It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since I was sent home from the hospital sobbing.
I knew I was in labor and shouldn’t leave. I begged the nurses to let me stay. I knew Hildie was coming and soon. But I was too disoriented and deep in labor to be able to put up a fight and I just cried all the way home only to realize things were farther along than either Daniel and I realized (“I think that was a pushing contraction and I’m not trying to push!”) and rushing back. (You can read the whole story from start to finish here.)
While the details of my other labors are hazy at the end (because I was, ya know, having a baby), I will NEVER forget the last moments of this one: Daniel holding me upright as I walked from the car–barely able to take a step as he scanned the area for a spot to deliver our baby girl. Miraculously making it into the doors of the hospital and into the elevator. Then as we stepped out of the elevator toward labor and delivery screaming.
She was coming and I couldn’t stop it. A wild ride on a rolling office chair (seriously–a sit com delivery story) into a room praying the Hail Mary, being rolled onto the bed, and pushing out a baby immediately as I screamed at the nurses that they should NOT have sent me home.
My water never breaking and the baby being born inside the intact bag of waters, the mermaid’s purse, still swimming even though she was no longer in my womb. Her grey eyes, her ginger hair, her gorgeous face.
The relief that it was over, that she was safe, as I cried tears of joy. Euphoric as I nursed her for the first time. Never have the postpartum hormones been so good. If only I could bottle them. I’ve never felt such peace and sense of wellbeing.
Never have I cherished the newborn stage so much. Never have I been so deeply in love with my baby. It’s been the best year of my life for many reasons, but mostly because she is in it. My Hildegard Rose.
She was born into a stressful, crazy room with a screaming mother, harried nurses, no doctor present, her Daddy reaching out to catch her. Chaos.
I never should have been sent home. I knew. I begged to stay. The people in charge let us down.
But then she arrived, radiating peace and joy into the mess that had been made. I know I’m biased, but there has never been a baby with such sweetness as Hildie. She brings joy and peace everywhere she goes. And perhaps that is her calling. She was born into a chaotic world. The “people in charge” have let us all down. What a mess we are all in. Having children motivates you to make this messy world a more beautiful place. But having children also gives me hope because I know she will bring peace and joy and sweetness into this ugly world.
Only one out of 80,000 babies is born “en caul” inside the bag of waters like Hildie. But like every baby, she is one in a million, one in a billion, unlike any other. Pure magic.
Maybe it’s something about her being my fourth little one and having such a gap (5 years) between her and Gwen, but the gift of her has not been lost on me for a moment.
Amidst the sleep deprivation and constant demands of caring for a baby, I have each day (often, admittedly, with exhaustion) just revelled in the Hildie-ness of her. I told myself I would do this year right. That I would soak up every second. And friends, I have. It feels like for the first time, I did it right.
I spent hour after hour just loving on my baby. After the big kids fell asleep at night, I would let her nod off in my arms and then just stare at her beautiful face–for hours. I couldn’t tear myself away. I didn’t want to miss a second. I wanted to slow down time. And I couldn’t do it. It didn’t work. The moments rushed by as she grew bigger every second, growing older before my eyes. I felt like I was chasing a runaway train–I could see it in the distance but knew I could never catch up. Her babyhood evaporating before my eyes.
But I would do all over again. Holding her in my arms for hours, staring into her eyes. Soaking it all up. But even doing it all right, I couldn’t keep the days from slipping away. It’s the beautiful, heartbreaking reality of babies. They don’t stay babies.
So here I am a year later with the sweetest one-year-old, toddling around the house. Chasing the cat. Snuggling with the dog (he tolerates his tail being held in her little dimpled fist as a comfort object). Laughing at her siblings. Filling our home with peace and joy.
The utter delight of her smile–her expression when we lock eyes, a look of complete security and peace and happiness. When do we lose that look? I want her to keep it forever.
Thank you, Jesus, for this baby–this precious girl with a wild start to life. She has already transformed me. How will she change the world? I can’t wait to see. Happy birthday, Hildegard. I love you with every beat of my heart.