I have two babies.
Elliott Wilde was a planned pregnancy, but his first few months of life did not go as planned. At eight weeks old Elliott was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, and my expectations about motherhood came crashing down. A few months later, as the dust began to settle, I got pregnant again. My little Penelope Sweet was born shortly after Elliott’s first birthday, beautiful and heart-healthy.
Elliott’s first months are now a blur to me. I was in over my head the first eight weeks before his diagnosis, coping with the serious life change of bringing home a firstborn child. Afterward, the stress of his diagnosis and traumatic procedures pushed aside anything in my memory that is actually worth remembering. The memories of stress and tears is all I have at first glance. Old blog posts reflect more on the tougher times than good because in those days, I needed this blog to help me cope. Friends, those were some very tough days. Open heart surgery, cardiac arrest, intubation, extubation, reintubation. There were several days which we thought might be our last with Elliott and in all of my writing there isn’t much that reflects the quiet, sweet moments. The little victories that led us where we all are today. Even still, nearly a year and a half later my all-time most popular post remains the post that I recounted the scariest day in Elliott’s journey to date.
I was swinging with my girl on our front porch swing one summer evening, while my husband Taylor and Elliott dutifully played & grilled turkey burgers in the backyard. I am finding myself trying to soak in more of Penelope’s baby-ness because it is simply going way too quick. I am often reminded that Elliott’s infancy was tough on all of us and we have every reason to relish the sweetness and ease of our baby girl’s first year. She and I rocked quietly in the warm evening, drool pouring down the front of her shirt as she chewed on her giraffe teether. I found myself humming the old Pumpkin Pie song, eventually singing the words quietly into her ear as she giggled.Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, who’s my little pumpkin pie?Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, you’re my little pumpkin pie!Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, neat little treat of pumpkin pie.Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, warm and sweet and mine all mine,You’re my little pumpkin pie!
In a flash, I was taken back to a moment in Elliott’s old hospital room. Four days after Elliott’s first open heart surgery and three days after he went into cardiac arrest, they removed the sticky EEG pads that were stuck to his scalp. They had the information they needed: a few small seizures during cardiac arrest, normal activity in the remaining days. The neurological prognosis was good. Elliott’s fine baby hair was plastered to his head with a thick, sticky glue that was used to keep the EEG pads in place. His nurse handed us a little bottle of hospital-grade conditioner, saying it was the only thing that would remove the glue from his hair without pulling it out. Taylor and I gathered on either side of the bed and started gently rubbing the conditioner onto Elliott’s head as he slept, deeply drugged with pain medication. It was a tender moment; he was still and intubated but this heart was recovering well, and as we tried to remove the glue I was overcome with emotion. Quietly my husband and I sang the Pumpkin Pie song to him, a simple song we pieced together during Elliott’s previous hospital stay. The lyrics are simple enough, written during a season of crunchy leaves, hot spiced drinks, and festive desserts, but they held every ounce of the love and pride we had in our hearts for our little boy.
A summer afternoon is not the time to be eating, or even thinking about, pumpkin pie. But there I was, snuggling my other child, soaking in the moments and wanting to remember more of them. Penelope’s infancy has been much, much different from her brother’s, but the moments of her short-so-far life are just as worth remembering. She is growing and inquisitive and a bit demanding, but sweet, good natured, and very loving. I want to remember the snuggles and the times I held her while she slept. The times she nursed for hours because those moments are starting to slip away altogether. This first year is sweet and fleeting. It’s as sweet as pie, and gone long before the season changes.
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