Last weekend we celebrated Olivia’s tenth birthday.
I watched in awe as this girl, this sweet, sassy child ran around like a loon, ate cupcakes, opened presents and danced like no one was watching.
I watched her do all these things while remembering her first few minutes of life, when she was so floppy and gray, when three nurses worked on her to get her to breathe. I remember those first few hours when she lay under a cylinder that pumped oxygen into the air around her head to keep her breathing.
I remembered going to sleep the night she was born knowing she was over sixty miles away in another hospital, her daddy with her (he drove to Fort Wayne after she was loaded into the ambulance that took her away from me and he actually beat the ambulance to the new hospital.)
I remember waking up the next morning and calling Julie to tell her about Olivia’s trip to the NICU, not even thinking about the fact that my call was probably a major trigger for Julie.
I remember waiting impatiently for my doctor to come and release me from the hospital where I’d delivered Olivia sixteen hours previously so I could go be with her.
I remember Tom greeting me and my mom and Alyssa at the new hospital, showing us how to check in, wash our hands and then leading us to O’s isolette.
She’d already kicked out of the swaddle the nurses had attempted. Tom introduced me to Liv’s nurse and she was lovely. She told me kindly that my girl was spunky and would not stay in a swaddle for anything. “That’s a good thing,” she informed me. “It shows fight. We like that.”
Oh my goodness, yes did Olivia have fight. She still has it.
As the memories faded and I focused on my sweet girl celebrating her tenth birthday, I found myself overwhelmed by my love for her.
I love this girl so much that it hurts sometimes. But watching her, still awash with memories of her first hours and days, I realized that I don’t love her because of her rough start or in spite of it. I don’t love her because of her syndrome or in spite of it.
I love her because of who she is. Sure, her first hours and days of life helped shape the person she is. Sure, 5p- syndrome is a part of who she is but neither of those things define her any more than the fact that she has blue eyes defines her.
Olivia can be such a weirdo and yet…I love her both because of that and in spite of it.
As we venture further into this life and further away from Olivia’s first hours and days (and yes, even her first months because those were hard too) I see this girl for who she is, not how she started, not based on a chromosome count.
I see a girl with a startling sense of humor. Her laugh is contagious and she gets the subtleties of sarcasm that some people twice her age might miss. She can start to tell a funny story and start laughing so hard at her own rendition of the story that you find yourself laughing simply because she’s laughing too hard to even tell the story.
She tries so hard. She wants so badly to be ‘normal’ and to learn all the things that her peers are learning and yet…she sometimes gives me a look during homework that tells me she knows…she freaking KNOWS this stuff isn’t important and she is forcing herself to just muddle through it because it’s expected of her.
Her joy is infectious. She loves life. She loves to be pretty and fancy and will accessorize you to within an inch of your life if you let her. She has amazing hair (look how far we’ve come on that subject!) and yet loves to wear wigs because they’re different and she just feels like they’re one more accessory. Oh, and because it annoys the crap out of her sister when she wears them, which is always a plus when you’re ten and your sister is almost fourteen.
The first ten years of Olivia’s life were a rollercoaster but we had so many more ups than downs and I feel so incredibly lucky to be along for the ride with this girl. If the theory that some believe is true, if we choose our life before we’re even born, I am so, SO grateful that Olivia chose me to be a passenger in the car that she’s driving along the road of life.
Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing Olivia's story with us! Happy birthday to Olivia!
Happy Birthday to Olivia! A beautiful way to describe a mother's unconditional love. Its amazing how much our hearts swell when they do seemingly "normal" things that all other kids do, but it means so much to us because we recognize just how amazing they are.
Love and Hugs
I love this post! It sounds like she had a wonderful day:) While all birthdays are special, 10 is one of those milestone ones, double digits. I'm reflecting right along with you.
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