Friday, July 24, 2009

Four Years Ago Today...

I became a mother.

I remember sitting on the kitchen floor having "the talk" with your Daddy about starting a family. He was so ready. I remember bursting into tears and saying, "I want to have children but I don't want to change." How did I somehow know you would change everything?

I loved my job and I was a success junkie workaholic. The more I worked, the better I felt, and the better I felt the more I worked. My students were my life. Then there was you. I remember those first days back at school after you were born. I'd be in the middle of teaching a class and remember how your little head smelled when I kissed it. It would be all I could do not to run out of the room and go get you.

I'm getting ahead of myself. It was Christmas of 2004 and nothing felt right. Everything I ate made me so sick and your Daddy smelled terrible to me. On the way back from visiting family in Alabama, I made him stop at the store so I could buy a jar of pickles and a pregnancy test. We were going to have a baby!

You scared me from the beginning. New Year's Eve was spent in the emergency room. Slowly, though, we got comfortable with each other. School let out for the summer and I began to prepare for your arrival. I loved every minute of setting up your room and folding and washing your little clothes. August the 18th could not get here soon enough.

You must have agreed because early on the morning of July 24th, I was certain I was feeling contractions. For an hour, I timed them before waking your Daddy. We sat and timed together and called Gramma and Poppa. They arrived from Alabama just as we were leaving for the hospital. Once there, everyone wanted to help you, to give me pitocin, to break my water. I refused and you did it all by yourself. After my water broke, suddenly the mild contractions were not so mild. I reluctantly agreed to an epidural because I could not stop shaking. I think it was the world's best. I enjoyed your birth.

I pushed for almost an hour until things became urgent. After 16 hours of labor, there you were. A tiny, furry, six pound beautiful girl. You had wrapped the umblicial cord once around your arm and twice around your little neck. I think you fought so hard to be in this world because the bigger you got the tighter your necklace became. They began to test your reflexes. Your Daddy had been a trooper, but when they picked up your little arm and it just flopped down by your side, he nearly hit the floor. I barely held you before they put the world's tiniest oxygen mask on you and wisked you away for some special attention. You fought your way back to me, though.

I remember every moment of that first night. It seemed so magical to me to touch you and hold you and see how real you were. I could not believe God had given me this miracle, and I still feel that way every time I look at you. Four days later, we all got to come home together. I dressed you in the one preemie outfit we had and even that made you look, according to Gramma, like "one tater in a ten pound sack." We came home with a bilibed for you because you really looked more like a carrot than a tater. You had to spend 23 hours a day on this bed in nothing but a diaper. How I ached to hold you. You fought your way through jaundice too.

I wanted so badly to feed you like Mommys around the world have fed their babies for centuries, but between you being early, so little, me knowing so little, and not being able to hold you, our bodies just didn't work well together. Over the first five weeks of your life, I had five infections. Eventually, I was too weak to hold you and went to the hospital to get better. And as I laid in that hospital bed away from you every day I began to walk with Jesus like I never have before. This time I fought my way back to you.

In September, I went back to work and you went to a daycare that before you were born seemed adequate and clean. I barely held myself together dropping you off, cried in the car, and walked through the doors of the school. Though I was greeted by children that were so happy to see me and so eager to have me back, my heart was somewhere else. I made it to lunch time and drove over to visit you. I found you wrapped loosely in a strange blanket with the wrong paci, screaming your little head off in a crib in the far corner of the room away from all the teachers. I went and picked you up and whispered sweet Mommy things to you and as you quieted, the teacher looked at me and said, "She's spoiled, ain't she?" Well, I think my heart finished breaking that day. How I returned to school and what I taught that day blows my mind. Thanks to some good friends, I found a new place for you and God began to work on my heart.

I realized with the mentorship of my friend Sheila that for me, my work was to be your Mommy. My workplace was to be our home. Two weeks after returning to school, I was ready to come home. I told my principal and agreed to make it to the end of the sememster. Though I did it heartily as unto the Lord, it was the longest semester I ever remember. Then I came home to be your Mommy, and it has been the greatest, hardest job of my life.

Hannah, you are my joy and the greatest avenue of God's blessing in my life. Having you showed me the depth of my strength and my dependency as well. Thank you for changing everything about me. You are such a fighter, and you have a will of iron. So far you have defeated premature birth, jaundice, tonsil/adenoidectomy, a scary version of bronchitis, a deer coming through your car window, and nearly drowning. Because I hope one day you will read this, let me challenge you to always know why you are fighting and to count your costs. Fight for Christ. Pursue him above all others. I know you love things your way, but His ways are higher than ours. Choose His way. I love that you look like me, bless your heart, and that you are my number one buddy. I love your tender heart, weird sense of humor, big sister compassion, and indomitable spirit. I know God will use you mightily for his kingdom, sweet girl. I love being your



Jo Ellen said...

Wow. I have no words. That was beautiful. Now I want my girls to come home from their camping trip with Daddy, this very minute. Thanks for ruining my staycation, SB! ;-)

Jo Ellen said...

And Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Stacy said...

Aww SB that was just wonderful!!!

Happy Birthday Hannah!!!

liszt79 said...

My eyes are watery!! I remember when you had to go to the hospital, and I kept Hannah for you. I had never seen a baby so small!! I felt like she might break. It amazes me that that little one has turned into such a lovely young lady!

Summer said...

Happy Birthday Miss Hannah!! You know all great people were born on July 24th ;)

brynnsmommy said...

Having my own little girl now makes this so close to my heart! There is nothing more amazing!

Rhonda said...

Wow, that was absolutely beautiful SB! So well written!!! I loved reading it and felt every ounce of your love for that precious little girl! Happy Birthday Hannah!! :)

jkstrib said...

Happy Birthday, sweet Hannah! I can't believe you are already four years old. You are so blessed to have a wonderful, Jesus filled Mommy and Daddy.

Holly Jean Owens said...

That was amazing and wonderful to read. I wrote a letter to Arianna and put it in her birthday box sorta like that, but if you don't mind I might post the letter on the blog if that is okay with you to copy that idea. I loved that.