Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to an 8 year old

We celebrated Emily's 8th birthday today with an awesome party at the local bowling and arcade dive. The kids had a blast, and the adults were happy it was an "all-inclusive party" (no buying paper products, a cake, or anything really, just show up with the kids).

I am taken back to the day she was born. I had gone into the hospital for a routine non-stress test (which Emily royally failed). I was told I would be admitted because, at 32 weeks, she needed at least another week of incubation, and that they were immediately admitting me to the hospital. I had left my other two kids (then 3 and 1) with my mother. My husband was at work. As the day progressed, I talked to friends and told them what the scoop was. One good friend even had some flowers sent to keep me company during the anticipated week-long stay (little did she know I'd be delivering that night; she later sent another bouquet congratulating us on our new little girl). My friend Phoebe was going to be there at the delivery, but things moved too quickly. She came about 10:30 p.m. and kept me company while my husband tended to the baby in the special care nursery. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Finally, around 5:00 p.m., I had a special ultrasound called a bio-physical profile. To pass, you need to score 6/8. Emily got a 1/8. Not good. After the doctor decided that a c-section was in order, my husband arrived and we watched the Australians win some swimming medals in the Sydney (summer) Olympics while a neonatologist came in and told us about what could be wrong with a baby born this early (scary stuff).

At 8:37 p.m., with a lot of worry and what seemed to be a zillion people in the OR, Emily was born screaming at the top of her lungs. She weighed 4 pounds, 4 ounces. She did extremely well for a baby of her gestational age. Thank God she was a girl and that I had had steroid shots to enhance her lung development. When I saw her briefly post-op en route to my room, she had a tube in her nose and an IV in her head.

After a few weeks in the Level 2 NICU (she needed to learn to feed, to grow, and to keep her body temperature up), she came home. (During this time, my birthday came and my good friends took me out to dinner, I think wanting to preserve some normalcy, and my best friend at the time and I then made a late night visit to the hospital).

Em was tiny, and we had two other kids to care for. Having a c-section was a new experience for me; I certainly did not follow the doctor's instructions. It was not practical not to drive or climb stairs. So many people helped us out (this in addition to the dozen who sent or brought flowers, I swear people don't know "what" to do when you have a preemie). Both mom and dad were utterly exhausted and our friends placed bets whether we would "make it" to the new year.

Alas, we did, and we have a beautiful daughter. Happy Birthday my beautiful Emily Elizabeth (and, no, we did not name her after Clifford's friend).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to an 11 year old

Today, we celebrated J's 11th birthday (it's actually on 9/11) in "cat-themed style". It was really nice that the people here today have cared about J for many years, this party was not someone else's where her presence was an after-thought, where guests didn't bring her so much as a card. Most importantly, it was a family event where her siblings were included. They all love her. Her extended family was invited. But, you know what, today our friends definitely made her forget about others' absences.

We had a room of people who really care and love her, and who have actively supported our family for years. They are the ones who bothered to care when things started getting rocky. They are not fairweather friends or family. They are the real deal; the ones who have never ever let the kids (or me) down. Happy Birthday, my beautiful daughter. It was wonderful to see you smile all day. (And a huge thank you to the many friends from near and far who sent birthday cards).