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Friday, July 6, 2012

Emma Lynn: The Gift I Got Twice

Fist pump. Power to the little people.

I joked with the ultrasound tech about how disappointed your dad was going to be. My regular OB told us she thought you were a boy.  Alas, at the 20 week anomaly scan at the high risk doctor, the tech confirmed that your dad was having his third and, I, my second G-I-R-L. Girl.

"Well, at least we don't have to buy new clothes!" GJ offered excitedly. 

She was there to keep me company.

"Well everything looks fine to me," the ultrasound tech said happily. "I'll just go get Dr. Campbell so he can review everything."

I couldn't have cared less if you were a boy or a girl, as long as you were healthy.  After going through your sister's hemangioma, I said one of about a million silent prayers that you would just be born perfect, with no obstacles.  No medical bills.

I also said a silent prayer that the hydronephrosis wouldn't happen again this pregnancy.  God, I hated being pregnant.  No reflection on you, of course.  My body just doesn't like being pregnant. You were quite the surprise, anyway, defying probability and presumably thousands of hours of research that went into Yaz.

That was ok.  I was excited that your sister would have a little buddy, just like my sister did.

Dr. Campbell walked in, his usual jovial self. He congratulated GJ and me and began busying himself with all the scans and computer recordings.  Even though I wasn't technically high risk this time around, I was glad Dr. Campbell would be delivering you. Your sister was born 5 weeks early, and Dr. Campbell made sure she got here safe and sound.

As GJ and the tech gossiped, I became acutely aware of an almost imperceptible change in Dr. Campbell.  A seriousness had overcome him.

"He's just being thorough," I thought to myself.

So I cracked some stupid joke and he laughed.  That's what your mom does when she's nervous or scared.

She tries to be funny.

"Can you come look at this?" he said to the tech, and they adopted a medical language between themselves that left mom and I suddenly deaf and blind.  Mere furniture in a room residing on some other planet, with some foreign race of people chattering away like we weren't even there.

"What's wrong?" I said with an edge.

Once your mom decides the jokes are over, she's all business, and nothing pisses her off more than people talking over her head.

"Do you see how this area is brighter than this area of the baby's chest?"


"And do you see these dark spots here?"


"I think what we are seeing here is CCAM Type II."

Dr. Campbell launched into an explanation about CCAM, or CPAM. Evidentially an entire lobe of your right lung was composed of cystic, abnormal tissue.  This abnormal lobe would continue to swell and grow the longer you were inside me, pressing on your heart, and potentially causing hydrops (heart failure).  Medical terminology and diagrams on prescription pads swirled around me.  Comforting hands rested on my back and knees. I wasn't crying yet, but I was rapt with attention making sure I understood every word the doctor was telling me.  Mostly, though, I was waiting.  Waiting for him to say the words that doctors always say:

"But it's ok..."

"There is a cure..."

"Don't worry, your baby is going to be just fine."

I waited for those words.

But they never came.

Because it was not ok.  There was no cure. And you weren't going to be fine.

Best case scenario, you would be born without breathing problems and have to have the offending lobe resected at two months old.  In another scenario, you would have to have surgery while you were still in my belly, with me acting as a life support machine.

Worst case scenario...

Well, the worst case scenario was too much for your mother to bear.

The tech left the room in tears.  Mommy fell apart in GJ's arms. 

"Everything will be alright," GJ choked out in a quiet, broken voice.

That's what mother's say when the world is falling apart, because that's our job.

Suddenly, the baby I didn't even know I wanted until I got it, was the baby I may never get to see grow up.

Mommy had to go to the doctor once sometimes twice a week for ultrasounds that saw your CCAM growing as predicted.  I had to drive to Cincinnati for a day of special tests and talks with surgeons who would be operating on you.  I had to fight with insurance companies who didn't want to pay for any of it.  We also found out in addition to the CCAM, you also had a hole in your heart.  I cursed and begged and negotiated and pleaded with God.

"Please don't let me fall in love with this baby and then take her away.  Just don't let her be born if she's going to suffer or you're going to take her away shortly after....

I won't live through it."

"Baby Emma Lynn is here after 4 good pushes! Lots of hair & looks just like Daddy. Mommy is enjoying not being able to feel her legs. 6lbs6oz" - Mommy's Facebook update 7/6/2011 9:24am

You came screaming into the world exactly a year ago today.  Four good pushes and boom! Here you were.  I'm not going to lie, kid, you were an uggggggly baby when you came out.  They thought maybe you were having trouble breathing, because your lips were blue, but turned out you were just beat up from coming into the world like a rugby player barreling through a wall of monster tires.

My little, surprise angel.  Safe and sound in my arms.

Don't worry. You cuted up a few days later. ;)

Post-op Thoracotomy and Lung Resection.
The first year of your sister's life whirred by a million miles an hour.  Not so with you.  So many doctors, so many tests.  Three months of colic.  Fighting with insurance companies. Having half of your right lung removed.  An extra long hospital stay.  Sleepless nights.  Levels of fear I didn't know my body could achieve. Bankruptcy.

But so much love.

So much love it takes my breath away.

Like most second children, you suffer from a serious lack of documentation.  I don't take nearly as many pictures and video of you.  We aren't doing a big party for you like we did for your sister.  Part of that is the strain on money and the strain of having two kiddos to chase instead of one.

But part of it isn't.

Part of it is that mommy guards you with her very life, and I am very reluctant to share you. You and your sister are both such gifts to this world and to me.

But I got to get the gift of you twice.

Not only did God deliver you into my arms on July 6th, 2011, but he delivered you into my arms again after your surgery.  I was so terrified.  Terrified of having a decorated nursery that would never be slept in again.  Terrified of having a phone full of pictures of a baby that was gone.  Terrified of having to tell your sister you were in heaven, and not coming home.

I was terrified to love you.

"Don't worry, Mommy. I'm ok."

But hopeless to do anything about it.

It's not possible not to fall head over heels for you.  I am so glad you are here for so many reasons, and I have so much to share with you and teach you.  Above all else, though, I want to teach you this:

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle" is a lie.

In fact, it's not even a verse in the Bible.

It implies that God gives us bad things, just not more of them than we can handle.  He doesn't.  God didn't give you a bad lung, or punch a hole in your heart.  That was something else's doing.

No, what God gave us was strength and comfort in the face of tremendous fear and pain.  He gave us perspective when it seemed like the world was coming apart at the seams.  He gave the physicians who healed you guidance and wisdom.

He gave us you.


Happy Birthday, Emma Lynn.  Mommy hopes she can give you a life that is worthy of the gift you are to us. 


Dawn said...

um. i'd bawl if I didn't need more coffee in order to have the energy to bawl sufficiently for this.

Ollie said...

*pretends to remove something from eye*
That was beautiful

Chris R. said...

Damn it, first Ken now you. Why people keep getting me all misty eyed?

Diana Recouvreur said...

That was truly touching. Happy belated birthday to your beautiful miracle!!

Enderandrew said...

This was a particularly powerful post. I can't imagine what that was like to go through.