We booked plane tickets to Paris last night. We are taking a Christmas Eve redeye which will arrive in Paris around 10AM Christmas morning. And we’ve rented a studio apartment in Le Marais for a week.
This decision took a long time to make. As I’ve written before, Christmas has always been my very favorite holiday, and watching others, especially all the kids in our family (I have 12 nieces and nephews), open their gifts on Christmas morning has always been my very favorite part of it. But Christmas is also highly ritualistic in our family, and although rituals are comforting and fun, they also make it so that it’s that much more noticeable when a part of the ritual is missing. We open gifts one by one, in order from oldest to youngest, so that everyone gets to see what everyone else is opening. We’ve done it this way since the first year I can actually remember celebrating Christmas—I was four years old. You can imagine how long this can take, with at times close to 20 people opening presents. Last year, Hudson was put into the rotation for the first time, opening her gifts right between my three-year-old niece Emma and their 67-year-old Poppy. This year, if I were to stay home and participate in this ritual, every time it would come back to the youngest’s turn, that youngest will be Emma, not Hudson. You can see why this seems like an absolutely miserable proposition for me. Even though I knew it would be sad for my family if we were not there to celebrate with them, I ultimately had to decide that it would be a lot harder for me to be there than it would be for them for me not to be there.
So Paris it is. And I’m trying to get excited about it. This morning, 9 hours after we’d bought the tickets and committed to the apartment, as we were getting ready to walk out the door, I started crying and said, “I don’t WANT to go to Paris.” And then I explained that I do want to go to Paris, but I wish I didn’t. I wish I had no inclination to go to Paris at all, because I wish that Hudson were here and that we were making plans to spend a lazy week at home with our families and friends in NC. But it is what it is. So I’m buying guide books and thinking about all the things we want to fit in to our 6 days there. I am mustering excitement.
Similarly, I am mustering excitement about this pregnancy and our new baby. You see other women nesting. You’ll see me mustering. I wrote before about how we debated about how early we should start telling people we were pregnant. One of the reasons I was ready to go ahead and tell people is that I was hoping that everyone else’s excitement would start to rub off on me. It’s not that I’m not really, truly happy that we are having this baby. I am. I really am. I love being a mother. I loved being Hudson’s mommy. It was the most special identity in the world. And I was good at it. I want to be a mother again. Ed and I love being parents and we love each other so much that we want to share that love with children. So it’s not that I’m not happy. It’s just so hard to get excited about anything right now because I am still just so very deeply sad for Hudson and for us. But I’m working on it. I deserve it. Ed deserves it. This little bean deserves it.
To that end, we thought for a long time about what to call this baby in utero. Hudson’s in utero name came so naturally to us that we didn’t have to think very long about it. This go round was harder. We wanted to “keep it in the family” with another ocean creature, but also wanted something that somehow suited the baby, if we could figure out what that was. And ideally, it would be an animal that looks really cute in a plush toy, so we could get one to take the same month-by-month pictures that we did with Hudson and her turtle. Since we are actually going to find out the sex of this baby (more on that decision in another post), I started realizing that if we didn’t come up with an in utero name soon, we’d get to the point where we could actually just name the little peanut. Finally, after Monday’s ultrasound, where the baby was moving around a fair bit (just like it had been during the ultrasound a few weeks back), it struck me. A penguin. Penguins are playful, adorable, and great swimmers. Most importantly, they are highly adaptable to what may often times be a rough and tumble world—not unlike what it must be like to be inside my body right now, and probably not unlike what it will be like to live with me for a long while, given how prone I am to crying jags. Penguin mothers and daddies make incredible sacrifices for their babies, just like mama sea turtles do. And you gotta know that a stuffed penguin is just awesome—I found this one on Amazon, and was amazed when I realized it is made by Melissa and Doug, the same brand that made Hudson’s turtle. So the Little Penguin it is. I’ve also already found a wall sticker to go over the baby’s bed that is similar to the turtle stickers that hung over Hudson’s. And I added a pregnancy countdown to the right side of the blog (and no, I won’t do one of those cutesy tickers—that wasn’t really me even before Hudson died—it’s even less so now).
I’m mustering excitement. I hope it’s working. I think it is.