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My Joy

It was the day before my due date and somebody thought the girl was going to be a big headed, 9 lb. baby if she hung out in my stomach any longer, and so out she had to come. Just as the doctors prepared to pump me with meds, though, my water broke right there on the table, and four hours later, my first child, Mari, was born.

It was 2 a.m. on June 11 -- two hours into the day she was due.

That's my Mari -- always on time.

I wasn't ready.

My ob-gyn, the now-fabulous author and sex expert Hilda Hutcherson, who drove three hours from her vacation respite to deliver my firstborn in the wee hours, put Mari in my arms, and I was overcome with emotion -- not just because she initiated me into the most incredible club imaginable (The Mamas) but because on that chilly Spring morning, Mari became this adoptee's first known blood relative -- the only person on the planet I knew for sure carried my blood in her veins.

She was mine. I was hers. Flesh of my flesh. Blood of my blood.

It was an overwhelming feeling to hold this tiny little being against my chest -- to feel her heartbeat against mine and rub her soft, curly hair against my nose. Her smell was intoxicating. Her face downright angelic. I wanted to sop her up with a biscuit, she was so sweet and hot and juicy. I thought I would break her, she was so tiny (she came out less than 6 lbs). And I wondered just who in the heck decided it was okay to let me be that child's mother. I didn't know how to bathe her or how to breastfeed her or how to strap her into her car seat or swaddle her or change a diaper, even. Sure, I took the Lamaze classes, but those hard, plastic, impersonal doll babies just couldn't compare.

But we figured it out, she and I -- my baby and me. And I've watched her turn into quite a fine little lady -- one who's gentle, quiet, thoughtful personality has remained a constant. She's super smart (A's are a given, but she's awesomely creative, too; ever seen a kid whip up a kid-sized car, replete with wheels and a steering wheel, out of cardboard boxes, tape, and magazines? Mari is our personal McGuiver) -- a sweetie pie, that Mari, always concerned about the feelings of others, always intent on being as helpful as she can, always acutely attuned to pervading emotions. If I'm sad, she does what she can to cheer me up; if she sees me reaching the boiling point, she'll throw some cold water on the situation to bring the temperature down. This might manifest itself in my baby rushing to help me complete a task, or shooing her sister away when she's about to pounce on my last good nerve. Most times it comes with a hug and a kiss and a knowing look Mari gives me. That everything's-gonna-be-alright-Mommy -- I-promise look.

Mari is, without question, my rock.

In a few days, my baby, my firstborn child, will be 11 years old.

Her second year of double digits.

She made it.

I didn't break her.

In fact, Mari is quite strong.

It's the might of the angels -- they sent her to me.

Right on time.

Happy birthday, my dear, sweet Mari. I'll love you until dolphins fly and parrots swim the sea.



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