Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.

My sister Carolyn walked into the guest room around 2:48 am, about an hour after I went to sleep.

I had a hard time passing out due to a burst of adrenaline that hit me around midnight.

It was what I can only describe as a vision of peace, revealing that my future life was going to be okay.

It’s the first time in a long while I felt like this. I must have sensed that everything was about to change.

“Sorry to wake you, but my water broke and we’re heading to the hospital,” she said.

As my sister stood in the doorway, the overhead light from the hall silhouetted her perfect pregnant belly.

I immediately jumped out of bed and ran to give her a hug.

“Oh, my gosh, that’s awesome!” I said. “I love you so much. You’re going to do great! I’ll call mom.”

After a phone call to our ecstatic parents, I head downstairs to check on Carolyn and Bryan, the parents-to-be.

I find them methodically grabbing pre-packed overnight bags, pillows, and blankets and in four minutes flat, they were out the door.

I take a picture as they pull out of the drive, a memento to one day show my nephew of the day he was born, then wave goodbye until their car lights turn at the end of the street.

Heading back into the house, my vision blurred by happy tears, and gather my belongings. 

I overpack a bag of snacks, my computer, and a book then jump in the car to head to the hospital.

The streets are bare except for a few cars, and the road is glassy from a bout of rain.

Amidst the early morning calm, the reality that things could go wrong during labor came to my mind and I burst into tears.

I pray to God, and all my departed relatives, to watch over my little sister and the little one.

My last request upon turning into the hospital parking lot and make my way inside.

I find my parents camped out in the waiting room. My brother-in-law’s family soon joins in.

With chairs huddled around a small coffee table, we trade funny stories from childhood.

Our first words, the moments are personalities began to show, the labor our mom’s had endured way back when.

About an hour goes by and my dad’s phone rings.

His ringtone sounds like a horn you’d hear from a 1960s Disney movie.

“Cam’s here!” he says.

I laugh thinking there’s no way. We’d only been here an hour and barely rifled through all the snacks.

Soon after, Bryan came to the waiting room to meet us.

His face red, overcome with emotion.

“Cam’s healthy and Carolyn is doing great. She dilated from six to ten in less than a minute. Five pushes and he was out!”

It took a few seconds to settle in before I joined in on the rounds of hugs.

There was a new member of the family now. I was an aunt. It almost didn’t seem real.

Two hours passed until we could visit the new family.

My mom led the way down the hall, almost floating in excitement to see the son of her youngest daughter.

We find baby Cam swaddled tight and sleeping in the bassinet.

The grandmothers held him first, cooing over their third-generational genes.

I stand by my sister, stroking her head, remembering when my six-year-old-self came to visit the day she was born too.

Finally, it was my turn.

Mom placed Cam in my arms, and my heart became warm and soft.

I scanned his little body, his features so fresh and raw.

I begin to paint a picture of him in my mind.

The tiny indent above his upper lip, the slightest fuzz of a widow’s peak, the creases in his brow, and wrinkles in his forehead.

I inhale the sweet scent of his skin and clear my mind from the others in the room.

“I’m Elizabeth and I’ll love you forever,” I whisper in his ear.

Just then, he opened his eyes.

The overwhelming feeling of love connected us both and after all my years of meditative practice, I was sure he felt the connection too. I kiss him on the forehead.

He yawned softly then settled back into my arms.

Seconds later, he pooped.

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