The whir of a box fan drones outside my door and white sunshine falls on the covers and sheets. It falls on the tiny features of a bundle lying in those blankets and a small, quick rise and fall of little breath paces gently under them. Arabella Rose was born last Thursday at 6.44 am into a peaceful room of a small group of loving hearts and helping hands. The birth is my first note of thanksgiving. How grateful I am to have had the support of people dedicated to helping John Barrett, our baby and me through that experience. They rubbed my feet, ran a bath for me, fed me ice chips, held the bowl as I threw up multiple times, prayed for me, cheered for me and molded themselves to meet whatever need I had. My husband was my strong rock, there for me the whole time, and held his arms tight around me in our comfy little birth pool as I pushed out our baby. Mama's hand, her words, her instruction, her calming reassurance that God designed me to do this and I was doing fine, steadied and strengthened me. God was so kind to give me the birth I was dreaming of. Loving, calm, full of peace and joy.
All last Thursday I floated through a haze of relief and peace, pain and blood, thankfulness and awe. John Barrett and I never considered ourselves "Parents-to-be". From the time we knew we were expecting we claimed ourselves as parents already. So I won't say we "became" parents that day. But we entered into the fuller joys of it by meeting our daughter. From the moment we met her, she began weaving more closely to our hearts. John Barrett blows me away at being a daddy. He wakes up with her, comforts her and sleeps all night with her on his chest. He sings to her, croons out lullabies, prays for and knows how to calm her when she's fussy. Seeing him with her is one of those things where I feel my heart expanding more to be able to bear the amount of love I have for him. Last Sunday we sat in the sunshine on our back porch. He'd stayed home from church to take care of us while the rest of the family went. He bent over her tiny body and kissed her little head.
"Did you know," he said to her, softly, "you are the best gift I could ask for. You are our baby…that's scary and exciting. I want you to be safe and well and happy... I love you, Arabella Rose."
These first days are hard and beautiful. The joy of having my family here for the birth and a week or so before and past it is only checked at their leaving. As Daddy read Little House on The Prairie to Arabella the night before he left for his two-day trek home, I couldn't help the lump in the throat and tears. He rocked with her in the chair, her ear to his chest and the velvety strains of his deep voice rumbling underneath. How well I know that voice and how many times have I too laid my head on him and heard that same comforting voice. He held my hand before he left, tears in both our eyes and said, "I pray God will bless and keep your little family, through all the many miles between us."
Today marks one week of us meeting our baby. One week of beautifully sleepless nights, of taking in the wonder of our child, of learning each day what it means to love as a parent, and as I do so, I see more of how my Mama loves me. One week of dreamy reality, of witnessing the miracle I carried for nine months and watching the gentleness of my husband which makes him great. One week of humbling, because I see how freely people give of themselves for me and our little family, and how merciful and long-suffering God is with me, though I am horribly whiney and ungrateful and proud at times. It has been a week of life changing before my eyes. Simply, it is more than I can describe in words and an incredible blessing.