Exactly eight years, one hour, and eleven minutes ago today, I had my first baby. A lovely little girl. Her daddy told me we had brought a daughter into the world. I was euphoric after 15 hours of labor and some really heavy duty pain relievers. I was so euphoric, in fact, that I believed the RN (one of four) who told me that my baby was fine and would be with me in 6-12 hours. I was so euphoric that I believed them when they said it was absolutely normal to take her away in an enclosed incubator. I believed them when they said it was normal to have four nurses and two doctors in the room. I believed them the whole time I inhaled my meal–ham sandwich, juice, milk, fruit. I could not comprehend why Tony was so glad she wasn’t on oxygen. . .the nurse said she was fine. . .but she wasn’t.
She was sick–very sick–and were it not for modern technology, she would have died.
She didn’t though. She is asleep on her periwinkle blue, hot pink, lime green, and lemon yellow paisley sheets in her bed right this second. Ten of her friends and her brother were here tonight to celebrate the fact that she, aside from a benign Still’s murmur and a scar atop her head from the internal monitor, bears not one mark from the 6 days she spent in the NICU waiting to be able to breathe, suck, and swallow at the same time. She turned 8 years old today. . .and all she knows of those first harrowing days are the few stories we’ve told her.
I, on the other hand, have some wrinkles, gray hairs, and memories that cause me to feel lots of emotions all at one time when they prance through my conscious train of thought. The scent of that icky red soap I had to scrub with every time I went to see her–the way she smelled–rocking her and singing to her–the first time she was able to nurse after 6 days of a crevage tube down her throat–Nurse Gloria and Nurse Jackie–the morning I woke up ready to hurt anyone that stuck my baby with anything else–the night I walked in at midnight to find the pediatrician in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt hovering over her, reading her chart, trying to figure out why she wasn’t getting well faster. . .she had come back to the hospital to check on Victoria because she couldn’t sleep.
This little girl is an amazement. She is glorious and beautiful and loud and energetic and bossy and kind and smart and creative. She loves pink and red and anything colored in rainbow order. She loves ANY kind of art project. She is scared of puppies and kittens but will hold a snake or a crab on the beach. She loves school. She is a whiz at math and can read at least two grade levels above her age. She is a sweet friend. She wants everyone to belong. She thinks dessert is a necessity. She talks A LOT. She tells her brother her “ideas” and “plans” causing him to exclaim, “I can’t take it ANY MO, Vitoya!!!!” She is thoughtful and loving.
Above all she is a blessing. Because she is so healthy and vibrant and active, it is hard to recall that she came close to not being at all. But she is here–and we are blessed to see her grow. I called her a little girl. . .she’s really getting to be a big girl. She is not a baby anymore–but she does still look like her baby self when she is asleep.
Sometimes I take her for granted. I don’t always give her all the attention she wants or needs. The days slip by. I try to hold onto them–but they’re gone like pearls from a string. So I sneak into her room at night and kiss her cheek–and when I do, she sucks her lip like she did when she was small. I pray over her as she dreams. I beg God to keep her in His care all the days of her life. She is my angel girl. And, today, she is eight years old.