My Victoria Isabel is 6 today.
October 22nd, 2009 after 22 hours of labor, I met this gorgeous, fair skinned, red headed little baby. I used to watch birthing videos and think, gosh these babies look so strange and not very cute for the first week or so. I’m very realistic and prepared myself for the same experience with my child, but it was different with Victoria. Her hair was a red Mohawk that I could never straighten out the weeks following. She was pink and had the most beautiful hands and feet. I cried so much when I saw her, all I kept saying was, “Oh my God she’s so beautiful. She’s so beautiful. My baby, oh my God my baby”. I was excited, scared, tired and I felt triumphant. This human that I carried for nine months was here. Familiar yet so unfamiliar. She knew so much about me and I so little of her, yet we connected. She knew I was hers to keep and I knew I had found what I was looking for up until that point. No one else mattered to me at that time, not her father, not my family…No one. In a room full of people (no, really…I let students from the university watch and take notes), I only saw Victoria Isabel. She was quickly taken away to the NICU because she inhaled meconium (her own feces) and was having trouble breathing. That’s when I realized she hadn’t cried, dammit she didn’t cry. I was so scared then, I watched as they took her, cleared her nose and mouth and then there it was. A faint whimper and then a roaring sound, music to my ears; that’s when they rushed off with her and had my ex followed. Suddenly I really was alone. No one but a nurse and a student left behind, checking my vitals. I felt so empty, it was the strangest sensation in the pit of my stomach. I’m wheeled to recovery until I can see Victoria again and when I did, she was all tubes and wires. I was explained to that inhaling meconium is very common and the minor/major side affects it would have on her long term, if at all. It turns out, she’s perfectly healthy and her breathing is just fine.
Fast forward to the present and my little bundle of joy is now all legs and smiles. Never did I anticipate having a child who is so intelligent, funny, and tall! I’m 5’2 at my best and her father is a whopping 5’5, however his whole family is tall. Her hair is incredibly long and her once red locks are now strawberry blonde. Her eyes are as blue as the pictures I’ve seen of the ocean in the Caribbean and her attitude is so flush with mine sometimes, it leaves people in awe. She’s sweet, giving, and understanding. Of course we expect most children to be this way, but they’re not. She carries herself with grace and class, traits that I am jealous and proud of. Her skin reminds me of porcelain and her laugh is music to my ears. Sometimes I watch her and I wonder what I did to deserve this blessing. I tear up at the thought of ever parting from her and at the thought of her growing up. Of leaving me behind to start her own life. My attempt to savor every moment big or small isn’t always enough.
I want to stop time. I want to hear her voice every morning telling me that she loves me and wrapping her arms around me. I want to drive her to school everyday for the rest of my life and practice translating English words to Portuguese and vise versa. I want her to cry and tell me she’s upset with me for not letting her have cookies for breakfast, and then laugh at her for being so silly only to hear her giggle through her tears. Every time I look at her, I mean really look into her eyes and soul, I see a change. Understanding maybe. A new spelling word conquered. A tooth missing. A darkened freckle on her face. A bruise. The bad habit of biting her nails she’s picked up. A new comeback for her 15 year old aunt Gina who always picks on her. I soak it up. Will I remember this forever? I fear not remembering these moments, but how can I keep them? I can’t capture them and nail them into a wooden box. I can try to relive them in my mind every day but there are so many amazing memories. It’s overwhelming. I want to keep her little. Innocent. Worry free. It’s selfish, but it’s true.
Sometimes I hug her so tight she wriggles away and says, “Mae, I can’t breathe!!!!”. I wonder if she’ll ever get to the point where she won’t want hugs from me every day. Or a kiss on the forehead. Or the occasional cuddle. Too cool for mom. If she does, I hope she grows out of it. I hope we can always have dance parties and she’ll never be too cool to sing at the top of her lungs with me.
No one will ever love her like I do. Not her father. Not his family. Not my family. No one.
She’s a witty, intelligent, gorgeous, hilarious and a jerk at times. I love her every second of every day, I want her to always remember that. We’ve been through a lot together, but the cool thing is, she’s always had my back. And I will always have hers.
Happy Birthday Victoria Isabel, I hope all of your dreams come true.