Seven

It was February 22, 2008, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Hazel1

I sat in my hospital room, looking down on this tiny human entrusted to me.  Kullervo had left, gone home to take care of Oliver and put him to bed.

I felt so much better than I had after Oliver was born.  Oliver’s birth was a messy, brutal butchering of my body.  I didn’t see him for more than a day after he was born because I couldn’t get up and he was busy being dubbed biggest baby in the NICU.  After Oliver was born, it took me weeks before I could walk around the block, months before I could breastfeed without intense pain, and years before I could think about the hospital stay without getting angry.

This was different.  I could walk around my room the night Hazel was born.  I had nurses who helped me figure out the best way to move around, the best ways to breastfeed, and who were supportive.

But, the night of February 22, I was alone with my daughter for the first time.  It was quiet.  I was restless.  My world had stopped turning, and I was frozen into the moment of contemplating motherhood of a little girl.

I hadn’t wanted a daughter.  Girls are a terrifying proposition as a parent—all the pink, PMS, and middle school girl drama.  I was sure I would mess everything up, and any daughter of mine would grow up to hate me.  I was certain I would fail.

It started out so quietly though.  Baby Hazel was a lovely sleeper, and I paced my hospital room.

The rest of the world kept turning.  I called friends and family to chat, and nobody was that interested in me, or Hazel, and everybody was busy with their own goings-on.  I felt sad and lonely, and a part of this huge event that was turning out to be so mundane for everybody else.  So I prayed.  I took my apprehension, my nerves, my post-partum big feelings to God.  And He comforted me.

Seven years later, I am so glad to have this sweet girl in my life.  Hazel is incredibly bright.  She’s ridiculously competitive—to the point that she has trouble playing any competitive games because she gets so upset if she loses.  She gets cranky (read: really, really mean) if she has too much sugar, and weepy when she’s tired at night.  She is easygoing, kind, and generous.  She knows exactly what buttons to push to make her brothers furious, and exactly what to say to diffuse it when she’s done toying with them.  She can answer 25 math problems in under a minute with beautiful handwriting.  She loves to play pretend and read Babysitter’s Club Little Sister books, and can’t watch a movie that has an ounce of interpersonal tension without hiding under a blanket.  Hazel is freakishly strong, funny, and silly.  She works really hard at gymnastics, practicing her skills constantly around the house.  Hazel is incredibly compassionate and concerned about taking care of other people’s feelings.

Hazel is just the right daughter for me.  She challenges me to be a better mother, and she forgives me when I mess up.  She has always had an exceptional memory and uses it to beat us all at games and memorize Scripture passages.  She loves to read The Jesus Storybook Bible and her book of Psalms, and she can articulate questions she has about God in such a thoughtful way that we all pause, and then turn around and be so silly that we forget how much she just stunned us.

My world didn’t stop turning seven years ago when I had Hazel, but rather changed directions.  And the change has transformed me into a better person as I navigate being the mother of a daughter.  There really is so much pink, and my tutu-wearing daughter loves it.  There really are too many princesses, and my little girl loves them.  She loves Sleeping Beauty and adores the characters from Frozen.  She doesn’t love them because the media tells her she should—she just loves them.  She also loves animals, playing veterinarian, and playing video games.  There really will be PMS, and the middle school drama starts early—like, kindergarten.  My seven year old has already struggled with body image issues, as her muscular body has caused other little girls to ask why her legs are so big.

There are so many girl-specific issues we are going to have to deal with as Hazel grows up, but I always go back to my hospital room back in 2008.  It was me, alone in a room with my little girl, praying for answers and help and comfort.  I still pray for answers and help and comfort.  And I receive.  I receive so much.  And I thank God every day for my little girl.

Photo by Blair Stokes Blanks

Photo by Blair Stokes Blanks