June 2002. I was a week past my due date, and the heat of a hot and humid Georgia summer was wearing me down to a sweaty and irritable mess. My husband was already at our new duty station in Columbia, South Carolina, and I was back in Columbus, Georgia with my parents. I had flown solo from Alaska with our two-year-old and our dog to make sure I did not miss my no-fly date. Birthing a baby en route to a new duty station was not ideal, but ideal is relative; especially in the Army.
My blood pressure was soaring (thank you pregnancy-induced hypertension), my toddler was adjusting to a 4 hour time change, my husband was in processing our new duty station (4 hours away) and I was wondering if the baby inside my blossoming belly would ever make his/her appearance. After a week of being told to go home and relax, I finally heard the magic words, “We are going to induce you.” I hugged my doctor and quickly called John. While he was hitting the road, I was beginning my Pitocin party.
Before Molly arrived I remember sitting on the couch and watching Ellie play. I was a jumble of emotions. For me, the impending arrival of our new baby was a mix of anticipation, excitement and panic. Ellie had been in my arms, on my hip or by my side for two years. She was my number one fan and held my undivided attention. Her world was about to be rocked, and I was worried for us both. How would she react to the new baby? How would I react to the new baby? I poured unlimited amounts of love and affection into the strong-willed little one reading books at my feet, but would I have enough love for two? Our lives were about to change. Again.
The Pitocin worked and two of my favorite people, Kathryn and my Mom, stood guard until John arrived. He rolled in with time to spare, and Molly made her debut at Martin Army Community Hospital later that night. When the Doctor said, “It’s a girl!” and placed her on my chest all the worry, doubt and fear melted away. I cried happy tears that rolled down my cheek and dropped on her head of thick brown hair. My heart instantly expanded, and I loved Molly the minute I said, “Hello, baby.”
My parents brought Ellie to meet Molly the next day. She peeked around the corner of my hospital room and hesitantly walked to my bedside. I scooped Ellie up, hugged her tight and sat her next to me. My Mom gently placed Molly on Ellie’s lap. She beamed with pride. Ellie loved her little sister, and kissed, poked and patted “her” new baby. Molly did not rock our world, she completed it.
Army life is filled with change. New people and new places are our constant. We create bonds and build communities we love dearly, and can’t imagine changing; then the orders arrive. Our hearts break, and we carry the broken pieces to our next duty station. We carefully piece back together what change has broken, and find our hearts grow to love yet another place and the people who make it home. In this season of change do not forget the power of hello, and our heart’s ability to grow.