On July 12, 2006, at 25 weeks pregnant with identical twin girls, my water broke. I was alarmed, obviously, but not surprised, because the pregnancy had been an ordeal from the very beginning. We had been to hell and back trying to ensure that we would have two healthy babies only to realize by this point that one was already dead and the other was in real danger. I will spare you the details, but less that 24 hours after my water broke, on July 13th, I gave birth to one girl who had taken the short-cut to be with God and another beautiful, beautiful baby girl who turned out to be a real fighter – all 1 lb, 14 oz. of her.
Look at the size of her hand next to the tip of Daddy’s finger! Looking at her now, it’s unbelievable where she started. So, so tiny and weak that she couldn’t even cry. She wasn’t strong enough to make a sound. We were warned about all of the things that could be wrong with her developmentally due to her prematurity – neurological damage, learning difficulties, speech impediments – the list was long and daunting. In fact, it is more common than not that there are lasting effects of being born so soon. Amazingly, she has no lasting effects. None! No delays, no damage, nothing that can be directly linked to her being born premature. Every once in a while it takes my breath away.
She is very normal. So normal in fact that she is pretty much like any other girly – girl ready to celebrate turning seven. She wants to know what Big Poppa and I are getting her for her birthday. She asks me every day and every day I say the same thing, “Our undying love and support.” She gives me this “Gee, that’s swell, but…” look and pushes ahead, asking for an iPhone (???), new Hello Kitty earrings (the kind that you find in the jewelry store), another American Girl Doll? No, No, and No! I’m not one of those parents that feels like I need to give a particular gift on birthdays, particularly when a party is involved. The party is expensive enough. However, this year there is no big party and no big gift. I’m okay with that because sometimes, enough is enough. Of course we will celebrate because we are happy that she’s here but, it’s going to be low-key. She is NOT low-key.
Lately, we have been going back and forth over what kind of preparations we will need for her birthday celebration. I was thinking plates, napkins, balloons (mind you, this is just for a small family gathering, so absolutely none of this is necessary) but, she was thinking somewhere along the lines of fireworks, pinatas and getting One Direction to put on a show in our garage. In the middle of this, I noticed that she seemed to be complaining of headaches a lot. Eye problems? I made an appointment with the eye doctor and sure enough, she needs reading glasses. She saw this as an opportunity to add a cute new accessory to her wardrobe. I saw this as our birthday gift to her. Sounds like a win, win situation to me. Not so much to her. Ah, well…I tried.
This girl reminds me that miracles do happen every day. She reminds me that faith really is enough. She is smart and strong, courageous and focused. She swims like a fish, is a talented and graceful dancer (when she was four she told be that she was “born to dance”), and has a pretty mean forehand in tennis. She loves music, baking and reading..oh, and dolls! I don’t think she can ever have too many dolls. And now, she loves her glasses and can’t wait to get them because they are “sooo super cute!!” Yes, she is perfectly normal and I am undeniably grateful. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!