Friday, October 29, 2004

It seems like only yesterday...

but it was actually exactly eleven years ago today. I was 50 pounds heavier than I am right now. I had spent several months eating everything that wasn't strictly forbidden in my "make a huge baby" diet. I had long since given up on any form of exercise other than walking back and forth to the kitchen, and moderation of any kind was not on my agenda. I was pregnant with my first child, and I was determined to have the biggest baby possible. What ended up happening was that I had a good sized baby who ended up with the biggest Mommy possible - at least for the first few months. In her first act of parental defiance, Kristiana decided that October 15th, the predicted date of her appearance, was a little too early for her debut, so she kept her father and me waiting for an additional 15 days. Yes, my daughter was long overdue. Well done. Beyond well done. When she was born her fingers and toes had the familiar wrinkles of an old woman who'd been left in the tub for an extra 45 minutes while the nurses tended to someone with a Code Blue. I entered the hospital on Friday, October 29th with the intention of having my water broken and waiting to see what happened. Being the obsessively controlling person that I am, I had given clearly written, detailed and signed documents informing the attending physician that no one on the hospital staff was even to mention pain relief within 15 feet of my hospital room for the duration of my labor. Unless my child was in severe distress, I was going all natural. I was going to eat and drink as I pleased, shower, bathe, walk, talk; this was going to be my labor. Anyone who dared to challenge me on that point would not soon forget the heat of the coals over which they were going to be raked. With my mellow music playing, sipping GatorAde, nibbling on snacks I'd brought, alternately walking down the hallway, taking warm showers, and sitting in the rocking chair, I moaned and groaned my way through about ten hours of contractions without the aid of any aids. Then it was time to push. I'll bypass the gory details and suffice it to say that after three hours of pushing, I saw the face of my precious angel girl. A whopping 9 pounds and 1 ounce, 22 inches long, she was well worth the wait. I know, I know; if she was only 9 pounds and change, that meant there were still a little more than 40 that I had to deal with on my own. Contrary to everything I'd been lead to believe, nursing didn't help me lose much weight at all. But that's a whole different blog: the whole weight loss, exercise, "can I ever fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes?" thing. I am proud to say, however, that I now weigh 12 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight, so the answer to that earlier question is, "No, I can't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. But that's because they are too big!" Tae-Bo is the best form of exercise I've ever done, ever! In the words of my workout guru, Billy Blanks, "If you've got the will, Tae-Bo is the way." But I digress. There she was: Kristiana Nicole Belsito. Plump, juicy, sweet, ravenously hungry, and eager to turn our world upside down. I simply could not believe - and still cannot believe - that my body produced another human being, an independent person with her own soul, personality, likes and dislikes, and I am responsible to raise her, to bring her up to be a young woman who lives an honorable, Godly, and productive life. Yesterday I realized that tomorrow is her true birthday: she was born at 2:59 AM on Saturday, October 30th, 1993, and tomorrow she will be 11 years old. These eleven years have flown by. She has grown in body, mind, and spirit. She's the kindest, most generous, most patient, and most loving member of our family. I say that with deep humility because I thought that as the Mom, I ought to embody all those qualities. But when I watch her as she moves around in her life with her teammates, friends, and in our home, I am increasingly convinced that I was nothing more than the vehicle for transporting a truly gentle soul into the universe. Who she is seems to have very little to do with who I am; I am a lot of things, but "gentle" is a word that is rarely used to describe me. It seems like only yesterday that she emerged from warm, wet darkness into the light of the world with a light of her own, a light that glows from within her. It seems like only yesterday that she altered my life irreversibly. On that cool Saturday morning in Stamford, Connecticut, in a hospital that no longer even exists, I became a mother for the first time. While so much about her has changed over the years, one personality quirk of my dear Kristiana hasn't: she still takes her time in just about everything she does. Of the four of us, she is the one who most enjoys the considerably slower pace of Southern Living. She gets out of bed when she's good and ready. She cleans up her room on her own schedule. She is almost never in a hurry. When I'm not trying to rush her along for fear of arriving somewhere less than ten minutes early (notice the control freak in me again), I admire her ability to take life at a more sane, peaceful, life-affirming pace. I hope she can teach me how to do that someday before I get left in the tub developing wrinkles while someone down the hall gets shocked after going belly up. For now, I'd better go start wrapping her birthday presents. Grace and peace, Gail

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