Years rolled on again, and Wendy had a daughter. This ought not to be written in ink but in a golden splash. (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)
Yesterday was my daughter’s heartbeat day. This is the day we first heard her little heart beating through the ultrasound when she was in the womb. We were so excited to hear that little whooshing sound and to wonder who she would become. When she is older, we will celebrate her heartbeat day the way we do our son’s, with heart shaped food and heart themed books. We’ll show her ultrasound pictures from when she used to live inside of me and we’ll talk to her about the kind of heart we want her to have. She’s a bit young for all of that this year but we still pause to thank God for making her and for making her ours.
When I was pregnant with June Elizabeth I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I didn’t really enjoy the pregnancy like I wanted to. I was anemic almost the whole time and dealing with my three-year-old son and my two-year-old nephew every day. I potty trained my son and broke my toe while I was pregnant with her. It was an exhausting time. I also had some depression during that pregnancy. All of this combined to give me some anxiety about my relationship with her. I was actually afraid I wouldn’t feel as connected to her as I did to my son. When I was pregnant with Benjamin I was constantly aware of his presence and always thinking about him and planning for him. With June Elizabeth I would actually forget I was pregnant for a few hours and then be surprised to feel her kick. This made me feel guilty and worried. I just thought, what if I don’t love her enough? What if I don’t feel that connection?
In a strangely uncharacteristic moment of transparency I shared this concern with our friend, Trey. Both of our families were out taking pictures in a field of bluebonnets and their second daughter was still very young. I told him I was worried that I didn’t seem to feel as connected to my unborn daughter as I had felt to my son when he was in the womb. He told me that he knew it would be okay and that that moment of connection would come. He told me the moment he felt that deep, true connection to their second daughter was very different than the moment he felt it with their first. And he reminded me to pray about it if I was truly worried. (Have I mentioned before that my greatest talent is finding really great friends?) He gave me hope in telling me that my bond with my daughter would not be diminished if it came with time rather than immediacy. My friend Erin, without being told of these fears, told me a few days later a similar thing. When I told her of my fears she said she would pray for my peace in knowing that I would be a good and loving mother for this baby girl and that the connection would come in its own time.
And then June Elizabeth was born and all of my fears seemed so strange. She far exceeded my dreams and I had so much joy in holding and caring for her. She came to us like a golden splash of sunshine, all silky dark hair and fluffy cheeks and coos and dimples. She was a perfect nurser and a cuddly little bundle of dimples and sighs. I received not only the peace I had prayed for, but a huge amount of delight in mothering her. She has been such a joy from her first moments. She is a gift I do not take for granted and I am thankful for her life and the joy she brings to mine. But I am also thankful, when I remember her living in the womb, for the friends who lifted me up when I was worried and afraid. And as we celebrate June Elizabeth’s heartbeat day, one of my highest hopes for her heart is that it will be cushioned by the support of good and honest friends. It is a hard world and we all face many difficult things. I want her heart to be tender, but to also be strong. When my own tender heart has been nearly unable to stand this life, my friends have lent me strength.