7 lbs 7 oz. 19.5 inches long.
Born Christmas morning at 2:00 am.
She's here, she's beautiful, and I'm once again blown away by how quickly I can fall madly in love with someone.
You could call it love at first sight.
I'm smitten with her.
Walking into the hospital only minutes before midnight on Christmas Eve, I knew that unless she fell out on the floor that very second...we were having a Christmas baby.
And the name that I had been holding in my heart for months spoke new purpose to me.
Of course that would be her name.
People asked through my pregnancy, "Do you have a name picked out yet?"
My mind always shouted, "HOPE. Her name is HOPE."
But my heart always silenced my mouth and I kept her just to myself.
Like somehow if I breathed her name, I would interrupt the intimacy that only she and I shared while she grew inside me.
For a time...Hope was only mine.
From the beginning, maybe even before I found out I was pregnant, she was Hope to me.
Each of the kids' bedrooms have a word above their doorway.
The older boys room says, "Faith."
The little ones' room says, "Love."
My oldest daughter's room says, "Hope."
The only bedroom that can be seen from our living room is our oldest daughter's.
Shortly before I found out I was pregnant, I sat reading my Bible in the living room and happened to look up at the bedroom at the top of the stairs.
I'd seen it everyday for several years.
But for some reason, on that day, this thought followed:
"That's her name."
I remember thinking, "Maybe we're going to adopt a little girl named Hope."
The thought of her was born to me that day.
Before she even came to be.
When we found out that I was carrying a girl, I thought,
"Of course we are having a girl. And her name is Hope."
But I couldn't speak of her by name to anyone. She really was just mine.
Even my husband was mostly left out.
I was afraid that if I mentioned what I called her that he would dismiss the name.
I knew that regardless of what her final birth name came to be, to me, during this pregnancy, she would always be Baby Hope.
So, I kept it always to myself.
Her name held tightly and somewhat desperately in my heart and mind.
In the last couple months, my mom and I shared a phone call of sadness that we really hadn't had the time to talk about this little one much, or to focus on my pregnancy, or to just sit and watch her move across my belly. It was just too busy. There were so many other things going on that there just wasn't time with this pregnancy to fully sit and ponder her the way I could with my first or even second baby. Some days I would walk by a mirror and be almost shocked at the size of my stomach. When did I grow so much? The calendar always surprised me with the turn of a week and the steps closer to her actual due date. How did another week already pass?
Within minutes of hanging up that particular phone call with my mom, somewhat tearful that this pregnancy was almost over, and full of some guilt that I hadn't fully focused on the baby inside, a woman walked by me with one word boldly written in capital letters on her shirt. HOPE. It was as though the Lord comforted me in that moment and said, "More than any other child you've carried, this one has been on your mind since before she was even conceived. You didn't have time to bring her to your thoughts always, Michelle, but I constantly kept her in your mind. She was always there."
As I reflected, almost every day through my pregnancy, something with the word Hope would cross my path and I always had a second where I would silently think, "That's my baby. Hey there, Little Hope." And she generally got a belly rub from me because I love rubbing my belly when I'm pregnant.
The moment would pass quickly, but almost every day God did that for me.
Shortly before I gave birth, my sister-in-law forwarded me an email from the company where we had ordered my parents anniversary gift last year. We got them a large decorative stone for their garden with their names and their anniversary date engraved and then little stones individually personalized with all of their children and grandchildren...their legacy. Her email reminded me that I needed to get another stone to add to the garden. I scrolled down the email and laughed out loud at the only picture displayed on the company page. One picture...at least a hundred stones filled this one picture. And every single stone said the exact same word. HOPE. One hundred stones all declaring to me this baby's name. HOPE. Of course. That's her name. One hundred thoughts for my Baby Hope.
There's debate on what the word means, but it's found all through the Psalms. One possible definition is that it means, "Pause." Another translation, "Pause and Worship."
Pause and Worship.
Pause and Worship.
If speaking a child's name ever spoke a sermon to me, this is what I've needed to hear in recent years.
PAUSE AND WORSHIP.
Of course, that would be her name.
During the early hours of Christmas, as we met our newest little one and set our eyes for the first time on this beautiful, red-faced, helpless infant, we didn't speak of her name until the room was empty of all the nurses.
"So, who is she?" my husband asked.
The moment of truth. Would she be to him who she was to me?
He asked, "What does Selah mean?"
"It's kind of uncertain, but one thought is that it means pause and worship."
His face lit up, "That's who she is. Absolutely."
And he made the phone call to my parents that their newest granddaughter had been born.
"She's here. Hope Selah born on Christmas morning is here."
The nurse gave her a bath and my oldest daughter snuck in with my mom at 4:00 in the morning just in time for big sister to rub lotion on her new baby sister. They bundled her up and as she quickly fell asleep, the nurse put her in the little baby bed beside me. "Get some sleep," the nurse said as she left us once again alone in the room. I lay there for a while on my side watching her sleep peacefully. She felt so far away. As the sun rose on Christmas morning, I couldn't bear to be away from her more than a couple minutes. We'd been together every second for 9 months. As Baby Hope faced her first Christmas, her first couple hours of life, I knew that I wasn't quite ready to let her be away from me yet. So as my other children awoke to news of the birth of their baby sister, I spent Christmas morning cradling my newborn and watching her every breath. I'm an old mama with the knowledge that this moment lasts a second and I'm going to enjoy as much of it as I can.
She's finally, for now, in our arms.
For unto us a child is born.
What a blessed ending to 2013.