Happy FIRST birthday to our Maeve! We met her one year ago today. After waiting and waiting ten days past her due date, Maeve arrived in a speedy but peaceful birth. Outside the birth center a global pandemic was gripping the world but I felt cocooned in love and calm that morning. The first thing I said when Maeve was in my arms was, "It's really a girl!" After she was born Maeve was quiet and alert and she started up at me for a long time. Born at 9 a.m., we were home with her by 1 p.m. Now we've had her for a whole year.
At one Maeve is bright-eyed, curious, and deliciously chunky. Chris says she has a caramel laugh and a cookie dough belly. Her soft bottom is like two lumps of risen pizza dough. I love to stare into Maeve's big brown-grey eyes for as long as she'll let me (not long). Maeve's hair is light brown that looks golden when the light shines through it. There's just enough atop her head to nibble lightly with your lips but in the back it's thicker with almost two inches of length. In appearance I see a lot of Dashiell in Maeve but Cedric is there as well. She looks like she belongs in the sibling set but she's all her own too. Maeve has a few unique "Maeve-isms" that I want to remember. She crosses her ankles when she sits. She tilts her head to one side, perhaps as a little joke or maybe just to get a different view. And she always puts her feet up in the stroller like she's lounging.
We call our girl Maeve, Maeve-O, Maeve-a-lave, Maeve-O-lave-O, and Merve (ha! that one because that's often how we incorrectly type her name when texting). I thought we might sometimes call her Mae or Mae Mae but so far we haven't. It's so funny to see what nicknames develop for your kids!
Maeve's name is inspired by a book by my favorite author, which feels fitting as I am such a voracious reader. Ann Patchett released a new book in 2019 that I read early in my pregnancy with Maeve, even before I knew we would have a girl. At the time I had no sense of what we would name a girl. In my heart I was hoping for a girl but had a half-formed notion that if I didn't know what we would name her then our baby wouldn't be a girl. (While of course makes no sense. I will blame the pregnancy hormones.) I remember reading the name Maeve on the very first page of The Dutch House and the name caught my eye. "Maeve..." I thought. As I read, I loved the quietly fierce and independent character Maeve. If Cedric had been a girl his name would have been Vivian Mae, after my mom Vivian and great grandmother Kelsey Mai. Maeve, with the "mae" and "v" sound felt like a little nod to that name. Plus, Maeve is an Irish name and Chris's Dad has always been proud of his Irish heritage. I also liked that Maeve was a name I had heard of but don't know Maeves personally. By the end of the book I knew it was the name of our daughter, if we had one. I didn't tell Chris about the name until we opened a card that said we were having a girl. He loved it right away! Although we told ourselves we would try to consider other names nothing else came close. Our girl was always meant to be Maeve. Her middle name is Elizabeth in honor of my sister and as a nod to a family name on Chris's side of the family.
Maeve's days are busy with many things. "Are you having a good baby day?" I'll ask her. She sits on our hips, watching and reaching as we go about our day. She would like a bite of your food, to take all the crayons out of the box, and to be where ever her brothers are. Since the heat broke in the late fall, Maeve and I have walked many miles around and around our neighborhood with the stroller. I put little snacks for her in the stroller snack tray and she leans forward to see the offerings and then scoops it up. Often I'll find a shady spot in the grass to spread a blanket. Maeve will crawl around and inspect whatever bits of nature she can find.
Confidently pulling up where ever she can, Maeve is intent to inspect all surfaces and the treasures they hold. She pulls down anything on our bedside tables. She especially wants your water bottle. Although not walking yet Maeve loves to push her walker wagon up and down the house, front door to back, just as the boys used to. We have a new version of the same walker wagon that we had for the boys and the rhythmic "clink, clink, clink" is a sweet sound to have in the house again. I'm happy for Maeve to hold off on those first steps and to stay a baby just a while longer; there's plenty of time to walk.
Despite not talking yet Maeve communicates volumes. She reaches, babbles, shrieks, squawks, and sometimes signs "more" and "milk." Sometimes Maeve will ask to nurse more directly, by slapping her hands on my chest. She claps enthusiastically and is starting to point. One of the cutest early gestures Maeve made was to put her hands up saying "I don't know." Maeve love, loves books. She wiggles and beams in anticipation of sitting in our laps to look at her board books. I've been showing her "book" by opening and closing my hands together and she tries to mimic me. Of her books Maeve especially loves Baby's First Book of Birds and Colors, The House in the Night, Everywhere Babies, and Goodnight Moon. I am so excited for all the books we'll read together: first board books, then picture books, longer story books, and chapter books.
The hardest part of this year, pandemic and at-home schooling aside, has been Maeve's sleep. We make the cutest but worst sleeping babies! For the first five-ish months of Maeve's life we had to hold her for every nap which was often four times a day plus I was up a lot at night. Now Maeve sleeps through the night, is usually up around 6 a.m., and takes two fairly predictable naps a day. While I'm so happy to be where we are sleep-wise now, I look back with nostalgia at the hours I spent holding Maeve in a dark room filled with white noise while she slept. How quickly we forget the hard parts and focus only on the sweet. How lovely is that? On the rare occasion that I hold Maeve for a nap lately I have savored her heaviness and how she still perfectly fits in my arms.
Having a baby again has been more sweet and special than I imagined it to be. When I was pregnant with Maeve I described to people that we felt the excitement of a first baby but with the confidence of having a third. That's how her first year has felt too. We remembered how to change diapers ("just like riding a bike!"), how to hold a baby with one arm and pour coffee with the other, and marvel daily at how we almost can't bear Maeve's cuteness. I love having baby things around the house again: a crib in Maeve's sweet nursery, a high chair tucked in at the island, a stroller at the ready in the garage, brightly colored toys about the house, and tiny (but getting bigger) soft clothes in adorable patterns. I've joked that Maeve will keep us young. Because you can't be old and have a baby, right? I love having a slightly bigger age gap between the boys and Maeve. It's fun to have the interests and needs of bigger boys in elementary school in our lives while also having a babbly baby.
Although sometimes I want to keep Maeve forever as her adorable one year old self, I'm excited for what the next year will bring too. I'm so curious to see her toddler look emerge from her baby face (but don't lose those chubby cheeks, sweet girl). As the world hopefully emerges from the pandemic I'm so excited for all the things we'll add to our days: library story time, children's museums, play dates, even just going to Trader Joe's with me. So many adventures to have with my girl.
I love being a mama of three and a family of five. The house is happily full and boisterous. Someone always needs something or attending to, which, yes, can be demanding, but it's also deeply fulfilling. I love being a mama and someone always needs mama. Maeve completes our family in the best way: my radiant boy, my sunshine boy, and my rainbow girl. One mama with a very full heart.