Our Baby Girl just turned 4 months old. Four months ago she arrived to planet Earth.
Her birth was the most miraculous day of my life.
I mean that in the literal way. It was the most miraculous thing that has ever happened. I have looked all over the world for signs of a god, a goddess, magic of any kind. I get close sometimes. A sunset is good. Especially when you get the chance to travel, to sit somewhere on the other side of the world from your hometown, and you see the same phenomenal sight – the colors, the rapid change of the beauty before you. But for me, a sunset is proof of a god as much as crumbs are proof that someone ate a sandwich. I mean, for all I know, they had a slice of cake. For all I know, it was a dog eating the cake. So, yeah, sunsets are good, but for me, they are only a maybe in the miracle category.
There are other maybe-miracles that I remember. Hearing the song of whales while scuba diving. Or the way you can’t see a redwood tree all at once. Watching shooting stars on winter night with my friend’s in Armenia. Or the way my life pivoted to a new joy the moment my husband and I got engaged.
All of these are transcendent. But the closest I’ve ever come to a miracle was the birth of our baby girl.
Four months ago, my husband and I picked up the Angel of Birth, our Surrogate, from her house in a small Wisconsin town. We drove through the season’s first snow in the darkness of early morning and arrived at the hospital as the sun was coming up. My husband and I were giddy. Our Surrogate was focused, cheerful, and walking fast as soon as we got to the hospital.
By the time our delivery nurse had checked us in and was checking in with our doctor, our Surrogate had swiftly changed into her uniform – the blue robes that flowed around her small form. With quick work, she was up in bed and briefing us on what she knew was coming. This was her fourth pregnancy. Her three babes were born without incident, now grown into three beautiful, lively kids. We were there in the hospital watching a master, a woman on a mission, a woman driven by compassion and confidence.
We were in awe – in awe of the process, in awe of the reality of the day, in awe of this angel of a woman, in awe of our daughter. We couldn’t see her yet, but we could hear our daughter’s heartbeat through a machine plugged into the wall.
Labor was induced and lasted 11 hours. During that time my parent’s and my husband’s parents and sister visited the delivery room. Everyone was joyful and so tender with each other. We took selfies with our Surrogate and her husband. We watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians. We got sandwiches from the hospital’s Subway and ate them in the waiting room.
The entire time our Surrogate was in labor, she fought for us, protected us the way she had for 9 months. She was adamant with every doctor and nurse that entered the delivery suite that my husband and I would stand next to her when she delivered our baby. She corrected everyone who tried to call her ‘Mom’. For nine months, it was like she was our doula WHILE she was pregnant with our child, and the day of the delivery was the same. In the delivery room she stayed vigilant through her contractions to make sure the delivery plan would conclude with our baby on my chest. “They are the dads,” she would say over and over again. It was like a mantra.
During one of the routine check ins, suddenly after 8 hours of waiting, my husband and I heard the doctor tell our Surrogate, “It’s time to get ready to push.” I will always remember the look on my husband’s face when he turned to me, the way his eyes teared up and opened wide, the way his eyebrows raised up and his smile grew wider than I had ever seen. We had both heard the news behind the curtain. I whispered to him, “She’s almost here!” I could have jumped to Mars.
I’ve never felt time pass so quickly. The last three hours flew by. They felt like ten minutes.
They finally asked our Surrogate to push. The lights were lowered. Everyone got into position. We surrounded this amazing woman, circled up for the most holy moment of my life. Charlie and I stood at the her shoulder, unable to see what the doctor could see, but in the perfect place for the exact second when the baby would be visible to the room. The entire twenty minutes our Surrogate pushed my heart pounded in my chest, knocked on my ribs like like the hammer of a bell, ringing to announce good news.
Then, there before us all, the miracle. She was born.
There’s not a person. There is a person.
There’s not a person. There is a person.
She wasn’t. She was.
There were seven people in the room. Suddenly there were eight. She was purple and grey. She wasn’t breathing.
Then came the giant swings of emotion. I was in shock. Shock and awe. Our Surrogate demonstrated a super power right in front of us. She made our baby appear! Then we had to wait an eternity for our baby to take a breath. I mean, those few seconds were the longest seconds known to man. She inhaled! She cried just a little. We watched the blood run through the umbilical cord, the last bit of red rushing into her belly. My husband cut her cord. And minutes after the biggest miracle of my life came the second.
Our Surrogate, our guide into this most precious moment, lifted our baby into my arms.
I felt the lightness of her against me. One of her purple arms hung loose. I lifted it so lightly onto her chest. I wrapped my long arms around her. I looked at her. Her face was round, her eyes barely open. I could feel her breathing. My husband walked me to the rocking chair on the other side of the curtain so that the doctors could attend to our Surrogate. I could not take my eyes off our baby.
The second miracle I cannot name. It happened somewhere inside my heart in a room I’ve never opened, a room I didn’t know was there. I do not know what to call what I felt. It was like awe mixed with magnetism mixed with devotion mixed with tenderness mixed with gunpowder mixed with the voices of ten thousand singing in harmony, then stirred up by 100 foot waves churning in an ocean on a planet without a name.
Four months ago, in a hospital room in Wisconsin, my husband and I looked up from our baby for enough seconds to see that this second miracle was happening for both of us. We saw the miracle run off our cheeks in tears that finally came, tears that poured down after the shock of birth and responsibility moved over and made room for love.
Four months ago our daughter was born. Every day after that day has been new. There are new things to learn about her. There are new things to learn about myself. Every day with her is better than all the days without her. The room in my soul I did not know was there is now getting bigger, and I am learning to live in it.
The miracle happened. Our baby was born.