Yesterday was A.’s third birthday. Did you know? And she is three. She will hold up her three fingers and declare it to the world, which is new for her. She never did that about two. And she began answering the phone saying hello! just in time for all the birthday phone calls.
A lot of moms I know spend their children’s birthdays recounting the story of that child’s labor and delivery. This is something I don’t do. Can’t do. Because I have C-sections, the deliveries aren’t as dramatic. They don’t get as seared into the brain.
But I think each child comes with a life-affirming story. For E., it was when he ended up hospitalized for nine days as a brand new newborn and we were terrified that we might lose him. For Q., who has escaped many of life’s hard knocks, it was probably the food poisoning that made her so weak she spent days lying limply in my arms.
But A.’s story long precedes delivery, which is why I think it deserves to be told. This world treats the life of an unborn child so cheaply, and yet there is a reason I hold it so dear.
In between E. and A., I had a miscarriage. And then it took a number of months after that to become pregnant again. A week after my positive test, I began to again show signs of another miscarriage. We called the doctor. I had had a blood test the day before, but I was so early in the pregnancy that I hadn’t even seen him yet!
He told us to come in and see his nurse practitioner. She patiently explained to me that I was having all the classic signs of a miscarriage. She called the lab, and they said my hormone counts were too low. She figured the baby was already dead, and she told me they wanted to do a D&C so that they could examine why I would have two miscarriages.
I guess two in a row is considered a little more unusual.
We went home, devastated.
I remember sobbing in Si’s arms. And then I turned to him and said, “I don’t know what it is, but I still feel pregnant.”
What does a mom do in this situation? Go forward with the surgery? Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long to have help with the decision.
The doctor called. The lab had made a mistake. One hormone was too low, but my cumulative levels were high enough. He told us to drive down quickly and catch the ultrasound technician before she left for the evening.
We dropped E. at my parents and raced to the office. We were rushed into the ultrasound room.
And soon we saw her. A little tiny peanut shape with that strong beating heart. She was, if I remember correctly, six weeks old.
I knew it! I had known it! She was there, and they had wanted to take her out! I was horrified at the thought.
It wasn’t easy to bring her forth into the world. I was on bedrest for almost the entire pregnancy. I had to take hormone pills that made me so sick I could hardly move. I spent months cooking meals I couldn’t eat.
A later ultrasound offered a bit of explanation: perhaps she was a twin, they said. One survived, they said. Or at least that is what it looks like, they said.
So here she is. Our little survivor. And three years old. Still our sunshine. Still such a blessing to everyone around her. Still the best thing that ever happened to her brother, though he will probably never admit it.
But sometimes, when I really think about it, I am amazed not just at who she is, but that she is here at all.
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