Quiet Hour

Dear Caroline,

About three weeks after we brought you home from the hospital, we took you in the stroller to the square in Forest Hills Gardens. Mom and I were beside ourselves with joy at your arrival – our second-born, a girl, delivered healthy and perfect. We felt absolutely celebratory, life suddenly new again.

We wheeled you over the cobblestones clickety-clack under the train tracks and past the inn to a new café with a table and chairs on the sidewalk. It was November, or maybe early December, so a little cool out, but mild enough to park ourselves outside. We got ourselves coffee and some pastries and took our seats.

You promptly went to sleep. You lay there, swaddled in your blanket, a little cap on your head, your eyes closed. Can you possibly conceive of just how beautiful you looked to us at that moment? Can you fathom the depth of the adoration we felt for you? We had brought you home and taken you out into the day, into the light, under the autumn sun.

We sipped our coffee and savored our danishes as you slept, your nostrils flaring as you breathed. We marveled at the quiet all around us. We talked little, basking in the rare silence.

We gloried in our great good luck, too. We now had a daughter. Our son now had a sister. Grandma Nettie now had a granddaughter. A second child meant a second chance, a chance to do even better this time around. You completed us, made us everything we wanted to be, a family of four, boy plus girl.

Every few minutes we peered into the stroller to check on you. On you slept, on and on and on, perhaps tired from the rigors of birth, the shock of new life, perhaps just relaxed, feeling so safe and secure with us in the historic square at that little café.

It’s such a beautiful spot, Forest Hills Gardens, one of my favorite in the city, so much like a turn-of-the-century English village, or so I imagine. But now it felt better to be there than it ever had. We had our own little girl.

Mom and I probably talked about you a lot at the café. Again and again we peeked in on you, and on and on you slept.

Can you believe how long she’s sleeping? I must have said.

Neither of us could quite believe it.

Oh, this is going to be so easy, I thought, so much easier than with Michael. You were going to be a really good sleeper.

You slept something like 20 hours that day. I guess you needed it.

You never slept that long again (never went that long without talking either).

But it worked out fine. You took a break, and we caught one, too. Those hours gave us a special peace, some time to reflect on our good luck and brace ourselves for the years ahead.

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