You were born on your due date, September 23, 2016. Today is your two week birthday. Your daddy and I couldn’t decide on a name that we both agreed upon for quite a while. I liked a couple Irish names, Maeve and Rory, but daddy grew up next door to an Irish-American family with a ton of kids and two of the girls were Maeve and Rory. I asked him why he cared so much if we named you the same name of two girls he never sees anymore and he really didn’t have a good explanation. I asked him if he ever had a fling with one of the girls and he said no. It doesn’t really matter, names are like that, if you know someone with a name and have any bad memory associated with that person, it is most difficult to name your baby the same. One day I was showing a friend in our kitchen the engraving on the inside of my wedding ring, which was your great-great-great-grandma’s ring and has her initials and her wedding date, April 16th, 1905 on the inside, Sam added our names and our wedding year to the inside too. My friend asked what OC stands for, and I told her, Olive Crane. Sam was sitting in the living room watching TV and we both perked up and said that we liked that name. I still wasn’t 100 percent sold on it, naming someone is a huge commitment, especially considering I did not like my name my whole life and I wasn’t given a middle name so I can’t even go by something else. But your daddy was definitely sold on it, and from that day forward he called you Olive, never giving any other name a fair chance because soon everyone started picking up on it and calling you Olive and we were basically at the point of no return. But I always had a nagging feeling that maybe there was a better name that you would prefer out there.
I got these emails from “What to Expect when you’re Expecting” everyday and about a month before you were born, I got an email with September’s birthstones, star signs, and birth trees in it. I was drawn to the birth trees which I had never heard of before, but there were four for September; the Weeping Willow, Lime, Olive and Hazelnut. I immediately started investigating and found that each tree is for a span of days and the spans of days vary in length. There are only 4 days in the entire 365 days of the year where there is no span of days, there is just one tree dedicated to one day. September 23 is one of those days, your due date, and guess what tree belong to September 23? The Olive tree. I knew that people rarely had their babies on their due date but I was sure in that moment that one, you would come on September 23 and two, we had chosen the right name for you. As you know Olive, from the countless hours we spent together for almost ten months, the last month of pregnancy I was put on mandatory bed rest to keep you safe and because of a little elevated blood pressure, I was told the week before you were born that the doctor wanted to induce and did not want you to go past 40 weeks. I was thrilled, the doctor was going to let me pick the day, and of course, I chose your due date, the Olive tree day. Your day is significant for a couple other reasons also, for one Mercury was in retrograde up until midnight on the 22nd and I really did not want to have you while Mercury was in retrograde. We checked into the hospital at midnight on the 22nd and they started inducing me shortly after. The other thing that is significant is you were born on the cusp, Virgo goes until September 23 and Libra starts on September 23. I know almost nothing about the star signs, and I don’t know technically which one you are because of this, but I promise I will find out.
I never really identified with women who had a strong desire to be a mom. I couldn’t relate at all. I wanted to be a dog mom and have Stewie live forever, in fact, I often said that if I found the secret elixir to the fountain of youth, and there was only one dose, I’d give it to Stewie, because then I’d never have to live a day without him. When I was pregnant with you, I heard about a friend who had to give up his dog because his baby was allergic and I swore if you were allergic, I would give you to my parents before I gave up Stewie. Throughout the years, my mom friends would often say to me, “of course you want to be a mom, every woman does.” But I really didn’t, at least not to the human variety. The only time it was a fleeting thought was when I wondered what would happen to me when I was old and wearing diapers, who would take care of me then? Then in the summer of 2015 we went on a trip to visit family in Ireland and England. My mom is one of nine children and the oldest, so my youngest cousins are still babies. We were at my uncle’s house one day and my little cousin Eabha took your daddy's sunglasses and ran off with them. Next thing I knew she had dropped them and thought she broke them. Eabha ran to the jungle gym to hide and started crying presumably over being embarrassed about breaking the glasses (which weren’t actually broken, they had bendable arms). Daddy went over to console her and I watched from a distance as he reached up into the jungle gym and lifted her down giving her a giant hug, and in that moment I had a twang somewhere deep inside, somewhere very close to my ovaries.
I never thought I was a very maternal person. I didn't understand women who went into frenzied impassioned hysterics over babies. I didn't understand when people said you'll never know love like this until you have your own, I did have my own, I knew love like that with Stewie. I did not like how everyone under the sun called me "mama" the second I got pregnant, it actually made me cringe, even Daddy called me it and I just wanted to go back to being called babe...I found myself saying "mama" to a new mother just yesterday. I never understood the people gazing at new babies saying, “she looks like you, she looks like you, who does she look like?” Hearing people mention you look like your daddy makes my stomach twist with jealousy and it’s a crushing blow to my ego and I’m just dying for a crumb, for someone to say you look like me. Before you came I used to say to your daddy that I hope you get everything of his except his feet. I hoped you’d get his personality, looks, carefree manner...the second you were born, a narcissist deep inside me that I didn’t know existed, wanted you to be exactly like me. The only similarity daddy admits to so far between you and I are our worry wrinkles on our foreheads...bangs fix that, I’ll show you one day. I never understood why mother’s did those silly month by month posts saying “I am one month old today,” and all the things their baby can do...within a couple days of you being here I had already decided I had to do the month by month birthday blanket that my sisters friend Ashley does every month. I used to make fun of or roll my eyes at those ridiculous “Baby on Board” stickers on people’s cars...on our way home from the hospital with you, Daddy drove at a snail’s pace and I found myself wishing we had a ”Baby on Board” sticker on the back of his car, and wondering how soon Amazon Prime could get one to us. I didn't understand why Sarah pressured me to get a baby book because that was just so cheesy and not me and I would certainly never fill it out...last week I ordered the most beautiful lavish baby book of all time. I ended up pouring over the Internet looking for the perfect book that I could write letters to you everyday in, so you can know one day how you busted my frigid dead heart open. I am waiting by the mailbox everyday for your book to get here.
Oh man Olive, the things I worry about now that you are here. I was always a worrier, that’s nothing new, but the things I worry about now are on a whole new level. Are you going to be baby napped? What if I die with my blood pressure still being so high and all this happiness is taken away? What if there is an earthquake and something from another room somehow flies from that other room into your bassinet? We can't keep anything around your bassinet when you’re sleeping because the big one is coming, but what if some object somehow breaks all the rules of physics and travels into your space? What if I let someone come over and they drop you? What if I drop you? What if Daddy drops you? What if you’re around someone who is sick? What if you get a fever? I don’t want you to get a fever, I couldn’t stand to see you in pain.
And then there’s the laughing. Neither your dad or I have laughed this hard in years. When you are in your cheat swaddle and you open your big blue eyes and stretch out stiff as a board, you really truly look like a psych patient in a straight jacket, mommy and daddy just look at you and start laughing at the preposterous sight of our little mini mental monster in all her glory. You remind us of a pterodactyl, you make a cacophony of these really fascinating noises that sound prehistoric. Sometimes I look at you when daddy is giving you a bottle and you remind me of a mix between Jabba the Hutt and Tony Soprano.
I was so afraid before you came of being up all night. I’m not my best self when I don’t get a full eight hours. A couple weeks before you were born I started really panicking about no sleep and it turns out, I really don't need sleep. I don't even miss it that much. I love sitting with you in the glider at 5am listening to all the world outside just waking up. I embrace gazing at your face as the morning sun comes in gently behind us through the window, lighting your whole self up very slowly and you lazily smile. I am trying to cultivate in you, an appreciation for some of my favorite music, and I sit with you in those early mornings playing the Beatles and Elton John. Daddy likes to play you Bob Marley.
And then there’s the lessons, everyday we learn something new. The first time I learned the lesson about the diaper needing a diaper underneath before removing the first dirty diaper, it got all over the table. And then I learned the lesson a second time because I’m a slow learner and that time it was with pee and poo spraying out everywhere like the Trevi fountain on steroids. And in the midst of the poo-pee explosion, I'm trying to clench because I'm laughing so hard that pee is coming out of me too, which apparently is another side effect of childbirth that used to seem so undignified to me, and it really isn’t as bad as it seems. I hear Veronica’s voice in my head from the day she taught me how to change a diaper on Violet, and I did the same thing, switched out the diaper before another one was in place, "You're playing with fire Gayle," is what she said. I look at your daddy laughing as I'm hunched over the table and holding myself trying not to pee anymore on myself and I have never been more in love with him since the day I met him. And I realize this truly is what it's all about, being a mom really is the best job in the whole fucking world and I don't care if it ruins all my street cred, I’m going to shout it from the mountain tops anyways.
We went to the doctor the other day and your daddy wanted to bring your stroller because the last time we went he found carrying the carseat to be very cumbersome. I told him before we left to look at the instruction manual and see how to unfold it. We got to the parking lot and I waited in the car with you as your daddy took the stroller out. I won’t say what happened over the next five minutes but I heard a lot of grunting and stream of expletives that will never come out of your angelic lips. I suddenly sprung into action, I looked up your stroller on youtube and jumped out of the car and showed the video to daddy without ever once saying, “I told you to look this up before we left!” There we were, in the middle of a parking structure in Santa Monica, looking up on youtube how to open a stroller, meanwhile, I am yet again holding my bladder and trying not to pee myself, I’m laughing so hard. We must have been quite the sight to the passer by.
I don’t want to forget a single one of these moments because it hurts too bad to think any one of them may vanish into the vastness of the universes atmosphere and someday I may not remember even one of them. Maybe the first or second night we were home it was the middle of the night and you were crying a lot. Your daddy and I were so confused, I couldn’t help thinking why the hell the hospital would allow us to leave the hospital with you, we didn’t have the first clue what we were doing, it’s harder to adopt a dog than bring home a human!! I was feeling a bit bewildered and hoping that you didn’t feel scared wondering how you got stuck with these two incompetent duds who didn’t know the first thing about babies. I reached for my phone and put on my favorite Beatles song, “In My Life,” and it became our song that night. I don’t think it stopped you crying, in fact it made me join in with you crying, but I love that we have a song now. Today is your two week birthday (incidentally, I also never understood why people celebrated day and week birthdays). There have been so many moments like these, some more intimate than others, and perhaps too personal to share with the world, I will write those in your baby book when it comes...until then, I’ll wait patiently, holding vigil by the mailbox.