My daughter turned one this week. I know it's cliche, but I can't believe the time has flown so quickly (I can hear my dad saying the same thing about me!). It seems like a breath ago she was a lumpy bundle of goodness who loved to sleep on my chest. Now, she's not content to be held but rather, with legs pumping and arms flapping, insists in her non-verbal way that I put her down and set her free. Free to roam, she scoots the whole length of the house (no, she's not crawling or walking yet either) and does adorable things that make my heart melt. Today, in a move that is decidedly "toddler-hood right around the corner", she picked up a calculator, held it to her ear like a phone, and looked at me expectantly. I spoke: "ring, ring, hello Lily." My reward? Bright-eyed, toothy grin. Sigh.
I have been reminiscing a lot this week, remembering where we were as a family exactly one year ago. I remember going to the hospital the day before she was born only to be told "you're not in labor" and to go home disappointed. I remember returning exactly fourteen hours later, after laboring at home in my sleep (thank God! for all you pregnant women out there, take a Benadryl if you think the time's approaching...you'll never get that much sleep again!). I remember excruciating pain, wholly unlike the pain I felt with my first labor, as my friend and her daughter rushed me to the hospital where my husband waited. I remember back labor, vomiting, and making the difficult decision to get an epidural (my first birth was completely natural). I remember loving that decision after it was made and texting while I awaited Lily's descent. I remember feeling everything, even though I was numb, and wondering at how I could still engage the process while accepting the additional help of pain relief. Grace personified in my person.
I remember feeling excited to meet her, the sweet anticipation of mother-hood. I remember working with labor, not against it, in an amazing act of co-creation that is too beautiful to write about. I remember a four hour active labor. I remember the air conditioning failing in my room at Seton Hospital. I remember doctors and nurses sweating. I remember it felt like poetic justice. I remember my husband holding my hand and telling me he was proud of me. I remember her first cry - even then it seemed gentler than her brother's. I remember how her brother loved her from the very first moment and, even today, how he still insists on hugging and kissing her "night night" before she goes to bed.
I remember that she felt gentle and calm from the very first touch. Her brother felt strong, like he could carry a lot. Lily felt grace-filled, like the love in her would move forth from her like a river, caressing those that step into it with a slow, steady movement that will change them the longer they experience it. Deep, still, beautiful.
I remember the women who visited me in the hospital, sat with me, held Lily when I couldn't due to my fainting spells. I remember a much easier, faster recovery the second time around. I remember "there's no rest for the weary" with a sweet, then twenty-month-old wanting his mommy. I remember an unknown neighbor, now a friend, bringing me homemade soup to welcome us to the neighborhood and congratulate us on the new baby. I remember Lily sleeping at six hour stretches from day one. I remember feeling complete, finished, as if Lily were the missing piece and she was now at home in our family.
I remember loving her more than I ever thought possible, just as I had felt when Gunnar was born. I remember knowing that she was a gift. I remember experiencing, even before she was born, that I was already learning from her in a way that would change me forever. I remember fearing that change, accepting it, and, later, praising God for it.
I remember thanksgiving.
I remember joy.