When my dear husband and I were undergoing infertility treatments I often daydreamed about a chubby cheeked, curly haired toddler, decked out in pastel Easter finery, frolicking in a lovely garden.
This week, we took our 15-month-old daughter, Zahra, to the ultimate garden party — the White House Easter Egg Roll. Watching our sweet baby girl laugh, dance and twirl in her pretty sky-blue frock on the South Lawn brought home for us just how far we’ve come in our four-year quest to become parents.
I am the oldest of nine children, my husband is the youngest boy of seven. For years I often joked that our families are “as fertile as the Nile Crescent”.
We always thought it would be so easy.
After two miscarriages — including a heartbreaking loss on the cusp of our second trimester — countless painful infertility treatments and a pregnancy bout with severe hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare and dangerous nausea disorder, we were finally blessed with our daughter.
And all of a sudden, we were faced with fresh — albeit delightful — challenges as new parents.
So Monday, under a blue sky with tinges of gray, we joined fellow parents on a quest to make sure that this day, one so heavy with symbols of rebirth and renewal, was one our children would cherish.
Pop music and the sounds of laughter wafted on the late afternoon breeze as we plucked our way across the grassy expanse and wove through the throng. The White House and Washington Monument rose stately in the background.
And Zahra, who picked up her father’s sense of whimsy and her mother’s inquisitive streak, led the way, dragging her bright pink dress coat behind her, to my dismay.
I’d covered the first family at the egg roll earlier in the day, and that afternoon took the opportunity to seek a bit of advice from other parents attending, such as the Osborne family of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The quintet took a break from the festivities to help 5-year-old son, Jacob, who has autism, calm down. After all, 6,000 people, dozens of costumed characters, rock and pop music and tons of treats can be sensory overload.
“With our son having special needs, we tell him what he’s working for,” said Justin Osborn, Jacob’s father. Mom Sarah sat on the lawn cradling and soothing Jacob.
I filed that tip away along with the suggestion from mom Tiffany Barner of Washington, D.C., to use an old baby sock cut in half to help create the perfect bun for my little girl’s hair.
Hair which had managed to become mussed as Zahra hopped and danced during the PopLyfe performance—much to the delight of the older kids who egged her on.
I sighed and helped my little dancer up on one of the empty performance stages. She toddled right to the center and smiled so sweetly that my husband and I laughed in spite of ourselves. Then she whirled and bounced, twirled and danced to the music.
I’ll carry that image of her always, caramel skinned with soft curls blowing in the breeze and a sweet smile flashed heavenward, on a day that was the stuff of dreams.
TODAY.com political contributor Halimah Abdullah is the site’s woman in Washington. She blogs about balancing “the home and the Hill” at http://domesticpolichick.wordpress.com/