Deanaland

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Four No More

We had a mostly quiet family of three until five years ago today when Jenna exploded onto the scene. I tell people that when she was born, she hit the ground running. I know there was a time when she was tiny and helpless and had to be lugged around in her infant carrier. But I don't remember that. Jenna has always been a blond-haired blur of joy and energy.



Most of the photos we have of her look like this:


Jenna loves life. I guess a lot of people do, but Jenna really embraces the whole Carpe Diem thing. For her, there is something to rejoice about in every moment of every day. And she cracks us UP. Just two days ago, she stepped on the scale in our bathroom, read the numbers, yelled "YES!", put her arms up in a victory "V" and danced an elaborate dance of triumph all around our bathroom like she was in a Jenny Craig commercial or something. I don't know where she got this because this is definitely not how her dad and I react when we weigh ourselves. But something about those numbers really made her day.

Our Baytown friends will remember that Jenna was not easy to come by. After losing three pregnancies and then struggling through the first several months of my pregnancy with Jenna (I get notoriously ill when I'm pregnant), a friend at church told me "Girl, when this baby gets here we are going to throw a PARTY." And they did. I had a fabulous baby shower and we still have so many blankets and pillows that our sweet friends there made with their own hands. It usually takes two people to have a baby, but, with a lot of prayer, our entire church family in Baytown got Jenna here. That's something I'll always remember about our time in Baytown.

Here's something I wrote a while back about Jenna (with her age updated):

"Blue eyes, my baby's got blue eyes. Like a deep blue sea on a blue, blue day." -- "Blue Eyes" by Elton John

Jenna was born five years ago today. Eight-and-a-half pounds. A golden sheen to her head that promised blond hair. Blue eyes.

At least I tell people they're blue. There really isn't a word to describe the color of her eyes.

But I'll try.

I learned to scuba dive in 1993. And I learned something about it right off: scuba diving is a big hassle. So much heavy, awkward equipment is required for breathing underwater. The tank by itself weighs 80 pounds. Then there's the weight belt, which must be adjusted just right so you won't float to the surface or be stuck on the ocean floor. Then you have the BCD, the fins, snorkel, mask and wetsuit. Once you get all that stuff on, it's hard enough to remain upright, let alone walk normally.

But once below the surface, the oppressive gear becomes your key to the underwater world. You swim around weightless, holding out fingers as curious fish swim up to them. Your teeth clench around the regulator that, on land moments before, was uncomfortable in your mouth. Now it's the only way to get air into your lungs. The sound of your constant inhaling and exhaling is a reminder that you're doing something humans weren't made to do. You are living, thriving, underwater. The hassle, for the moment, is forgotten.

It took us a long time to get Jenna into this world. I got pregnant, then miscarried. Pregnant again, then blood one morning. Pregnant a third time, but then more blood. We started thinking adoption. Then I got pregnant again, and this one held. I got very sick, was placed on home healthcare, and then developed gestational diabetes. Then, one Thursday morning, the previous year-and-a-half faded as I finally looked into her eyes.

And I remembered the circle of light.

Thirty feet under the ocean's surface, it's easy to become disoriented -- to the point that you can lose track of which way you're supposed to go to reach air. As a scuba diver, you learn to look for light. Light means surface. When you find the sunlight piercing the blue mass in which you are submerged, you slowly swim toward it, exhaling all the way. Surrounded by varying shades of watery blue, the circle of light expands and seems to pull you toward itself. You keep swimming up, up, up -- until you think your lungs can't expel any more air. But the bubbles keep coming from your mouth, and you keep moving toward the light.

Then you reach it and you burst through it into air, light, life.

That's what color Jenna's eyes are.

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