It was around this time last year, almost to the day, that we found out you were on the way.
I woke up early on a Saturday morning in late October, anxious to take a pregnancy test. I had taken many tests throughout the summer and fall, but this one felt different. This one, I thought - hoped - might be the one. I stood in our bathroom at the townhouse in Oxnard and watched as two pink lines appeared immediately. When you're hoping for a baby, those lines are something you can sort of imagine happening, but not something you can actually picture happening to you. I enjoyed mere seconds of a wonderful secret and then shouted to your dad that I was getting a positive result.
Dad stumbled out of bed, blurry eyed and squinted at it. "Yes. Maybe." he said. Then he recommended I wait until tomorrow to take another test to be sure. I always figured we would shout and dance around the house, but instead we were both eerily calm. Like we were actors playing roles we were not quite sure were meant for us.
The next morning, I took a second test. Another positive. This time, Dad hedged that we'd know for sure after a positive test at the doctor's office. So about a week after that second test, we were told by a medical professional that there was indeed a baby on the way. A month later, we heard your heartbeat at eleven weeks. A few months after that, we found out what I already knew, what I knew the second I saw that second pink line, you were a baby girl. A few months after that, you were airlifted from my belly, pink, healthy and furious at us for disturbing your perfect habitat.
If this was a movie, those 35 weeks would be packed into a cheery montage. Short clips of us at the doctors office. A clip of me with my hand on my belly. A clip of me picking out a pink dress. Putting together a crib. Walking around and around. The pages would fly off the calendar, the seasons would change and the package would be neat and tidy. But for me the story seems long. It's vivid in my mind and the emotions are vast. I felt intense love the moment I saw that second line. In an instant, I was hooked. I was committed. I was overwhelmed.
Dad says that he stayed so level-headed and hedged so carefully in those early days to help temper my excitement. And I don't blame him one bit; that was the smart thing to do. But what he didn't quite understand is that my hopes were already sky high. They had tied themselves to a helium balloon and floated up, up, up the second I knew you were coming.
Today and every day, I am grateful that my balloon was allowed to soar. I am thankful that you are the baby that grew in my belly. I'm blessed and humbled by the responsibility I was given to carry you and keep you. It's our one year anniversary of sorts and I'm celebrating by giving you extra kisses. You're such a special girl, Ellerie, and I love you.
Yours forever, Mama.