With my second pregnancy, I gave in to my husband and we found out the gender of our baby early. So for 7 months, I walked around knowing that Allie Elizabeth McKinney was forming inside me. I could talk to her saying things like, "Okay, Allie, please stop pushing on Mommy's ribs." With this knowledge, the anticipation was a bit different than the first time. One, I knew more, I was more confident, but I felt an anticipation of meeting Allie. Not just meeting my new baby. It felt like a very specific anticipation.
In 62 hours, I will be meeting Allie Elizabeth McKinney again. For the past 8 months she has gone to Senegal, Africa, to live with another family. While we have gotten to facebook chat, and skype, none of those are the same as sitting face to face with someone. They have however given me glimpses of the changes in my daughter, much like the sonograms gave me glimpses of the baby growing in my belly.
My daughter left as an eighteen year old. She left speaking English and Spanish. She left having never experienced being away from home for major holidays or events. She left having an intimate knowledge of our family unit only. She left with a knowledge of developing world problems, but only book knowledge. As mature and independent as she was, she left a girl.
Now she is coming home a nineteen year old. She is coming home speaking English, Spanish, some French, and Wolof. She is coming home after spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays away from her American family. She is coming home with a Senegalese family who also love her. She is coming home having experienced intimately how another family lives and lives in Africa. She is coming home having experienced a developing country. Having seen good and bad that have changed her. She is coming home a young woman.
Just like the actual pregnancy, these past months have been hard. They have had their ups and downs, and their scares. But, just like the birth, I know when she is in my arms, it will have all been worth it. And just as she changed my life then, she will change my life again.
I am anxiously anticipating that moment, just as I did 19 years ago when she is in my arms once more. Because no matter how tall, how mature, how old, Allie, you will always and forever be my baby girl.