Anything but odd.

And just like that, you are one year old.  Unbelievable.

I’ve heard it said, “Days are long, years are short.”  If that ain’t the truth.  These last twelve months have been the longest and shortest of my life.  Aria darling, in one quick jolt you came into this world, and in one quick year, you burst open our hearts and made them double in size.

Happy Birthday Aria Ellen Maertz!  This is the story of how you are born.

It is Friday, May 13th.  Ask anyone.  Everyone knows.  I do not want to have a baby on Friday the 13th.  I just don’t want to.  I’m not superstitious, I’m strange.  I much prefer even numbers over odd, and of all odd numbers, thirteen wins as least favorite, hands down.  I told you I’m strange.  So, back to the story.  It has been a long week, with no baby.  Even though it means I’ll be fat with child one more day, I am happy to do Friday night with the Paschalls for beers & brats at Escondido’s Cruising Grand, because let me be clear, we are not having a baby today.  It’s not until we start packing up and walking to the car that things start kicking up a notch.  Still nothing to worry about, as big sister proved Maertz babies do not rush into this world.  At home, we get Naomi her dinner, and I have this idea to vacuum the house and worse, get down on my prego-swollen hands & knees and snip stray threads that have unraveled on our new rug.  As I crawl, sprawled out on the floor, it hits.  I brace, and yell “TIME!!!!”  Our queue word for I don’t care what you’re doing right now, you put it down and start timing this contraction, or else.  Yes, I’m always this nice.  Joe waits for the bookend holler “Done!!”  And so, it continues, about every 6-8 minutes: brace for contraction, holler, silence, holler, and we continue about in our evening tasks.  Joe and I both know heading to the hospital is not too far off, but we are in no rush.  We are determined to hang at home as long as possible.  We never dream we’ll be leaving the home in a mad dash.  And sure enough, just before 10pm, there’s no question about it, it’s time.  Perhaps it’s my announcement to Joe “I think I have to push!!!”  Or Joe thinking I might amputate his hand as I squeeze every drop of blood out of it during a contraction.  Joe is freaked out.  My mom is beside herself.  She has been insisting we get to the hospital for the last hour.  I am determined not to arrive at the hospital a minute too soon, and here we were, almost out of time.  But why worry, the hospital is a mere three minute drive from our home.  Joe alerts Palomar Hospital of our arrival, “I’m sorry, we’re full.  You’re going to have to drive to San Diego.”  This is the moment, things get very tense, this new arrangement makes for a 25 min drive.  I have never seen Joe a more fierce driver.  The car is silent, no words exchanged, just the roar of the engine, and our racing hearts.  And I have never been so focused, ever.  I sit quietly, eyes glued shut, breathing insanely slow.  The time flies.  I unglue my eyes, and there it is, the Kaiser ER glowing before us, like Vegas, or heaven, really.  I know my window is a very small window before the next contraction, so in one burst, I run.  Like a giant pregnant cat, I run straight to triage.  The nurse asks questions.  And in between giant swells of inhuman moans, I answer, “her due date is tomorrow” while shamelessly down on the floor, rocking back and forth, on all fours.  You’re welcome for the visual.  The nurse stops with the questions, and rushes me to “get checked.”  In a matter of moments, the nurse declares “You’re at 9 cm!!”  In her next breath, my water breaks, and she quickly corrects herself “You’re 10!!!”  Everything moves very quickly, including my bed.  They rush me into a room.  A pack of nurses pours into the room, including my sister Malina, who just landed and came straight from the airport.  No time for introductions, a baby is coming, and coming fast.  However, the doctor leaves as quickly as she came.  Apparently my pushing isn’t as far a long as she’d like.  More than a little annoyed, I turn into superwoman.  With Joe, Malina and our nurse Susan, we launch into forward progress, and the doctor returns in no time.  After a few rounds of pushing I think I’m a goner.  It feels impossible.  Completely spent, completely drained.  “How much longer?” are my last words.  And just like that, Aria Ellen Maertz, you enter this world!  Almost instantly, they place you on my chest, and with giant tears, mommy and daddy hold you for the first time.  Joy.  Pure, beautiful joy lay into my chest, I am immediately in love with you.  Soon after, the nurses mark your arrival: May 13th, 2011 at 11:45pm.  I freeze.  Nooooooooo.  This can’t be.  I open my mouth and yes, I do… “Couldn’t we just say she is born on the 14th?  Really, what’s 15 mins?  It’s so close.”  They don’t take me seriously.  Why would they?  What crazy person persuades nurses to say her baby is born on another day?  Me.  What happens next completely steals my attention.  The nurses announce, “She’s 9 pounds, 3 ounces!!”  First to go is my jaw.  It is on the floor.  Then my eyes.  Bigger than bugs.  “What?!  No way!”  Little Naomi weighed in at a whopping 6 lbs 12 oz.  Darling Aria, you burst into this world big, beautiful and of course, on Friday the 13th.  Surely this is your first act of independence.  Your grand declaration, Sorry mommy, I get to choose my birthday, not you.  Aria, you are our sweet spunk of energy, giggles and determination!  Yes, no matter how silly and strange mommy’s antics, you were determined to enter this world on your perfectly odd day 5.13.2011!  And I’m so glad you did.

Happy birthday my sweet baby love.  I’m forever lucky I get to be your mommy.

  Aria love. (12 months) You are so cute!!  You have this thing you do, you grin the biggest half smile, and drop your face into your shoulder, as if to play shy with us!  It’s adorable! *For the last 6 months, you’ve had two teeth.  And in the last 5 weeks, you outdid yourself sweetie.  Today you have a mouthful of EIGHT teeth.  This last month has been quite a dental adventure (that’s Mommy’s positivity talking).  *You are full of surprises!  Let’s start with your walking.  I never know what to expect from you!  You go from a good dozen steps, to bracing the walls for dear life.  Then out of nowhere you’ll start walking again, then in the next breath you’re army crawling.  Now your eating.  You’ve always been a food champ, now you’re just sometimes a food champ.  You’re very clear about what you will eat and what you won’t.  Those unknown foreign food items you’ve never seen before, you’ll have none of that.  Then, after weeks of trying to coax you into saying words, out of nowhere, you surprised all of us and called for me, “Mama!!”  It was angelic.  Wish you could have seen my heart explode that morning.  Enjoyed an afternoon with Brooklyn and her mommy, and while in the backyard I noticed you put something in your mouth.  Upon retrieval, I found a big surprise.  Poor little snail.  That’s you, full of surprises.  *Your hair is getting so long, and full of curls!  And just like your sister, it’s getting lighter and lighter by the day.  *You point to everything and say “Dis! Dis Dis!”  *You LOVE books sweetie!  In fact, if you could have your perfect moment, you would be rocking in the red rocking chair, holding “Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?” and a TV remote control in the other hand.  Glory be!  These are your favorite things right now.  *And in a very close second, you absolutely love putting your sister’s shoes on your feet, hats on your head and the more necklaces around your neck the better.  You are so funny!  For an entire day, you insisted on wearing the Hawaiian coconut bikini top!  All day, under your clothes, the coconuts.  *Without fail, when you hear singing, you quickly open your sweet mouth and sing along!  *You really love BabySigningTime, and you’ve got a few signs down!  Baby, eat, more, all done and hat.  *You love the playset!  With mommy right alongside, you climb the ladder and go down the slide backwards, all by yourself!  You little daredevil!  Mommy thought she buckled you and your sister tightly into the bucket swings on the playset.  As mommy was tending to a little weeding in between pushes, your sister shouted “No, No No Aria!!  No standing!!”  Sure enough, you had wiggled your way, out of the the bucket swing, and there you were, holding the swing ropes, standing! You were so delighted in yourself!  While mommy ran to your side in a panic!   *You’ve had a rough road with ear infections, and horrible reactions to those nasty one year immunizations.  We have been trying Chiropractic, and you’re fabulous.  You sit so incredibly still, I almost don’t recognize you!  *You got to turn around in your carseat, facing forward!  A big deal!  Joy fills my heart when I see you and your sister exchange sweet glances back and forth!  *You can climb up onto our couch now, and you show your skills off more often than mommy’d like!

Naomi (2 1/2 years):  You make me smile.  *When mommy pushed you on the swing you burst “My face is so happy!”  You freely give big hugs and even sweeter kisses, warming up the coldest room.  *You have a sweet disposition about you, always caring about your friends and sister with every fiber of your being.  Of course, your empathy comes out a little too much sometimes.  If anyone is on the ground in a tantrum, give it 20 seconds, you will be on the floor faking crying with them.  *You’ve found your way at bedtime, hallelujah.  Not every time, but most of the time when we say goodnight and close the door, it stays shut.  Never thought this day would come.  *You have the best imagination!  You can sit with your toys, talk to them, and make up the best scenarios all by yourself!  You’re such a good friend to your toys!  These are the phrases mommy hears you say most: “Listen to music” “Oh my goodness!” and “It’s time for dinner!”  *A little boy, about your age, wanted to play with you at a park.  It wasn’t until I realized what was happening, that’s when it was happening.  He tried to kiss you!  Ohhhh boy!!  *Daddy wrestled with you just before bed, and when he tucked you into bed you shouted “I had so much fun playing!”  *You spot crosses all over the place!  And you love seeing the “cross” mountain from miles away, and you remember climbing it!  *You are quite the swimmer!  You took swim lessons with your cousins, and did fabulous!  You continue to be so animated and full of expression!  You jump right in the pool with huge enthusiasm and in the same way, when you’re done, you’re done, and want out of the pool right away!  You do not like it when the pool is cold!  There were three times, Mommy had to jump in and grab my eager swimmer from going under.  Scary.  *Daddy and you started making deals.  It’s quite funny.  “If I get you Minnie and Mickey, you’ll close your eyes and go right to sleep?  Do we have a deal?”  You stick your right hand out, and make it official with the most adorable handshake, and say “Deal.”  You are a good deal maker Naomi.

         Maertz family memories:  *Our wildflowers have taken off, and to top them all, we have an 8 foot tall sunflower!  *Sisters and Mom enjoyed a dinner out at Vinz.  And a killer cobbler!  And later Anjuli takes me out for a business dinner at Vinz!  *Daddy takes to the hills, and tries a hike at Lake Hodges!  Only to get lost and almost run over by hostile bikers!  *Enjoyed a sunny fun Memorial day Pool Party at the Paschalls’!  Naomi loves her puddle jumper!  *Playdates with Todd at JavaMama have made for some laughter filled moments.  *Once the kids are down, Joe and I love watching the NBA playoff games!  *Silly wonderful times with the guys during the long days at Flood.  *Dreaming up some landscaping ideas for this place!  *Walking around the neighborhood with the girls in a wagon.  Too cute!  *Took a trip to Emmanuel Faith’s giant garage sale, and I became much too lax with the familiar place, people and fenced in area.  While perusing the goodies, a lady shouted “We’re looking for mommy, a mommy of a little girl.  Mommy?  Mommy?”  All I could think is, what mommy loses her little girl, that’s terrible, and I continued to peak around.  Half a minute later she shouts again, “Mommy?  Mommy?”  Realizing it’s one of those situations where everyone has gone silent to help find this Mommy, I stand up and decide to see what the fuss is all about.  1000 pounds falls on my chest.  With zero self esteem and gallons of shame, I raise my hand, and announce loud and clear “I’m that mom.  She’s my little girl.”  Naomi and I are reunited. Miserable horrible awful doesn’t begin to describe that morning.  *Daddy and mommy took Naomi on an adventure!  We headed down to Coronado for the afternoon!  Sadly, it was a chilly overcast day.  But that didn’t stop us from dancing to the live band, putting our ankles into the cold bay water, and even renting a four person bike and cruising down the boardwalk as Naomi rang the bike bell!  Then a spontaneous dinner with the Lehmans for yummy brats and a picnic in the backyard!  Best day together!