My chubby little newborn is 8 years old today and it’s hard to believe.
I was into the 2nd trimester before I took a pregnancy test. We’d been trying for 7 years. I’d taken a lot of tests over the years, each one heartbreaking.

By then I was sick. Sick and living off frozen melon and frosted shredded wheat. Napping twice a day and trying to finish up my graphic design degree.

I lost 19lbs in those months and only regained a couple within the last weeks. I vomited every single day between 5:15pm and 6:45pm. Sometimes my throat would bleed. One time I burst a blood vessel in my eye.

We lived in California then. Zero family nearby. Trying to keep me and baby alive, we didn’t have health insurance. A weekend passed after that positive pregnancy test and I said, “we need to figure this out. A baby is going to need to come out of my body at some point.”

We googled. A midwife lived nearby. I emailed. We visited. She let me hear my baby’s heartbeat. She told me she had never seen someone literally look green with sickness before. She gave me supplements, iron. Told me I needed to try and eat more than frozen melon. She became my guardian.

Twice, I woke up with blood pouring out of me. So much blood. I couldn’t imagine things ending well. I remember sobbing, “this is what we prayed for?”

The day came. A Thursday. Contractions every 15 minutes. They didn’t stop until Sunday morning when the baby was born, on our blue ikea couch in our living room in California. They stopped too soon, before the placenta passed. It was removed by hand, on our blue ikea couch in California.

She asked me, “how do you feel?” and I said, “Like I might die.”

It wasn’t how we imagined it would go.

But there she was. My pink baby. My pink baby with her 98th percentile noggin. And no eyelashes.

(4 weeks old)

She screamed for 5 months. Refused to eat. Refused to sleep. And we hadn’t imagined that was how that was going to go either.

None of it was easy. None of it was what we saw our friends experiencing. We expected it to be hard work. But this was beyond what we expected. She needed to be held constantly, wouldn’t take a pacifier. People said, just let her cry. But she was always crying anyway.

Stamina.

When she was 3 months old we had to move from California to Utah. We had to go up to Washington first and then make the move to Utah. At 5 months old she screamed the whole way from Seattle to Boise in the middle of the night in her carseat.

I remember all of that so clearly. How hard it was. How lonely. How unexpected. And I remember how much love we were capable of whilst enduring the torturous months of sleep deprivation and the physical challenges of feeding her – she wouldn’t drink out of anything except me until she turned 18 months old, quit naps but started drinking from a straw.

Now she’s 8. She’s wild. She didn’t grow hair until she was 2 – we didn’t see her neck until she was 2 either; jolly chubby baby. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was 3. And now she’s 8. This is what we prayed for.

Her quirks. Her love. Her expressive eyebrows and curly hair. Her cosy little body, long legs, bright eyes. She can never be close enough.

(Autumn’s 1st birthday)

I ask her every day, “can I keep you forever?” and she says “yes, mama! Can I keep you forever?”

On the periodic table gold is Au from the latin word “Aurum;” shining dawn.

If you have or are struggling with issues from pregnancy, reach out. You are not alone. It is hard! Your emotions are real and important. Healing is possible. Be gentle.

If you have a loved one who has just had a baby, reach out to them especially within that first month.

Resource & Community: The Emily Effect