Friday, November 9, 2012

Writing to the root and celebrating the tiny things

I was listening to the new Avett Brothers album this afternoon while the girls were sleeping (otherwise I would've been listening to "Mickey Music") and on came "A Father's First Spring." Scott Avett wrote the song about this birth of his daughter, Eleanor (great name!) in 2008.

The song sends me weeping every time (I know, I'm ridiculously weepy):

"I never lived til I lived in your light
And my heart never beat like it does at the sight 
Of you baby blue, God blessed your life. 
I do not live 'less I live in your life. 
I do not live 'less I live in your life."

Recently, I was talking to a childless friend about having children, and about what a specific, singular sort of joy it was (paired with many, many moments of drudgery). I think the line "I never lived til I lived in your light" sums up nicely how parenthood changes you and changes your outlook.

Scott Avett was interviewed on (not a site I frequent) about what songs on "The Carpenter" made him feel the most vulnerable and he mentioned this song. I loved his response:
"Both ‘Through My Prayers’ and ‘A Father’s First Spring.’ I had both nervous tendencies and nervous feelings about both of those getting out there because they are to the root. Both about life and death in the most direct and personal way, and you kind of start to question yourself as an autobiographer I guess. You kind of wonder, ‘Am I throwing my own blood under the bus? Am I exploiting them in a way that is dangerous?' "
Man do I get that. There are definitely parts of the novel that are "to the root" that I'm terrified to have written or terrified to write because despite coming from a place of love and good intentions -- and vulnerability for that matter -- I do feel like like I'm exposing things that maybe shouldn't be exposed -- or that others prefer weren't exposed.

The song also made me think of one of Brad's co-workers, who just gave birth to her first child -- a baby boy named Jackson -- almost three months early. 

I've only met Stacia one time -- at a baseball game a couple months ago. She'd been blogging about her pregnancy on the Smart blog so I chatted with her about various pregnancy and baby-related things. Talking to her immediately brought me back to the boundless anticipation combined with the terror and thrill of the unknown I had while pregnant with Lily. I love talking to moms who are expecting their first because of what I know that they don't: there's really no experience I can think of that can compete with the unadultured joy of holding your first born for the first time. But in that first second they get to meet their little one, they'll know, too -- that singular gift of motherhood.

Initially, when I thought about Stacia and her tiny baby "Jax" (he was just 1lb, 13 ounces and 13 3/4 inches long at delivery) I was saddened that she wouldn't be able to experience all those frenzied, fantastic moments that the early days of motherhood bring -- especially because I get the sense that she's the type of person who wanted to embrace everything the new baby threw her way -- the good the bad and the gross. And that she was missing out on the chance to celebrate her new child and her new role in life, because his life is so delicate and tentative. 

She's continued to write about her experiences -- now as the mother of a micro preemie -- something I imagine is both therapeutic and difficult (isn't all writing that matters?). I've been so impressed with her resilience, determination to survive (because you have to) and willingness to educate others in the thick of what I imagine is the biggest challenge she's ever faced. 

In her latest post she writes very frankly about how her baby can forget to breathe from time to time and how she struggles with guilt about living her life while Jax is in the NICU. But she also celebrates the people who have stepped in to help her, the fact that Jax is back up to his birth weight, and the moment Jax relaxes on her chest during Kangaroo Care.

It dawned on me that Stacia is celebrating -- it's joy paired with fear -- but if that doesn't define being a parent, I'm not sure what does. Jax has a long road ahead of him -- so I'll continue to pray that he grows stronger every day. 

But I also know that if I see Stacia anytime soon I'll tell her the words every mother wants to hear about her new baby: "Congratulations, he's perfect."

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