I thought I'd write a brief note about how we decided upon Lily's name-- just a brief warning, I am still recovering from a lost night of sleep from the labor.
So, as many of you know, Lily was a bit of a surprise to our household. Ben was asking me yesterday whether we were in our new house yet when we found out we were expecting, which was funny, because I will always remember the moment that I found out. As we were unpacking stuff, I came upon a calendar (while we were moving, it was sort of a time warp). I had remembered thinking that my period was a little late, but when I looked at the calendar I realized that it was like 8 days late or something. Immediately, a feeling of dread overtook me. At that moment, I knew. But, still in denial, I put Zosia in the stroller and walked down to Rite Aid (all the while, terrified). We bought a pregnancy test, walked home, and I took it the second we got home. Sure enough, totally pregnant. I think my initial reaction was to laugh. It was just so unlikely and ridiculous that I should be pregnant. And then I'm sure that I cried, because I really could not imagine having another child in our house.
Ben came home from work, and when I told him his reaction was none other than total joy and excitement. He was thrilled, which I honestly did not get because the whole thing felt very out of control and terrifying to me. Zosia was carefully planned, we tried to get pregnant, and the whole thing felt somehow within our control. And here I was, experiencing a pregnancy that I did not will into existence.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks and months, a transformation started happening within me. Slowly, I started realizing that there was beauty and sacredness in saying "yes" to the unknown-- in this case, a new life. I started getting over myself, my "plans" and realizing that it is possible that perhaps the total unlikeliness of my being pregnant meant that this was something that truly was meant to happen, that God was in control of it all.
As the pregnancy progressed, I dealt with a lot of uncertainty. I didn't know who this baby would be, what she would be like, how she would fit into our family. And each time I felt totally fearful I eventually came to a place where I placed my trust in God.
I'm not one of those people who believes that God always makes sure that things go perfectly for Her peeps. I know that's not true. But there were so many experiences through my pregnancy that were so unlikely and dramatic that I feel like the hand of God has to be in there. Like the fact that Zosia, who when I found out that I was pregnant didn't walk, still breastfed, and still woke up at night, started walking, weaned herself, and sleeping through the night within a week of me finding out about the pregnancy (giving me a huge sigh of relief and the ability to imagine life with a newborn and a toddler). Or the smoothness of the pregnancy. Or the fact that Zosia got her molars the week before the baby was born. There were just many moments that I was left to wonder, "Is that you, God?"
And it's hard for me to even verbalize the emotions that I've been feeling since the birth. Lillian is just such a lovely child, and my heart overflows with love for her. With Zosia, since we had been trying to get pregnant, I somehow felt like she was my accomplishment, and I felt entitled to her. But with Lily, since she was so unexpected, I feel entirely like she is a gift. Every smile, every snuggly moment, every minute of time together is something entirely unmerited by me.
Up until the moment of the birth, we didn't know what Lily's name would be. There were several strong contenders. But in the end, we both felt like Lillian Marie was the most appropriate. There's the fact that Lily waited to come until the day in spring that every flower is in perfect bloom. Or that we wanted to name her something gentle and unassuming, because throughout the pregnancy I had the overwhelming sense that that's what her personality was like. But really, I felt like Lillian was perfect because its meaning, "My God is a vow" so perfectly describes the realization that I came to through Lillian's unexpected conception and birth. The realization that in every challenging situation and desperate moment, God is so fully present as the promise of unconditional love. And as we watch Lily grow into the woman that she will become, I am sure that God's love will be even more fully revealed to us through her life.
And Marie, which happens to be my own middle name, has many levels of significance, too. I knew I wanted Lily to be named for my great Aunt Marisia (the polish diminutive of Mary), who was an amazing woman that spent her entire life serving and caring for children despite never having any of her own. She was unassuming, gentle, and loving, and one of those people who lived her life entirely out of the realm of public acknowledgment or acclaim. She was invisible and humble, but her legacy is so present in the many children that she loved through their infancy (Irene and myself included). And of course the fact that Marie is a form of Mary, who models the whole idea of saying "yes" to God in difficult, unexpected, and unknown circumstances.
So, there it is! The long and complete story of how Lillian Marie came to be. She truly is such a joy, and just when I felt like my heart was filled with all the love it could hold, it has expanded with a bounty of love for this new beautiful little life.