I have a toddler.
That's all I can think about since my BABY turned one last Friday. On her birthday she got up early and she John and I spent some time hanging out in our room just the three of us, playing with toys and remembering where we were a year ago: Hanging out in a hospital room waiting for Dr. P to show up and break my water. I think I was watching A Baby Story on TLC (a little last minute cramming, anyone?) and trying to keep my mind off how uncomfortable things were starting to get after being on a Pitocin drip all night. John was just starting to rub his eyes awake in the chair-bed contraption where he'd tossed and turned all night as nurses came in and out of the room to check me, as I flip-flopped in bed and wrangled my stupid IV cart into the bathroom at least 30 times.
At around 8:30 that morning, the morning of the day our daughter was born, the doctor came in and checked me and decided to break my water. And THAT is when things really got moving and I lost total track of time. I had a failed epidural soon after and spent a majority of active labor without the benefit of anesthesia. Every so often the anesthesiologist would come into the room and shoot something into the catheter in my back, I would pass out for about 15 minutes and then a contraction would rise up and jolt me awake, and John would be right there to coach me through it and make sure I didn't hyperventilate. I spent most of the day with my eyes squeezed shut, but when I would open my eyes there would be those blue eyes that I know so well, the familiar hands with bitten down fingernails and guitar string grooves in the fingertips of my dearest one reaching out to calm and soothe me and despite the pain I felt God's presence descending squarely on that little room, that moment in time. We would look at each other once the contraction passed and smile and say to one another in almost disbelief "Our baby is coming today!!" I'm not going to lie, I wondered in my head (and lets just admit it, out loud too) many times if she would actually come that day, especially during the two-and-a-half hours of pushing.
When John finally brought Sydney to me around the curtain after the eventual c-section, I had already heard her cry. I had already heard others describing to me what she looked like … how BIG she was and how beautiful, how much hair she had, that her eyes were open and that she was looking around for her daddy when she heard his voice. When I first saw that little face peeking out from the blue and white hospital blankets I had a moment of what I can only describe as shock. The room went silent. I was a little aggravated that I was strapped to the table still – as I was being put back together and sewn up – and I couldn't get a good angle on her face. My glasses were all smudged up with sweat and fingerprints and askew on my face from the long day I'd spent in labor. I had this urge to grab her and just smash my face into hers, to kiss her on the lips, to hold her so close. Here was my baby in her daddy's arms. In that moment I was so tired and drugged up and in awe of all that had happened that even though I felt like crying happy and relieved tears, I couldn't. John looked bewildered as he stared at her and at me and showed me our baby. He was worried about me and who wouldn't feel a little bewildered after he'd just seen his wife's intestines and stomach IN SOMEONE'S HANDS after watching his offspring being forcibly removed from her body?
We had time with her in the recovery room, where I was kept until nearly one a.m. Sydney was born at 9:14 p.m. but I had to stay in recovery because my legs were dead longer than normal because of how much anesthesia was in my system. We were finally taken to post-partum and got settled, and John got into his daddy's bed next to mine and rested at my command. He threw his arm over his face in the way that he does and promptly fell asleep. Several techs and nurses visited me over the next few hours, and I couldn't rest anyway bc I was so jacked up from all that had happened, and then finally a nurse wheeled our baby into our room in a clear bassinet. She helped me ratchet up my hospital bed, and then scooped the bundle out and handed her to me. The nurse checked a few things and then left the room, it seemed she could sense that I needed to get acquainted with my baby, and no sooner had she crossed the threshold I had my Sydney stripped and clutched to my naked chest. I marveled at her long toes, the ones that had been stuck up in my ribs for the final stretch of my pregnancy. I sucked in my breath at the little cooing and sighing noises she made. Her hair was so dark and wavy, her lips pursed and poised for kisses. She opened up her eyes and looked deeply at me and I introduced myself to her again and again and told her about how desperately she was loved and how long we'd been waiting to meet her.
And so a year later my baby turned one. She dug into her first piece of birthday cake and punctuated each bite with the exclamation, "YUM!" She opened up birthday presents soon after her post-cake bath, sporting her pajamas and shredding paper with her five-months-older cousin while her grandparents, aunt, great-aunt, honorary uncle, and parents watched. She threw around her new ball and yelled "BALL!" as we all sat in a circle around her and laughed. And then she stood up and walked five steps right there in the middle of all the happy chaos and the room erupted in cheers (and tears from her parents, oh the tears), and then she plopped down on her bottom and joined the clapping.
Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be allowed to be joined to something so special, so full of promise and joy, to be allowed a glimpse into what I'm sure heaven must be like. When she rustles awake in her in crib in the morning and I hear her on the monitor murmuring "mama mama mama" as she flips through her books I feel my heart bursting into a million pieces all over again like they did that morning when we first whispered to one another as Daddy snoozed beside us. This is where our souls were joined, this is how we know one another, God gave me this little one. She is my daughter who I protect, who I witness the miraculous through, she is so much a part of how I now understand the God who made us and gave his son so that we might have life. This is the little force of nature who we gave a name, who gave us new names, who is our Sydney, without whom the world would be a much darker and sadder place.
Happy Birthday little one, our Bug, our baby girl, my "Darlin'". You are the most precious gift we have ever received, and day after day we continue to receive the gifts of your life.