Saturday, June 26, 2010

My daughter

Tonight I was talking to my daughter - my firstborn. She is away from me, with her dad in another state. I didn't realize just how much I missed her until she called me tonight. She was slightly weepy. Tired, ready to come home, wanting me to wash her off and put her in bed like so many summer nights. But I can't from here. So I put on my "happy mom" voice and told her I loved her and that she'd be home tomorrow.

When I found out I was pregnant with her, I was overjoyed. My ex-husband and I had originally planned to get married in Hawaii in the fall of 2001. Then 9/11 happened, and no one wanted to fly to our destination wedding. Flights were getting eliminated and costs were skyrocketing. So, we postponed. We had been dating since late 1997, so there wasn't any huge rush. We ultimately married in May, 2002. I immediately stopped taking birth control, and hoped I would conceive quickly. I felt like I'd been waiting my whole life to be a mother.

The day I found I was pregnant, I had had a trial. I was throwing up during recesses. It was December 13, 2002. When I arrived home that night, my husband suggested the flu. Then we both looked at one another, and we knew. I took the test, and around 7pm we found out - we were going to have a baby. We relished in the news - not telling anyone that night. Talking about our hopes and dreams for this little girl. Somehow we were both sure I was carrying a girl.

A few weeks later I went to my first doctor's appointment and found out indeed I was pregnant and would deliver August 3rd. It seemed an eternity. I read everything I could. I cut out caffeine, alcohol and aspirin. It seemed so surreal. As my belly swelled with the life I was carrying, I found myself amazed. As the weeks and months passed, I cherished it all. I was fortunate, I was never very sick and had little bad effects from being pregnant. In fact, I felt round and full. It was a pretty glorious time. As summer came, and my ankles and belly swelled bigger, I looked so forward to her arrival. By then we had confirmed I was indeed pregnant with a girl.

Finally August arrived. And then the bad news - the unmedicated birth I had hoped for would not be. Our baby was breech, and they suspected had some hip dysplasia. I remember weeping at my appointment that week - the first week in August. I was overdue, tired, swollen and hot. My doctor told me she would have to be delivered via c section. I was upset by the news, so much so I sought a second opinion. Ultimately we scheduled a c section for August 14th.

That morning we checked in bright and early at Barnes Hospital, just down the street from where we living. It was hot. In fact there was a massive power outage in several cities that day from the heat. I wish I could say Melena's delivery was easy and roses, but it wasn't for me. I had an allergic reaction to the morphine in my epidural and felt out of it. It wasn't until several hours later that I felt I was really present.

She was born perfect. A big, healthy baby with a lusty cry. She fed easily and stared at me as if to say, "I know you." Her birth seemed like some sort of odyessy. She was so amazing. I fell in love on sight.

We brought her home from the hospital, and she delighted everyone. She smiled and laughed often. She was (and is) loving, affectionate and sweet. As time passed I realized what a gift she was. I'm still amazed at her. She will be 7 in August.

Now I'm most proud of her heart. She is a good kid. She loves others, has empathy beyond her age and is miles ahead of where I as at her age. I'm abundantly blessed just to be able to be her mother. To get to see all the "firsts" children go through, and realize that she is a part of me in some ways. I'm fairly sure I would feel this way regardless of our genetic makeup. When you spend your life with someone, and your role is to be sure that person has what they need physically, emotionally and every other way, you know them. While my daughter, now 7, has her own thoughts, ideas and feelings, I feel bound up with them and her. Her happiness is mine. Her sorrows are mine.

This morning (her 7th birthday) she woke me up at 6:30 a.m. to tell me it was THE day. I watched her open her gifts and now she's playing pretend with some of the toys not really aware I'm watching her. There is no better thing than this. If she is my life's work, it would be enough.

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