Yaaaaayyy!!! Colin and I are so happy to introduce you to our new baby: an 8-pound, 20.5-inch cuddler named… Joya. I have covered her soft cheeks in kisses in the hours since her birth, and plan to kiss her a whole lot more in the years to come.
Joya was born with robust health at 4am after 12 hours of labor — significantly shorter than the 28 hours I labored with Devi. The first 9 hours of my labor with Joya were intensely painful and unmedicated (you should have heard my screams!), but the final 3 hours I opted for a blessed epidural that kissed away any pain, yet allowed me to remain awake and happy for the ultimate 4-minute push it took to catapult our little one into the world. It was such a miraculous moment when Joya was pulled forth and placed on my chest. At first there was no baby to be seen, and then all of a sudden, there she was in all of her bellowing glory!
What gratitude I have for modern medicine, and for the hospital staff that made this birth so successful. Having traveled around the world, I know that it’s a rare privilege to have quality maternal care, and I don’t take it for granted!
The whole process of pregnancy and birth is mind-blowing. If you look at this photo to the right of me just days before going into labor, the first obvious question is: “How does the human body support another person growing INSIDE of it?” I gained 40 pounds during this pregnancy, and that last month was like lugging around multiple bowling balls atop my pelvis.
The second obvious question is: “How the heck have women, since the beginning of history, managed to push babies OUT… and keep them nourished and alive throughout an insane range of conditions?
Last night at 3am, all Joya wanted to do was to party and to guzzle food. Colin and I were utterly exhausted, having hardly slept for the previous nights of labor and newborn world. Despite having done this parenting thing once before, we had forgotten how arduous the first months of baby are before the little one’s stomach is big enough to sleep for more than an hour or three… And this will be an extra level of juggling, as our boisterous toddler, Devi, is along for the ride this time! Thank goodness for my parents’ kind help with Devi as we get settled with Joya.
So, how did we choose the name Joya? The name has layers of meaning, and I’m excited to share them with you. First and foremost, “Joya” is about JOY and happiness! Colin and I are overjoyed that our girl is here. The “J” also honors several people in our family, notably my mother’s maternal grandfather, Jacob. Finally, “Joya” means “Jewel” in Spanish. What meaning does “Jewel” have? Read on…
In 1946 in Abilene, Texas, a woman named Jewel adopted a 12-day-old baby. This baby was my husband’s father, Estes! Without Jewel, would Estes have gone on to become Colin’s father, and would I have met Colin, fallen in love, and had Devi and Joya? No. With the name “Joya,” we want to honor the way in which Jewel’s generosity changed history for all of us.
Given the power behind her name and the many loving people behind her, what history will Joya go on to shape? We can’t wait to find out! Thank you all so much for your kind wishes.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!