Motherhood is a beautiful gift. I vividly remember the feeling once my first child was born. The love I had for this little person was a joy I had never experienced before. My heart was bursting with pride. I would get so excited to show her to the world and would feel so very vulnerable as I did it, wanting to protect her from every possible hurt.
I would go on to experience motherhood three more times. Each time just as beautiful as the last. Not beautiful in the sense of perfect, but beautiful in the sense that it was real and raw, rewarding and difficult, euphoric yet full of struggle. As parents, we made mistakes, we loved, we learned, we cried, we laughed, but most of all we grew. Two imperfect people trying to make it work. We grew and built our little family together. It was messy, but it was us, and I loved it.
The story of our fourth and last baby started as a dream...the kind of dream that you never want to end. She was never supposed to be. We had our three children. We were done. We were blessed beyond measure. My husband even had a vasectomy to solidify it. Yet, I discovered I was pregnant two weeks after the procedure. She arrived thirteen years, one month and twenty-eight days after our first child was born. We were the same, yet changed so much by time and life. It was like a time warp. Same hospital, same doctor, and same induction. My mom was present in the delivery room with us just like she was the three times before, but we were all over a decade older and hopefully a little wiser.
Magically, she was born with all of her siblings present. No, this was not planned either but some of the best experiences of your life never are. It was pure magic. There were tears of joy and shock from my older daughters and smiles of pure love from her brother. My husband leaned over and whispered something sweet in my ear as his voice cracked with emotion. The well broke, and I let it all in. All of our dreams, realized and broken, all of our love, and all of our hope for the future.
Hope. That was the name my husband gave her in all of her newborn innocent awe. The moment the nurse handed me my brand new bundled baby, the first thought that went through my head was, "I want another one!" This can't be my last baby, rushed in like a flash flood. Yet, I knew in my heart that she was it, and I made a promise to myself to treasure every single moment with her.
Hope is a visceral word, relating to deep inward feelings that are easy to identify but hard to describe. It is a feeling of wanting something and believing it can come true; an expectation for the future; to believe; to desire; to trust; an expectation of good. In our family, Hope has become our anchor in all that is good in our family.
I started writing this blog as a reflection of everything that I know now that I wished I knew then. An ode to my twenty-something-naïve and innocent self, holding my firstborn baby in my arms. But, writing this, I realized that I had it all wrong. Instead of focusing on what I could have done better as a parent, Hope has taught me not to look to the past but to focus on the present in anticipation of the future. My sweet baby girl with big brown eyes, and small little hands that are just starting to reach out for me has shown me how to find hope everyday.
Hope has taught me to look beyond what was in my life in the past and to look forward to all the things that could be. She turned 7 months old this week. In honor of these seven glorious months, here are 7 simple ways I find hope everyday:
1. Wake up with a smile.
2. Nap often.
3. Cuddle like crazy.
4. Laugh out loud.
5. Feel with a pure heart.
6. Love with reckless abandon.
7. Enjoy all of it.
I would never have imagined that I would have an infant at this point in my life, but I wake up everyday so very grateful for all of it. My husband and I feel like first time parents again but without any of the stress. This little baby girl that was not planned has been a gift to us in the truest sense of the word. I choose to look at life through her eyes.
Tears well up when I watch my husband so lovingly hold a baby in his arms again. My seven-year-old son wants to carry her all day, every day in his little arms - a very proud, self-appointed protector of her well-being. She is a link to the past that keeps me grounded when I watch my older girls turn into teenagers. I see all of my kids in her everyday. Her smile, her laugh, her noises, and her mannerisms remind me of all the things that are good in this world. She saved me in so many ways. Hope has lived up to her name and is a shining beacon for our little world to see.