My dearest Liliahoku,
As I was sitting here, I realized that the day might come that I forget all the little and beautiful details about what it was like to be pregnant with you. I’m writing you this letter, so when that day does come, you’ll be able to tell me all about it. I hope you enjoy hearing about who you were before you were even born. I do feel like I know you already, but I also know that I can’t wait to see the woman you are going to become. (You just kicked me, by the way. BOY, you’re strong!)
I often wonder if you’ll become a dancer, because you are certainly one now. I joke with my friends that you like to tap dance on my insides, spreading your limbs out as far as they can stretch and moving around as gracefully as you can in such a small space. I can tell that you’re beautiful already.
Right now, I’m only a few days from being six months pregnant with you and it has been the roller-coaster ride of a lifetime, especially in light of the fact that I’m currently in my second year of law school. We weren’t expecting you until I finished, but it seems you and God just didn’t want us to wait any longer. Despite the fact that things didn’t happen exactly the way your dad and I planned them, I have absolutely no regrets or reservations. God gave you to us right on time.
Frankly, I was worried about being able to have you at all. Before becoming pregnant with you, I had two undiagnosed and complete miscarriages. They both happened so quickly, that by the time I figured out what was going on, it was too late for the doctor to help or even diagnose. I guess my body means business when it knows what it wants. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons my pregnancy with you has been as great as it has. As I said, you were a most welcome and complete surprise.
Okay, so I know most people don’t want to hear about how or when they were conceived, but I feel like your circumstances are so special, that I have to share. I promise to spare you the details. J
You were conceived in early December 2011. Your father and I were in Long Island, New York for the funeral of your Great Grandma Gertrude Shertenlieb, Bub’s mother and my last living grandparent. I know it seems so strange to be conceived while out of town for a funeral, but I truly feel like Grandma Gertrude left you as a parting gift to us all. You see, for most of my life, Grandma Gertrude and I didn’t really get along. However, close to the end of her life, we became very close, speaking at least once a week. I’m so grateful for that, I can’t even tell you. I tell you this because I feel like you and Grandma Gertrude have a very special connection. You made your entrance on this earth just as we buried Grandma Gertrude in it. This fact means a lot to my whole family and Gummy even started to call you “Grandma’s Baby.” I promise to tell you everything I know about Grandma Gertrude and all of your great grandparents whenever you’re ready.
The day we flew back from New York, I got horribly sick. I slept on the entire flight home, barely drove back to our home in Pembroke Pines from Fort Lauderdale Airport, and threw up most of the night. Your dad was also pretty sick so I never thought for a second to check if I was pregnant. We were both convinced we had food poisoning.
A few days later, we went back to Atlanta for the holidays and I just remember being so tired and so hungry all the time. I swear, I couldn’t get enough food! I was starving! On top of that, I was passing up opportunities to go out for late nights with my girlfriends because I was too tired to stay out late (this is not like me AT ALL). The whole trip was kind of a haze of hormones, hunger, and fatigue. Anyway, a couple of days after ringing in the new year, we returned to Pembroke Pines so I could prepare for the upcoming second semester of my second year in law school.
Sitting on the couch with your dad, I realized that my ladies time was late by a week or so. Granted, I’d had to use birth control pills from the time I was thirteen to regulate my cycle and had recently stopped taking them due to the miscarriages, so I didn’t think much of it. However, I (very nonchalantly, by the way) decided to take a pregnancy test. I’d taken so many over the course of our marriage that your dad and I really didn’t get excited or even pay much mind to the idea. So, there I went into the bathroom, took the test, played on my phone for three minutes, and then took a look.
I immediately started to pace the bathroom. I always had these big plans about how to tell your father we were expecting when that day came, but I was totally unprepared for the day to be right then. I burst into tears of joy and I knew any charade I could have planned was moot. Your father always knows when I’ve been crying and I wasn’t going to be able to hide it from him. It’s very hard to keep secrets from your dad, even when it is just to surprise him with something nice. I just can’t lie to him!!
So, I went back into the living room where your dad was playing a video game and stood at the door. He said, “you okay?” without even looking up, expecting to hear that I was disappointed by another negative result. All I could muster at first was, “Ummmmm.” Finally, your dad looked at me and said, “What? Are you all right?”
This is one of those moments in life that you hope you’ll find the right words, that you’ll say something so profound, so eloquent, that it will live like a shining moment in your memory forever.
“Uh…. So, we’re gonna have a baby?”
Yup. That was it. Those were the words that practically fell out of my mouth, and they totally sounded like a question.
I guess I broke the news credibly enough because your father literally jumped over the coffee table to get to me. He took me in his arms and we both bawled our eyes out. The day we’d been dreaming of had finally come. It was for real. You were on your way and our lives would never be the same.
The next few days were a mix of ecstasy, numbness, and total freak out. Books were purchased and read, vitamins were shoved down my throat, and all traces of lunch meat and chemical products were eradicated from the apartment. We were having a baby. Holy smokes!
Very quickly, your dad became an expert on all things pregnancy. He knew exactly what vitamins I needed and why, which creams were the best to use for stretch marks, and what foods to seek out and avoid. On the flip side, it seemed almost immediately that the morning sickness hit me like a mack truck. All day, every day, nausea and vomiting. The first three months of my pregnancy with you were the worst three of my life, health wise. I could barely keep saltine crackers down and the smell of onions, coffee, or any meat would send me running. On top of all of this, I had what experts call “pregnancy fog” where I could hardly remember anything. None of these symptoms were great for a law student entrenched in one of the hardest semesters of her law school career. I’m just thankful I passed!
Eventually, we were ready to share the news with your grandparents. Gummy and Bub were coming to visit for a week or so and we wanted to take the opportunity to tell them in person. They came over to our new apartment and I pretended we were celebrating Bub’s birthday that had just passed. I had crackers and veggies laid out with party hats and plates to round out the ruse. Finally, we gave Bub his gift, which was a scrapbook called “The Book of 8.” It counted down their grandchildren from Justin at number one to Max at number seven, who was the youngest until you. Number eight, of course, was a picture of the positive pregnancy test and your expected due date.
Gummy immediately cheered and Bub went white like a sheet. I really thought he was going to pass out! Imagine, his youngest baby girl was going to have a baby. That’s a lot to process for a dad. Hugs went all around and everyone teared up with happiness. You made everybody’s day. We toasted you at dinner that night and eagerly discussed the future.
We told Nana and Papa over the phone and they were just thrilled. The best part is, we found out your gender on Nana’s birthday and were able to give her the announcement as a gift. J
Since the end of the first trimester, you’ve been a dream. Granted, you’re very strong and you kick me really hard sometimes, but I’m glad to feel how healthy you are. Your dad and I went to Disney World for our “babymoon” and you were just great on that trip. Since then, other than the aches and pains of carrying another person inside of you, everything has been perfect.
You are already so loved, my darling daughter. Your dad and I haven’t even gotten to see your sweet face or hold your beautiful hands and we are completely enamored with you. We simply cannot wait to meet you and welcome you into our ohana (that means family in Hawaiian, the same language as your name, Liliahoku). We both pray every day that we will be the parents you deserve and that you will live as happy and wonderful a life as this world can afford you. We’re not perfect, never will be, but we will always have perfect love for you.
Until the day we finally meet….