I was terrified my entire pregnancy. After our miscarriage in May of 2008, every normal round ligament pain was a torn placenta, and every bout of heartburn was cause for a ring to the doctor on call. The only thing in the world that I wanted was for our little girl, our Brantley Parrish, to make it into the world healthy and safely.
Her due date came and went (as did I in an enormous custom-altered bridesmaid gown), and on a Wednesday evening, we put our hospital bags in the backseat (okay, let's be honest, those bags had been in the backseat for at least five weeks), and drove up the road to the hospital to be induced.
After my water broke and the contractions began, I realized the pain of labor. As my body resisted dilation, I decided to accept the morphine the nurse was offering (that or a sledgehammer to the head, whichever they were able to administer), and once it wasn't doing the job, I begged for an epidural. I finally got relief around 3:30 in the morning, and was able to rest.
When the nurse woke me to check me at 6:30, I was shocked (as was the nurse) to be told that I was at 8 centimeters, and I needed to call my family to get on the road! We were about to have a baby! I rested and we waited. Once our family arrived, I was checked again around lunchtime, and we were ready to go.
I pushed for about an hour, and between the lack of sleep, and the plain old exhaustion of labor, I was beat. But with the encouragement of my midwife and my mother and husband, I continued on, and our beautiful baby girl was born at 1:18 pm.
THAT was the moment I understood what it meant to be a mother. THAT was the moment I learned how it feels to have your heart beat outside of your body. THAT was the moment I felt the type of love that can never be correctly or completely explained to anyone that has not first experienced it themselves. THAT moment. The moment that my Brantley girl was born. The moment that changed my life, in the very best way, forever.
Today, my sweet Brantley Parrish turns five. We have changed and grown together, and she has far exceeded every expectation that I ever could have imagined. She is beautiful, wicked smart, funny, persistent, stubborn, caring, loving, responsible, inspiring, energetic, loyal, creative, athletic, head strong, considerate, and a thousand other adjectives that don't even quite do her justice. She is, literally, our dream come true. The answer to our prayers, the apple of our eye, the icing on our cupcake, the baby that, for a short time, I was so afraid we would never have. She tests me daily (hourly), and teaches me more about myself than anyone has. She surprises me and enrages me and fills me with pride and love and doubt and fear and absolutejoy every. single. day.
This girl. She holds my heart in her sweet hands. She has been so excited for her birthday, and we will celebrate it to the fullest today. She has inherited her mother's love for celebration, and there is nothing about this fifth birthday that won't be thoroughly enjoyed.
Happy Birthday, my Brantley Girl. You will never understand how much, and in the many different ways that I love you. At least not until you become a mother yourself. I can't wait to see the ways you grow, and all the magical things we will discover together. You are truly what my dreams were made of, and I am so proud to be your mommy.