One tough girl
Today is your big day! (Not that we could forget since you provide us with exuberant reminders a few hundred times in June.) But it wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t, because that is you – our vibrant and energetic girl. I so clearly remember the day we met as your birth story is one that we will never forget.
Grandma, Granpa Junior, and Nanny all drove up to be here; so, we had a house full of love when we left for the hospital that day. Not one to sit around, Granpa organized the boys to help him with setting the footings for the deck; so, if you didn’t know this, the sliding door and deck are the same age as you are.
Most of the day at the hospital was pretty much the same as the boys’ stories – a lot of waiting. Nanny arrived at the hospital fairly early because she did not want to miss out on being the first to meet you – which was, of course, like her. At the same time we were at labor and delivery, our family nurse was having surgery. I overheard her talking in the hallway, and that was my first sign that something was not going quite right.
“This is her third baby. . . this shouldn’t be taking so long. What is going on?”
Neither she nor anyone else knew that I could hear her words, but since everything seemed normal I didn’t worry. A friend from Daddy’s work asked to be in on the delivery because despite being a three time momma herself, she had never witnessed the miracle of birth. Her request turned out to be a divine intervention. When it appeared that it was close to “game time”, we called her to come to the hospital.
This is when things start to change. Suddenly a nurse comes rushing in and says, “We need to get her on her side NOW!!!” Looking back, we remembered another nurse quietly slipped into the room and stood silent sentry between our eyesight and the monitors. The reason: you no longer had a heartbeat, and they all knew something was terribly wrong.
An oxygen mask, severe pain, and being held by nurses, Daddy, and our friend in a contortionist position, my mind was reeling with what was happening. Then the words that made the room go quiet were uttered by our normally cool and calm doctor. (Keep in mind: he and Daddy watched golf during Sawyer’s big entrance into the world)
“Oh dear God, I see the face! The pushing is crushing the baby’s heart.”
While no one said It aloud, the race to save your life was now on.
You entered the world. In one swift motion, the cord was cut and the doctor scooped you up and ran with you. Someone announced, “It’s a girl.” The wall of nurses surrounding the doctor, keeping what was going on out of our line of sight.
No cry. No gasp of air. No first genteel introductions to our new daughter.
First APGAR: 0
Questions come falling out of my wearied mind and body. I could see the equipment they are using without being told what they are doing. Is she breathing? Did she aspirate meconium? What is going on?
Second APGAR: 1
In what felt like eternity, we finally hear you cry. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The tiny girl who we have later learned has the will to push through anything proved in the first ten minutes of life that she was a fighter. We only held you for a few moments, during which time Nanny was so proud to meet you. That bond between great-grandmother and great-granddaughter was one that never waivered from that moment on. You were always her special girl.
Our introductions were short lived because you were promptly escorted to respiratory intensive care where you stayed for the next four days. Grandma, Granpa, and the boys had to first “meet” you through the glass.
It was the scariest moment of our lives. We didn’t get to hold you, only your hand, because you couldn’t breathe on your own. We didn’t get to feed you – tubes and machines took the place of our snuggles. And we played a waiting game to see if your lungs would be able to do it alone, despite your rough start.
But you showed everyone at Day 4 that you were and forever will be – one tough cookie. They decided that you could go home (as long as we didn’t leave town because they were certain that you would have to come back). You didn’t!
The counseling provided to us said that you might struggle with lots of things – especially reaching developmental milestones and academic learning later on. Neither of which proved to be true! They just didn’t know what us Stevens are made of – a faith that doesn’t give up and a vocabulary that doesn’t include quit.
You showed that despite all the studies and statistics for going that long without oxygen – you were (and are) extraordinarily awesome! Having two big brothers, you just never knew you were once a fragile baby, fighting to breathe. You were their constant shadow, and you would prove time and again that you wanted to be big like them. Nothing ever stopped you – and we are so glad that God gave us you.
Happy 14th Birthday Erin! We love you like crazy! Momma
PS – You know how you have on more than one occasion told us that you have Daddy wrapped right around your finger. It’s true, and I have proof! On Day 4, when we were able to leave the hospital, a nurse was cutting off all your hospital identifications, and she accidentally sliced your pinky finger with a scissors. It was the first time that I ever saw your Daddy want to smack someone. With everything you had been through, it was too much for him. He fumed for days that his precious baby girl’s finger had been cut – every fiber of his being was offended. That tiny, wounded pinky finger has held him captive ever since. Good luck to any boy who ever wishes to hold that finger!