My baby girl is four years old today. As I prepare to celebrate with pink cupcakes and princess castles, I can not help but think back to the moment of her birth--the awe and joy I felt when I heard her cry for the first time. Easily one of the greatest moments of my life. I vividly remember my thoughts as a nurse placed her in my arms, only minutes old: "She is beautiful. I can't believe she's mine."
Lilly was born at 1:03 in the morning. I remember how quiet Cottonwood hospital was and how that stillness felt like reverence. The halls were empty. The nurses spoke in hushed voices. The lights were dimmed to a soft, creamy glow. Windows to the outside revealed nothing but a black canvas. It was peaceful.
After I was settled in my room, and after James had returned from giving Lilly her first bath in the nursery, we sat in silence; the two of us exhausted, but calm and happy. It wasn't long before I heard a gentle knock at the door, then heard it open. I heard the wheels of a bassinet on the hard floor, and knew a nurse was bringing my daughter to me.
I am certain I will never forget the sight of her. She was tightly swaddled in a standard hospital baby blanket--like a little "burrito" baby--and all I could really see of her was her tiny head. She had so much black hair! My eyes immediately went to the bright pink bow stuck on her head. Pink. It invoked images of princesses, Barbie dream cars, fingernail polish, and satin dresses. It was the perfect shade of pink.
Four years later, Lilly is wearing "perfect shade of pink" pajamas the night before her birthday. The house is quiet and peaceful, like that hospital was, and the only light on is a star-shaped nightlight in Lilly's bedroom. I tuck her into her princess sheets, and briefly recall the image of that tightly swaddled, newborn baby. As I say goodnight and turn to leave, she whispers a question to me she has asked every night for a week, "Is tomorrow my birthday?"
"Yes, Lilly. It's tomorrow. Tomorrow is your birthday."
She grins happily at me, says, "That's good," and rolls over on her pillow. I start to close her door behind me, but decide to leave it open just a crack. I stand in the hallway, peeking in at her. As I watch her fall asleep I think, "She is beautiful. I can't believe she's mine."