Updated: Jun 2, 2019
With my daughter just reaching one week of age yesterday, I’m surprised that she’s been able to share such wisdom. She’s shifted my perspective, opened my heart, and has been molding me in the past few days that she’s entered this world. She’s been such a little fighter since our labor process began, making it through a 45-hour labor. It was a labor that went nothing as planned: I wanted all natural, that didn’t happen…my water broke, my body didn’t kick into labor, so after getting into the hospital at 5am we decided to start using induction methods Friday evening. My labor pains went through the night without much progress, so around 10:00am Saturday they upped my induction and I labored until 2:00pm but couldn’t take any more. I got an epidural around 3:00pm and it was just after getting the epidural that my blood pressure plummeted, Marley’s heart rate plummeted, and I held the terrifying belief that I was a horrible mother for putting her through so much. Doctors rushed in and I thought “Oh God, why couldn’t I make it any longer?!” The doctors got everything back on track and I progressed much more during that time but ended up needing a C-section which was my “absolutely not” on my idea of what I wanted to happen.
We had Marley that night at 11:38pm and were so overjoyed to have our baby girl in our arms. We thought the worst was over! But, life had a different plan. We spent all of Sunday with our sweet baby and then during the pediatrician visit on Monday we heard the words “Marley may have a fatal infection that can quickly lead to death.” As I type, I wonder how long it will take to think through this part of the story without being brought to tears. We were told they would be running tests and might know something in 24 hours, but it would be more likely they would know the seriousness of her condition in 48 plus hours. Waiting for those test results I had never cried more in my life. I have also never been as terrified. All I could think is, “How could I possibly leave this hospital without my baby?”
We were able to take a breath after about 40 hours of waiting when they said nothing had shown up yet, and then after 50 hours we were given the go ahead to leave the hospital with our sweet Marley.
Here is what my little fighter taught me through this experience…
She taught me a little something about gratitude
It was during lunch on the day it was looking like we might get to take her home that I sat quietly in the hospital cafeteria waiting for my husband to get back to the table. It was the first time I was out of the NICU or my hospital room for 5 days, and I sat looking over a sunny courtyard with vibrant green plants. Before this happened I might have barely seen the plants, or the sun hitting them and making them bright with life, but I found myself crying, thinking to myself, “Wow, I think my daughter might get to see the sunlight today.” I can barely explain the gratitude I was feeling at that moment, just sitting with the possibility of getting outside to show my little girl the world. I hope I can continue to hold that perspective, of cherishing and seeing the things that I often overlook. Gratitude was the best medicine for the deepest parts of me during those next few hours.
She taught me to loosen my grip
On the type A- type B spectrum, I’d easily fall in the type A category. If things aren’t done yesterday, it’s too late or too slow. I like to plan things three months in advance. You get the picture. So, clearly I had a picture of what my birth experience would look like bringing Marley girl into the world. But nothing, and I mean literally nothing, went as planned. I felt like I was figuratively on my knees, releasing any grip I had on the process. It was an act of surrender. It was as if I was saying “ok.” Not an overly happy and joyous “ok,” but an accepting and humble “ok” to life and to God to be in the moment and allow things to unfold.
She taught me that being nice isn’t so important
When you’re tested, you don’t seem to worry about other people quite as much. Setting boundaries becomes a non-issue. We were given doctor’s orders to keep her away from anyone but just Alan and I after leaving the NICU for a month because of how much she had gone through. So, saying no to visits or any extra hands holding her has not been hard. Even saying no to phone calls or face time or even getting back to texts in a timely manner has come at a whole different level of importance. Not that we aren’t beyond grateful for our friends and families and immense amount of support we’ve received. We ABSOLUTELY are! The love and prayer we’ve been gifted is amazing. But I’m just a whole lot less concerned about pleasing others when I have a brand new little one that gets first priority. Saying “no” is just not that hard anymore.
She taught me that relationships are so important
I mention above about setting boundaries, and I say that while also being able to admit the importance of family and close others. I had an amazing friend journey through the labor process with me, my mom rush to the hospital when I called her crying saying they were making me do a C-section, and so much support through my dad, in-laws, family, close friends, and church community. The person who blew me away the most is my husband. I could not believe how much he knocked it out of the park from the moment I told him something was not right on Friday evening. He served me tirelessly, let me cry when I needed to, and held my hand so tightly when I was most afraid. I love that I get to brag about him, because I would not have been able to be in this place bragging about a husband even 5 years ago. I was so closed off after being hurt that I had been extremely guarded to letting anyone get close. He slowly took over my heart, showed me his consistent trustworthiness and faithfulness, and it’s because of him I had an amazing life partner by my side during the scariest event in my life. I know as a marriage and family therapist I am so very biased, but if I could encourage anyone to do anything it would be to work on building close, loving, honest, trusting relationships. John Legend reminds us that we are “made to love” and I couldn’t agree more. Be honest with yourself about the quality of your relationships, the healthiness of your heart, and willingness to connect to others at a vulnerable, deep level. When you have moments of deep connection I believe those are the moments when we are capturing the sweetest part of life.
All in all, I’d say Marley is such a wise soul. She’s been teaching me lesson after lesson. Some think we are the ones who teach children, but I think it might be the other way around. She’s teaching me to love, to see more clearly, and to cherish life at a whole new level. Thank you for your lessons, Marley Grace!