Mamas on Bedrest: My Little Lovely is 9 Today!

October 7th, 2011

My daughter is 9 years old today.

She awoke with an exuberance that has been bubbling up since we changed the calendar to October. This past Monday, she said to me, “Mama, it smells like October.”

“What does October smell like?” I asked.

“You know, like Fall and Halloween and….MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!

She has literally been bouncing around all week in anticipation of her birthday festivities. And she has declared the entire month of October her birthday.

It absolutely blows my mind to see this person, who is a mere 6 inches shorter than me (but I’m only 5 ft tall so…),  who has ever increasing curiosity about my make up and my jewelry, who is into all things girlie, pink and frilly and will who be a junior cheerleader tonight with a local high school squad emerge from the tiny 5lb 3 oz preemie who struggled to breathe at birth.

My daughter came into this world emergently and insistently on October 7th, 2002 at 8:03pm, 3 weeks and just under 4 hours shy of her due date. Hers was my most difficult pregnancy and one that on more than one occasion I feared wouldn’t survive. I spotted at about 18 weeks and we thought that I was miscarrying. I had “uterine irritability/preterm labor” around 20 weeks-then again at about 22 weeks and again at about 26 weeks. We batted around the idea of bed rest, but each time we got to that point, my daughter would settle down. It was so like her to want to do things in her own way; flopping around a bit as if searching for the exit, but then staying put. Not much has changed.

I am amazed at the bright-eyed girl who looks back at me with the same fixed gaze that she gave me the first time that I held her in the NICU. She looked at me then as if to say, “Oh, it’s you. Good to see you.” I am also amazed at  the determination I see reflected back at me when we’re “locking horns”. She holds her ground and doesn’t back down to me or her father. Oh, she obeys what we say, but as she once told me, “Ya know Ma, when I’m older and all grown up, I’m not going to do this!” Of that I have no doubt. She knows what she wants and I am certain that she will get it!

It continues to be my joy and my honor to watch her grow and mature. (Some days more than others!) Watching her devour a burger and fries when she used to stop breathing when she first started nursing heartens me. To watch her tear out after her brother after all the nights I sat up giving her round the clock breathing treatments to ease her breathing and open her airways fills me with joy. To see her wearing one of my t-shirts and it only hanging just a little bit makes me smile because I remember how hard we worked (and how much I fretted) to get her to gain weight and grow for the first 2 years of her life.

I know now that my daughter never had (and doesn’t have) any doubt that she would (will) make it.  It’s always been me who has doubted and believed all the negative news the doctors told me. When the neonatologist suggested that we insert a feeding tube down her nose to give her “an adequate amount of food”, my daughter gave him the same steely gaze she often gives me when she adamantly refuses to do something. Then she drank 40 cc of breast milk her very next feeding. “Take that up your nose!” she seemed to say to the neonatologist. And she was discharged 3 days later.

My daughter never ceases to amaze me and she most certainly inspires me. Happy Birthday My Little Lovely!

Bedrest Veterans, please share your stories of triumph. Mamas on Bedrest need to hear these stories and see our children to know that “good outcomes” really do happen. Share your stories below and give your support. Your story may be just what another mama needs to hold on for another day. Thank you!!

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