Little Violet Donaldson Dahl has made her appearance.
She is 8 days old, and beautiful. Apparently she was in a hurry to meet us, because she took only 3 hours from contraction #1 to TA DA! Mommy never had her epidural, yet she was a trouper.
The week since her birth has found the Pat Dahl family reconfiguring life with grace and resolve. Henry seems aware that he has to share his parents, but he is an adaptive little adventurer. Violet really doesn’t do too much that interests him at the moment. We made lists of all that he can do, and compared it with her routine of eat, sleep, cry, poo. He seems to recognize that he has a richer life. All of us are treating him like the prince that he is.
Violet was born at Hinsdale Adventist, where both her Mom and Dad made their debuts. Isn’t that just the craziest thing, in this era of mobility? Two generations sharing a birthplace. Imagine.
Perhaps that is why I am so sentimental about the birth of this little treasure. This new addition takes me right back to a different era in my life. ( When I said “don’t cry, we’ll take care of you” I had no clue how naive I was, or how self contained Patrick generally was) My yesterdays and tomorrows are now linked in a profound way.
Since Steve and I were without local family when Pat was born, we had no visitors in the hospital. We just nestled in to be a family. I was so adrenalized that the Doctor gave me some Demerol so I would hush. (I believe to this day that Steve begged him to do it. I couldn’t stop saying “A Boy! A Boy!” I was in a euphoric zone. A loud one) He said Pat would be tired, and I could use the rest before he found his lungs. Steve went home. I rested, and the next day he stopped on his way to work, then snuck in after hours to lollygag with me. We reformatted our lives in those first three days: I believe the lack of family visitors made us aware that we would need to depend upon each other. We were a family. The family. We would make independent decisions, look out for our son, trust our instincts, and never use the family as interlopers in our disagreements or our secrets. There was sadness that I could not share the everyday joy of motherhood with my parents and siblings. Yet there was less pressure, no judgements haunting my decision making. No unsolicited advice. Of course, no help either. Every mistake was on us, as it should be. (Pat- sorry I did not realize that you had chronic ear infections, with multiple perforations. I just thought you were a slow-to-talk kind of kid. You should have screamed a little, pulled your ears. Your pain tolerance was my undoing…but you caught up just fine. No harm…)
We did not park at the waiting room the morning they induced Rachel. They had a plan; we respected it.
When Pat called to say Violet had arrived, I was shopping and Steve was on the golf course. Steve promised to head home, and I told him to keep on golfing. Their circle had expanded and their lives changed. We wanted them to have time to clutch each other, celebrate the new contours of their family, and feel the pride they should have in creating a miracle. I wanted Henry to meet his baby sister without extra eyes. Pat sent text updates so we could control our landing.
Mike and Kathryn bolted from Chicago, Baby Mary in tow. Matt and Justine enlisted her Mom to watch Jackson, and they headed to Hinsdale. We converged in the hallway, hugging and celebrating. Then Steve and I pulled rank and headed in to meet our Grand daughter. Henry passed us in his Grandma Kathy’s arms, elated with the cool truck his sister had miraculously procured for him. Little Baby Dahl (not named as yet) was swaddled and sleeping. Perfect. I scooped her up, and then the rest of Team Dahl burst in.
The thing I will always remember is the sisters-in-law hugging Rachel. Then the boys cooing and huddling together to examine the tiny little bundle, hugging Pat. Family. I would die for any of them.
We started the foundation of this family 33 years ago. By accident. It wasn’t the optimal time…job insecurity, law school unfinished, new house needing every repair. There is rarely a perfect time, and so on we went. Pat’s birth was spread on the airwaves, and he inherited an extended foster family of listeners. We added two more links, spent our youth shepherding them. We shifted every compass to the heading that would make their lives good lives. We never regretted what was left behind-freedom, money, peace of mind. The boys were our True North. They make us proud.
Then they added priceless links in my wonderful daughters-in-law. Each child adds more depth and strength. They are our hopes. They have exceeded our dreams.
Watching Steve hold Pat for the first time, I couldn’t realize that he had just given me everything I could wish for. Now, when our family circles around to welcome the latest Dahl, I am far more clear: I have a Wonderful Life. Happy Birthday, Violet. Let’s spend a bunch of them together. All together.