Yes, that’s right folks. Even after popping out three children in three years, apparently my husband and I had not yet figured out what caused of all these children to come stampeding out of my nether regions. With our oldest just beginning preschool and our youngest so new that she still had uterine-slime behind her ears, we found ourselves facing the all-too-familiar fate of yet another child—our fourth in as many years.
Oddly enough, the very first thought that sent me spiraling into panic induced hyperventilation was not the fear of four crying kids, the anticipation of a quadrupled grocery bill, nor the prospect of facing 80 nearly-consecutive weeks of pregnancy hell. Rather, I was terrified of the realization that my c-section scar, still containing a few stitches and still painful to even look at, would have to support another rapidly growing fetus. The moment I was informed of my pregnancy, I felt the tremendous weight of my microscopic zygote bearing down on my fresh incision, threatening to rip my abdomen in two and spill my woman parts out onto the floor like an the alien bursting out of Sigourney Weaver. Even after my doctor’s generous reassurance that “it should be okay,” I tiptoed through the entire pregnancy like I was growing a bomb instead of a baby, carrying my stomach in my arms as if I could somehow prevent my scar from unzipping in the middle of WalMart.
Amazingly, though, my incision held tight, right up until the day where they laid me out on the table and sliced it back open again, producing a baby so gorgeous and perfectly formed that she looked like a prop from a movie set. When they lifted her out of my womb, a shower of rainbows sprung from my gut and rose petals cascaded from her body across the operating table. She cried to the tune of a harpsichord-playing angel, and wild doves flew in to wrap her in a warm blanket of fresh-spun silk. Come to think of it, I was pretty doped up on pain meds by this point, so I’m not sure how accurate that recollection is, but I do know she was pretty darn cute. Jet black hair, gorgeous olive skin (you know, as soon as it stopped being that funky blue color), and huge, quiet eyes.
We named our little beauty Delaney Louise, or “Laney Lou” as I soon found myself calling her. She was born on December 13th and was exactly the same weight and length at birth as her brother was four years earlier. As Ainsley and Delaney were born in January and December of the same calendar year, we had ourselves a rare case of true “Irish Twins.” I can tell you, I now know why the Irish drink so much. The obscenely insane life that comes from two children under the age of 1 is justifiable grounds for drinking yourself into a coma.
From day one, I could tell there was something different about Laney. Even as a newborn sack of skin, she cuddled closer to me than my other babies did, a trend that has continued throughout her young life. Apparently born with none of the independence ingrained in her siblings, little Lou never wanted to be more than an arm’s length away from me. She didn’t just want me to hold her; she pressed so tightly against me, it was as if she wanted me to absorb her through my breast bone. While I have no preference for one child over another, I will say that her endearing display of helpless affection created within me a long-lasting biological addiction to her that causes my chest to ache when I go longer than 10 minutes without hugging her, squishing her, touching her, or sniffing her hair in a creepy, stalker-like fashion. Affection from any of my children is the highlight of my day, but those early weeks with my little cuddle monkey have made contact with Delaney physically necessary for my survival.
Her personality differed from the other kids, as well. She’s active but not hyper; funny but not zany; caring but not soft. She sits back, preferably wrapped tightly in a blanket like a little burrito on someone’s lap, and watches what goes on around her for awhile before jumping in on the fun. Her humor is wry for her age, but utterly hilarious and you often have to listen past the roar of her sibling to catch her wit. Her intellect stood out from a young age, too, as she was identifying letters and numbers before she turned two and was drawing small, intricate shapes and coloring neatly within the lines while her older siblings were still scribbling.She mastered complex hand-held video games, and was able to beat even her big brother long before she ever turned three years old.
Her looks remain striking; she has retained the same dark features she was born with. Her long hair hangs in curls at her waist, her big brown eyes are framed with ridiculously long lashes and squeeze into slits whenever she flashes one of her huge smiles. Her most endearing physical quality as a child is one I fear will cause her grief as an adult: her tiny, squat little legs are noticeably bowed, and there isn’t much we can do to fix it. Laney was born with crooked hips, twisted tibias, and curved feet—the toddler trifecta of pigeon toeing. By the time we realized that the problems weren’t going away on their own, the doctor declared it too late for braces but that the severity would lessen over time. And it already has, to a degree. As her legs lengthen and get leaner, the curvature has become less noticeable; with any luck, by the time she goes off to prom, her high heels won’t be pointing east and west.
As she’s now entering the thrill-seeking threes, I am grateful that we formed such a bond early on—it prevents me from succumbing to my urge to duct tape her to the wall. Every time she stomps those tiny bowed legs at me and rolls those big brown eyes, I remember her sleeping against my chest each night, burrowing her little face into my neck, and it lets her live to see another day. I love to watch her play with her siblings, blending seamlessly into the family while retaining a uniqueness that sets her apart. As she gets older her healthy curiosity for life is pulling her further into the world, away from the comfort and safety of my lap, and while it is a painful separation for me I know that no matter how old she gets or how complicated life becomes my arms will always be a soft place for her to land.