In a day-early tribute to Fetus Friday.
Dear Chloe Jane,
I have been thinking a lot recently about your upcoming birthday. You will be two soon, and though it seems the time has flown by, I still feel as if you have been a part of my entire life.
I have been thinking about where I was, this time two years ago. I was gearing up to go on a trip to the beach with Aunt Starr and Auntie Heather. I was also very VERY pregnant. When daddy saw me in my swimsuit, he sang the Veggie Tales song, "Barbara manatee, manatee, manatee, you're the one for me, one for me, one for me...." I was not amused.
I decided to take that little trip because I knew I would need a vacation before all the excitement would begin. You see, my darling little girl, in the weeks following this trip, I would be attending showers filled with people who loved you even back then, before they knew you. I would be removing all the items from their bags, boxes, and cellophane rappers. I would wash them and dry them and lovingly place and re-place each and every item until it was in the exact spot that I wanted it to be for your arrival.
I washed all of your clothes in a special baby detergent (a smell that will forever remind me of your soft little body) and, in the evening, I sat on the couch and folded each and every item. I handled the clothes gently and tenderly - as if you were already inside of them - because, in my heart, you were just that real. You were already there with me.
During those weeks leading up to your birth, you moved around so much that daddy could see my belly move from across the room. I loved those little (and big) movements, and as much as I wanted to meet you face-to-face, the thought of taking you away from that place - where I knew you were safe and warm and without need - broke my heart.
But out you came; though it took more than a little convincing. Thirty seven hours in labor, my love, thirty seven. This was the first time in my life I understood the phrase "labor of love."
It was a slow and relatively uneventful labor.
But as we approached the 36-hour mark, things suddenly took a turn. Alarm bells started going off from machines above my head. Nurses were rushing in and out of the room and talking in low whispers. Whispers. They seemed louder than the alarms.
"What's wrong?" I asked one nurse.
"You're fine. The baby's fine, but she's getting short on oxygen. You need to get ready to push."
She. You were so real to me in that moment. A little person - my little person - in trouble.
After that moment, everything was a haze. More nurses rushed in, and our doctor declared that you needed to come out RIGHT THEN.
All I can say about the next thirty minutes is that - in that thirty minutes - your daddy was my hero. He held me and encouraged me and, because he was so strong, I found strength in him.
The minutes following the delivery are among the scariest minutes in my life. The room was completely quiet, except for more whispers. They took you straight to the table, about 10 feet away from my bed. Their backs were to me, and though I couldn't see you, I could see your daddy's face. He was scared too.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Is she okay?"
I closed my eyes and began to pray.
And when I opened them, you were there, and you were beautifully healthy. Your daddy was holding you like a precious, priceless, fragile gift, and he was bringing you to me.
Though my memories of the next few moments are etched into my heart for eternity, there are two things that I will forever think of when I think of my newborn Chloe:
Your eyes. Although they would eventually turn chocolate brown, on that day they were dark, dark blue. And they were open - looking at me. I was told that newborns rarely (if ever) open their eyes. But yours were open - big, beautiful, open eyes.
Your lips. You had the most perfect lips. Everyone said so. They were pink and full and absolutely perfect.
I could go on with snapshot after snapshot in my memory - the perfect shape of your head, your tiny little fingers, the look on your daddy's face, the tear in Grandpa's eye, the song your great-granddaddy sang to you.
You had finally arrived, and I was completely and utterly amazed.
But here you are, almost two years later, and your existence has rocked my world. You have brought me more joy - and more worries - than anybody else on earth. As someone once said, I feel as if you are my heart walking around outside my body. Every day I struggle to balance your need to explore life and my need to protect you from it.
I find myself instinctually waking up in the morning just minutes before you do. I watch your every expression and movement as you try new foods, meet new people, and explore new places. You are my most perfect gift.
But, oh! my sweet one! As much as I love you. As much as I watch you and worry over you and desire nothing but the best for you, there is One who loves you even more. He has watched you, and watched over you, even before I knew you. You have been a dream in His heart since the beginning of time. And you, my beautiful little girl, are His heart, walking around outside His body.
While my ways are trial-and-error or the-best-I-can; His ways are perfect, always. While my ability to watch over you and protect you are limited; He is forever watchful. And though I wish with all my heart that my love could be enough for you; His love is more than enough for both of us.
So, my little girl, as this second year comes to an end, and as we both prepare for the great adventure of your life, I just want you to know that you are loved. You are loved and you are wanted. You were not an afterthought or an accident - you were perfectly planned by our Creator. And how blessed am I! that He chose me to hold you and kiss your forehead and caress your babysoft hair and sing you songs and bask in your smile.
You are my treasure, and I pray that you will someday know your worth.
I love you,
In the final moment of labor, Chloe's umbilical cord was not only wrapped around her neck, but also wedged between the back of her head and my pelvic bone, causing each contraction to temporarily cut off her oxygen supply. As soon as she was delivered, the cord was unwrapped and the color returned to her body. Praise the Lord for His ever-present care!