The Fashion Magpie Bringing Baby Home

The Grand Arrival.

Emory Lucia Shoop was born at 7:01 a.m. on March 5th — exactly a month ago yesterday.

Mini Magpie

{Welcome, baby girl.}

I’ve had a difficult time writing about her birth because I find myself so consumed with the bigness of my emotions that words fail me and tears get the better of me.  I will have to one day write about the many surprises of giving birth and the first few weeks thereafter–chief among them the intensity of the emotions, for which I was wholly unprepared.  The first two weeks were a blur of tears and a feeling that my heart had been wrenched out of my body, mostly in a good way (joy! elation!) and, admittedly, partly in an exhausted-pain-riddled-overwhelmed-what-am-I-doing kind of way.  A dear friend who had given birth a month before me nodded knowingly and said, “It’s the post-delivery trifecta — exhaustion, hormones, and oxytocin — and you cry all the time.”  She sat on my couch next to me ten days after Emory was born while I cried in front of her, and just said: “Let it out, girlfriend.”  Another friend with a baby just three months older than minimagpie consoled me with: “Yep, there was one day a few days after my son was born that I don’t think I stopped crying.”  And my mom squeezed my hand and helped me eke out a some much-needed laughter through my tears.  But the intensity of those first few weeks was a surprise.  Beautiful, joyful, exciting, precious–but intense.

At any rate, I thought I might try to write obliquely about her arrival, to come at it from a gentler angle, by explaining her name.  I shared our desire to give minimagpie a name that sounded like a “woman of substance,” and a lot of you reacted strongly to our intentions.  (In fact, that post spawned a whole series of posts on amazing, tenacious, inspiring women of substance.  And if you have a referral/recommendation for this series, shoot me a note!)

But: my little Emory.  And her name.

One afternoon several years ago, before Mr. Magpie and I had even begun to talk about starting a family, we drove from D.C. to Lexington, Virginia, home of the college Washington + Lee and one of those gorgeous, bucolic bits of the Mid-Atlantic where it feels as though time has stopped.  One of those parts of rural Virginia that feels so untouched, so lush and green with its rolling, verdant hills and beautiful foliage, that you can’t help but imagine the colonists first embarking on its shores and you just know that not much has changed in the hundreds of years intervening.

We wound through unpaved country roads, the side-view mirrors whacking tree branches out of the way, until we stopped at a beautiful country home whose drive was already packed with cars.  Friendly faces and open arms streamed out of the house, greeting us: it was a Shoop family reunion.  I’d never even met most of the attendees except for a few cursory moments at our wedding years earlier, but we felt like movie stars.  These salt-of-the-earth folks knew so much about us and were so excited and eager to pass the weekend with us.

There is nothing like family, even family you’ve luckily inherited through marriage.  I was so touched by their interest in us, our lives, our livelihoods.

Much of the reunion was spent sitting around over glasses of wine, swapping family lore and looking over family heirlooms and photographs that had been resurrected for the occasion, including the helmet Mr. Magpie’s grandfather had worn in WWII.  It bore a hole in the side where shrapnel had fallen.  He’d survived the injury, but the helmet was a haunting reminder of the difficult times of the past.

The patriarch of the family, a big-bearded, jolly gentleman (Mr. Magpie’s father’s cousin) was an expert story-teller, and at one point, he pulled out a carefully maintained family ledger listing all of the family members and their birth and death and marriage dates.  I was surprised to see my name already inscribed in it.  I pored over the pages and was struck by the name Emory, the name of a Shoop family gentleman from generations prior.  It was such an unusual but sturdy and all-American name.  An heirloom.  I tucked it away and thought, tentatively, I might consider using it for a future child.

As Mr. Magpie and I discussed potential names for minimagpie, Emory continued to resurface.  I loved its gender neutrality–it sounds both strong and tough and at the same time sweet and melodic.  And we both loved the idea of repurposing a name from generations past, an homage to Landon’s good-natured and hard-working lineage from the Mid-Atlantic.  Beyond that, I loved that it was a name I’d discovered on a weekend dedicated to Mr. Magpie’s roots–a weekend of making new connections and resurfacing old ones, and all in sweet home Virginia, which bears so many important memories and landmarks for myself and my family.

So, after shuttling between a handful of first-name contenders for a few weeks, we realized we consistently returned to Emory.  It just felt right for our little spitfire.

I knew, then, that I wanted a decidedly more feminine middle name, so that if her full name was read aloud, there would be no question that she was a girl.  I have long loved the name Lucia, the namesake of my Italian great-grandmother, whom I mentioned first here for her insane bravery in immigrating to the United States at the tender age of 19.  Within hours of Emory’s birth, my father sent the loveliest email to myself and my siblings sharing a little bit about his beloved grandmother.  I’m sharing it below because my father is an exquisite and precise writer, always capable of finding the mot juste, and he has put things better than I ever could:

Dear Emory,

Your parents have given you a lovely middle name and I wanted you to know a little bit about the wonderful woman you were named after. 
Lucia, your great great grandmother, was born on November 27, 1889 in the small and remote mountain village of Frosolone, Italy.  She was 19 when she married Donato in the beautiful Church of the Assumption in that little town on August 5, 1909.  Within a few months, Tony and Lucy departed from the nearby seaport of Naples for America.  They arrived at Ellis Island, outside New York City, a few weeks later and then traveled to Painesville, Ohio, where a number of other relatives had recently settled and where Tony had previously secured employment.  Below is a picture of Tony and Lucy, taken shortly after their wedding and which served as their passport picture.  Notice how they were gently holding on to each other.  Tony and Lucy arrived with little education and even less money but built a successful and prosperous life.  They lived the American dream.
Lucy was a kind, gentle and generous woman who always put the family first (“alla familia,” as she often said).  Someday, when you are older, I will tell you many sweet memories I have of her when I was a little boy. 
Below is a picture of my saying good bye to her as I was on my way to Vietnam in 1969.  
With much love,
Grandpa
The Fashion Magpie Lucia and Dad
When minimagpie entered the world at 7:01 a.m. on March 5th, Mr. Magpie and I both cried when we heard her first few cries–not screams, not squeals, but a funny, tentative, rhythmic sort of “weh-wehhh, weh-wehhhh, weh-wehhhh” that Mr. Magpie and I actively try to recall every week or two, worried we might forget it at some point in the future.  It was a muted sound of discomfort mixed with self-soothing.  Silly as it may seem, I like to think that she was showing the same courage in arriving to a new and scary place full of strange smells and sounds and faces that her great-great-grandmother demonstrated when immigrating to the US just over a century ago.
So: welcome, Emory.
This is the first of many arrivals and departures in your life.
May you always greet these transitions with equanimity and strength, and may your name always remind you to keep your family close to your heart.  I draw so much strength and inspiration from them and the many big and small acts of love and courage they have made in their lives.
~~~~~~
To conclude this post, I thought I would share a few items that were particularly helpful to me while in the hospital.  I definitely overpacked (check out my hospital packing list) — many of you more seasoned moms were right in that the hospital really gives you everything you need.  Still.  Things I am SO happy I had:
+A pretty robe.  They make you walk the halls by the end of the first day of your c-section, and I was relieved I had packed a robe to wear so that my butt wasn’t hanging out for the world to see.  I saw another mom with a sheet wrapped around her.  I guess you could wear a second hospital gown backwards around you to achieve the same effect, but it was nice to wear something pretty.
+Makeup removing pads.  I don’t think I had even a shred of makeup left by the time I’d delivered minimagpie–I had cried it all off–but I still remember wiping my face with these pads when I got to my hospital room and feeling like I’d done something helpful and useful and refreshing.  They were also handy those first few days where I tried to put on at least a swipe of mascara and blush, but there was no way in hell I was going to be bothered by washing my face.  Hard to believe now, but there was a time where just bending over the sink seemed like a daunting physical challenge.
+An extension cord.  So that my phone and laptop were reachable from my bed.  And, to that end, my phone and laptop.  I watched a lot of reruns of The Office–or had it on in the background, at least, to sort of buoy my over-emotional self.  We had to turn an episode off because it made me laugh too hard, which in turn made me feel like my stitches were going to pop open (sick!).
+My makeup bag.  I’m SO glad I brought cosmetics, including my own shampoo and conditioner and dry shampoo (all Drybar “Mini” sizes), a mini bar soap (MUST for that first shower, which felt SO precious — I just bought a cheap little mini bar of Dove soap from the CVS travel aisle and it smelled like heaven to me at the time), tinted moisturizer, mascara.  Oh, and a travel size perfume.  Putting on perfume made me feel like a whole new woman.
+This nipple cream.  So much better than the standard-issue Lanolin, which is super thick and gloppy.
+Baby book.  I was able to write in some of the details of mini’s birth right from the hospital bed before I could forget any of it!  I wasn’t fast or lucid enough to think to do this, but you could also ask the nurses to have the babe’s footprints put right into the book.
+A gift and letter for Mr. Magpie.  Just something small (a book for him to read to mini), but I am especially glad I took the time to write him a love letter full of gratitude for his many kindnesses and his incredible patience throughout the pregnancy while I was still sane of mind (ha!)  Mr. Magpie wrote me an over-generous letter that he gave me in the hospital, too, and even now I cannot even think about it without bursting into tears–possibly the most beautiful gift I have ever received.  When I do get around to sharing mini’s birthstory, I will already tell you that much of it will center around the incredible man he is. (P.S. I packed some granola bars and other snacks for Mr. Magpie, too, which was helpful because the food was no bueno in the hospital.)
+A cute swaddle for mini and, if you’re like me and love them, an infant hairbow.  I had somehow missed the memo that the hospital sends around a photographer to extort money from over-emotional new parents to take photos of your newborn that you can then order online.  I must say that the photographer we had was a nuisance–she kept dropping by during the most inopportune moments, like when the nurses were pushing on my stomach (SO PAINFUL, WHYYYY) a few times a day or I was trying to shower for the first time or I was trying to nurse mini, and she would sort of lurk in the corner trying to get things ready for a photoshoot and we’d have to ask her to come back.  Then, she told me Emory was “fussy” and, in my first act of mama-bear-ness, I scooped up Emory and told her the photo shoot was over in a huff.  HA.  Not only is Emory not a fussy baby, but why oh why would you say this to a new mom hopped up on pain meds with huge crying-induced bags under her eyes?!?  But anyway, if you’re going to have a photo taken, you might as well have your babe wrapped in something cute and with a bow on top, to boot.
+Related: a cute (and, in my case, snuggly, because it was cold the day she came home) outfit for baby to wear home.  I had a sweet and super-soft footie from Kissy Kissy similar to this and a cashmere hat and gloves set for her.  And, of course, her carseat already installed in the back seat of the car.  (FYI: we really like her carseat.  It weighs 8 lbs, which is basically half of what most infant carseats weigh, and I literally can barely lift this one when mini is in it.  I strongly recommend it if you’re a weakling like I am.  Plus, it looks slick.  We got it in the black.  Our only gripe is that the little cushion that covers the fasteners that go between the baby’s legs flies off all the time.  We’ve already had to order a replacement!)
+A small collapsible bag ($10 and SO cute), too, for all of the overflow items the hospital sends you home with — in our case, diapers, bottles, formula, mesh underwear, and even a bin and soap to wash the bottles with.  Plus, a bunch of paperwork.
+I’m pleased I had a pair of maternity leggings, a loose button-down, a nursing bra, and my Gucci slides to wear home.  It was easy to put the outfit on (ugh I can’t imagine bending over to tie shoes after a c-section!) and super comfortable.
My mom snapped the pic below of Mr. Magpie, mini, and I walking from our garage into our home for the first time.  It’s funny to look back at this picture, because, at the time, I felt like a monstrous zombie and even remember thinking I should hide my face but then feeling too exhausted to care, but now I think, “hey girl, you don’t look half bad!”  My mother in law even said I look like a teenager in it.  HA.  I’ll take it!  But also, Mr. Magpie!  WHAT.  Where do you get off looking like a supermodel after sleeping (or, rather, NOT sleeping) for four nights on a horribly uncomfortable hospital cot?!
The Fashion Magpie Bringing Baby Home
I am loving the idea of concluding this post with this picture of my new little family.  A totally different kind of departure/arrival from the portrait of my great-great-grandmother and grandfather about to disembark from Italy for America, but a transition nonetheless.
P.S.  A few other items I’ve recently ordered for minimagpie that I thought I’d share:
+Crane’s humidifier ($49).  Man, when I was growing up, we had this huge brown and cream plastic monstrosity as a humidifier.  They’ve gotten so much sleeker these days!  Minimagpie has had some dry skin thanks to the cold weather and heat we have on, so my mom suggested we try this to keep her skin a little more moisturized.
+Related to the above: I got her Mustela’s hydra stick to apply to her lips and cheeks.
+More bibs.  I way underestimated how many of these would be helpful to have on hand since we are supplementing breastmilk with formula.  BTW,  a good friend of mine recommended Hipp Dutch formula — it’s a lot more natural and gentle on baby than most American brands (less synthetic acids, etc.) and, according to my friend, it doesn’t smell or stain.  Plus, I was shocked to find it’s actually cheaper per ounce than most of the American formulas!  So, I just ordered my first shipment.
+More bottles.  We’ve loved these, our only gripe being that the lids are really hard to get off with one hand!  So we’re trying these Comotomos which boast a similar “natural” nipple and potentially an easier-to-remove lid.  I also ordered one of these after reading rave reviews.  Finally, we ordered a second Boon bottle drying grass rack to keep in our upstairs master bathroom since half the feedings happen up there at night and it’s so much easier to just keep a second tin of formula and some bottles up there!
+I’ve found it’s super handy to have these hand/face wipes on hand to clean up spit up or whatever when I’m on the go with mini.  I keep one in my bag, one in my stroller, one in the car, etc.  I actually prefer these by Mustela, but they are a lot more expensive, so I just keep one of these on hand in my bag.

10 Comments

  1. Such a beautiful, beautiful post, and a gorgeous, meaningful, elegant name that you bestowed upon your baby girl. She is lucky to be born into such a special family!

    1. Thanks, Eric!! I’ll let my dad know 🙂 Miss you and sending you, V, and K love!

  2. Love this post! My husband and I went to W&L and got married there-it’s such a beautiful part of the country! Emory’s name is so pretty and so meaningful- y’all knocked it out of the park!

    1. No way!! Love all my Virginia readers 🙂 Thanks for note. We’re pretty pleased with her name, too 🙂 XOXO

  3. Her name is beautiful and this post is a treasure. Thank you for your honesty about the beginnings of motherhood.

    1. Thank you so much for the sweet note, Bethany! I miss seeing you and Jeff — it feels like forever ago that we were hanging out in Arlington! xoxo

  4. So beautifully written (you and your dad)! This whole post brought tears to my eyes. Emory is so lucky to have such an amazing family!

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