A lady I follow on Instagram recently posted a picture of her child on his birthday with a caption that said something like “to understand the magic that surrounds ____ you must first understand how improbable his existence is…”
Six years ago I was in a hospital bed, simultaneously bored, annoyed, and at times, terrified. I was 31 weeks pregnant and had been told I could have preeclampsia. I had done everything right for the last 27 weeks. And yet, the control I thought I had over my health jumped out the window in about 27 seconds as the tech was taking my blood pressure and a frown was spreading over her face. I had no symptoms that Google and Web MD told me I would be having. No headache. No swelling. Nothing. But suddenly and with no warning, that pesky blood pressure was too high.
Within the week I would have repeated non-stress tests, blood work, sonograms, IVs, consultations, and finally a c-section. And then there was this tiny baby lying in a isolette, overwhelmed by the tiniest size of diaper made, wrapped in wires and electrodes, and connected to beeping monitors. I told my husband that I didn’t want to see her because I felt responsible for the odd looking mess that she was. My body had failed her. The home that was supposed to be her safe house, her refuge, had expelled her, evicted her, sent her out too soon into the cold, bright world of struggle.
I refused to attach myself to her. I was scared something would happen to her and then I would feel pain. I didn’t want pain. I wanted detachment. But that isn’t how life works. We have pain and we have struggle. There is no greater demonstration of that struggle than the creation of families.
There is infertility, there are miscarriages, there are deaths, there are divorces, there is undesired singleness, there are estrangements, there is general health and stress and life changes and anxiety. I sat in the NICU room holding my daughter- eventually I did hold her- and I thought about how many people I knew who had struggles in having children, in one form or another. It is a part of life in this world.
And yet, those struggles we face each day, or sometimes just during stages in our lives, make the lives we have and the lives of those around us more precious. We don’t choose our lives. We don’t choose our families. But we do have what we are given. And sometimes, that struggle, that improbability of existence, is what gives us a greater, deeper gratefulness. Call it the magic that surrounds or call it grace; it is the wonderful miracle of living and knowing and loving.
*I love October and was happy that if my baby needed to be born early, that October became her birth month. Such a golden, beautiful month ushered in my beautiful daughter. And because October and pumpkins go together, sometimes she gets a candle on a slice of pumpkin bread. The recipe below is tweaked from my mother’s recipe.
Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup organic pumpkin purée
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
Mix wet ingredients together until well blended. Add the dry ingredients. Pour into a loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let sit for an hour. Remove from pan and once cool, frost with frosting below.
4 tablespoons cream cheese
1/3 cup Kerry gold is butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Cream butter and sugar. Add milk and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add confectioners sugar until fluffy.