This week my baby girl turns eight years old. In some ways it seems as if she has been a part of my life forever. Yet, I cannot believe this little angel is already eight. After the birth of my two boys, my husband and I decided we were finished having children and our family would be complete at four. However, there was a deep longing within me that never quite left. Even though our family was happy and thriving, I always felt as if someone was missing. I assumed that was just how women felt when they decided their child bearing years were over. Basically, I chalked it up to “that is just how it is” and tried to make peace with that longing.
Then at a time when our family most needed a blessing, a time when we needed confirmation of goodness and life, I found out I was pregnant again. To say I was shocked would be the biggest understatement I could possibly make about this event. I took eight home pregnancy tests. (I do realize one would have done it but I knew this pregnancy was impossible and I had to be sure I was not dreaming it up.) After laying all of the tests out side by side seeing all of their various ways of saying that I was indeed pregnant, I sat on the floor and cried. They were not tears of sadness or shock or even disbelief. They were tears of gratitude and joy.
That empty feeling that things just were not as they were “supposed to be” was fading and I knew that this baby would be a special part of all of our lives. My oldest son was convinced it was a girl because he already had a brother. (I love a child’s logic!) My younger son wanted to know if we could name her after a Pokemon. (I was not feeling that.) My oldest son was right. My younger son lost out on the naming process.
My pregnancy with Gabriella was not an easy one. I went through daily injections of Heparin to thin my blood, a premature labor they were able to stop and bed-rest starting at 12 weeks. She was not going to make this easy for us but we knew all of it would be worth anything I had to go through to get her to us safely. At one point she stopped growing for over a month in utero and the doctors told me to prepare for the worst. They would continue to monitor us but the chances of losing her were high. I looked my doctor in the eyes and told him that I had 100% faith that this little girl was not only going to make it but she would be just fine. I asked him to remove himself from my case if he could not have that faith in her as well. With such a strong conviction and a team of doctors, we made it through almost the entire 9 months of the pregnancy without too much intervention.
Finally my body said no more and the doctors agreed that it was time to induce labor and bring that little girl into the world. When they placed her in my arms for the first time I knew. I knew what that longing was. I knew that now my family was complete. I knew that it wasn’t that I needed another baby to make my family complete but that this baby was waiting to join us and somehow my heart knew that all along.
That first night in the hospital as I snuggled with her and stared in amazement at this precious little girl that fought the odds to make it to me; I knew what her name would be. When my doctor came in to check on us he asked me what name we had decided on. I told her that we had chosen Gabriella early on in the pregnancy (which he already knew) but that after all we had been through, we absolutely knew what her middle name would be.
He smiled and told me it was the most appropriately named baby he had met in years.
This week that miracle girl turns eight years old. Knowing that every milestone, every birthday, every big event in her life is the last one I will share with one of my “babies” it helps me to cherish them even more.
She decided she wants a sleepover for her birthday party. A slumber party. For eight year old girls. Now I am scared! Pregnancy and labor were nothing compared to this brave new world I am entering. Any advice from you veterans of sleepover, all things girly and surviving the growing up years with a girl?
And to my daughter: Happy birthday, Princess. You are loved more than you know.