Today is your sixth birthday, and therefore the anniversay of the day I became a Veteran Mother. The second time was tinged with nostalgia and fear and excitement: I knew this would be my last baby, I was terrified of the postpartum depression hell I had been through after Rebecca was born, and I couldn't wait to meet you. I had been waiting for you--for you, specifically--for a long time. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I felt a leap of joy and I thought, "Oh! It's Suzanne!" There was no doubt in my mind that you were a girl, and what your name would be. (What would have happened if your father had objected? Interesting question.) The fact that you arrived at all is a mystery and a miracle; we had given up on having another baby, I was about to turn 45, and that was that. Or so we thought--and then that little double pink line showed up again, and I couldn't believe it. Didn't believe it, in fact, and when there were some signs of early trouble I resigned myself to another miscarriage. "No need to come with me," I told your dad on the day of that second sonogram. "I know what it's gonna say. I'll be fine." And then, before I'd even gotten myself settled on the table properly, the technician said, "Well, there's the heartbeat," and I had to ask her to repeat herself. Twice. I have never felt such explosive joy in my life. It was like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Vienna Boys Choir and the Robert Shaw Chorale had simultaneously burst into the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth, all at the same time. And nine months later, there you were: much smaller than your sister, red-faced, with an almost invisible white fuzz covering your head so that I knew right away: you would be a curly-haired girl.
Now you are six. Your nickname is Tiny Heinie, because your little tush is still small enough to fit into the palm of my hand, but that's just one of many nicknames, because you seem to collect them. Ladybug. Bunny. Babylove. Love Bug. Babychild....the list goes on. You are incapable of merely walking; you cavort, you jete, you tippytoe; the lifeguards at the pool are always yelling at you: "Slow down!" But you can't. You give great big huge crushing hugs, surprising in their strength from a creature so small. Those curls materialized, all right, and these days you fiercely refuse any effort to contain them or render them more ladylike, and the result is a tumble of hair that seems to be a physical manifestation of the energy that's bouncing around inside that little head of yours. What a beam of light you are. What uncomplicated joy you bring into our lives. What on earth were we thinking, to believe that we could ever have been complete without you?