And We Shall Call Her Scarlett

Today is my youngest daughter’s first birthday. I am not a romantic. I am not overly sentimental. I have carefully sharpened, life-long thorns that often get in the way of weepy, mothering moments. At summer’s end, I crack champagne. However, just under the skin of my brassiness, I am soft and worn. Always over thinking. Overabundantly overzealous with overtures of overwhelming emotion. Over and out.

Even while pregnant with baby number four, the signs of completion were evident. My body was not tolerating the pain as well as the former pregnancies. I was tired. I had several back issues that would, sporadically, leave me functionally useless while the three younger children escaped into a world of unending television and couch jumping with a side of fruit snack induced coma.

It wasn’t just physical doneness, although my body made its distress known. I knew I was emotionally on the edge of a reservoir of patience, ability and strength. Bless the mothers who can successfully tackle anything, but, I knew I had reached my limit. Being aware of this cliff of consciousness made every “first” the inevitable “last”.

I went into labor on the evening of January 2nd while immersed in True Grit. There is the pivotal scene in which our heroine is being carried by horse and then human to receive care for a snake bite. If she does not receive medical attention, she will die. The horse has already died. Every other character had died. She, herself, is on the edge of death. Appropriate dramatic theme for any labor. In the delivery room, death seems near to you, any medical professional who touches you and nearer even still to your partner.

We arrived at the hospital. It was a beautiful, clear night.

The labor was long and intense due to her persistent posterior position. I lay in the hospital bed wearing only a bra and remnants of 2 day old mascara, feeling paralyzed by her position on my spine. With each contraction, I would silently chant off-the-cuff, pain induced mantras of power and strength that I can not remember. I do remember thinking that I had lost my mind. During transition, I looked over to find my husband asleep in a chair. He’s still alive to confirm this.

After 14 hours of drug-free labor, our beautiful girl was born. 8 1/2 pounds of pure, healthy wonder. As soon as they placed her in my arms, drunk on gratitude, my next thought was:

This is the last time I will ever hold one of my children for the first time.

From that moment on, we have continued our beautifully pained series of last firsts.

The beauty is in the details. Small moments that I struggle to remember. The smell of her newborn head. The recovery from birth. The tragic and magical sleep deprivation. The push-pull of embracing the new, family dynamic. The guilt of the further divide of your time and attention. The joy of a newborn sleeping on your chest. The sweet and sour.

This morning, I woke up to her sweet, smiling face; round and defined. Six teeth poking out through her crooked smile. Lighter hair and eyes than her parents, but, features so familiar. Our last first birthday.

January 3, 2012

“Old” baby meets “NEW” baby for the first time. Tissues, please.

Happy Birthday, Scarlett Lee.


  1. Happy Birthday Scarlet!

  2. Happy Birthday scarlett! and my last two( came as a set) turn 3 tomorrow, i think and feel today much of what youre going through, except my state of last baby is predetermined by my heart. I had SEVERE eclampsia after they were out , and was in ICU for 3 days, Twingles were fine, mommy very nearly wasnt.

  3. Beautiful! It wasn’t until I became a parent myself and felt the depth of love for my son that I came to realize how cherished I am. May your kids know the depth of your love for them every day.

  4. Happy Birthday Scarlett!

    I can relate to the last firsts…except mine are always “only” firsts- after my first baby I was told I couldn’t have more.

  5. Having just given birth to my third and last baby a mere 21 days ago, I feel your pain. Just two days after birthing my beautiful 10 pound 7 ounce girl I cried to my shell shocked husband that my body is sad that it will never carry another baby. It’s so easy to take every moment for granted until you become aware that it will be the last moment like this ever.

  6. Happy birthday Scarlett! After my last child was born I gleefully gave away all kinds of stuff knowing I was done and the decluttering could begin. I loved the baby stage and do miss it, my youngest will be six next month, but I truly can’t imagine having more than three kids. Enjoy your baby and your lasts, they are precious moments in life.

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes! We have started the baby purge process as well. Goodbye breast pump. Goodbye johnny jump-up. I was not sad to see some of the “gear” go. Forward movement is always a good thing. Enjoy your “babies”.

  7. Happy birthday, sweet Scarlett!!

  8. Perfect timing. My youngest’s first birthday is Wednesday, and it is likely to be my last first birthday, too. It is most certainly bitter and sweet.

  9. Man does this ever hit home! Happy Birthday Scarlett!! 🙂

  10. Happy Birthday, Baby Scarlett. We love you!! There’s also a present en route to you. You can blame your germ infested cousins for the delay.

  11. Loves!

  12. what a beautiful image of them both! Happy birthday to her!!

  13. What an absolutely beautiful post! I wish I had known at the time that my first wasn’t going to end up being an only…I think I would have savored those “firsts” much more than I did at the time.

    • Thank you, Gigi. It’s rather hard to appreciate all the firsts and lasts as life moves so swiftly, but, as long as we’re making the effort it makes all those future moments special. Here’s to you! xo

  14. Happy Birthday to your sweet Scarlett! Loved this…:)

  15. Oh crap. You just made me cry.

    I need to go find a new baby and smell it.

    Makes me happy.

    Happy birthday, Scarlett!

  16. Oh Happy Birthday Scarlett and can tell you I felt this way on my second child. It was bittersweet, because I knew I was done as well (having a multitude of high risk issues that time out, but as much pain as I went through during the pregnancy I did truly feel so very sad that that would be the last time I held a newborn baby and it was actually mine. So I totally could relate to this post.

    • Thank you, Janine. I’m sorry for all your complications with pregnancy, but, am so thankful for the health of you and your babies. Definitely bittersweet. But, those are the best chocolate chips AND moments. xo

  17. So sweet! I miss when my babies were babies!

  18. It’s wholly unfair that you had to labor 14 hours for your 4th kid. I thought by then it was like 12 minutes, tops.

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