She was born in a flash on Sunday, March 23, at 9:12 pm. (As in, from 6 cm dilated to a baby in the room in 12 minutes flat. TA DA!!!) She flopped around on my belly for a bit, sneezed twice, just as Mia did upon arrival two and a half years ago, then settled in for some milk, a cuddle, and a snooze. She weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz. and was 19 inches long.
We're all feeling great. Really, really great. And super proud of the girl we loved first.
You want to get to Freddie, you've gotta get through THIS:
Last Sunday, together with a living room full of family and friends, we gave Freddie her name: Frieda Rose Schleifer. She's named for my great-great aunt Frieda, also "Freddie" to the people who knew her best, who just weeks before she died in 2008 at the age of 97, was on the phone with Eli discussing Walter Isaacson's book on Benjamin Franklin, and David McCullough's 1776. Rose is for Aunt Frieda's mother, my great-great grandmother, a woman I'd heard about, but never met. In our tradition, you get a Jewish name too, so our Frieda Rose is also Frayda Nitzan. The Yiddish, Frayda, comes from the word "frayd," which means "joy." Nitzan is the Hebrew word for bud, fitting, we thought, for this child born on the cusp of spring.
At the gathering on Sunday, my father spoke about Freddie's namesakes, his great-aunt Frieda and his great-grandmother Rose. Eli's father spoke about the German, Norse, Hebrew, and Yiddish meanings behind the names we chose. Mia's wonderful, wonderful babysitter read a story to all of the kids about an elephant who dreamed of becoming a photographer. There were quiches, and granola bars, and banana chocolate muffins, fruit, and flowers, and balloons, per Mia's request. Mia also requested a ringing of the bells, these bells, that she passed out to her cousins and friends at the end of the afternoon.
The morning that Eli, Mia, and I brought Freddie home from the hospital, I checked Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, as I do every day. Each post begins with a poem, and that day's seemed to have our Frieda Rose, our joyful bud, all wrapped up in it. Cheers to you, Freddie, to these early spring days, to the pleasure of being exactly where we are, and the love that enables us to feel this way.
"A Prayer in Spring"
By Robert Frost
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.