Olivia is like sunshine. She would never pay a bit of attention to any one person, but instead graces all of us with her charming warmth and vitality. And today she turns 7 years old.
During my pregnancy with Olivia, I had been dead set on naming her Parker Darling. What a lovely name!
Near the end of my pregnancy I felt bad for my ex husband and his lack of involvement in the new baby’s name and acquiesced to naming her Olivia Darling, Olivia being his favorite girls’ name. Darling, of course, would stay her middle name, a name born out of many hours on bedrest watching The Darling Family and Peter Pan with Rosey, my first daughter.
Olivia was born on an unseasonably warm January morning. I had only briefly labored with her and she was delivered quickly and violently into this world by my beloved (albeit sleepy) doctor and thrust into my surprised and bewildered arms. Olivia was not a giant by some standards but to me having birthed her tiny dark sister just three years before, her appearance was shocking. She was 9 pounds 13 ounces and 23 inches long, she was a beautiful rosey pink and had a coating of white fuzz covering her round head like a marine style crew cut. The only thing dark about her was her black eyes, French Roast black…and I had only glimpsed a brief view of them, for she fell asleep in the incubator as they were cleaning her up and taking her vitals, her fat new fingers in her fat new mouth.
When I really got to hold her for the first time, she latched on to my breast perfectly and nursed forever and ever. The nurses kept coming into the birthing suite and rolling their eyes. They wanted to move us into a regular room and clean Olivia up, but she just kept on nursing. She nursed through her first visit with her big sister, through meeting her grandmothers and her aunts, she nursed while my mother fed me French toast from a yellow hospital tray, she nursed while I was on the phone with cousins and aunts and my own grandparents. Finally, the nurses did not want to wait any longer and I pried her from my body and handed her off. Later they told me that in newborn nursery Olivia had slept through her whole bath and was still sleeping when they brought her into my room 1 hour later.
I was injured as a result of her birth and we stayed in the hospital for many days. During which I was bullied out of using Darling as Olivia’s middle name. I cried when I was on my own, later that night, after I filled out her birth certificate and insurance information. I felt like a baby myself, with no identity or choices… but then having Olivia there with me set the world right. It was a strange dichotomy.
She slept for the next few months of her life, a wonderful baby who was only cranky when she was hungry and even then she would simply grunt and squeal like a delightful baby piggy (which became her nickname). I would spend hours nursing her and cuddling with Rose. Rose never experienced the early sibling envy, she had a new baby to look at and barely ever had to share me with her, what would she have to be envious of? Olivia would sleep, sit in her seat, nurse and then sleep some more. Rose and I slept in a bed together, Olivia slept in a wooden cradle next to us and she would sleep all night long.
The twos were terrible for Olivia and me. She was a large toddler and hard to handle, she hated getting dressed, she hated any sort of planned activity. She was a daredevil and constantly jumping and climbing. I cried on the phone to my friends late at night that she and I didn’t speak the same language, that there was a disconnect there that had never happened with Rosey and I.
After a while I realized that a lot of my inability to deal with Olivia came from my inability to realize how unhappy I was in my position in life and in my marriage. I wish I could make up to her how coldly I may have treated her misbehavior and go back in time and hug her more and tell her how much I loved her no matter how stressed and tight I always was.
I was young, yes, but she was my baby and deserved better.
Now through changing my own life and our lives as a family, Olivia and I have come out a happier duo. She may seem like she comes from a different planet, but now I realize she’s distant from me for a reason.
She has no need of my approval…she’s already a totally awesome unadulterated and unique being without any involvement on my part. Rock on Olive.
Happy 7th Birthday Olivia! I love you!