The Miracle of Life

My daughter’s birthday is approaching this week. The older she gets, the more reflective I am on her life. She is an incredible young lady and I am humbled and blessed by the miracle of her life.

She is our only child so we both dote on her and are involved in her daily life while trying to avoid the term ‘helicopter parent’. All life is a miracle. When you realize the precise conditions it takes for a man and a woman to get an embryo started, you might appreciate any pregnancy, planned or not. Dave and I tried to start our family for two years with many early-term miscarriages. There were extraneous measures we could have taken to jump-start the process but my heart told me to rely on faith that it would happen when God knew it was the right time.

At the time, Dave wasn’t open to adopting. Deep inside that broke my heart but that is something you cannot impose on your spouse, especially considering the cost of adoption. Unfortunately, this was one of our roadblocks, even if he would have been open to adopting. Another was our age difference. Some countries have strict rules on the age of a parent and/or the combined ages of the parents.

I have said (and still say) stupid things to people. My words don’t always come out with the complete thought pattern and offense to my comments are oft times inevitable.  Likewise, as the parent of an only child, sometimes people say the darndest things. I know very few parents of only children that planned it that way.  One should avoid asking an only child parent if they wanted more children. Likewise, if you’ve been blessed with more than one, for goodness sake, never, ever say “Gosh, it must be so much easier with JUST one.” Yeah, that stings a little bit.

Had I known she would be my only pregnancy, I would have cherished even more than I did, every movement she made in my tummy. After she was born I would have fussed less about her wardrobe, the accessories needed to raise and entertain her and any number of crazy distractions that prevented me from embracing each stage of her early life. Trust that I snuggled her as often as I could!

The first few years of parenthood are a blur.  I wished I had lower expectations for myself as a mother. Simplifying is a lesson learned later in life for many of us. Maybe one day, if I am fortunate enough to be a grandmother, I can gracefully convey this wisdom to my sweet daughter.

When I sat down to write this entry I wanted to journal the miracle of life she truly is. Literally.

A woman comes to know her OB very well by the end of her pregnancy. When your efforts to conceive are fruitless for so long, you really get to know your doctor. By the time we were getting ready to welcome her into the world, the last thing I wanted to see was a stranger at the other end of the delivery table. Our doctor felt the same way but I didn’t expect him to book his family’s annual ski trip around my due date. She was due February 24th but in early February my body was already showing signs of being ready for her delivery any day. I asked my doctor what he was doing Valentine’s Day weekend. He replied, “Do you want to do it?” Yes, he meant setting up the date for inducing labor.

This gave us less than a week for our final preparations. For Dave that meant refinishing the nursery room hardwood floor. Yep. I had to totally dismantle the room that was ready and waiting. Crouching on my knees to stencil Noah’s Ark graphics around the oval area rug certainly helped my body prepare for landing. Since I was nesting anyway, dusting the entire house again was no big deal… Right.

So the Sunday morning of her delivery came. We needed to leave the house by 6:30. It was February. I was happy to warm up the car for my dear hubby. As long as I was up and ready, I loaded the car too. He was groggy from the Valentine’s Day margaritas, it was the least I could do. His task for preparedness was to have the video camera charged and ready. He got to the toasty warm car and I asked, “Do you have the camera?” He went back in for said camera. I sighed. I believe we were going through the Marquette interchange when I finally spoke again. “You know, this isn’t like a dinner reservation.”

We arrived at St Joe’s and were welcomed by the happy nurses who were ready and waiting for us. The preparations for inducing began. A family nurse had [strongly] advised earlier in the week that I should let labor progress naturally. Many said it would be so much more painful. Yet there we were, ready to welcome our baby into the world.

Oh, did I mention the video camera? Dave realized around 10 a.m. that the battery was dead. Very dead. He left to buy a new one across town. While he was out, I decided something “numby” might be a good idea. I don’t think he would have liked seeing the needle anyway. Everyone coming and going commented at the temperature. It was nearly 60 degrees that sunny Sunday in mid-February! I just remember enjoying the warm sunlight on my face as I felt labor progressing.

Because labor was induced, I was equipped with monitors for me and the baby. In hindsight, we know what a blessing this was. I have to praise the staff who remained calm and collected for the delivery. When our daughter immerged at 3:31 pm, she wasn’t breathing and was a dark shade of purple. I didn’t know this until a few days later when I watched the video of her birth. The doctor shook her below the table out of our sight while Dave and I gazed at one another with marvel. When she let out her first cry, everyone else in the room breathed as well. Except us, we had no clue. At the time, I had no idea we were so close to losing our girl. The cord was around her neck twice. As she progressed down the birth canal, her heart rate dropped. The episiotomy was fast and quick as soon as he saw her.

I still didn’t realize what a miracle her birth was. At her two-week check, the pediatrician commented on her Apgar score. He joked that she might go to UWM rather than Harvard. Okay, that was a really bad joke now that I think of it. I was still numb and sleep deprived.

A year after her birth I had the courage to ask my OB if the situation at her birth was as dire as it appeared. He agreed that she likely would have been still born if I had carried her to her due date. That was one of my biggest fears once we were pregnant as my cousin and his wife suffered a still-birth after years of trying. It is chilling to realize how close we came to losing her. Perhaps God had a miracle in the works if I did wait to deliver her naturally. I’m just glad it happened the way it did. It was His plan all along.


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