I birthed a daughter in April 2016. Long before the evening she made her exhaustive exodus from our connection, I pondered the idea of it: what would it be like to have a girl living with us? When the hubs and I received the affirmation of our pregnancy the August prior, we entertained gender anxiety the way others mulled over their pro football team of choice.
Would we be the best offensive and defensive coordinators of her dreams? Could she play in our system, and how far would we bend? How do we get her ready for training camp, otherwise known as preschool? How mobile in the pocket could we mold her to be? Flexibility is key. How do we improve her defense when she is unfairly approached? What if she’s sacked—how do we re-motivate her? How elite will she become—top 100? Top 5? What if she suffers—gasp!—an injury?
She is our second franchise player behind her older brother. We would be 100% responsible for fashioning her upbringing, her environment, her drive, which would greatly influence those tiniest nuances and gradations about boys and fatigue and kneecaps. The grass is as green here as any other lawn when it’s watered, after all.
Our expectations of her dominance were, of course, extensive, yes, but the news of a little girl’s steady growth in my belly incited those girl-power feelings. We did what other panicked parents would.
Our baby’s birth was adventurous, but I’ll skip that part.
It was easy to see her fragility. Her skin, softened by the magic of her former water dwelling, was a wrinkled, dainty pale, as her brown would take some time to spread and smooth. Her eyes were big and bright, the light from the window striking at angles that made them look like glass, as if she were a ceramic doll. She took completely to breastfeeding as soon as mommy was instructed to do so and demonstrated a certain determination in her tasks already, feeding amongst the top of that list. So was kicking off that big pink sock, laying quietly under the heat lamp, and letting her parents know that the knobs in her ears during her hearing test were to her disliking. She was masterful at hours old.
We called her “Jai.” The meaning of her name in Sanskrit is “victorious.” That’s my baby girl.