When I hear that someone is pregnant, I immediately hold my breath. My very first instinct is to inhale deeply and think, "Here we go." The I spend the better part of the next several months waiting to breathe normally.
When my "baby" brother and his wife announced their pregnancy to me, I was overjoyed. Yes, my breath stuttered, but I pushed that aside and put on a brave face and tried my best to share their joy. It was not hard. Their excitement was contagious and their happiness was hard to ignore.
Instead of drawing away during the time that the baby grew, I drew closer. I gave them books and clothes and advice (sometimes when asked for - sometimes not!). I even helped throw a baby shower to celebrate the baby's arrival.
When they found out that the baby was a girl, I was not surprised. I suspected from the get-go that the baby was a she and not a he.
When the ultrasound came back with an image, I shared their happy tears of the beautiful baby being created.
When the checkups came and went and everything was fine, I smiled and kept thinking, "Just a little bit longer..."
37 weeks and 1 day came and went. So did 38. So did 39. So did 40.
I was practically deprived of oxygen from all the breath holding I had been doing! But my niece was not ready to come out yet and the non-stress test results were good and their caregiver was not worried, so I tried to not worry, too.
And then it happened. Labor began.
It was not an easy labor. During one of the coldest days in decades, my niece decided she would rather stay inside where it was nice and toasty.
Her mom wanted to meet her. Her dad was chomping at the bit. Her grandparents and uncle and I were waiting in the maternity ward for something. Anything!
They sent us home. "We will call when there is news."
More waiting. A sleepless night. Memories came flooding back to me and I pushed them out of my head. I was so scared that I could not see straight. I tried to be encouraging and hopeful and optimistic, but I found it harder and harder to breathe.
The next day. A whooooosh of air. She was here. She was healthy. She was perfect.
She is perfect.
It's hard to say who this little lady look like just yet. I see her mom and I see her dad. I also see her cousin Allie.
The miracle of life is just that. This baby is a miracle. One my whole family shares and loves.
We are lucky and fortunate and blessed. She is, too, as she has all of us.
It's nice to breathe normally again.