Dear Emilia –
My water broke in a Winn-Dixie checkout line 10 years ago. I assumed that I had peed and, embarrassed, paid for my ice cream and waddled sideways out to my car in the parking lot. I grabbed a pool towel from the backseat and stretched it across the driver’s seat and plopped down to drive my pee-soaked self home.
What I assumed was another annoying pregnancy symptom ended up being the start of delivering you into this wonderful world. It was still several hours before the contractions kicked in. It was several hours after that when I decided that even if I wasn’t in labor, something was definitely going on and it was time to go to the hospital. It was about 10 minutes after that when I threw up in a sweatshirt in my frantic roommate’s car as she sped down I-4 towards the hospital. An hour later, the triage nurse asked me when my water had broken and I said, “It hasn’t. Oh wait… ohhhhhhh.”
I entered the labor and deliver window with you as I had with every step in the nine months leading up to it: with supreme naivety. I hadn’t thought I was pregnant at first and even assumed three convenience store tests were wrong.
When your grandmother asked me what type of crib I wanted to put on my registry, I said that I thought babies just slept in opened dresser drawers (okay, so I was sort of just poking my mom but I also had no problem figuring out an alternative to an expensive crib). People told me I wouldn’t sleep, that my body would change, that my eating habits would change and that my career would slow down after I became a mom. While I had an inkling of wisdom to know they were probably right, I wasn’t bothered by it.
“The trade-off is a baby though, right? Like, my own baby to have… forever?”
I knew I wasn’t prepared for you. I knew my life wouldn’t be the same once you arrived. But I always knew that it would all be worth it – all of it – because I would have you.
Today, you are 10. I couldn’t fit you in a dresser drawer if I tried, but if I suggested it to save money, you’d shrug and say “Sure, let’s give it a try.” You are smarter, stronger and kinder than I ever dared dream that first night we spent, just the two of us, in a hospital room. You ask all the right questions but have a non-confrontational demeanor that allows others to feel safe being who they are in your presence.
When I look back on the decade that has passed since I first saw your sweet, squishy face, I’m bowled over at all that has happened and changed. We went from a family of two, to five, to six, and finally to seven. You gained two more sisters on the other side of your family, too. We’ve moved from Florida to Chicago, then back to Florida again. We’ve traveled this great country as a family and you’ve proven yourself an inquisitive traveler with a keen interest in anything new. So much has changed since you first came into my life.
So much of those first moments remains the same, though. You still snuggle close when you need me, or when you sense that I need you. You’re still alert, and calm, and easy-going. I’m still just as grateful as I was on day one for a healthy child – one that I now count as a friend.
My life has changed because of you, all for the better. It’s with a little bit of grief that I say good-bye to your single-digit years, simultaneously excited to see what will happen next.
Happy birthday, Emilia Grace. You are a wonderful gift.
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Tags: 10th birthday