(Dear God, please note this is no ta challenge. We're cool with this; no need to try and top it!)
As I wrote before my uncle passed away on April first. I was able to fly in for his memorial, see family and reconnect, all while celebrating a man who loved and lived life to the fullest.
48 hours after getting home, I got a phone call that someone we love was on hospital bed rest. She was dilating much too soon and the doctors were working hard to keep the baby in. The baby, now nicknamed Miss Who, had other plans and she was born in the wee hours of April 13. (Yes, she shares a birthday with Joseph!) Once again, I found myself on a plane and by noon, I was in her town, visiting her family. By two, I was allowed to see the baby and being one of the first people to see little Miss Who on her birthday will forever be one of my most cherished memories.
I spent most of April traveling, celebrating both Cole and Joseph's birthdays from afar. I know they missed me but I also know they understood why I had to leave. Joseph was thrilled Miss Who shares his birthday, although he knows the complications of prematurity all too well. When I told him the baby was born, joy fitted over his face, but it was soon followed by tears when he remembered when the baby was due.
It is because of this knowledge that I did this one Sunday:
We have walked in the March of Dimes March for Babies every year since 2009. The first year, we walked alone. The second year, we were surrounded by friends from our NICU, with our new little son in tow (Cole). This year, I just took the littles, as the older ones were at a camp out but it was still meaningful and special. We not only walked for George but for Miss Who.
In 2009, George was only six months old. I felt like we half didn't belong, as he was big and doing so well. I was still so terrified of the future, unable to hope that my son would ever be as strong as the kids who ran around wearing shirts that proudly proclaimed "I was a 24 weeker!" This year, though, I looked for those kids. I sought out the shirts, and I watched them, buoyed by the hope and knowledge that one day, Miss Who will be among those babies running around.
Yes, hope and knowledge. From the day she was born, I have believed that she will kick prematurity in the butt and take names. This isn't a native belief; I know the statistics and stories all too well. This comes from a belief in my gut, the feeling of peace that washed over me when I learned of her arrival, the joy I saw when I looked at her in her bed.
And the knowledge, too, of having four years of this under my belt. I remember where George was 2 years ago and I see where he is now. I remember two years ago, when we walked along Baby Boulevard and he could have cared less about his sign. I think back to Sunday, when we found his picture and how he kept saying, "That's me! That's me!"
|Right below his sign (photo credit: friend)|
When I was at the walk, I had sudden, fleeting vision of a little toddler, a toddler with pudgy legs, big brown eyes and soft brown curls, wearing a purple shirt, standing between her parents under the banner. I couldn't help but be thankful that, due to research on the part of the March of Dimes, Miss Who has an awesome chance at life. Like George, she is one in 8:
|photo credit: March of Dimes|
and like George, she will be awesome.