I’ve had plenty of beautiful Christmases.
I’ve had almost a decade of more somber ones.
But when our pastor recently asked, “What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?” I didn’t have to think hard at all.
It was my daughter, Fiona.
She wasn’t born ON Christmas but a week before-today is her birthday-and I was oh, so glad to finally hold that tiny bundle in my arms instead of in my belly.
My first successful pregnancy (I’d miscarried a year before) was a long, hard and difficult one. I never achieved that “glow” so many women enjoy while hormones guaranteeing baby’s health and safety surged through my system.
Instead I was desperately ill for the first four months as I wrapped up my college degree. (In hindsight, taking biology at six in the morning was a bad choice.) I spent many of those days in close communion with the toilet or a bowl when I couldn’t muster the energy to get to the bathroom.
I had a few short golden weeks before my body revolted once again and I developed a serious case of preeclampsia. Now my doctor visits were weekly and included fetal monitoring.
Back then there were few interventions for this condition so it was wait and see, wait and see all the while I counted days and weeks until I could reach the magic “thirty-four week” mark of likely viability.
Thankfully, we made it!
But then that little Miss decided to assert her personality and refuse to make an entrance.
So…finally…I was scheduled to deliver ten full days after her due date of December 8th.
It was a long day of pitocin, contractions, no progress and a swift trip to the OR for what ended up being an emergency C-section. Drama all the way!
She was here, safe and sound, in my arms at last.
There are lots of things I don’t remember in detail about that day or even the week that followed but I remember this: I knew in my bones that life would never be the same. This precious child made me a mama and my heart would forever be wrapped around hers.
I’m so very thankful I had the blessing of three more little ones after that.
I’m grateful for the lives they’ve lived and the ones they are living now.
I miss my third-born, Dominic. His birth story is woven just as firmly into the fabric of my being as Fiona’s and that of her other brothers.
I can’t pick out his threads without unraveling the whole cloth.
And I don’t want to.
I celebrate today the gift of motherhood and the gift of children.
Even when one of them leaves too soon.
Love is always costly, but love is always worth the price.