Just about one year ago, I was anxiously awaiting in anticipation along with fear for the birth of my baby girl. At the time, she didn’t have a name, and I figured things would fall into place once we saw her face. And so, unlike any other birth experience you have heard of, except for maybe on a talk show, Brian and I were frantically trying to get me up to the labor and delivery ward of the hospital but she just couldn’t wait. At some point I realized that I was actually having my baby, right then and there, outside in the cold at 2:50 in the morning in Bad Soden Germany. Brian got to deliver his own child, definitely not on his bucket list, but out of pure necessity and I can just remember him saying, “she’s beautiful, she’s beautiful.” When I looked at her I just saw a naked baby covered in white stuff. The nurse who had made it down to the parking lot asked what her name was and Brian said, “Tatum”.
As I reread Tatum’s birth story in an email I sent out last year, my eyes filled with tears once again at the miracle that is sleeping in the room next to me right now as I am writing this. I was moved by the sheer craziness of the story, and by all the beautiful responses from friends and family. But the excitement did not stop after her birth. Tatum has just turned one and what a trooper she has been. She spent the first 5 months of her life sleeping in the bassinet part of her stroller. That little bed was on the floor next to our bed, then in our van as we camped in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Czech. She made her first international move before she was 4 months old. And then she put up with a month of house hopping before we got our place and she finally got a crib. Despite all these big changes, Tatum was always full of smiles. She is our cuddle bug. She was not anxious to crawl or move, or even hold a bottle herself. I think she was 10 months old before she would actually take a bottle or a sippy cup from my hands. Usually she just sat there and tilted her head back. That silly little girl. She is so easy-going and so happy that our hearts are so full of love for our girls.
I remember the tears I shed during my pregnancy. Tears of mourning for Piper. She was my sidekick, we explored Germany together while Brian was at work. We acquainted ourselves to this foreign place, just the two of us. And now that was changing. It was a change that she didn’t ask for, and yet I was about to turn her world upside-down. It was hard to imagine loving another being the way I loved Piper. I knew it was possible, because I had people tell me it was so, but I just couldn’t imagine. Until, I held Tatum in my arms and realized that she is mine. She is mine to love and protect and to train and nurture. She is mine whether she looks like Piper, or looks completely different. She is mine whether she is collicky or calm, “advanced” or a “slow learner”, whether her first words come at 7 months or 17 months. She is mine and I am forever grateful to have her in our family. And though the grieving of having another child was so real at different points in my pregnancy, it is sometimes crazy to think I even felt that way. Tatum adores Piper, and Piper adores Tatum. This morning, as is the case many mornings, Piper came in my room and asked if she could go in Tatum’s crib with her. By the time I got in there, I had to remove multiple stuffed animals, a book, and a tutu before taking out the two kids. A few months ago Piper told us, “I can’t wait until I can understand Tatie.” And so she has been anxiously awaiting the day when Tatum talks and on Tatum’s birthday she asked me why Tatum wasn’t talking now that she was one. And likewise, when Piper talks nonsense, Tatum is the only one who thinks it is funny, which is enough for Piper to keep on going.
Happy Birthday to you, my sweet baby girl!