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When I found out that I was expecting my first girl I was over the moon. Do not get me wrong, I adore my oldest and only boy whom I call, The Boy. I had dreamed of the daughter I would one day have ever since I was a little girl and since I only have a sister all of my plans for having children involved raising girls. I even knew what I would name my daughter. I had the name picked out since I was 13 years old.
I was due with Pippy (my nickname for her) on July 3rd; she was born on June 16th.
You can’t control or plan another person’s life; even when it’s your child.
I’ll never forget what it felt like, how it felt to hold my precious baby girl for the first time. She was a quiet little thing and she made this sing-song noise that was just so sweet. After being in our postpartum room for less than a half hour I learned that the sweet singing noise she was making was not a good thing and it was far from sweet. A lactation consultant had stopped by to see how we were doing with breastfeeding; I was actually having a hard time keeping Pippy awake. The lactation consultant observed her ever so quietly and sweetly said, “You know, I’m not really liking how blue her hands are looking and the fact that she’s so sleepy. Let me bring her down to the nursery so we can get a proper check up on her.” My husband and his father went with Pippy to the nursery. I joined them after 40 minutes and since only three people could be in the Special Care Nursery my parents came with me as Ben and his dad left. I was watching them check out Pippy’s vitals, her heart, lungs, oxygen…That’s when it happened.
She began aspirating on the table. The nurses flew into hyper-drive and started giving her oxygen through a tiny face mask with a bulb on the end. I sat in my chair in shock; too frightened to voice out loud what my heart was screaming: Is my baby going to die? One of the nurse practitioners came over to me once things were okay again and I quickly blurted out, “Is my baby going to die!?” She gently chuckled, not in an insulting “you’re such a dumb mom” way but with this firm reassurance that no, she would not die.
After five days in the level II nursery, a round of bilirubin treatments for jaundice, antibiotics due to high C-reactive protein levels and oxygen we were able to bring Pippy home.
That wasn’t the end of Pippy’s struggles. Although the hurdles she’s had to overcome may seem minor in comparison to what other children often have to endure, as her mother it hasn’t been easy to watch. She had to go to physical therapy and see a chiropractor because she had torticollis and was developing flat head syndrome. She is also the child in my family who experienced a febrile seizure when she was two and a half. That was terrifying; I had no idea that could even happen. I held her in my arms while she was seizing and wondered if this was the beginning of something much worse. Thankfully it was the one and only seizure she’s had.
Pippy’s speech is also developmentally behind; currently, she is enrolled in the speech program through our school district. Having delayed speech has made it hard for her to be around other kids. She becomes frustrated, starts crying and screaming all because she’s not easily understood. I’ve often left play dates worried that I would be the mother with the daughter who has no friends. My heart ached for her as I watched her try to communicate unsuccessfully with her peers. And if I allowed myself to think about it too much I could foresee her future in middle school being a dark and lonely road.
It felt like too much. Some days it was too much. I couldn’t stand the thought of one more thing going “wrong” in this girl’s life. Life was supposed to be easy for her like it was for her brother. That was my plan for her. These other things were definitely not part of the plan.
- Long hospital stays after birth wasn’t part of the plan.
- Weekly visits to physical therapy wasn’t part of my plan.
- Watching my chiropractor stretch and massage her head and neck wasn’t even a consideration when I was 13 years old.
- Hearing our doctor’s concerns about her speech development was really challenging.
- Then about ten weeks ago, during her four year old well child visit, she failed a hearing test.
I cried.. I cried because I was uncertain what was ahead for her. I cried because I couldn’t imagine this little girl having to endure one. more. struggle. I cried because I couldn’t just fix it myself.
As I was processing what this next hurdle for Pippy may look like a voice within my soul whispered some encouraging words to me, I knit her in her mother’s womb…she was born for such a time as this. I know her, she is in My hands.