Guys…..I have a 16 year old!!!
The truth is…she was a “surprise” as they like to say. An unexpected surprise that resulted as one romantic trip to Italy with Greg. TMI? We always joked that she was the souvenir that just keeps on giving-or taking depending how you look at it! haha! We certainly weren’t expecting to start our family so soon, I wasn’t quite finished with college just yet and we had a few other goals we wanted to crush before that was even a thought…but yet, here she was! SURPRISE!
There was a time that I never thought I would see this day-the big ONE SIX-or any other major milestone in her life.
The day she was born, weighing in at just a little over ONE pound was one of the most exciting and terrifying days of my entire life. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the doctors, nurses and life flight, I was calm. The sounds of monitors beeping, sneakers squeaking as they moved quickly in the delivery room and the panic I could hear in the doctors voice-it still hadn’t registered. I knew I was about to give birth to “a very small baby”, as they kept referring to her, but it was like my mind and body refused to believe it was going to be bad. Call it denial, I’m not sure, but even as the doctors, nurses and life flight NICU team looked me in the face and tried to-in the most professional way- warm me that my child was VERY VERY SMALL and she needed A LOT of help to stay alive…I was in this denial that it could be fatal and I never for one minute thought something bad might have happened.
I remember family began filtering into my room in this somber silence-everyone aware of the severity of the situation and I remember smiling and telling everyone hello. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they didn’t think I knew…that maybe someone didn’t quite get thru to me that my baby’s life was on the line and that at any given moment she could die. But it was like I never even entertained that thought, it was like I “just knew” it was going to ok. Because of the circumstances, she had to be delivered at one hospital and have her life flighted to another roughly 60 miles away because there just wasn’t enough time to fly me there to deliver ….they needed to get her out RIGHT NOW. The 3 days I was required to stay in the hospital before being able to travel an hour away to see her felt like eternity, I just wanted so badly to hold my baby.
My Mom and Greg would drive down every day while I was in the hospital to take video and photos just to drive back to me later that night to show me everything. This was during the pre-Factime days! When I was finally able to escape my hospital room and was set free to make my trip to Pittsburgh, Greg tried to warn me the entire drive. Jen, she’s very small. Jen, you won’t be able to hold her. Jen, only two people are allowed in the room. Jen, you can only be in there for so long. Jen, she’s not going to be able to cry. Even then, it never dawned on me how sever it was…I was still in denial. Until, I scrubbed in for the very first time and was just a few feet away from her incubator and saw her….REALLY saw her for the first time. I burst into to hears. I had eaten all my vegetables, gone to all of my doctors visits, read all the books…….I did all the things right…yet there she was in an incubator needing help to live.
She needed help breathing, she had a feeding tube and her skin was so frail and veins so small that they couldn’t put an IV in her arm. Instead, they shaved her head and inserted it there….let me tell ya, it took FOREVER for that hair to grow back. I couldn’t touch or hold her for weeks because they were afraid her skin might rip. Skin to skin contact was all I wanted…but it was too dangerous. We would call every single morning for 3 months just to find out how many ounces she had gained over night. Even a 1/2 of an ounce was reason for celebration. We made hundreds of trips to the NICU and eventually I got to hold her.
The next several weeks and months were a lot of waiting games. Waiting to hold her, waiting for test results, waiting for her to gain weight, waiting for her to come home.
As you all know…she’s healthy as can be today. We dodged a lot of bullets and that circumstance has forever changed the trajectory of our lives. It changes how you look at life, makes you appreciate your health and really changes the way you parent. Oh…you broke your leg? Well, you’re alive so suck it up and get over it! haha! And man,…..modern medicine is amazing.
She has grown into such an amazing woman. She’s smart, she’s funny and she’s pretty dang gorgeous if you ask me! She made me a Mama and I am so proud of her, more than she might ever know!
She’s made our lives much more interesting ever since the day she burst into this world unexpectedly. I have a feeling she’s not done surprising us just yet!! <3
Happy Birthday Mal Mal….You have made our lives so much more rich by being in them!