“Ready..one, two, three, four…”

Jelani’s counting tensed as the big moment drew near. Those 11 hours in the hospital were nothing compared to the 38 weeks of waiting. We thought, we dreamed, we imagined what our precious girl would look like, talk like, act like. And the anticipation multiplied with each deep, strained breath.

I could feel the pressure increase with every push. The once giddy delivery room had quickly been converted to an intimidating childbearing factory.

My husband held my hand and I squeezed tight. This was it, and we both knew it. Sweat dripped from my brow, I gritted my teeth and bore down. A forceful groan expressed my strength but dimmed at the sound of her emerging cry.

She was here.

There were tools and gloves and drugs and towels. There were nurses whirling in and out. They were typing and sewing, disinfecting and talking. But all I saw were her eyes looking right back at me. All I heard was her deep pant indulging in each new breath. All I felt was her vernix-coated skin drawing warmth from my own. Her head on my chest, basking in the familiar rhythm. She owned every beat of my heart.

Aliyah Nichole. It means “exalted, victorious” and I think she knew. Because from that day forward she would be first, and every day after that she would win my love without even trying.

Thanks for the rainbow baby girl.

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