My phone recently broke causing me to sift through all the files and the pictures. As I was just about done deciding what I needed to keep and what was no longer needed; I paused for a moment on a particular picture. It was the very first picture of Lydia. I noticed tears streaming down my face. They were different tears though, they were no longer tears of pain and sorrow but rather happy tears; tears of surviving. It confirmed for me that I had started a new chapter. But for a moment I allowed myself to just take a small journey back to something that changed me to be the person I am today.
I remember that picture as if it were happening today. There were at least twenty five pairs of eyes looking at me in the delivery room. There were surgery teams for me, doctors galore for this little girl we were about to meet and many nurses. There were so many people that my husband did not know where he should stand without being in some one's way. I felt her coming out and I heard her scream. She was not placed on my chest but rushed by doctors to be looked at and examined. The anticipation I remember feeling to just see my precious girl was almost painful. The ache in my arms were piercing because I could hear her scream and yet not feel her, not even see her face.
I remember sternly telling the doctor that I was going to hold her before she left that room. They did not rattle off her stats, but they looked over her color and her test scores. They finally handed her to me. This wet screaming ball of love. Once placed in my arms, she instantly stopped screaming. That would be a memory, a moment that I would need, that I would take with me for the moments, days, weeks, and months ahead. She knew her mommy and loved being in her arms. After seconds she was stripped from my hands and left the room with the entourage of people following behind.
My in-laws made their entrance into my room only seven short minutes after she was born and there was no sign of a baby, there were no doctors or nurses. There was one lonely mom trying to figure out if her baby was OK, trying to figure out how much she weighed, how long she was. The only sign of a baby was my gushy stomach. My eyes were filled with tears and my fears were great. I was lonely and ached for my daughter. Such as short time I was able to hold her and the future for her I was unsure of, I needed her...NOW!
As soon as I was placed in my new room I insisted that I be taken to the NICU to see my daughter. After a quick examination they said I could go for a couple of moments to see my daughter. The nurses pushed me through door after door, we rode the elevator to different floors, and I was pushed through winding hallway after winding hallway. It seem to take FOREVER. We were finally there and I had to check in to a new department. I was impatiently answering questions just pushing to get to see my daughter, my arms were aching. We approached the room and I wanted to leap to see her. As I started to move forward from my wheelchair, blood gushed every where. I was worried for my baby, what was happening? Where was the blood coming from? Was she OK? I was worried and confused.
As people rushed me through those hallways, on those elevators, down the winding hallways that now seemed like they were closing in on me, I could not understand that it was me who was in trouble and not my sweet daughter. This commotion was for me. My arms sat aching for a child who lay sleeping in her crib with wires and cords and such. No mommy to comfort her. The fuss was about her mommy who was bleeding profusely and doctors and nurses were being paged to my room, blood was being ordered and I was still confused aching for my daughter.
They placed me in my bed and all I could see is my brand new slippers I had picked out perfectly for this grand occasion were soaked in blood. It took them several hours to get me stable. Those were hours that my baby lay alone with no mommy. I could not go see her for several hours after that as I had to be closely monitored to make sure I was OK. Oh how my arms ached. But I did have one brief moment that would help carry me through, a moment that she was in my arms and knew that I was her mommy. One brief moment that mommy was able to comfort her and make it all OK.
How did we get here, how did this happen? How were we going to make it through. I still cannot comprehend some of the things Lydia had to go through, some of the things we saw and had to endure. However, I smile and know that God was holding us. This was all part of His divine plan. We trusted Him and knew that no matter what happened, we would try to bring honor and glory to Him. He is our rock and I never knew it until we faced trials of this splendor.
To be honest, I think that we asked several times how this happened. And mostly it was not how did Down syndrome happen? It was more like how did it happen that she was so sick, that she needed so many surgeries, that our family had to be ripped apart, that we had to watch our daughter suffer like this. How did it happen?
I think back to some of those very dark days, as she lay in a hospital bed and I was unable to hold her, as doctors scurried about the room trying to save her, we heard her heartbeat flat lining, and just watched; praying that this was not God's plan for her to leave us. We have watch her meet milestones we never thought were possible, we watched her doctors amazed with her progress and tried to give her the world. We have seen our other girls show love and compassion that adults don't have and we have watched them struggle as we adjust to a life that we never could have imagined.
And now I can say that I look on that with pride and a smile. I can say that we have grown, that we have changed, we are stronger because of all of those trials. While at times they still get me down, at times I feel like I can't believe that we went through all that we have, at times I still am waiting for the next major medical crises to hit But I have realized we have survived, we have been taught, we have learned the hard way in many aspects and I would not trade any of that!
Last night I looked at my two year old, she was sitting on her potty wiping herself. She is not potty trained, no we are just starting that process. But she is liking to sit on the potty, she loves to wipe herself too! She walked over to the sink and climbed up on her stool. She held her hands out to wait for the water so she could wash them. She pointed towards the soap with a grunt and waited until I placed soap in her hands. After she was done she pointed at the towel and she dried her hands herself. She grabbed her toothbrush and brushed her teeth. When she was done she climbed down and went to her mat where she attempted to put her PJs on.
How did this happen? When did this happen?
Last night we picked her up from Puggles to be told that she did well. We were told that she was keeping up with the other kids. While she is not walking all of the time, she was looking at the other kids and trying to do what they were doing. She was stacking blocks with them and pulling stickers off to put on her chart. She is capable and determined to do what the other kids her age are doing.
How did this happen? When did this happen?
It appears that I have learned when I turned my head for a second she grew up. That is not my frail little child that looks like she could pass for twelve months. That is not my child who is struggling to breathe and in so much pain. No, at one point in the last three days someone replaced my little child with this independent big girl. Her cheeks are full and look so healthy, her eyes twinkle with determination and delight. She is trying so very hard and soaking up everything around her. You show her something once and she has it accomplished. She wants to do what her sisters are doing and try the things her peers are doing.
Last night at dinner the girls were signing and she picked up five new signs. She kept doing them and was using them in the proper context. How did this happen? When did this happen? I only turned my head for a moment and she is all grown up.
The pride and smiles, the feelings of accomplishment; I sometimes need to remind myself that we prayed for this moment. I need remind myself that there were times we never thought that this was possible. We prepared ourselves that we may never see this moment. And not necessarily because of Down syndrome, but because of the medical issues, we were not sure what to expect with her. Sometimes I don't want to give her the exposure and distance that she needs. I want to still hold her as if I was trying to make up time we missed when she was younger.
She has shown me that she is ready. While we are still cautious because of the many risks she carries, I am trying not to look at her size and only concentrate on what she is proving to me she can do. I get wrapped up in what a little peanut she is and forget how capable she is. She is yelling at me, "Mom it is OK, I have this. Let me spread my wings and fly."
I don't know when it happened, but I woke up and have a whole different child. But I also woke up a different person and I am stronger. I no longer look back on her past, as hard as it is and cry with sadness, I cry with accomplishment knowing those hard trials have made these moments so much sweeter. I relish in the moments and just soak it in. I smile and am filled with pure joy as I watch her climb on that stool and grab her toothbrush.
I have been completely blessed by these milestones. Many of them are ones that I completely missed with my other girls. But as I have learned, I need to stop and smell the roses. I need to relish at every moment and every accomplishment all of my girls teach me each moment. By doing so, I don't have to stop and ask myself how did this happen? I know how it happened because I was enjoying it right along with them!
Thanks Lydia for the many lessons you not only teach me but every one else. I will continue to cheer you on and watch all of these accomplishments. I will try not to hold you back and allow you to be the independent girl that God has created you to be. Soar high and mommy will always be behind you cheering you on. Thanks for enduring the pain and suffering you had to in order to teach mommy about herself, her faith, God, and the important things. You are a blessing and I love you so much!