So it's been a while ...
I believe at one point I may have said something to the effect of how I'm so deeply involved in living life that there's not much time for writing about it. Seeing that my last entry was a photo of Leila's 3rd birthday party invitation, a lot of life has indeed happened, and I've been living, living, living (my word, have I ever)! And I'm ok with that, as far as not writing it all out as I had intended. Shortly after that last entry, though, a little surprise of a bean made her presence known - our precious Laura Elizabeth, the sweetest Christmas gift we could've hoped for! And on this, the eve of her first birthday, this seems like as good a time as any to revisit, however briefly, the blogosphere.
In previous posts, my Leila Grace had a night-before-birth letter, and Luke had his birth story told. For Laura Beth, I started writing her a letter one week before she was born and never quite finished it . . .
December 7, 2012
"Letter to Baby" (as she was yet unnamed!)
It’s a little after midnight exactly one week before you will be born, unless you decide to come a little early. But if you’re anything like your older sister and brother, you’ll be perfectly content to wait that long and even longer. As I’m typing, I feel your elbows pushing against my hip bones and am watching what is probably your cute little fanny pushing against my belly. This is my third time experiencing this but I can promise you it’s still just as fascinating as the first time. You’re a bit of a night owl, so I’m not really sleeping well anymore. That’s ok, though. I expected as much. J Good preparation for when you get here. I am sitting in our family room in the house on Cypress Place. The room is lit by our Christmas tree and carols are playing in the background. This didn’t used to be my favorite time of the year, but since having your sister and brother, it is. And I cannot wait to introduce you to the excitement and the miracle of Christmas. I think, this year, you won’t care so much. But soon, you will!
So here’s the thing, your sister was our first baby. I mapped out my whole pregnancy with her in journals and a notebook, and I wrote her a letter (like this) the night before she was born to go in her baby book. With your brother, Luke, my hands were slightly more full, so I did a bit of journaling online about my pregnancy with him, and a few days after he was born, I wrote out his whole birth story to go in his baby book. For some reason, I want to write to you a bit earlier, and record a few things that have been weighing on me to say.
Part of me has felt a little guilty because the thought and preparation that we did for Leila and Luke, we haven’t done for you. We knew their names long before they were born, and I still don’t know what your name will be! Your daddy and I have had the hardest time picking one – we want you to love it and that’s a lot of pressure. Right now, the top contenders are Elizabeth, Lilly, and Laura/Lorah. We have a feeling that we won’t know your name until we see your face – and maybe by then none of those three names will feel right! So I’m really hoping you can somehow tell us when you get here what you’d prefer. Sound like a plan? I know it’s early to ask for your help, but this is important and we don’t want to mess up. So, you don’t yet have a name, or a bed – but I plan on keeping you with me for a bit, so maybe we can both get some sleep. I haven’t had a lot of pictures taken of me while pregnant with you, mainly because I’m usually the one behind the camera. (But we’ll dig out a few for your baby book … when we buy one of those …!) I haven’t really bought you any clothes because you’ll mostly be wearing what your big sister wore. I haven’t bought you any Christmas presents except a clay ornament I’m hoping we can get your handprint in for your first Christmas. There’s an element of “been-there-done-that” with a lot of things about your arrival because, well, I’ve been there and done that. Twice. But my purpose in writing this out is to let you know, that even though you’re my third baby, you are so very, VERY special. And here’s why …
You are alive because God planned you and made you. He breathed life into you and wanted you to be ours, and so you are. You are being born right before Christmas, which means Daddy and I get the most wonderful gift of all! We couldn’t ask for more. You were made because your daddy and I love each other so, SO much. We also love Leila and Luke so very much that we can’t be anything but excited to meet you and welcome you into our lives and love you like we love them. With your sister, I was a new mommy and so scared of what I didn’t know and had to learn, which was everything. With Luke, I was less scared about him but more scared about how to be a mommy to more than one baby, how to handle everything and everyone’s needs. YOU are special because, for the first time, I’m not scared! I’m nothing but happy you’re coming and I can’t wait for you to get here, and that is a HUGE blessing! It’s so neat to not be nervous, to just be joyful. I know it will take you some time to get used to me and the world, and LIFE. But we’ll figure it out together. I know, this third time around, that even though things will be a little rough at first, we will definitely figure it out, and that everything will be ok – not just “ok,” but amazing. J
And that's where I left it, not knowing what else to say, eventually forgetting to return to complete it. Or maybe, in my heart, I already knew it was complete. There was nothing left to say because it all came true: I was not afraid, bringing you into the world was like second-nature, and I fell so madly and deeply in love with you SO quickly it boggled my mind. You did, obviously, finally, receive a name. When I arrived at the hospital, my nurse who was assigned to me and saw me throughout your whole birth process and took care of me after was named Laura. At that point, your daddy and I knew what your name was. Though you're not specifically named after any one particular person, you are named in honor of a few very treasured women who have shown me and our family great kindness, love and friendship. And your middle name, Elizabeth, is a name that goes back on all four sides of each of your daddy's and my families.
Now here's the tricky part. You were born on Friday, December 14th, at 12:33 pm. Somewhere in the fews hours before that, while I was getting ready to meet you and was taken to the operating room, in another part of the country, a horrific tragedy was taking place; a nightmare of proportions no person should ever have to know. I have a vague memory of being wheeled back to my hospital room after you were born and you were about to be brought to me so I could hold and nurse you for the first time, and the television had been left on and I looked up and I saw it - I saw what had happened. And I remember thinking it had to be turned off - I couldn't see that when I was about to hold you and really look into your eyes for the first time. That may be selfish of me, but it wasn't until later that I was of sound enough mind to process what had happened and mourn for those who mourned (who are still mourning, and whenever you read this, even years and years from now, will probably still be). A part of me is saddened that your birthday, which was joyous to us, will forever represent a day of great loss for many others. On the other hand, a kind person - and I'm sorry I cannot remember who - pointed out to me upon your birth announcement that you represented hope, new life, a ray of light in the darkness of that day. So that will always be how I choose to remember your birthday, and I pray you will do the same.
A year later, in a different house than the one in which I penned the above letter, but listening to the same Christmas carols, on the same spot on the same sofa, you are sleeping in your bed a few feet away. You're a good sleeper. You're a good little eater with your almost-8 teeth. You "talk" more than your sister or brother ever did at this age ("Duhbuhduhbuh" makes for adorable conversation!). You're learning to stand. You love to play with Leila and Luke, but often go off on your own to play in peace (Lord knows you and I need our peace sometimes). You sing back to me when I sing to you. You come to me and lay your head on my shoulder and I know you're telling me you love me. You're the best peek-a-boo player around. Your cheeks are positively edible. Yours eyes are the exact color of your daddy's, and there's something almost eery about the intelligence they hold when I look into them, as if you're an old soul. You're so happy and animated, and when something hurts your feelings, the face you make breaks my heart so thoroughly I can almost hear it. I know our days of nursing are growing short, and that's ok, but there aren't words for how much I'll ache for the feel of your fingers reaching up, curling around my hair, or patting my cheek while you drink, or that milk-drunk state right before I put you to bed like I did tonight, your soft, golden-brown hair curling around your ears, and the way you sense that I'm about to carry you to your bed so you rouse yourself and sleepily try to give me an open-mouthed kiss on my cheek.
A year later, I still have guilt that you're getting a bit short-changed; where your sister and brother each got a big first birthday party, yours had to be postponed because of bad weather, and then you got sick. And you have the double-whammy of it being so close to Christmas. So you will more than likely get to share your first BIG celebration with Leila and Luke (like everything else in your life for a while - get used to it now, kiddo!). But I want, so much, for you to know how SPECIAL you are! I was right, at the end of my letter: everything is not just ok, everything is awesome! You are, literally, awesome. Your daddy and I are filled with awe so often when we look at you - you are beyond beautiful, and so smart, and SO sweet! You are special in every way. You are hope, you are light in the darkness. And you are ONEderful. ;)
So, my precious Laura Beth, with this, I wish you a happy 1st birthday!