I always wanted a daughter. I suppose it’s only natural, I am one, after all. And I was going to name her Jessica Mary from the time I was her age now. She was going to be beautiful, with big brown eyes and soft brown curls. I dreamed of baking cookies with her, watching her twirl around in ballet class, and walking her to school. I wanted to be a mother, her mother, for as long as I can remember.
The reality is so much better than I could have imagined. Eleven years ago tonight, I was hugely pregnant, over due with a baby that had been breech until they scheduled the c-section. Then she flipped around. Then she was so late, we scheduled the induction for Feb. 10. I didn’t really think she’d ever come, I couldn’t imagine that I wouldn’t always be pregnant.
But she did. The contractions started at 6:28 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 – the start of a storm that eventually dumped a whole lot of snow on New England. We drove to the hospital thru the snow, with Marc on the cell to his dad, and me terrified of slipping and baffled that I was actually in labor. Back labor. I had no idea what I was doing. My mother had fallen earlier, and was at the ER already with a knee injury, she hobbled up to labor and delivery afterwards. My OB was not available, her husband had fallen in the ice and broken his leg. Jessie was born (in an emergency C-section) exactly twelve hours and four minutes after I felt that first contraction. And from that very first moment, she’s held my heart in her hands.
It’s hard to talk about Jessie without also talking about motherhood – because she’s my teacher. I learn from the other two, of course, but with Jessie, everything is new. I was prepared for being with a baby, I had a zillion nieces and nephews, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time with them. I had been peed on and puked on, walked a fussy baby in circles around the dining room table, and had definite opinions about how I’d parent. I was completely unprepared for how she’d change my life. How suddenly, all of my priorities would change. How suddenly, I didn’t feel right until I could see her, or hold her. She became my world, instantly, and the past almost eleven years have been the happiest, richest, heartbreakingly intense and stunningly beautiful ones of my life.
Jessie is the catalyst that changed my life. She’s the reason I am who I am today. Not the only one, but you couldn’t tell my story without her. She’s my mini-me, she’s me with no impulse control. At eleven years old, she’s smart and funny. Maternal with her sister, and brilliant in all things academic. She’s a writer and a reader, a thinker and a baker. She loves taking care of people, she mentors kindergarten kids on her lunch break, and walks her little brother to class every morning. Even when she doesn’t like him. She still does it. She’s structured and analytical, messy and disorganized. She’s hugely empathetic, intensely emotional, and sometimes her heart is so vulnerable, I ache for her. The world is hard for my daughter at times, because everything is important, and she sees thing in black and white.
When I dreamed of having a daughter, I had no idea how incredibly lovely it would be. How incredibly hard it would be. Because she can make me angrier than anyone else, and I laugh more with her than anyone else. When she hurts, it breaks my heart, and I’ve had to stop myself from heading down to school and beating down a fifth grader who didn’t invite her to her birthday party.
Happy birthday to my Jessica Mary. You made my world so much brighter, so much richer. I can’t imagine my life without you in it, and the day you were born is one that will forever be one of my favorites.
Click on these links if you’d like to read other birthday posts for my girl (and I’m hugely sad that I didn’t start this blog until she was five years old) –