I’m so aware of the passing of time right now. Charlotte turned 5 years old on May 21. Last year, we were celebrating her birthday with my mom and my aunt at home, when I got the call from my husband who was in the hospital with our other little girl–they were going to try and take Emmy off life support in about an hour. She had been on life support for a week and, on Charlotte’s birthday, they were going to see if Emmy’s heart could beat on its own. I was terrified, nervous, and excited. I felt like Emmy had come so far already, and I had confidence that she could pull through. But I was also scared that this wouldn’t go well. Either way, it had to be done. She was starting to bleed from the life support machine.
I gave Charlotte birthday wishes, hugs, and kisses, and hopped in the car. The hospital was about an hour away, so I would hopefully be able to get there just in time. I don’t think my own heart has ever beat as rapidly as it did on that drive. I kept talking to Emmy in my head: “You can do it! Come on, Emmy!”
Right before I crossed the bridge to the hospital, a song came on the radio. It’s called “Keep Your Head Up” by Ben Howard. I’d heard this song a couple times and always liked it, but this time the lyrics affected me differently. I flew over the bridge with the chorus in my ears: “Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.” I cranked up the volume and, with tears running down my cheeks, sang along: “Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.” I kept singing louder and louder, willing Emmy to hear me.
I got to the hospital just before she was taken off life support, and it was such a relief when the doctor came to get us in the waiting room. She said Emmy had transitioned off of life support nicely, and her heart was beating on its own!
First we felt joy and relief! Then the exhaustion of the prior week came washing over me. Emmy had gone in for heart surgery on May 16 and, after two cardiac arrests and a crash onto life support, we had been living on pins and needles. We were also trying to make things as “normal” as possible for Charlotte–keeping our promise to celebrate her birthday; trying to devote as much time to her as possible. That day alone, I had made several trips to the hospital. I brought Charlotte in to celebrate with Daddy in the waiting room. Then went back home. Then drove back when Emmy was ready to come off of life support. Dan and I were beyond tired–physically and emotionally–and it would be another few weeks before we were able to bring Emmy home…
And despite all of our hard work last year, Charlotte’s birthday was still kind of a disaster. I think that, emotionally, she is very tuned into us. She could feel that things weren’t right, even though we tried to make the day special. She was a trooper about celebrating her birthday in the hospital’s waiting room, but she also sensed that this wasn’t how birthdays usually go.
This year was much different–thankfully. She had an absolutely awesome birthday, and Emmy was there to celebrate with her.
Looking at 5 year old Charlotte, I keep thinking of the little baby we met in the hospital in 2009. How quickly it all goes by! It makes me want to freeze time.
Ironically, during the newborn stage, I wanted time to speed up. We were so tired! We didn’t understand why our baby didn’t sleep. No one told me about that part. Ok, they did, but I apparently didn’t listen. 😉 Now I’d like to go back to that day we met her and learn to take it slow.
I’m constantly caught between focusing on the future and settling into the present. This morning, Emmy was saying funny things at the breakfast table, which is typical for her. She loves to make people laugh. And I found myself thinking, “I can’t WAIT until she’s 10 years old!”
I mean, now the funny things she says are short and sweet: “My birthday too! Need presents! Emmy need presents too!” I can only imagine what a ham she’s going to be as she grows older. But then again…when she’s 10, I’ll be longing to recapture these toddler years.
So here I am at 36 weeks pregnant.
And on the one hand, I am SO ready! I want to meet this baby, and also I’d like to fast forward through the uncomfortable feelings of the next few weeks (heaviness, lethargy, etc). I’m also nervous about my uterine window holding up and my third C-section. I’ve already been to Labor and Delivery twice over the past few weeks! Once I gave myself an electric shock (by putting my finger in a socket, which was beyond dumb), and the second time I was bleeding (but I’m ok now). So let’s get this show on the road! I’m ready for baby.
Then again…this will probably be my last pregnancy. I really need to try and appreciate these last few weeks. When I let fear and anticipation get the better of me, I live in the future. I want to just end up on the *other* side of everything. I have trouble with the right now.
Sometimes it’s ok to focus on the other side, like imagining Emmy off of life support. That’s an experience that I don’t want to relive.
Other times, it’s better to settle into the present. Time passes whether we appreciate these moments or not. Makes more sense to appreciate them. Hope you enjoy today!
Amazing post! Great imagery. I felt like I was there!
Why thank you, Dan!
You are all so gorgeous! Good luck with the next couple/few weeks. And keep your fingers out of electric sockets (I felt like that might’ve needed to be said…)
Thanks Eva! Yes, that did need to be said…. 😉
💛 you look beautiful! I can’t wait to see your new baby boy.
Thank you, Sarah! I can’t wait to meet him. 🙂
You look great. Absolutely LOVE your last few lines. I’m going to print them out and paste them on my wall near my computer.
“Sometimes it’s ok to focus on the other side, like imagining Emmy off of life support. That’s an experience that I don’t want to relive.
Other times, it’s better to settle into the present. Time passes whether we appreciate these moments or not. Makes more sense to appreciate them.”
Thank you! Glad you like those last few lines. I pondered those for a while. 🙂
You all look lovely. And you’re right about appreciating the present. Also, Happy Birthday Charlotte!
Thank you, Marlaina!
May I ask you how old Emmy was when she started walking?
Emmy started walking around 19-20 months. For Williams syndrome, I’ve heard that children walk anywhere in the range of 12 months to 4 years old. Have you tried orthotics? Emmy was on the brink of walking for a while and, once we got her in Sure Steps orthotics, she really took off.