The last nine months have been something of a blur. It seems like only yesterday Lauren was running out of the bathroom, teary eyed and with pee running down her leg with the pregnancy test in hand. I spent the first three months in a surreal daze, the next three months in a controlled, but definite panic, and the last three months in a kind of focused compulsion in which I accomplished more home improvement projects than I thought I was capable of.
Flash forward to yesterday. Thanksgiving with the family was fun. I spent the afternoon cooking with my mom. For the first time in this whole experience I felt like things were normal. Oh, still different from before, but I felt present with the rest of the world, as if I had emerged from some sort of isolation bubble. I’m trying to remember how that felt now, but I can’t. Because at 8 pm that evening Lauren’s blood pressure went up. Uh-oh. The doctor said that if we experienced a spike in BP, that we would need to go in. So over the course of an hour we checked it three more times, just to be sure. Yep. Definitely had to go to the hospital. We kissed my mom and told her we’d keep her posted and off to the hospital we went. After several more hours of tests, the nurse confirmed what we’d silently worried about. The blood pressure wasn’t stabilizing. We were going to have this baby in the morning. A week earlier than planned. Back into the bubble we go.
I can’t even tell you how the night went. I remember we called our parents to let them know what was going on. I remember talking with Lauren, trying to reassure her that the baby was going to be fine in spite of the early birth. I can’t remember if I really believed that or not. I remember, vaguely, the nurse bringing me a set of scrubs to change into, my family descending on us at the hospital as Lauren was being wheeled out to go to surgery. I remember sitting outside, waiting for the okay to go in. The next thing I remember is holding Lauren’s hand when we heard my daughter cry for the first time. It was then, at this moment, the bubble burst and everything became very, very clear.
This whole experience has been a lesson in discovering new depths of awe and wonder. The first was when I saw her in her first ultrasound, and heard her heartbeat for the first time. That never got old as we kept going to our OB appointments. The next was the first time we got to see her face in a 3D ultrasound was next. As Lauren’s pregnancy was something of a high risk, we got several of those and, like the others, they never got old. But when I heard that first cry, and saw her face for the first time, something broke in me. Up until that moment I thought I understood loving a child. I thought I grasped the concept of a parent willing to move heaven and earth for their offspring. Yeah right.
Every time I look at her, I come full circle back to surreal. Lauren and I keep looking at each other, and I can tell we’re thinking the same thing.
“Can you believe we made this person?”
I hastily built this blog in the few quiet hours of the aftermath so that I could post her first pics and to write down what I’m feeling. When I look at that little face, I feel a mixture of joy and trepidation. The last is a little new for me. I’ve never been much of a worrier. My general philosophy is to be present and proactive, but try not to worry too much over the maybes and what-if’s of the future. I just try and be the best person I can be and try and put a little good back into the world, with the hope that everything on the horizon works out. But with this little creature, I worry. I worry that she’ll be hurt. I worry that she’ll be heartbroken. I worry that she’ll get sick. I worry about every detail that could possibly be. Suddenly, my mom fussing over me all my life doesn’t seem so silly.
But in contrast of that trepidation I also feel hope.
I hope that she will laugh.
I hope that she will love.
I hope that she knows forgiveness.
I hope that she shows mercy.
I hope she is wise.
I hope she knows adventure.
But most of all, I hope that long after Lauren and I have shuffled off this mortal coil she still feels our love for her, and when she looks back on her own life, she sees a life full of love, happiness, triumph, and even a little sadness. Because we don’t really know what we’re made of until we are broken.
For my daughter, I hope.