Today, in honor of my beautiful Squirrel's birthday, I am going to tell you how I came to love her so much.
Once upon a time, nine short years ago, I gave birth to a tiny, delicate little girl. It was, needless to say, love at first sight. She was magnificent...perfect creamy complexion, reddish fuzz on her head (with long red wispy pieces at her neck--we called it the Friar Tuck 'do), grayish-blue eyes that took in everything, long LONG fingers with itty bitty nails. However, this little bit of perfection took 18 1/2 hours of continuous hard labor to arrive, the last 3 hours of that being all pushing. So mommy was a little tired and a lot sore and in no shape to care for a newborn, and I gladly let the nurse take her to the nursery for her first night.
Therefore, it was the next day before I really got to know my baby. The nurse brought her in bright and early to breastfeed, and I gave it a go (and failed, but never fear--the nurse must have anticipated that, for she left a bottle for me to give her!) Squirrel guzzled that bottle down, gave a mighty burp, and we leaned back together, mother and daughter, her resting on my chest as I studied her, contemplating this little being that was about to completely change my life. Suddenly, Squirrel started to spit up, and I sat up with her, but something was wrong. She was gagging and couldn't get anything out, and as I patted her back and tried to figure out what to do, she turned red and then blue in my arms. I pounded the call button and remember yelling "Someone help me! She's not breathing!" As several nurses ran in the room, Squirrel vomited all over me and started crying. The nurses started working over her, and then whisked her away, leaving me shaking and crying and not having a clue what was wrong. Welcome to motherhood!
It's strange how love grows when you're pregnant. I was in love with the idea of a baby before I ever became pregnant. I knew Daddy and I would love our child immensely when we were blessed with one. I fell more in love when I knew I was pregnant, and even more so when we saw her move on the ultrasound screen. When we knew our baby was a "she," and started thinking about a name and envisioning what she might look like and who she would act like, I loved her fiercely and wanted nothing more than to protect and nurture her until she came out to meet us. And when the time came for her to arrive, I already loved this child in a way I'd never experienced before. I was so sure that I couldn't possibly love her more than at that time--that meeting her would just give that love a place to flow into.
But when she suddenly wasn't ok, and I didn't know what was going on, and my arms were aching for the child that was taken from me so quickly and without warning...At that moment, sitting in my room scared and all alone, I knew without a doubt that she was my whole life and that my heart would die a little if she wasn't ok. This love was so intense, so all-consuming--it felt wonderful and crushing and overwhelming and magical all at the same time.
Squirrel was alright. The doctor ran all kinds of tests on her, and checked her over for all kinds of infections and trauma from the long labor. She stayed on a heart and lung monitor for 2 days, and though she had a few more breathing episodes, and her heartbeat dipped a few times, she was fine after 48 hours. The doctor never found anything wrong with her--he said she just needed a little extra time to regulate her systems after birth. She stayed in the hospital another 48 hours on an IV antibiotic to prevent infections, then came home when she was four days old.
Nine years have gone by since that day. Squirrel is growing into a beautiful young woman. She is smart and funny and so talented. She is sarcastic and spunky and honest and faithful. She speaks her mind and stands up for her friends and takes care of her brother. She loves openly and accepts everyone. She is amazing. And you know what? I love her even more today than I did that morning in the hospital room when I thought my heart would burst open. I can't wait to see what this year of her life brings!