"Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born, I loved you. Before you were an hour, I would die for you. This is the miracle of love."
~ Maureen Hawkins
~ Maureen Hawkins
Today you are five. I honestly canNOT believe I just wrote those very words. FIVE! I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around this event... this milestone... this prognosis-defying celebration! Almost ten years ago, I stood neurologists' offices in Wichita, then Kansas City, then Chicago, and each time I was disappointed and heartbroken further with the words spoken about your older sister, Claire, and her future on this earth. Horrific things were said to your Daddy & I such as, "There is no cognitive processing going on whatsoever" and "This EEG is unlike any I've EVER seen..." and "She is blind" and "Your daughter is basically starving to death" and "You need to set up your child's DNR because she likely will not live to be one year old." I could go on and on, but I really hate to rehash the past. I'm all about the here and now, thanks to you (and Claire), sweet Birthday Girl.
Fast forward a few years... We always knew we wanted to have three children, but honestly, the thought of "risking it" once again seemed awfully scary initially. We'd seen many doctors, worried about Claire's every seizure/reflux episode/sniffle for her first year or two of life, wondered if each illness was "the beginning of the end," and tried to piece life back together those first few years after her birth. Having baby #3 was hardly on our radar. We continued with genetic testing, praying that something would come to be over the next few years. It didn't. At some point, we had to take a leap of faith, and baby, we did. Shortly after Claire's 4th birthday, we found out we were expecting you. We were SO happy, SO scared, SO overjoyed, SO nervous. Not an hour passed where I didn't pray to God that you would be "OK." I so needed to "heal," to have a typical pregnancy, to have a "normal" birth experience again, to breastfeed you. It HAD to be OK. We knew we had a 75% chance of that.
We had too-many-sonograms-to-count during the first half of the pregnancy, each one more promising than the last. At one point, you even showed us your hand with your thumb OUT, which to us signified you were OK since Claire's thumbs had ALWAYS been tucked tightly in her fists. We watched your movement, checking for ANY spasticity. We studied your forehead, researched normal head circumferences, memorized "the numbers" so when we went for the sonograms we'd know exactly if things were lagging AT ALL before we were even told. At 22 weeks, we saw your head measurements stall... they were still within "normal limits" (just 2 weeks behind). We panicked, prayed, cried, promised years off our own lives if all could be OK with your brain. Microcephaly was confirmed at 26 weeks, and the next 48 hours were some of the most difficult of our lives.
|34 weeks in utero ~ Yes, you even "got it & goppled" in utero, Mrs. Pocket!|
|9 days before you were born|
|5 days before your birth, with big sister-to-be, Claire|
|My Mom ~ "Gran" ~ SO glad she was there with me during labor & your birth!!!|
|My Dad ~ "Papa Jack" or "Poppy" only to you!|
|Scott's parents ~ "Grandma & Grandpa" Hartley|
|My sister ~ "Aunt Jill"|
|Cal with Scott's brother & his family ~ Uncle "Slug" Brett, Aunt Lynda, & Cousin Alicia|
|Cal & Claire with my sister's daughters/my nieces ~ Cousins Christina, Maranda & Elisabeth|
|Gran & Lola|
|Grandma & Lola (you were named after Grandma Cheryl's Mother!)|
|Grandpa & Lola ~ One of my favorite pictures of you as a baby!|
|My Grandparents ~ "GG & G-Pa" ~ You look like a little soldier in this picture!|
|You in the special Hartley family crib, passed down from generation to generation|
|You were -- and will always be! -- EVERYTHING I hoped and dreamed for, Lola.|
|I am pretty sure your head is like 1/8 the size of your Daddy's head!!! -12 standard deviations compared to +4 standard deviations = MIND-BLOWING!|
|Claire was SO proud of you. She was an instant "middle child," somehow knowing you'd need my attention more than she did. She was SO patient.|
|Claire even helped "babysit" when she could!!!|
Your life itself is so much more valuable and important and full than most people give you credit for. I wish that everyone could know you as I know you... and love you as *I* love you. I am so damn lucky to call you my daughter.
I love you more than you will ever know, Polly Ann... you are my heart.
Happy 5th Birthday, Lola. I am SO proud of you.