Juliette was born five years ago today–my darling Thanksgiving baby and a delightful surprise. At the time, after having two boys in a row, I secretly longed for a little girl but dared not give voice to such thoughts. Particularly in light of the health problems our third child had suffered, to say that I preferred a baby girl this time around seemed silly and selfish.
“We just want a healthy baby,” I told anyone who asked. Besides, when the baby’s heartbeat recorded at a consistently low rate throughout the entire pregnancy and people told me that meant I was carrying a boy, hoping for a girl seemed pointless anyway.
When the “Birth” day finally arrived and the fetal monitor showed a steady, low rate heartbeat even through the rigors of labor, I told the nurse to get the blue baby cap ready. Instead, she placed a blue one and a pink one on the bedside table where I could see them.
The moment the baby was born, there was a flurry of activity in the delivery room. Panicked nurses whisked the baby to a nearby table where they suctioned her nose and rubbed her vigorously with towels. An eerie, seemingly endless silence hung in the air while I waited for the usual baby’s cries and the customary joyous proclamation: “It’s a boy!” I heard nothing. From the bed, I couldn’t even see the baby and everyone in the room seemed to have forgotten my presence. No one said a word until at long last my husband asked, “Is she okay?”
“Who?” I asked. “She?”
To the visible relief of the hospital staff, Juliette responded with a sudden and forceful cry. Within minutes, she was swaddled in warm blankets, wearing the pink cap, and nursing contentedly in my arms. I stared at her tiny perfect face in disbelief. She had girlish, delicate fingers and dark eyes that looked unmistakably like my own. She had a swirl of shiny black hair and rosebud lips.
Thank you, God. Thank you for our sweet and secret surprise: Juliette Marie.