And then there was Nell


I will never forget October 17, 2016.

This is because I was sitting around a big dining room table with your mama and friends when your existence was announced (well, it was more directly inquired about…and then revealed, despite the early days, because she couldn’t hide behind that big sheepish grin). You were the size of a chia seed then, but that was still big enough to put a little blue + on the test she peed on while camping at Joshua Tree. I thought to myself, of course that is how she would find out.

I will never forget picking out a pregnancy journal to give your mama for Christmas (and allllll the subsequent poloroid photos taken and stuck in there to document your journey in what I am certain was a nutrient-dense, Mother Earth Goddess of a womb). That weekend, we drove north and slept in a cozy caboose during a snowstorm. I felt her stomach start to get hard and begin to bust at her pant button. We tried to imagine you joining us for this annual adventure next year.

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I will never forget being at the cabin for McP’s birthday where we danced, hiked, and hot tubbed with you. At night, your mama would lie on the bed and tell us when you started to move. I remember all 7 of us circled around her, taking turns with our hands pressed to her belly, anticipating your every kick or high-five. It’s crazy. All you did was move your body and we were so impressed and amazed. Even then, you were incredibly loved by many.


I will never forget your mama’s 30th birthday party. Simply because it was cat-themed and I convinced the guy on the phone at Hy-Vee to make a cat shaped pizza. And it made me think about how there will be just as much thought, heart, and soul put into your future birthday parties. We take theme parties very seriously in this community, as you will see.


I will never forget how radiant your mama was at her mother blessing party, or the way my heart wanted to burst as I listened to everyone tell her why she would be an amazing mother. She is gentle, nurturing, a great listener, an exemplary vegetable-eater, and playful in the best ways. You are one lucky lady, my friend.


I will never forget all of the walking. Walking at the Women’s March. Walking at the Immigration Ban March. Walking in the woods, around the block, at the market. Walking to try and get you to come out.

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And I will never forget July 7, 2017 so long as I have breath. Your very first birthday. And my very first time ever seeing a baby be born. I woke up at 6 a.m. and saw I had a missed call and a text saying you were coming. I was so afraid that I had missed you in the night that I literally jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera bag, put on my sandals and walked out the door in my pajamas. But it would still be another 6 hours before you gave your queen her crown. And in that time, this happened:




Your mama labored in a hot-as-balls room with no drugs, so she’s basically Wonder Woman. And while she had support from a lot of people (the nurse, midwives, doula, your grandmere, her lady tribe, etc.), your dad was the birth partner every man should aspire to be. Their love and partnership is something I admire very deeply, and it was a privelege to witness them on your birthday. Your dad was always holding her up physically and mentally, reminding her how powerful and badass she is. And the look of excitement on his face as he waited, hands cupped, to catch you falling into the world– well, that was absolute perfection.

You rushed in clean, calm, wide-eyed, and expressive. I think pretty much all babies look like weird little aliens at first, but you were stunningly beautiful from minute one. Getting to see your parents set their eyes on your for the first time was intensely wild and magical.

I am so happy that you are healthy and here. I cannot wait to find out who you are and to continue watching you grow (thank God we can stop comparing your growth to various fruits and vegetables).

May you always remember how loved you have been since you were the size of a chia seed, Nell Clover Burbank. And please be nice to your parents forever.