You curled up and snuggled into me, your teeny legs moving to find a comfortable position, your impossibly fragile back arching into a curve and lifting your bottom into the air. There on the ultrasound screen, you found a position that was so familiar to me—the position that babies often settle into when they are nestled in footy pajamas in their cribs. And yet, you are not in a crib—you are inside of me—and you are only six inches long.
I caught my breath. “Is she arching her back?” I asked the ultrasound technician, sure I must be imagining that such a tiny being could already make such a recognizable movement.
“Yes, she is,” she responded, smiling. “I can hardly get a good picture of her face because she is so nuzzled into you. Looks like she is going to be a snuggler!”
She. It felt surreal to hear the ultrasound technician say it—and even more so to say it myself. I felt timid uttering the word aloud at first—acknowledging that you were not merely a hypothetical or our “baby bean” or a flashing heartbeat. One minute ago, you had been “the baby”—a nebulous presence that still seemed too small and too good to be true. But then the sonogram wand had paused on my belly, and the world stood still while things came into focus. I saw and knew before the technician said it aloud—
It’s a girl.
Your dad and I left the hospital holding a small scroll of photos, grinning and giddy. Whatever it was that I meant to get done that day was forgotten. I felt lightheaded, dizzy with joy, overwhelmed, and amazed. I laid on the bed and texted family and friends while your dad got your brother Noah down for his nap. And when he came in to lie next to me a few minutes later, I put my phone down and said, “Come over here, and hold your girls!”
He wrapped his arms around me, and I kissed him, long and hard—flooded with emotion that I get to share this experience—this life—with him. He smiled and stroked my hair, and we talked about you, wondering aloud what you will be like and what gifts you will bring to our family.
He lay beside me and dozed for a few minutes while I continued the texting frenzy, and then he went into the kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies (we both agreed that we needed something sweet on such a special day). I lay on the bed thinking, the sound of the mixer whirring in the background, and all of the sudden, as it always does on occasions such as this one, I felt the exhaustion closing in. It happened on the day that your brother was born, and it happened on the day after I found out I was pregnant with you. After the elation, the thrill, and the flurry of excitement comes an unexpected feeling of overwhelm—whispers of inadequacy and vulnerability tugging at my heart.
What if I’m not a good mother to her? the whispers said. And then the deepest fear of all wrenched and twisted within me: What if I lose her, before she’s even born?
You’re not a hypothetical to me anymore. You’re real, and you’re my daughter, and you are deep within me. Now that I’ve seen you—now that I can picture you as a sweet baby girl in pink pajamas, a wobbling toddler with blond pigtails, a gap-toothed elementary schooler hopping off the bus—the emotional stakes are higher. It’s hard, being a parent—unconsciously giving your heart to little human beings who can get hurt and sick and who are not invincible—and yet who own every tiny fiber of your soul. It’s a scary kind of love to feel.
I lay on the bed and closed my eyes, and as I felt sleep coming, the tears came too. Tears of exhaustion and overwhelm, tears of joy and elation. So many emotions, all wrapped up in one sweet baby girl.
I woke up an hour later to a little boy with bed-head eating cookies at the kitchen table. Dad had gotten him set up with the iPad before he left for a church meeting so I could have a couple more minutes of rest. The fatigue and the fear had faded with sleep, and when I took my seat next to Noah at the table, I was smiling groggily.
“What ya doin’, Mommy?” he asked, looking up from his show, chocolate smeared across his face.
“Just thinking about Baby Sister,” I told him.
“The baby in your belly?” he asked, peering at my stomach as if that would give him some confirmation.
“Yes, sweetheart,” I responded.
“It’s a gwirl baby, Mama,” he informed me, remembering what we had told him that morning after we’d picked him up from the babysitter.
“Yes it is, honey.”
“Is she ready to come out and play with me?” he asked innocently.
I smiled. “Not quite yet, Noah…But she’ll be here before we know it.”
We’re all excited to meet you, Baby Girl. August can’t come soon enough. Please stay healthy and strong. Keep growing—keep snuggling close—the next time I see you, you will be in my arms.
Waiting with love and faith,