a drink of water for S - and while I was down there, I said to Shep, "All four of my children are in the room together upstairs" and the thought of that delightful package of strange beings - four human persons not one of whom existed six years ago - made my heart contract with awe. When there were three children up there, it felt like we were a family. The fourth child feels like something we as a family are doing together that we're really excited together about. I really can't imagine a more blessed time of life than the one we're in. Of course, when you check back with me in about five weeks and I've had as many showers as weeks and I can't find one freaking thing or even put a sentence together because my brain is a lump of mush, my tone of voice might be less glowing. But through the haze - o! sweet chaos of infancy - I still won't be able to deny that this crazy, full (full, full, full to overflowing - with all things), loud, jostling time is blessed, blessed, flash-in-the-pan, heart-wrenchingly, laughing-and-crying-at-the-same-time blessed.