You know the saying “a day late and a dollar short”? Well, this post is a day late, but no amount of money would cover how special it is!
Yesterday, my sweet Maggs turned 10.I honestly have no idea how that is even possible; but she has assured me numerous times that it is…for a FACT…true. I mean where did all of that time go?! When you are young ten years seems like an eternity! When you are a mom…it’s feels like a nanosecond! People always tell you not to blink…but we don’t usually listen. I shoulda listened!!!
Ten years ago today, I was 27 years old. I had just finished my first year of teaching; the Saturday before we had moved into our house that we built ourselves; and on this day both Maggie and I were fighting for our lives in the hospital.
It took Greg and I seven years to get pregnant with Maggie. We fought every battle you could fight trying to get pregnant and our infertility road was long and hard. After six years we decided to go to the specialist in Birmingham to see if we had a chance of ever having a baby “of our own”. Dr. Long and his staff gave us encouraging news and a plan to follow. Six months later we found out we were expecting our miracle.
I went to Birmingham once a week for fourteen weeks in the beginning of my pregnancy. I had lost two previous babies and we were not taking any chances with this one. Seeing that little blob grow each week was wonderful for me. I loved watching that baby grow and change and would show anyone breathing the sonogram pics after each appointment. Most folks would think it was a no brainer that I would want to know the gender of my sweet miracle since I had so many sonograms already right? Wrong!
When the time came to find out the sex of our child, I did not want to know what “it” was. There are so few real surprises in life and I really wanted to be surprised with this one. Greg on the other hand did not!
So, we made a deal that he could find out what we were having, but he could NOT tell a soul and ruin the surprise for me! Let me tell you…that man had a GREAT time keeping our families and friends guessing! He would tell one person it was a boy and the next it was a girl. They all thought they had it figured out…only they really didn’t! Our mothers HATED it! LOL!!
Anyway, I went in to be induced at 38 weeks and everyone was over the moon excited. I had to stay on blood thinners throughout my entire pregnancy so I had a few high risk problems that we needed to watch carefully during labor and delivery. After three failed epidurals, twenty-seven hours of labor, fifteen hours of my water being broken, and three and a half-hours of pushing I was begging for someone to knock me out and do a C-section. Thankfully, that’s just what Dr. Jim decided to do.
I was put under general anesthesia and Greg was not allowed to be in the operating room. The waiting room was filled with all of our worn out families and friends. Greg stood at the end of the hallway (in sight of our families) and waited for them to bring the baby out. Only, when they brought the baby out it was by a team of NICU doctors and nurses who were working to stabilize the baby as they ran past him in the hallway. There was no big celebration or excitement like we had planned. There was only quiet and a whole lot of tears.
Finally, after about ten minutes my mother asked Greg what the baby was (we had names for a boy and girl) so that they could pray for him/her by name. He quietly said it was a girl and so she told everyone to pray for Maggie…and they did.
That was the first of many prayers said on her behalf. We spent the next twenty-two days inside the hospital.
We didn’t know it at the time, but I had tested negative on my group B strep test and it was a false negative. So, those fifteen hours Maggie spent inside of me after my water had been broken she had been exposed to the virus. Group B is only a problem during labor and delivery. I spent the next five days fighting a 105 degree fever and talking out of my head while Maggie was hooked up to all kinds of machines and having spinal tap after spinal tap in order to check for meningitis. We both had a hard fight on our hands to just stay alive.
On the fifth day, my fever broke. That’s the day they finally told me that my baby was a girl.
I remember seeing her for the first time. One of the NICU nurses brought her to my room (secretly!) on her way to get yet another spinal tap. My mother had told them that I needed to see my baby. I was convinced that my baby had died and that everyone was lying to me. I cried buckets when I saw her sweet face for the first time.
Later that afternoon, they took me to the NICU in a wheelchair so that I could see her for a few minutes. That was the first of MANY trips to that NICU for me! Over the course of the next twenty-two days I only left the hospital twice. Once to go get a breast pump so I could give her breastmilk and once to go eat supper just to get out of those hospital walls. We stayed in the medical tower and I walked back and forth all day and night taking my milk to them for each feeding and just to see for myself that she was alive. I lived in fear every minute that she wasn’t going to make it.
The day we came home was happy and very, very scary! I was so not ready to be alone with this baby! I was so used to buzzers and beepers and people who knew way more than me about what to do if there was a problem. Yet, they all assured me that we would be fine…and they told me that I had didn’t have to go home, but I couldn’t stay there anymore! Somehow Greg and I managed to take that sweet baby home and keep her alive despite ourselves…and our fears!
I have said many prayers of thankfulness over the past ten years. Maggie didn’t have any lingering effects from being so sick (which is a MIRACLE). She is perfectly healthy and didn’t suffer any type of disabilities like they had told us she would. Even now, I am tearing up when I think about how blessed we are to have such a healthy, happy girl. Things could have been so very different, but God heard our prayers and for some reason He granted our requests. I am still extremely thankful that He did.
I never thought that we would celebrate Maggie’s tenth birthday without her daddy. The curves in life just can’t be seen or anticipated…and that’s a good thing. I see Greg in Maggie everyday. I know how very proud he was of her and how much he loved her. She knows it too. My one hope is that the nine years she did have with him will be enough for her to remember those things in the future.
She didn’t cry yesterday. She didn’t choose to be sad. She didn’t want to go to the cemetery. She just wanted to be a ten year old kid like every other ten year old kid.
So, she had a fun day filled with two performances of her 4th grade play, her 4th grade graduation reception, riding the golf-cart with her brothers (the 3G’s), fishing at the pond, eating Mexican food with our friends and family, and eating strawberry cake made just for her by her Aunt Diana. It was a good day to turn ten I would say!
We talked about her daddy a lot. She laughed when she remembered a funny thing he said and she smiled when she talked about the things he did with her on her birthday over the years. She grinned when she was asked about what he would think about her already being the big 1-0. Those smiles and grins said a whole lot on this first birthday without him here.
Looking back I can’t believe how fast those ten years flew by. I can’t believe how much our lives have changed and I can’t believe that God has allowed us to stay happy through all of it. That is a good thing to be able to say. Maggie is happy. Our family is happy. Our life is happy. We made the choice to be happy in December..and we have kept making that choice over and over again every day since. That doesn’t mean it always works out…but even on the not so happy days we know we can still choose to be happy again the next time.
Life passes by in the blink of an eye. Why spend it being miserable? Looking at my ten year old daughter’s face, I can see that choosing happy…even when it’s hard is the best choice for us. We don’t have it all figured out….we don’t have wonderful joy filled days every day. What we do have is a saving grace that surrounds us and reminds us that we can try again tomorrow. We know that we are loved and we know that we will see our loved ones again one day. Until then, we will enjoy as much of our time together as possible and look for joy and happiness over and over again on the special days as well as the ordinary days.
Like this day. These two girls have been friends since the beginning…and I hope they will always be friends who are happy to see each other no matter how long it’s been!