Three days before my pregnancy came to its welcome end, Andrew looked out our bathroom window and saw something of a wonder: seventeen robins pecking the ground, springing from branch to branch of our scrawny magnolia tree, zipping from one corner of our back yard to the other. Seven more could be seen from the window overlooking our front yard. These precious, red-breasted gifts were only on our property which made for a very bizarre, God-given, Magnolia-esque moment – heavy with symbolism at a time when I badly needed encouragement and promise.
The robin, of course, has always been a sign of spring’s arrival. But, as Andrew and I found out later that day, it is also traditionally thought to symbolize new birth, renewal and patience. By that time, I’d had just about enough of patience, but there was something phenomenal about having nature, itself, remind me of our little one’s assured arrival.
Claire came into the world on February 23rd at 9:56 am. She was, and is, perfect.
On the other side of delivery, I see all the more clearly how appropriate it was that so many robins had gathered in our yard in anticipation of Claire’s arrival; she signals a renewal that is not just physical – though the new baby smell is pretty intoxicating – but spiritual.
To hold a new baby – especially if it is yours – is something like having a tent revival take place in your heart. The patience I cultivated during pregnancy prepared me surprisingly well for the long sleepless nights I have lately been enduring, and there is no encounter – even in the most mundane sense – that does not have an edge of newness to it.
The past week has been a haze of visitors, free food, sleepless nights and diapers. Last night we discovered the power of the bouncy seat; today, because Claire refused to sleep all afternoon, I downloaded Sounds of the Womb, to which she immediately fell into a deep slumber. Due to all this joy and exhaustion, my blog postings will be sporadic for a while. I’ll do my best to keep writing, though.
In honor of Claire’s arrival, a poem about little girls and their fathers:
My Daughter’s Morning
by David Swanger from Wayne’s College of Beauty
My daughter’s morning streams
over me like a gang of butterflies
as I, sour-mouthed and not ready
for the accidents I expect
of my day, greet her early:
her sparkle is as the edge of new
ice on leafed pools, while I
am soggy, tepid; old toast.
Yet I am the first version
of later princes; for all my blear
and bluish jowl I am welcomed
as though the plastic bottle
I hold were a torch and
my robe not balding terry.
For her I bring the day; warm
milk, new diaper, escapades;
she lowers all bridges and
sings to me most beautifully
in her own language while
I fumble with safety pins.
I am not made young
by my daughter’s mornings;
I age relentlessly.
Yet I am made to marvel
at the durability of newness
and the beauty of my new one.