Wednesday morning I exercised. I did it again on Thursday, and despite the protests from my sore muscles, I finished off the week with a three-mile run on Friday. I'd been physically able to exercise for two weeks, but Eleanor hadn't been very co-operative. Five o'clock is early enough without throwing in a two a.m. feeding just for fun. But on all three days she didn't wake up until just before five, giving me enough time to feed her before exercising. Of course Saturday morning she woke up at three and six (which is the worst time possible to be woken up on the weekend; too early to actually get up and too late to get some good sleep afterwards).
Saturday afternoon we went to the park with my aunt and uncle and their dogs. The children had a wonderful time feeding the two lovely huskies all of their strawberry hulls, dropped fruit, and dirty cheese while I tried to convince Eleanor that sleeping really was a good idea. But after we came home and I fed her, she slept (in her swing of course) from four-thirty until I woke her up at nine-thirty to feed her. And then she went right back to sleep until four Sunday morning.
I've made twelve loaves of bread in the last week and a half, made dinner every night, eaten it hot, and had hour-long naps almost every day. Wednesday I had two naps.
Life is finally returning to normal.
Now, of course, at the end of the tunnel, two months doesn't feel like it was that long. In the middle of two months it felt endless and I was grateful for the perspective granted by having four other children that allowed me to remember that the craziness would end and all children eventually grow up and that it would be a distant, fuzzy memory that was only confirmed by Brandon and my journal. One of the best things about difficult experiences is that you never have to live the exact same one ever again. Once it's over you never have to go back there.
I'm grateful that we don't have to move in the next few weeks (or last week) and I still have five more months of normality before we pick up and move again. Because it feels really, really great to not be pregnant and not have a tiny newborn. I've felt some degree of cruddy since September; it's nice to be done with that. I've been dreading the Dark Ages since before Eleanor was conceived and I'm happy to be done with that too.
Friday Eleanor smiled at me for the first time. She's been quite taciturn, exhibiting the normal newborn range of expressions - puzzled, worried, angry, hungry, cross-eyed - all of which are humorous but not exactly enchanting. Joseph took some time to smile, so when Eleanor's six-week mark came and went without any hint of a smile, I wasn't too worried. But still. It would be nice.
Friday she was enjoying a moment of quiet attentiveness and I caught her eye. "Eleanor, baby," I cooed at her, stroking her cheeks and smiling so hard my cheeks ached. "Hi," I enthused, "beautiful baby!" Her eyes stayed locked on mine. I kept stroking her downy soft, chubby baby cheeks, while staring into those dark blue endless eyes. She peered back, fixated on my smiling face hanging over hers.
And then first one corner and then the other corner of her mouth quirked upwards. Briefly a look of confusion flashed across her face before her eyes caught up with her mouth as her whole face lit up in a beautiful, ecstatic smile. Her fists waved wildly as her back arched and her legs kicked up and down, her whole body smiling along with her face.
I smiled back even harder, my cheeks aching even more, as tears crept into the edge of my eyes. There you are, my beautiful baby. It's good to see your smiling face. Finally.