I couldn't keep it in any longer. "I love you!" I exclaimed much too loudly to my boyfriend, who was sitting next to me on a blanket.
My boost of sudden confidence could have come from the bottle of wine we shared that night on the beach, or the romantic nature of our evening -- under the stars, listening to the waves crash -- but it didn't matter. I had loved this man for some time now, and decided that I couldn't live another second with the weight of this news lingering in my soul.
Startled, he turned, facing me, and sat there smiling for what felt like eternity. I clenched my toes in the sand, bracing myself for his reply. There it was, my heart on the line -- vulnerable and exposed -- uncertain if he loved me back.
"I love you more," he finally said. Butterflies danced through my veins and I knew life would never be the same.
We married a few years later, and I was certain I had found my one true love in life. I was wrong.
Breathing through an oxygen mask, I looked up wearily at my husband, who was grasping my hand tightly. "I can't do this!" I cried.
There we were, on the 19th hour of labor. I was ready to give up -- I had fought this battle with all of my might, and I was losing terribly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a team of nurses setting up equipment to perform an emergency C-section, because this long, natural labor just wasn't working.
My husband bent down, kissed my forehead, and whispered, "You're so strong. You're so close. You can do this."
Exactly the words I needed to regain my confidence. Three pushes later and my daughter was suddenly lying on my chest.
Weak, relieved, and full of pure joy, I looked into her little, blue eyes. "I love you!" I exclaimed. The last 19 hours of pain were forgotten, and I knew life would never be the same. There she was, in all her perfection -- the second love of my life.
"And see this here?" The ultrasound technician pointed to a little fleck on the screen. My husband, my daughter and I all squinted our eyes and leaned our heads forward to try and make sense of the black and white shapes. "This here is a penis! It's a boy! Congratulations!"
A boy! Excitement and fear washed over me all at once. I was the oldest of three sisters. Growing up, even our cat and dog were female. I didn't know the first thing about little boys, let alone raising one.
Flash forward six months later, and after a miraculously easy four-hour labor, the doctor held him up -- our little prince -- and he began peeing everywhere.
My husband and I turned to each other and laughed. "I love him!" I exclaimed. All of my fear and uncertainty washed away, and I knew life would never be the same. There he was -- our adorable, sweet, peeing little boy, in all his glory -- the third and final love of my life.