Mellee Smith was born on March 19, 2015 a little before 8pm and though she was but little, she was fierce...just as Shakespeare put it.
Before I go into a little more detail about this little girl and her somewhat dramatic entrance into this beautiful world, I have to express some of the bitter feelings I felt, during what were surely some of the sweetest of my life. I am surrounded by people that I love that were expecting babies, or were at least expecting to be pregnant during the same time our Mellee was due, and my heart ached for those who weren't holding their babies, as I was holding mine. Mellee is a miracle from heaven and I will never take her for granted, because I know how many people hope and pray and wish for their own babies. Infertility is so real, so hard, so painful, and I wish and pray with all my heart that those who are praying for their own miracles will receive them. I never thought I'd have one baby, much less two, and our own experiences with infertility have helped me see my children for the blessings that they are, but our experiences have also made me so keenly aware of those of you who are in the midst of the dark times of infertility. I pray the light finds you soon.
I also can't go on without mentioning the feelings I have for Nolan's birth mom, Makenzie. We loved her from the moment we met her, but I never loved her more than the moment after I held my Mellee and then suddenly imagined myself handing her over to somebody else. All birth moms, but ours in particular, deserve the utmost respect and love. What they do and have done, and the selflessness they live by, has never felt more real to me and I love Makenzie more today than I ever have before!
And one more brief interjection that has little to do with all the "good stuff"... for anybody who was wondering, her name is pronounced precisely how it is spelled: Mel-lee, or if you prefer: Mell-ee. Rhymes with jelly.
So our little Mellee girl...she is a product of a successful round of in vetro fertilization. Everything about my pregnancy was right on track, things were looking normal and fine, with the only minor concern being that I threw up (with a few glorious exceptions) every single day of my pregnancy, and therefore lost a lot of weight. This was never a huge concern, but at about 32 weeks, Mellee suddenly stopped growing. The doctor was relatively unconcerned at first, but as the weeks passed and growth didn't happen, he grew more and more worried, and became extremely proactive. I had ultrasound after ultrasound, test after test, and finally at just shy of 39 weeks, my doctor said "if we can't fatten her up on the inside, let's get her out here and fatten her up on the outside". I called my mom, who wasn't scheduled to fly in for another week, and we rearranged her flight schedule. She came the next day, and we had a couple of days to nest together before I went in to be induced.
My induction went, I'm assuming, as most do. There was a lot of discomfort, a lot of watching the clock, praying for time to pass and progress to happen, and then (though it was nearly 24 hours later) it seemed like in the blink of an eye we were right in the middle of having a baby. Because the doctor was worried that she would be so small (he predicted around 4-5 pounds) there was a plethora of staff at the ready to do whatever needed to be done. That brought so much comfort. As Mellee finally entered this life, the cord was wrapped around her neck, and they whisked her away without me even getting to catch a glimpse of her. I remember crying and asking over and over again if she was okay, and then I heard her cry, followed by the miraculous announcement that she weighed over 6 pounds! I will never be able to describe the relief that both of those things brought. My doctor quickly joked "I'm glad I didn't make you carry for 40 weeks". After what seemed like a life-time, they brought me my baby and every single worry, fear, concern, heartache, and pain was washed away in that very instance. I knew she was okay, I knew she'd be okay, and I knew, for absolutely certain that every bit of her life, from the first fertility treatment until that moment was a blessing from God, and direct answer to prayers. My testimony of Heavenly Father grew in that moment in a way I'd never experienced before. I was holding an answer to a prayer.
We took our time, actually we took until pretty much the last second, to decide on her name. But in the end, we knew she was Mellee. The truth is that even thought we explored other names, she had always been Mellee. Each part, every letter of her name has meaning to us. Mel comes from Collin's grandma Melba who he loved and spent precious time with as a teenager, some of my favorite stories are about her and I loved to hear Collin talk about her. She was strong, and brave, and creative, and adventurous, and she thought out of the box and was independent and those are all qualities we hope our Mellee will have, too. The lee part of her name comes from my dad, who was Robert Lee. It's his 'lee' that gives me the 'lee' in Ashlee and I wanted my Mellee to have it, too. My dad was kind, and non-judgmental, and quick to forgive and even quicker with a joke, and he was compassionate and loyal and respectful and a true believer in Christ, and these, too, are things we wish for our girl. The double 'L' matches Collin's name and if there's anything I truly hope for my daughter, it's that she'll take after her daddy in every way. He is pure and wise and loving and humble and if she's anything like him, she will soar.
These last 2 weeks have been reminiscent of the last few weeks before she was born. She is still having trouble growing, and we have seen more doctors in her short life than Nolan has seen in his almost 4 years of life! She will grow, I know she will, but it will be a slow process. However, if there's one thing I've learned in this process, it's that prayers are answered.
Some of the highlights of these past few weeks that I never want to forget have been:
Aunt Annie and Uncle Charlie flying my best friend/cousin, Markee, in to meet Mellee
My mom coming for 3 weeks and the peace it brought to have her here
My baby shower being rescheduled because of sister's early arrival
The prayers and fasting of our dear ones, some of whom I've never even met (Mrs. Patty!)
Experiencing labor, giving birth, and nursing a baby ... all things I never thought I'd do
Watching Nolan beautifully fill his role as big brother
A box of love from my sweet friends in Wisconsin
Feeling my heart grow big enough to love another child as much as I love Nolan
Watching Collin hold his daughter
Seeing my dad in my daughter ... she has his chin, his coloring, and his dark hair
The outpouring of love from family, friends, and neighbors
Collin counting me through my contractions (except for that one time;) )
I know I'm forgetting so much. The sleep deprivation is real! But so is the magic. I feel blessed beyond measure.
She's here. She's here. She's here!!!!