I remember exactly where I was sitting the day that J called to tell me that Charlotte was born. I was at our kitchen table in our small apartment in Pittsburgh. I had spent the day planning for our trip, trying to nail down our precise route and figure out how we could fit all of the places that we wanted to see into just 100+ days (we couldn't). I wasn't working at the law firm anymore, so I spent my days at that kitchen table, listening to music and feeling happily unemployed for the first time in a long time.
When my phone rang, it startled me because I'd been by myself all day. But when I saw that it was Jason, my heart stopped for a split second, because I knew what he was going to tell me.
"It's a giiiirrrrrl," he said. "Her name is Charlotte and mom and baby are doing great." He went through the play-by-play of Cris's labor, and Charlotte's height, weight, and baby statistics. I know that my memory is accurate, because I wrote down everything that he said on a recipe card that I keep in the front of my recipe box, along with all of the songs that Matt and I heard in the bar that night when we went out to get a beer and celebrate Charlotte's existence.
Charlotte was the first baby that really changed my world. It's a hard thing to put into words, but the short version is that after Charlotte was born, I thought about her and before she was born, I didn't.
I thought about what she was doing, how she was growing, how her parents were adjusting, what she would be like in 3, 5, 15, or 20 years. Before Charlotte was born, there was no space for her in my head because she simply didn't exist. And then after she was born, either I found some untapped space, or I shoved over some other thoughts that weren't relevant in order to make room for her. Either way, she was in my head.
Since Charlotte, other babies have made their way into my brain space, eliciting boundless affection and a world of enrichment. My beautiful and perfect nephew, our dear friends' son who lives in Philadelphia with all of that delicious curly hair, Charlotte's adorable brother, my high school best friend's smiley sweet boy. These babies, (especially the nephew who makes my heart hurt, I miss him so much) are the opposite of how life often works. In my world, things are here today, gone tomorrow. But these children weren't here yesterday and today make up an entire universe.
It was something that I didn't totally understand before Charlotte was born, that a baby can take up an entire galaxy, that even when your life is complete, when you want and are ready for a child, it can make your life more complete somehow. Even when you are so happy about the path you have chosen, a baby can take you down a path you didn't even know existed.
The funny thing is that I know that I don't even totally understand this now, because I've watched other people go through it, rather than been inside of it myself. But as with many things on which I stand on the outside looking in, I have a sense of how much bigger my world will be after the bean is more than a bean.
It is a funny thing to credit a three-year-old with opening your eyes to a world that's a different place, but so it goes. Someday I'll explain this to her and I bet she'll do that thing where she crinkles up her eyes and nose just like her dad while smiling just like her mom. She will probably think I'm just being sentimental, OLD even. And that's fine. She will be well on her way to seeing new worlds of her own.
Happy birthday, Little C. I hope you help to water this baby for the rest of your lives together.