Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your wonderful comments and words of blessing and welcome. Juliette is a lucky girl to have so many people who care about her, already. :-)
We are climbing the steep learning curve of new parenthood, one sleepless night at a time. Juliette is a pretty easy baby - she's a hungry, hungry hippo, and every so often she sleeps a whole three hours in a row. Four of her first non-hospital staff visitors were ordained pastors; Ben got in trouble for making me laugh (ouch, ouch, ouch) by saying that the Pope was on the way. I wish I could take the time to artfully document all that's happening, but for now all I have is a couple pages of notes about labor and birth itself, which can be summed up: fast and hard. I'd hoped to avoid an epidural, but the combination of back labor and the breakneck speed of dilation (3 to 7 centimeters in the forty minutes after we arrived at the hospital) made the much-feared CATHETER TO THE SPINE sound like a peanut butter sundae. Which it was. Once the drugs kicked in, I blissed out to the fabulous iPod playlist I'd prepared for the occasion. Ben and my Mama were both great support, and though there were a few moments that were frightening and unpleasant, all in all it was a surreal, fascinating, amazing experience. I bawled like a baby when I saw Juliette's little face. (Apparently, one of those weepy, oh-so-attractive, immediate-postpartum photos ended up on the big screen at the church where I did my internship. Um, next time I don't care how dire my straits are: I will exercise veto power over the photos Ben distributes to the universe.)
She is SUCH a Juliette. She was almost a Roxanna. Roxanna?! I love the name (and especially the nickname Roxie Lou), but this girl is no Roxanna. Juliette was suggested by Pops, and I thought it was pretty enough to put on the long list. And then one day a few months ago, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that her name was Juliette. And it is.
One more labor story, because this is one that must be preserved for the permanent record. Since we arrived in the hospital after midnight, we had to enter by way of the emergency room. I hate being cold, so even when all the other Southern Californians are wearing car coats, I often wear a very large puffy green parka for early morning walks with the dog and, in this instance, earlier morning trips to labor and delivery. My green parka is so large I could zip it up around my pregnant lady girth (which, incidentally, makes me think maybe I should retire it for something a little more flattering for the non-maternity version of Katherine). I had my parka zippered up to my chin when we walked up to the ER desk. Ben said something sort of generic about my condition - maybe mentioned contractions, but whatever he said, the guy at the desk just looked at us blankly. All of a sudden I realized that I was not obviously pregnant in my watermelon coat, so I gasped, "I'm in labor!" As we trudged off in the prescribed direction, I commented that they couldn't discern my condition on account of my outerwear. Ben responds: "Yeah, they thought someone from Alaska was injured." And I proceeded to laugh hysterically through a major contraction. That Pops, he so funny.
Edited to add these, and this virtual thank you note: Dear Rebecca, Thank you for the Peace Sign onesie. I love it. Peace, Juliette.