Loving Hannah

Last night, I got an email from a good friend we knew in Boston (hi, Kathy F!). This dear, sweet woman and her husband were huge fans of our kids. So much so, that her husband (on his way to work) was one of the first people to come see me in the hospital after I delivered Hannah. I've never forgotten their many kindnesses, and getting back in touch with her took me back about seven years in time.

We moved to Boston in September of 2000. It was the peak of everything - economy, dot-coms, housing, jobs, technology - the world seemed so boundless then, didn't it? So full of promise?

Then about a year into our time there, on a crisp September morning, the world forever changed. I have written in the past about my experiences on that awful morning, which you can read again here.

Let's just say that September of 2001 rocked our family personally, as well. I had found out a few weeks prior to 9-11 that I was expecting another baby. I wish I could say that every part of me rejoiced at the opportunity to be a mother again, but I didn't. This was a major surprise. A surprise that neither one of us could find the energy to get excited about.

At the time, we were overwhelmed with the daily exhaustion that came with raising two wild and energetic boys. McKay was three, and Chase was not yet two. We felt insane with just the two kids we had. We were living in an apartment, and in light of the newly-shaken economy, had just downgraded to an even smaller apartment until we could be sure our job was viable long-term. And the thought of even one day with the boys and a newborn in a two-bedroom apartment did little to cheer me up. We just weren't ready for a third. The timing seemed all wrong.

We told no one about this pregnancy, and that included our extended family, parents, and friends. I felt that until I could be happy when I shared the news, it was better to keep it to myself. So we did what every American did in those months following 9-11. We watched the news for hours on end. We flew our flag. We drove to and from work. And we tried to remember to count our blessings.

Several months went by, and the news was no longer concealable, as my growing belly announced our situation for us. Thanksgiving came, and we drove down to spend it with Gabi and her family, figuring it was time to announce this baby to those we loved. Gabi's husband, Brad, was the first to greet us that weekend and said nothing - thinking I had simply gained some weight (thanks, Brad). Gabi could tell right away, and gave shrieks of excitement and joy. I tried hard to catch some of her enthusiasm, while feeling very guilty for not being more happy. A surprise visit from Opa that weekend, and the cat was definitely let out of the bag.

A few weeks after we got home, I had my first ultrasound. I remember laying on the paper-covered table, in the darkened room, waiting for it to begin. Laying there, staring up at the white ceiling tiles, I was not sure what to hope for. Another boy? Could we handle one more? And a girl? I don't know how to take care of a girl (forget the fact that I am one). As all these thoughts ran through my head, the cool shock of the jelly on my largely protruding stomach brought me back to the present.

And as the technician began to probe and measure, this little, flickering heartbeat caught my eye. I could make out tiny, perfect toes.

And fingers.

Arms and legs, and hands and feet, moving to a rhythm I already knew well.

And then something happened. A rush of emotion came over me and tears filled my eyes as I saw the first glimpses of this baby. Not just an inconvenient thing that seemed to have come so unexpectedly without our consent, but my baby. A sweet, little person that we would get to know soon.

"It's a girl," the technician told me with a smile.

A girl. We were having a girl. In an instant, I felt as though everything came into focus. As I lay there on the table, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of happiness. I knew then that it would be okay. It was going to be more than okay.

It was going to be fantastic.

And you know something? It has been. Every single day spent with this sweet angel in our family has been filled with bliss.

Silly, pink, fluffy, girly bliss.

And I wouldn't trade it for all the riches in the world.

I love you, baby.

God sure knows what he's doing with those big surprises.