Double Digits: Another Milestone in My Moments of Motherhood

November 19, 2002, our star was born
November 19, 2012, our star shines brightly

I know that I'm not the first Mom to feel utter astonishment as her first-born turns ten years old. I know that I'm not the first Mom to grow misty-eyed as she flips through the pages of the baby book. I know that I'm not the first Mom to embrace her child and silently pray that God freeze this moment in time. But when these universal experiences happen to me, they become surreal rather than real. 

I admit that I've been a bit emotional as we've prepared for Landry's birthday festivities. All of this sentimentality reminded me of a piece that I wrote in 2006, (pre-Peyton) while teaching the Abydos Writing Institute. "Moments of Motherhood" perfectly describes my feelings about becoming Landry's mom, and her 10th birthday seems like a perfect time to unearth it and share:


The moment happened in an instant. The “it” became “she”—the nameless baby inside of me suddenly gained an identity: Landry Elizabeth Bailey.
And in that moment, when the sonogram technician typed those four letters into her computer, G-I-R-L, and we watched the word magically appear on the screen, the moment overwhelmed me—the rush of knowing that inside of me grew a baby girl. All of my intuitions, inklings, urges solidified in that moment. I knew from the beginning, deep in my heart, that Landry was a girl, and I felt justified and indoctrinated into the fold of motherhood because my “mother’s intuition” already proved its power with my daughter in the womb. I made a connection with Landry. She spoke to me in some way as if to say, “Yes, Mommy. You’re right. I am a girl!”
At this moment, tears began to fall. A release washed over me that I had failed to experience so far in my pregnancy. The moment of bursting into tears of joy at the sight of the pink line on the stick did not come for me. Although I was thrilled to learn that we were expecting, shock and uncertainty enveloped me. Even hearing the “whoosha-whoosha” of the heartbeat for the first time didn’t reduce me to tears. All through those first months of pregnancy, I struggled to grasp the magnitude of motherhood: I was going to be someone’s mother. The idea seemed surreal. Those first months, I could not take the plunge into that endless emotional chasm of parenthood because I could not wrap my brain around how my life would change when the nine months ended—the immense responsibility of it all.
             The moment we found out “it” was “she” pushed me over the edge of emotion, and I have never returned to my former self. I cried; tears spilled down my cheeks and sobs stole my breath. At the moment I knew I had a daughter, the miracle of motherhood swept over me, and I embraced it. Pink thoughts immediately flooded my brain, and Landry’s entire life flashed before my eyes. Images of pink dresses and pink hair bows transformed into boy craziness, shaved legs, dating, the prom—a “blush and bashful” wedding. Revelation: Jason and I will have to pay for a wedding! [Update: The irony is that we might actually pay for THREE weddings.] I stopped myself from dreaming our daughter’s life before she even got a chance to live it.  For once, I stopped planning the future and embraced the present. A surge of euphoria overtook me because at that moment, motherhood became REAL, and I knew nothing would ever be the same again
The remaining twenty-four weeks  flashed forward to the due date, November 19, 2002, when a star shot across the ink-black sky as we zoomed towards Baylor Hospital at 4:37 a.m.  Breathing through the immense pain that wrenched my back in knots, I missed the star’s descent because my eyes were tightly shut in concentration.  Through my slow breathing and “focused-counting," I heard Jason nervously proclaim, “It’s a shooting star! That’s so cool!”  I opened my eyes, hoping to catch sight of the phenomenon between the unbearable waves of contractions, but another came as quickly as the last faded; the contractions piled one on top of the other like cars in a jolting accident
“Please drive faster!” I pleaded since the contractions came in seconds rather than minutes.
As I suffered through another sharp succession of stabs in my back, and I tried to focus on those breathing techniques I learned in childbirth class that were NOT working, I had a horrifying thought, I’m not ready for this. I’m going to become a mother today. I don’t know why this revelation startled me so; it’s not like it was a shock that I was about to give birth. I had nine months to prepare myself for this reality. But that same magnitude of motherhood that came rushing over me during our first sonogram came crashing down on me like the labor in my back. I realized, Landry and I will meet, face to face, today.
We arrived at the haven of the hospital at 4:58 a.m., thankful that our worst nightmare, my giving birth in the car, had not come true. Landry Elizabeth Bailey finally introduced herself to the world, not to mention her extremely proud parents, at 11:11a.m., after one epidural, five hours of anxious waiting, and fifty minutes of pushing. When the doctor placed my seven pound six ounce daughter in my arms, and I finally looked into her wide-open eyes, I embraced motherhood as the gift that God intended it to be. At that moment, I became Landry’s mother, and my life, as I knew it, changed instantly. I learned that shooting stars are not just astronomical events but glimpses of God’s blessings that he sends to Earth.
Landry is now four, and all the anticipation of waiting for her arrival transformed into a blur of actual moments measured in firsts: first feeding, first smile, first tooth, first word, first step—all while watching her personality blossom—all a hazy whirl of happiness in my memory. I try to grasp these magical moments to make them remain. But like catching fire flies in my hands on a summer night, these snippets of time illuminate briefly and then fade. Occasionally, I capture one of these treasures, and I store it in a jar of my mind to savor—my moments of motherhood.
Landry’s  introductions, first by  sonogram and then through birth, are the moments that I remember with clarity in my collection because they serve as catalysts for all of the others. I am Landry’s mother, and she is my daughter; we are bound by pink dreams, a shooting star, and fire flies on a summer night.
Hermione for Halloween 2012
Throughout these ten years, we have watched Landry blossom from birth into this sweet-spirited, compassionate, insightful young lady; what a blessing she is to our family. I admit that I sometimes shutter to think what the next ten years will bring--puberty, crushes, heart break, high school, college...I pray that the alien of adolescence does not snatch that sweet spirit away from our girl. But I know that with God as her guide, Landry will continue to shine, while I frantically search for the "pause" button.

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