Today is my daughter’s 10th birthday. She’s an amazing child. It’s hard to gather all of the moments which have made her the girl she is today, but I’m reminded of the way she was a decade ago, in the hospital, literally covered in bubble wrap. She’s so dear to me, that I think my heart needs bubble wrap, too, as I watch her growing up as someone I admire.
She was born premature, by an emergency C-section. No breathing classes prepare you for that. One minute I was sitting with her mom in hospital, the next, the doctor used words like “concerned” and “worried”. Yes, doc, me too. The steroids had been administered to develop her lungs, which would have been the size of matchboxes, but it had become impossible to stop the on-again, off-again contractions.
I guess I tried not to show fear as I entered the operating theatre, but my hands were shaking as I tried to take pictures. After what seemed like a violent half-an-hour (had I really just been relaxing and laughing an hour previously?) she was plucked out of her home of the past few months. She was the smallest baby I had ever seen; little curved legs skinnier than the KFC drumsticks I’d occasionally resorted to feeding her older brother while her mom was in hospital. Her perfectly formed head was the size of a tennis ball. It was blueish.Breathebreathebreathe
, I demanded, watching the urgency with which three separate doctors performed tests to make sure she was alive. None of the goofy grinning I’d had with my firstborn- the joyful awe of holding a newborn.
I was still trembling when I made my way up to the hospital nursery, stammering as I asked the nurses why she was covered in bubble wrap. Not in an incubator, but lying on a mat, looking like a parcel ready to be sent to a relative. Insulation, apparently.
Having been through the trauma of miscarriages, I was terrified that I’d lose her. Some parents have a wonderful experience of pregnancy and birth, but I loathe both. Can’t even watch staged births on TV. For me, pregnancy is several months of inward pleading that the baby will survive, and a sense of feeling utterly helpless.
And now she’s defied the doctors who suggested that she’d always be tiny, and have probable health problems. She’s the girl always surrounded by friends at school, big enough to greet them with generous hugs. She giggles uncontrollably sometimes, and plays with words as if they are jigsaw pieces. Her smile, her eyes, can cause me to choke up with tears and pride.
My experience isn’t yours, and I hope that if you are expecting (or hoping to fall pregnant) that your pregnancies are without incident. Dull, even, in a good way.
Why should this be in a newsletter? Well, each child, to me, has been the best news of my life so far, and it’s good to reflect on where they come from, and how each child has changed my life, irrevocably.
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