Thursday, December 3, 2009

Encounters/Meeting My Daughter

We celebrated our daughter's 25th birthday this evening, a raucous dinner during which we overdosed on butter, laughter and gifts that included fuzzy slippers, a pop-up Advent calendar and a spindle with which to spin her own wool.

She is my miracle child. Twenty-five years ago, I faced the prospect that she might not survive the night. Born by emergency C-section, she was whisked away to a neonatal intensive care unit before I had the chance to see or hold her. By the time I was released from recovery and wheeled into the nursery, she was ensconced in an oxygen hood and her tiny body was attached to several monitors. I remember reaching out to stroke her leg, the only accessible part of her body. Still in shock, I couldn't comprehend what the doctors were telling me; I couldn't match the fragile life in front of me with the expectations and longings of the previous nine months.

The next morning, I was able to sit in one of the rocking chairs scattered around the nursery and one of the nurses lifted my daughter into my arms for the first time. Her monitors, which had been registering erratic, jagged patterns when I had entered the room, suddenly smoothed out into luxurious waves rolling across the screen like gentle surf.

"She knows your heartbeat," the nurse told me. "She's home."

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