Wasn’t it just yesterday?

I thought it was just yesterday I sat in the principal’s office, asking for a day off for “family leave” since my husband had just gotten back from yet another deployment in Iraq.

However two weeks later I was sitting back in the principal’s office and giving him the news. My husband and I were expecting another baby; I was due in July.

My principal said, “I knew it! It was because you took leave!” I laughed and revealed the truth, that we spent the better part of the day running silly errands like going to the DMV, getting a new military ID, and getting his car fixed. We didn’t even have time for a lunch date. My principal was not convinced.

I could have sworn it was just yesterday that I spent all day at the mall, trying to speedwalk but probably waddling, so the baby could hurry up and be born on the seventh. I wanted her birthdate to be 7/7/07. I gave up thinking, “Okay, tonight’s the night!” only to taunted by mother nature. At least my water didn’t break when I was standing on carpet.

I called Naval Medical Portsmouth and warned them that I was coming and could they possibly have an epidural ready for me when I got there.

“Uh, ma’am. You’re going to have to wait until after a doctor sees you.”

“You mean I can’t preorder one?”

Right then wasn’t the best time for my husband to remind me that a ship had pulled in just as he came home from deployment so that there’d probably be other pregnant women there waiting to give birth too. Well, thanks babe.

It was today though when I walked into L’s classroom for the last five minutes of preschool. She was sitting criss-cross applesauce in a circle with all of the other four year olds and singing along.

It was today that I looked at this little miracle, this third child we always thought we’d joke about having but did four years ago, and saw a wide-eyed girl who never hesitates to help her older siblings.

Today I saw a baby no longer but a dark-haired, fair-skinned beauty who reminded her father of what he’s been missing all of these years, his own flesh and blood growing, changing, and living three timezones away. A big girl who gave her daddy hope that he can still have a meaningful, loving, and caring relationship with the three children who have grown up without their father for most of their lives and who came thisclose to not knowing him at all.

This beautiful child today woke me up this morning as she does every morning with “GOOD MORNING MOMMY!” and the best hug ever.

Every day I’m reminded of how my husband stayed a bit longer that deployment, waiting for her to be born. Every day I am reminded how he could have been sitting in the vehicle that struck an IED. To this day, many think of my husband’s friend, Steven P. Daugherty, who died that day in tandem with our baby who was born earlier that week. I like to think that L is a reminder of friendship, comraderie, and how fragile life really is.

Today I felt gratitude for everything about her. For having her in our lives. For helping my husband transition back into being a daddy. For loving everyone she knows with as much love as she knows.

L, you are doing such a great job in preschool! We are so proud of you!

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