Surprise (noun): 7lbs 6oz, 21 inches of pure joy named Griffin John McAfee.
Mine and Chris’s baby girl, Lilybelle was five-months-old when I stared down at the double blue lines of a positive pregnancy test. Chris had gotten me a three pack of tests a few weeks before, giving them to me out of the blue and in such a defensive manner as to look like he’d waken a hibernating bear. I thought the notion of being pregnant at that point ridiculous. I was on birth control, I was breastfeeding, Lily took a year of concerted trying and the female mechanisms that need to be in place to conceive had yet to return after having Lily.
After weeks of Chris’s persistence, I finally decided to take a test as I got ready for work, and there they were, two perfectly formed blue lines shining up out of that plastic window. All that registered in my brain was a faint buzzing as I sat down on the side of the tub and called Chris’s name. I don’t really remember how I told him or if I showed him, but I am pretty sure shock was the permeating emotion in the room. He was the one to give me the tests so I don’t know why he registered the same shock I felt and I still have no idea why he thought to get the tests in the first place, at least that he will admit to, but I have my guesses. I have a very colorful personality that becomes almost blinding when I am pregnant. I imagine he was prompted to get the tests as a result of my extra sweetness; however, he has yet to confirm or deny this suspicion. Regardless of the reasoning, he had some inkling that that test wouldn’t be negative. After the initial shock, my heart ran the gamut of emotion, but one clear feeling was present through it all, MINE. This baby was already mine, I could not imagine life without him as soon as those lines appeared and the buzzing abated. As shock was shared by my husband and me in equal measure, so was this feeling of protective ownership as well.
So, with bewildered thoughts, I headed in to work, albeit a bit late, wondering with a panicked chuckle, how on earth was I going to tell my boss I was pregnant again. That evening, I unpacked the maternity clothes I had packed away literally the day before, made the requisite appointments and stared down the calendar at the reality of another pregnancy.
As the months and the morning sickness passed, our world view shifted. Instead of imagining just Lily doing this or that next year, we imagined what her and her little brother would be doing together the next year. His existence became an inexplicable reality completely intertwined with our own. We looked at the nursery and thanked our lucky stars that we had chosen a neutral wall motif. We planned and purchased. We studied and researched. We compared and marveled. We worried and wondered. We had a few pre-term labor scares and a broken foot. We had pumpkin patches, Christmas festivities and Lily’s first birthday. As all of this was going on, I couldn’t help looking at my little baby girl and feeling guilt that I was taking something from her. Chris would always assure me that I was giving her one of the greatest gifts possible; I was giving her a little brother and oh how right Chris ended up being.
In the very early morning of April 16, 2013, I busied my nine month pregnant self in the kitchen with Lily making blueberry muffins for Chris’s birthday. We were having such a good time with presents, candles, the birthday song and kisses. I had my suspicions that today might be the day we would get to meet our little guy, but I was still surprised when my water suddenly broke and our lazy early morning turned into a giddy, about to have a baby rush to the hospital.
I cried as Lily was buckled into Aunt Kelly’s car and I was headed into the hospital to have a baby. I felt guilt and joy and guilt at feeling joy and guilt at feeling guilt over the joy. Never try to understand the emotions of a pregnant woman, particularly a pregnant woman who is in labor, and especially a pregnant woman who is in labor watching their other baby being taken away for days only to return to you with their world totally changed and no understanding of why. It is a safe assumption to make that I was a basket case.
As Chris and I headed up to labor and delivery, I was anxious, excited, terrified and a bit off my rocker crazy. This time was different. I knew what was coming and I was so excited to meet my little guy. My little boy, who I had felt kick and watched flip and worried constantly over during the nine months of ups and downs pregnancy. Griffin came into this world at 4:54pm on April 16, 2013. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, but he did just fine and I was holding my baby. I was holding my little surprise in my arms. I couldn’t believe it in my head by my heart felt calm and so very happy. I stared at him with curious wonder. Hello stranger! What a sweet little surprise you are. So so sweet and miraculous and amazing and perfect and so worth everything and anything. And I wasn’t the only one to think the world of this sweet little spirit.
Chris and I often joke that Griffin and Lily had this planned. That they didn’t want to be without each other for long and as each day passes I find myself wondering if our joke wasn’t in fact their reality. From the minute Lily wakes up to her last words as she goes to sleep she is wondering about her brother. The hugs and kisses and hand holding are constant. You’d think these lovies would be one-sided since Griffin is so young, but he adores his big sister. Every single time Lily hugs him, kisses him, holds his hand or heaven help us she drags him across the room by his onsie, Griffin is grinning up at her. He hugs and kisses back to the best of his ability. No matter what his mood, when he and Lily are “playing,” he is smiling ear to ear. They are brother and sister soul mates and I couldn’t be luckier than to get to be a part of it with Chris. Griffin is such a happy little big man. With every bright eyed smile he says surprise and indeed we are surprised. Surprised and awed by how unbelievably blessed and lucky we are to have him.