The scar from my c-section has mostly faded (thanks to the skilled hands of a phenomenal surgeon), but the memories from that day and all the days and weeks before and after that day are forever imprinted in my mind. It was still eight weeks before my scheduled c-section and twelve weeks before my due date with you, but life had other plans. I had a warning the week before that things go could wrong, but we had still hoped for more time. When people talk about how you “chose” to enter the world early, I quickly correct them for it wasn’t you that was to blame; you were thrust into this world much sooner than you were supposed to be. My body simply didn’t want to cooperate this time around, but I’m glad I could protect you for those first 28 weeks.
In the weeks leading up to July 14th these past two years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I didn’t know two years ago. That on Father’s Day of 2014 when Daddy took some great pictures of Tera and me with her hand on my belly and you inside, that it would be weeks, not months before you would join us. That on the 4th of July of 2014 I would comment on how much longer I still had to go when it fact I would go into the hospital that very weekend due to the first sign that there was a problem. That I would host a Pampered Chef party on July 11th and seem tired to everyone, but once again comment that I still had a while. That during your cousins’ first birthday party people would once more comment on how tired and “off” I looked, but I still didn’t know. That the morning of July 14th I would drive your aunt to the airport to see her off and get so upset that Tera had fallen asleep in the car on the way home, but not know why I was so upset. That your YiaYia would be called by Daddy to come over and help me with your sister because I was so tired and worked up and I still didn’t know. And then late that afternoon something went wrong.
While Daddy and I sat at the hospital, with nurses and doctors checking on me often, I was informed that you might have to arrive earlier than expected, but it still didn’t seem real. And then came one of the scariest moments of my life. All of a sudden it was very urgent that you be delivered, for both your safety and mine. And so amidst a flurry of chaos and urgency, I was put under and the next thing I knew they were wheeling me up to see you. Daddy told me that you were stable, two and a half pounds, and doing ok, but when I saw you with all those wires it still didn’t seem real. The next morning when I woke up and called Nani it still wasn’t real. When they had to tell us twice that your lung had collapsed and had to put in the chest tube, it still didn’t seem real. And when nine days had passed before I could hold you it still didn’t seem real. And when nine weeks had passed before you could join us at home, it still didn’t seem real; not until you were home and in your own bed surrounded by your family.
And these days I’m reminded daily when I dress you and see the scars from those chest tubes, that it was real. When we hear a cough and prepare for a potential hospital visit because of your damaged lungs, I know what you went through was real. And yet, for every new milestone you hit, for every new thing that you can do, I’m reminded that you are simply incredible despite what you’ve had to go through. When I see you run, walk up the stairs, go down a slide, or say “Momma”, “Daddy” and “Tera” I know how lucky we are that you can do those things. And today is your birthday. Simultaneously one of the worst and best days of my life. The fear I felt that day is unlike almost anything else I’ve ever experienced, and at the same time, it’s the day you completed our family. You made Tera a big sister; a job she has embraced wholeheartedly. You brought strength to our family. You reminded me that no matter what else I accomplish in life, bringing you two in the world has been my finest accomplishment.
When you were two days old and the neonatologist came into our hospital room at 5:30am to tell us that your left lung had collapsed for the second time, he told us that you were quite the feisty girl. I had no idea how he could know that about a baby hooked up to machines that breathed for her, had just required a second chest tube, and was only two and a half pounds, but boy was he right. You are determined, feisty, dramatic, independent, smart, silly, and beyond beautiful. Looking at those early pictures is still difficult, but I know that you are so strong and so capable of so much.
I imagine that this day will continue to be a difficult one for me for years to come. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the emotional trauma I suffered that day is real for me and I need time still to process that. As you get older you will probably see me cry on your birthday, but know that it’s not from sadness anymore, but for a gratefulness that you are here to see me do it. That you are here at all. I put a book on your birthday wish list called You’re Here for a Reason and tonight, your aunt and uncle bought it for you. And so as part of our nightly bedtime routine, I read to you, but tonight it was You’re Here for a Reason. If I wasn’t emotional enough before reading that to you, I sure was afterwards. But its words couldn’t ring truer. You are a miracle my sweet love, Happy Birthday.