Ten times I have gone into the hospital to deliver a baby, and every time I have two events I anticipate more than anything else.
The first, of course, is the moment the baby makes her appearance and Captain Fun and I simultaneously laugh and cry at the wonder of it all. No matter how many times we go through it, the experience still leaves us in awe.
And while I love ordering my food and receiving it on that wonderful tray that hangs right over my bed, and I certainly relish the 48 hours where I can hold, feed, and stare at the baby in isolation and silence, another event trumps these: The moment when my other kids come to the hospital to meet their new sibling for the first time.
Bethany is always the first one to get her hands on the baby. In her twenty years of meeting new brothers and sisters, she has practically become a professional baby handler.
"You have another baby in your tummy?" asks four year old Silas. One of them never fails to ask. He pushes on my stomach to see if it is firm like when Hope was inside. It isn't. He moves on, spotting all those buttons on my bed.
Seven year old Dorothy is all (snaggletoothed) smiles. She is surrounded by brothers in her birth order and finally has a baby sister all her own.
Ben and Cory take to Hope immediately and patiently wait for their turn to hold her. I like seeing this tenderness in my boys.
All four girls eventually gather around the basinette and stare at Hope. It is a magical moment and I never tire of seeing the wonder on their faces.
"I am Hope in my family," I say, reminding them that when I was born, two of my oldest sisters were 14 and 12, the same age as Mary and Emma. She can't possibly know it yet, but little Hope is in for a lot of love.
Hello, Hope. Welcome to the family.