Elise's birth went smoothly. Dahlia stayed overnight at the hospital with John and I for the duration of my stay, which I was a bit hesitant about at first but, in retrospect, I wouldn't of had it any other way. We had such an amazing time together. Through the haze of painkillers, lack of sleep and intense emotion, I can't remember for the life of me what it is we did other than marvel at our new addition, but I know it was the best time of my life. Even better, I dare say, than when my first was born. Because, for one, we knew what to expect and, secondly, we got to watch Dahlia meet her baby sister. Which brings me to yet another reason I love that kid more than life itself.
I am truly blessed that this is the biggest issue our family has had to face since our sweet Elise was born. She is a remarkably good and easy baby. As if she is aware that she is the younger sibling of a highly demanding and spoiled preschooler, she will basically stay where you put her without protest. She rarely ever cries and, when she does, it consist of one little roar and a long pause as if to say "I know you are busy, Mama. I'll just wait right here!". At her two month check-up, she was a healthy 13 lbs. Her latest feat is bringing her hands together, which makes her look like she is praying and compliments her angelic countenance.
Spending 3 glorious (and hectic, work-filled) months with my girls was made even more enjoyable when I met an amazing group of women who comprise a playgroup for preschoolers, organized via Facebook. A friend, who has been a SAHM for several years, knows all the best activities in town for kids and has an uncanny ability to be prepared for anything kid-related, introduced me to them and I couldn't be more grateful to her for doing so. The playgroup consists of women of every color, social status and stage in life. There are moms, grandmoms and nannies of every ethnicity. In fact, the only thing many of them have in common (at least outwardly) is friendship and the fact that they care for preschool aged children. Even through this diversity, they are incredibly open and accepting. And, in a small town (even one with a university in it) surrounded by miles and miles of even smaller, backwoods towns no one has ever heard of, this is a truly rare thing to find.
During the last 6 weeks of my leave, the girls and I had so much fun with our new friends that I asked that my husband, who is currently working from home until my mom arrives to help out with the kids, continue to take them on outings with the group as often as his work allows. And, while he is the only man there, he was met with the same acceptance as I. Knowing that Dahlia is having a blast and that Elise is safe with her papa is the only thing that makes being away from them bearable and, for this, I am grateful. Indeed, hats off to my dear John. After having the experience of caring for them both while working and still finding time to cook dinner every night, he is unlikely to make the all too common mistake of believing it is easy to stay home. Perhaps, one day soon, I will be able to test that. Until then, upon waking, before sleepily dressing and grabbing coffee-to-go, I will take a moment to smell my baby, kiss my big kid and remember to soak up every second I spend with them.