My son, Alex, sent a family text.
Here she is! Born 7.13.17 6 lbs 5 oz! We are calling her Lui or Lou (short for Lucia). I was a little worried I wouldn’t love her as much as Vita but the heart has this amazing capacity to open wider than you ever thought possible.
We have all been waiting for this birth. Connie, Alex’s wife, was certain the baby would arrive early, like her sister Vita two years ago. But no, Lucia was almost a week late!
I know what it is to carry around a baby, well past the due date, in the heat of summer, getting bigger and rounder, the skin stretching tighter around the massive tummy. Then there is only the waiting for the body to begin the birthing process . . . the light contractions, the practice before the hard work, then the pushing with maelstrom force to ease the new being out into the world, the mother directing total allegiance to each hard push until the final slipping out, and the moment of relief and delirious happiness.
Women remember their births. I once spoke with an eighty-three-year-old woman who could distinctly recall each one of her five children’s. There is no other experience that requires such perseverance and fortitude, such complete giving away of one’s self for another. I remember hearing of a woman about to undergo an emergency Caesarian who was asked if she wanted to live, or if she wanted her child to live. It was one or the other, and she had to decide in that instant. She chose the child. “Take Chad out,” she said, making the choice without hesitation.
I am beyond words with gratitude that Connie and Lucia are both doing so well. Lucia already knows the heartbeat and smells of her mother, and she is easily held and comforted by others’ arms. I imagine that Lucia already knows the rhythms of her family’s waking and sleeping and even the sound of words that are repeated often with emphasis, like ‘Alex,’ ‘Connie,’ ‘Vita’; the way in our house, our parrot learned to say ‘Ariel,’ because I called my daughter’s name so loudly each morning urging her to hurry downstairs for school.
I wonder about the sounds one hears in utero. I can remember when I was three or four and already familiar with language, amusing myself with my own made up sounds. I would say nonsensical syllables with intonation, as if I completely understood the content and context. What was so satisfying was not that I had my own language, but that this language was familiar, as if it was the language I had heard in the womb or when I was an infant. It was a comforting language for me to speak. It had emphasis and cadence, but the sounds were always soft and round, nothing harsh, like hearing a conversation among ocean waves.
Now, this little being, Lucia, hears the comforting voice she has heard in utero as she gazes into her mother’s eyes. Connie speaks to her with warmth, love, and kindness. Lucia is learning to connect the language of deep comfort to a face she will come to trust and adore.
She hears the deeper voice of her dada and a new heartbeat when she sleeps on his breast. She begins to trust the other. She is learning the voice and antics of her older sister.
Lucia was only 6 pounds 5 ounces at birth, the size of Vita’s favorite doll baby. I look at all the adults around me, and I know that Lucia will grow up to be one of us. But for now she is a miracle, one of those miracles that happens every day, all over the world. One day she will feel her own heart beat. She will discover language and her own voice in the world.
Lucia Marcel Matisse, may you find the courage and wisdom to sow love in this world. For surely, then, the world will reflect only love back to you. Congratulations to your family! We can’t wait to get to know you better!
With love, Ama & Baba