Today was my oldest daughter's 7th birthday. Lillian Kaye Welch turned 7 years old today. I actually just used my calculator to figure out that I was 27 when she was born. She was born Thursday, July 8, 2004, at 9:40am, in Beaumont, TX via C-section. She was 3 weeks early. And she had a few problems that premature newborn babies have. Except the one where she was huge. Nine pounds, 11 ounces, to be exact. And kind of short for as fat as she was: 19.5" long. To be honest, I was afraid she was going to be born ugly. I knew she had a lot of hair, and I was worried that a baby with a lot of hair would be ugly. I didn't get to see her until the next afternoon, Friday. Brian was a proud papa taking all the visitors to the nursery, but because of the surgery, I was stuck in bed. Brian took pictures of the baby and sent them to my parents, and I remember begging my mother on the phone to tell me the truth about the baby: Was she ugly or not? Because it looked from the pictures that she might be okay, but I didn't really trust my own judgment.
When I was finally able to get out of bed and go to the NICU, I looked at my fat baby and said, "She's so beautiful!" And my daughter, who looked a little like Alfred Hitchcock in profile, whose daddy had been visiting and talking to her around the clock, turned for the first time, at the sound of my voice, opened her eyes and looked at me.
This is the first time I ever held her, just moments after pronouncing her "beautiful".
Friends came and visited us, bringing a sweet toile outfit from Gymboree with matching socks, sized 9 months. I remember thinking, "She'll never be big enough to wear that!" But she was. And so were the sisters that followed.
After 5 days in the NICU, we finally got to bring her home. I never intended to nurse any of my children, but when I left that hospital with that baby, I was a nursing mother, complete with Lanolin and milk bags. As we were leaving, being wheeled out to the car, I was holding that baby. And the fire alarm went off. My daughter never moved. I thought she died. Apparently, they're much hardier than you realize. The whole 10 minute ride home, I was concerned that the carseat was not correctly installed, nor were the straps correctly implemented. But they were.
We brought Lily home from the hospital in the same dress that I came home from the hospital in. Same bonnet, too. No, wait, that's a new bonnet, but we saved it.
Lily survived even though she was my first baby. Despite the screaming matches at 3am about whose fault it was we hadn't stayed on the schedule that day and therefore, whose fault it was we were up at 3am. She survived even though we didn't realize we should have all the bath stuff together before we took a naked newborn and put her in a tub. She survived my eating jalapenos while nursing. She's actually survived quite well.
She's now the oldest of 4 who wanted a special Spa Day for her birthday today. Including cucumbers on the eyes. (My girls just have this idea that when you go to the "spa" [which means any nail joint in town] you get cucumbers on your eyes.) So I obliged her. She had a bubble bath where I washed her hair with my lavender shampoo, exfoliated her skin, used my special foot scrub made out of walnut shells. I washed her face with my facial soap. While I cut and painted her nails and gave her a massage with some lavender and vanilla lotion, she lay there with cucumbers on her eyes.
Happy birthday, Lily Puss Kaye Welch. Your mama loves the schedule-making, bossy, helpful, emotional, bright, articulate girl that is you. Today you wrote me a note. You always are writing notes to people or drawing them pictures. Today's note said: Dear Mom I love you Thank you for letting me have a spa. I can't wiat to have my nails and toenails panted! Love Lily
Later in life, we two, may have trouble and issues and shouting matches. But let it be said now, when at 7 years old, you think looking exactly like me is the best thing in the world, flaws and all: We, my darling, oldest daughter, are cut from the same cloth. That makes the 2 of us, unstoppable! Auntie Jo calls it "works matters to completion" and it's a good thing. ;)