Just before 1:00 a.m., a crowd of nurses burst into the room and turned on the lights. My eyes were glued to the monitor, as the numbers jumped and fell erratically with each contraction. Somehow, I thought if I stopped looking, even for a moment, I might lose her.
“Okay, dear, we’re here to get you prepped for surgery,” one of the nurses said, matter-of-factly. “The baby has had enough. It’s time to get her out of there.”
Steven sat up on the couch and listened as the nurses talked us through the procedure, letting us know what to expect. It was a flurry of activity. The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out of the room, leaving Steven to change. He would have to wait in the hallway outside the operating room until after the anesthesiologist administered my spinal.
The operating room was so bright and white that I had to close my eyes for a moment. Sitting on the table, the anesthesiologist told me to lean forward and hug the pillow in my lap. There was a small pricking sensation in the middle of my back, and then what felt like a sudden jolt of electricity running down my spine and into my legs. The doctors told me to lie back on the table, and stretch my arms out straight from my sides, where they were secured to the table with straps.
By the time Steven entered the room, the lower half of my body was completely numb. Steven pulled his stool up near my head, after the doctors explained that was the best place to sit if he wasn’t interested in seeing what was going on behind the curtain during the surgery.
Everything seemed to happen all at once. Steven and I gave each other nervous smiles as we listened to the doctors talking on the other side of the curtain. The spinal medication had done its job. I wasn’t feeling much of anything at all, except perhaps the slightest sensation of pressure in my abdomen.
“This is it,” the anesthesiologist said suddenly, tapping Steven on the shoulder. “Stand up if you want, and you’ll see your daughter being born.”
From the moment we first got the positive pregnancy test, Steven adamantly insisted that he wanted to see absolutely nothing in the delivery room. Hell, just watching the videos in the childbirth class we’d taken had traumatized him so much that to this day, he still shudders just thinking about it, so I was shocked when he actually stood up and peered over the curtain.
“Uh-oh,” the doctor said loudly, and Steven sat right back down again, his eyes wide. I watched as the color drained from his face.
“You okay?” I asked. He nodded, but didn’t speak.
I gasped as there was suddenly an enormous amount of pressure on my chest. It felt as though one of the doctors had climbed up and was sitting on my ribcage. I couldn’t breathe, and I was being rocked back and forth on the table. Steven squeezed my hand.
“You okay?” He asked. I gasped and nodded.
“Nothing to worry about,” the doctor said from behind the curtain. “Looks like the reason Baby Girl was delayed was because her head was stuck, but she’s comin’ now.”
Suddenly, there was a short cry, and a flurry of activity.
“Here’s your baby girl!” the doctor said, holding her up just high enough for me to see her for one short minute before a nurse whisked her away. “Congratulations Mom and Dad!”
“You want me to go?” Steven asked. I nodded, and he took the camera over to where the nurses were cleaning and weighing our daughter.
“Oh my God!” Steven exclaimed, as he snapped photo after photo. “She looks just like Beau! And she’s got a ton of black hair!”
I craned my neck and could just see her tiny red feet waving as she cried. The nurses swaddled her snugly and handed her to Steven. I almost laughed at loud at how gingerly he held her as he walked over to me.
I stared in awe at her tiny, perfect face.
“Hi Cadence,” I whispered, kissed her soft white cheek. “Hi my baby. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Steven and I smiled at each other, and at our tiny daughter. Then it was time for the nurses to take her and Steven to the nursery while the doctors finished my surgery. Lying on the table, staring up at the bright white ceiling, I smiled to myself as I tried to imagine what our lives would be like now that Cadence was part of them.
Sitting here now, six whole years later, it’s getting harder and harder to remember what life was like without Cadence in it.
There was a year of firsts for all of us. There were first steps, first words, a first tooth, a first bloody boo-boo. Steven and I were pooped on for the first time, puked on for the first time, and got sick as a family for the first time. We slept through the night for the first time, heard that infectious baby laughter for the first time, and have gotten so frustrated we had to put Cadence down and let her cry for the first time. We took our first road trip vacation, traveled on our first airplane, and mastered walking in a first pair of shoes. We saw the first of many unique dance moves, tried dozens of first foods, and wished our beautiful baby girl Happy Birthday for the very first time.
And since that first birthday party in 2011, life has only gotten more interesting. Our tiny baby has grown into a sweet, sassy Kindergartener who makes the world better and brighter, simply by being in it. She wakes a little slower lately, lumbering down the stairs with half-open eyes and a mess of tangled hair. But it doesn’t take long before she’s singing and bouncing to get up and go conquer the world. The day is not complete without a concert, and we crank up the radio and sing along. And the favorites these days are Rapture by Blondie, Exes and Ohs by Elle King, and Honey, I’m Good by Andy Grammer and just about anything by the Gorillaz.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you likely saw my “Fashion Disaster” post a few days ago. One of my favorite things about my daughter is her very…uh…unique fashion choices. Girl has a style all her own, and we love it. She can rock a frilly princess skirt, AC/DC t-shirt, and pair of mismatched socks better than anyone I know.
Cadence is still a force to be reckoned with. She’s not afraid to let us know exactly what she’s thinking. She’s strong-willed, and sometimes stubborn. She has a mind all her own, and even if I sometimes lose my temper in the midst of a battle of wills, I can’t help but burst with pride knowing that my little spitfire is already the sort of girl who refuses to let anything stand in the way of what she really wants. She’ll wear you down eventually, just give her time.
Yet even if she has a stubborn streak 10 miles long, Cadence is one of the sweetest, kindest, most genuine souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She loves to see people happy and has a way of making friends wherever she goes–at the park, in line at the doughnut shop. She’s not afraid to go up to kids and introduce herself, then ask, “You wanna play?” She doesn’t care who you are or what you look like, she just wants to know you and have a little fun.
She is always happy to share (even when chocolate is involved). If she sees a child sitting alone or feeling lonely, she drops whatever she’s doing to go over and play. She will do just about anything to lighten a mood and make people laugh. In a world that can sometimes be so hard and cruel, it thrills me to see the light in her soul shining so brightly.
In Kindergarten, we have continued to watch our baby grow. She comes home each day with something new to show us, and some new bit of knowledge to share with us. The old stick figure artwork is giving way to more realistic faces and body shapes. She can add and subtract and count to a million (okay maybe not quite a million, but we’ve heard her count way up into the hundreds on several long car trips, and if we hadn’t reached our destination to distract her, she’d definitely be in the millions by now).
She’s still part-tomboy, part-princess–the sort of girl who likes to dig in the dirt with her freshly painted glitter nail polish. She loves soccer and snuggling, movies and music. Her imagination knows no boundaries. She spends hours each day playing and creating. She fills drawing pads and notebooks faster than we can buy them, and heads to school each day with some new bit of artwork to give to her friends and teachers.
She’s still our musical girl, and we love to watch her sing in all her school and church performances. She’s also kicking butt in swimming lessons this year and has turned into a little fish in the water. She also started taking soccer lessons, and almost immediately claimed her spot in front of the goal, which earned her the nickname Cadence Hope Solo Romano from her daddy and me.
She has a wicked sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic, acting out favorite scenes from her favorite movies and TV shows until she gets it just right. She loves Bob’s Burgers, Teen Titans Go, Ninja Turtles, and My Little Ponies and she’s constantly cracking us up when she starts singing the Dirty Butts song from Bob’s Burgers with her Daddy or doing her strange side shuffle crab walk whenever she leaves the room. She’s even gotten in on the Dave Thomas the Founder of Wendy’s game, and officially jumped on the scoreboard the other night when she tricked her babysitter Sam Bates into saying “who”. And even if it pains Stevie to admit it, Cadence is even leading the game now with a score of 5 after getting her Daddy to say “who?” three days in a row.
IN A ROW!
Yeah, that’s our girl. 🙂
But probably the biggest development in Miss C’s life this year was officially becoming a big sister. For years, Stevie and I watched our girl keeping a very close eye on other families around us. In restaurants, she seemed fascinated by families with children sitting at the tables around us, and she often came home from school talking about her friends and their brothers and sisters. From the moment she first found out that she was going to be a sister, she was all in, and we watched her mark the days off the calendar right up until her little brother’s birth. She’s learned a lot in these six months since we brought little H-man home, and her new catchphrase these days has become, “It’s hard taking care of a baby,” a phrase she utters and sometimes sings on repeat when Henry cries or spits up or blows out a diaper. And there have been many days when I know it’s been hard on her having her world turned completely upside down with a baby in the house, as we all try to regain our balance and settle into our new normal. But even so, she loves her little brother with a love so fierce I often stand in awe of it. And I smile each day when she bursts through the door after school and watch her run into the living room and skid to a stop in front of Henry and start chatting and cooing and trying to make him smile. And she’s always rewarded with a big gummy grin and a squeal of delight from the little boy who already seems to believe that his big sister hung the moon.
We agree, H-man. She’s pretty amazing.
And every single day, I feel infinitely blessed that I get to be her mother.
It’s been six years of craziness filled with laughter, tears, frustrations, surprises (both good and bad), sleepless nights, early mornings, trial and errors, bumps, bruises, triumphs, failures, new beginnings, changes, road trips, lazy days at home, a whole lot of memories, and a whole lot of fun. And as we welcome 2016, we’re looking forward to many, many more!
Happy 6th Birthday, Cadence LaRue!