I will never forget the first moment that I boldly communicated that my calling in life was to be a mother. During a bit of downtime in a college creating writing class, the professor asked us – a motley crew of students from various programs and majors – to share what we hoped to be after college.
I’m headed to law school…
Public policy for the federal government…
Journalist here in D.C….
I want to be a mom.
Of course, I wanted to be many other things as well: a teacher, a writer, a world traveler, a wife. But in that moment when asked to choose one word to describe my future, the single word that came to my mind was mother.
I took for granted in those naive days that someday I would be a mom, but nine years and six months into this parenting journey, I’ve never once taken for granted that my kids are still with me on this earth, happy, healthy. Based solely on those first pages of Emma’s story, it was difficult to guess what twists and turns would follow…
There are no cute pictures of me holding a “__ Weeks!” sign in front of an expanding belly. No tiny pink slippers in between two pairs of adult shoes. Until the day my daughter was born, I was too sick to truly celebrate her. Until the day my daughter was born, I was too sick to believe with my whole heart that someday she would be here with us.
Emma arrived 8 weeks early and her first moments, days, weeks, months on this earth were an utter struggle. She refused to eat, her breathing stopped, she danced around hypothermia over and over again, earning herself trips back to the isolette. She was scanned for brain bleeds and heart defects were discovered. She was tested for one disorder after another. Doctors met with us daily, providing updates, but more questions than answers.
After three weeks in the hospital, they sent her home with us.
We continued to see specialists, undergo tests, and prepared for the possibility of a lifetime of struggles. Then around Emma’s 1st birthday, the pediatric cardiologist told us that her heart was healed and to never come back. “Go have a wonderful life, Emma.”
There have certainly been challenges through the last nine years. Delays, health concerns, issues related to my malnutrition and her early birth. Maybe that’s why it sometimes takes my breath away when I glimpse at this little girl and realize how close she is to being a woman, how very nearly finished with childhood this girl really is. There are the conversations we have that flicker between childish fantasy and mature realism. The bouncy ponytail that falls to hit a suddenly defined jawline. The arms that we recently discovered measure the same length as mine from shoulder to wrist.
I prayed for it to happen. I worried that it wouldn’t. And now, in her ninth year, I see that this baby girl who made me what I always wanted to be is doing what I always hoped she would. She’s growing up.
This post is inspired by Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that educates, connects and empowers the championing of vaccines as one of the most cost effective ways to save the lives of children in the world’s hardest to reach places.During Shot@Life’s Blogust, 31 bloggers, one each day in August, are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on this post and the 30 other posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines). A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can change this reality and help save kids’ lives!Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! Stay connected with Shot@Life at www.shotatlife.org, join the campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. And be sure to check out Sheila’s post on Xiaolin Mama tomorrow. Thank you for supporting #Blogust13 in the comments below!