I remember the day so clearly... Jordan and I were both in Atlanta doing some last minute wedding stuff & Jenn was 2 days past her due date. We thought the baby was going to come early and it didn't, so we were on high alert and were praying that she would wait until we got back. The night/early morning before the day we were leaving to come home, we get a call around 3:30am from my sister, Shannon, saying that Jennifer was in heavy labor with Ella and that she would be making her entrance soon. I remember being devastated. not that she was being born, but that I was missing it. Jennifer and I had become so close in the months of her pregnancy. I felt so connected to her and this baby and wanted nothing more in the world than to be present for her birth. I cried and cried and cried. I felt such loss... I can't explain it. I was so mad at the Lord I couldn't even see straight. I simply couldn't understand. I woke Jordan up and we never went back to sleep because we were waiting on the phone call to tell us she had made it into the world. We got a call around 4:30 that she had come. Shannon brought the phone in the room so I could hear her cry and I just lost it. I felt like we were missing out. Looking back, it seems so selfish because while I was so happy that she was born healthy and that Jenn was healthy... I just can't describe the feeling I had other than I was distraught. Jordan will tell you it was one of the worst memories he has with me :) I cried all day long and couldn't wait to get back to see her and be with my sister.
the next day, we drove all the way from Atlanta to DFW and went straight to their house. I got to hold her for the first time and I just remember feeling so overwhelmed with her. She was so tiny and so pretty. a lot of babies aren't pretty when they're first born... let's be honest. but not her- she was BEAUTIFUL. I wasn't pregnant then, but I knew that I wouldn't love another baby like that until my own. I was absolutely crazy about her from day one. Jenn and I have talked about this several times, but my nephew Jackson, of course I know he loves me... but I wasn't in his life until he was four. He had to learn who I was. Ella will ALWAYS know. She will always have known me and I will have always known her.
My sister, Jenn, had an amazing, redemptive, natural, intervention free, peaceful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) with Ella. she was brought into the world with grace and strength. I had never been more proud of my sister and never been happier for a family to have a new baby. I knew how hard they had prayed and how long they had waited for her. she was truly a gift. not only to her parents, but to our whole family.
looking back... I am now thankful that the Lord knew better than for me to be present at Ella's birth because I was able to have no pre-conceived notions for my own (although I had a natural, intervention free, peaceful birth with the same midwives in the same bed as Jenn, haha!) but my pregnancy and my birth were completely different and they were all mine, just as Jenn's were all hers. although I love that we share the commonalities that we do. my sister is a rock star... no one parents with as much gentleness and quiet strength as my sister.
and now a little letter to Ella-
what a year it has been as your aunt. I'm crying while writing this because I know right now that you don't quite understand just yet how much you are adored and loved. from your first day of life to this present day at one year old, you have blessed my life tremendously. I know you know you have wonderful parents... you are so in love with your papa and your bubba and your sweet mama- well, you never want to leave her side! you love her so much. your whole family is absolutely crazy about you. we have watched you go from sleepy newborn, to sitting up on your own, to laughing, army crawling, full on crawling, and now you are almost walking... you are a girl on the move. you are adventurous and you are hysterical. you are so proud of yourself now that you're walking! you are loving to eat right now... we came to visit you at your house this weekend and you were talking up a storm. you love your baby cousin and you want to touch him constantly. he is going to love you so much when he's older. I know you will take good care of him and make sure he doesn't date just ANY girl :) I love watching you love your big brother, Jax. he is so crazy about you. although I was an aunt before you were born, it was different because I had to adopt that role immediately and learn Jax as a four year old and hadn't gotten to watch him grow up. I felt robbed in that sense because I love him so much and missed out on so many things. but you... ella girl, you made me an aunt. what a joy and a privilege to love you and to watch you grow up. the Lord has shown me and taught me so much about being a mom, by watching your mom mother you and her allowing me to be involved with you as your aunt. I will always look at you with as much love and as much adoration as I did the first time I met you. you and me... we have a sweet relationship, little lady.
I want you to know that you have the best parents in the world. They love you, they prayed so long and hard for you, and they are faithful when it comes to parenting you. You are part of an amazing heritage... one that started way back and continues today, on both sides of your family. I want you to know that I will always be here for you. I'm not your mom and that is NOT a role I can or will fill for you and I will ALWAYS agree and side with your mom, however, I will always have an ear to listen and hopefully some wisdom to give. I am the luckiest aunt in the world to be yours. (by the way- you have a few aunts who feel the same way!) and I cannot fathom life without you. I pray you always know your worth and value are in Jesus... that it is God given and something no one can ever take away from you. You have joy and beauty to offer this world and already at one year old, you give it so easily.
thank you for loving me as much as your sweet one year old heart can. thank you for the privilege of being "aunt mal." I love you forever and I am so grateful for the blessing of calling you my niece.
all my love
the first time I held her. bliss!