My darling girl, 364 days and 23 hours ago, I was trying desperately to go to sleep. And as anyone who has ever stayed in the hospital for more than a day can tell you, that feat is nearly impossible. But as the clock crept past midnight, my usual discomfort began to change and morph into something unfamiliar and more difficult. I have never known such pain. My body seemed to lengthen. My mind tried to convince me that from the crown of my head to my toes, I had expanded a mile. I never got wide, barely putting on weight with your small body. But the pain seem too huge and too great to be held by my 66 inches, and if I we're to look down, I would not be able to see my toes, so far away with so much aching and ripping and thrashing between.
I would never have believed someone so small and so perfect and so helpless could cause so much pain and fear and anxiety and terror. But you did. You came into this world quickly and ferociously. Too quick for medicine and drugs and deep breaths and quiet, numb entrances. I gnashed my teeth and screamed out at the woman next to me telling me to be quiet. I couldn't understand her words telling me to direct my screams to my belly and push push push. Screaming didn't help, she said. Screaming distracts the body, she said. I never went to a class or read a book or a website or talked to another woman who had made it out of this room alive. I feared I wouldn't as I screamed and cried and yelled anyway in the face of the woman chiding me for my noise.
But then it was finished. Your tiny lungs, smaller than the size of a not-yet inflated balloon let out a cry I can still hear. And the fifteen doctors rushed around you and put a tiny hat on your head full of hair and a mask on your mouth to help those too-small lungs, setting you gently but swiftly into a plastic box you would call home for the next two and half months. But before they took you, before they wheeled you away to make sure your brain and your eyes and your heart and your lungs were safe and sound because my body couldn't keep you anymore, they let us hold your hand. And you reached up. You stretched high with your translucent skin and your needle-thin fingers and you grasped ours. You clutched my finger with your whole hand and you held tight. You let me know that it was ok. You let me know that you would be kept safe and to not be upset I couldn't hold you inside of me anymore. You let me know you knew me. You let me know you would fight and fight hard.
My darling girl, you are destined for greatness. You have already overcome the hardest part, and beaten the toughest odds. Every. Single. Day. You show up and give me the million reasons to do the same. When the cards are stacked against us and things can sometimes seem really really hard, you still show up.
It's been a hell of a year. A stranger asked me the other day how old you were. I answered, a year next Thursday. They congratulated me for surviving the first year. I smiled.
We survived, baby girl.
We made it.
Tomorrow we celebrate you.
Tomorrow we remember the day the earth shook.
Tomorrow marks a year since the first time you changed everything.