Sunday, April 15, 2012

1994 Was Just Yesterday...

I met my first child 18 years ago today. She was a day and a half old. See, there was this whole deal with me having preeclampsia and going eclampsic with three or four seizures. Then, I woke up in the SICU (surgical intensive care)  to my Mama calling my name and not knowing I had had a baby. When I finally got to a room, the NICU (neonatal intensive care)  brought my six weeks premature baby to see me in her isolette. I was allowed to hold her for about five minutes before they whisked her back to that nursery with the locked doors. My fingers were so swollen I couldn't bend them good to hold her but I could stroke her tiny cheek that didn't have time to fill out before being born. She was 3 lbs. and 7 oz.
I spent many hours in front of that closed isolette of hers just watching her sleep. The hormones had me literally laying across it bawling as  I couldn't hold her because she was busy working on holding her core temperature so she could gain weight. She was an amazingly healthy baby with no breathing issues. She was just teeny tiny and needed to grow some before I could take her home. I remember taking a pain pill right before driving to the hospital because I had had an emergency c-section and the only vehicle I had was a stick shift. I would take that pain pill, drive the 10 minutes to the hospital and stay there in a rocking chair by her bed for hours until it wore off and I could drive home to take a small break. See, life went on for family and friends who had to work and go to school and it was hard for them to be able to chauffeur me around. At age 22, you feel pretty invincible anyway, and I would get fussed at greatly by NICU nurses for driving myself.

The other day I was talking to Neighbor Debbie and I told her how at one point and time sitting by my little girl's bed in that NICU, I started counting the number of years until she would turn 16, then graduate high school, then leave me. I would laugh to myself because 18 years seemed like a lifetime away from that moment and that tiny baby laying there so sweetly.

Then I woke up yesterday and it happened. She was 18. And here I was, 40 years old and not expecting it to feel like this. When I was 22, being 40 seemed OLD. Uh...I am not old. Not at all. I lay in bed and thought of the past 18 years and that girl of mine.

Now I'm scared. Scared to absolute death. She's ready to fly. She's ready to spread her wings and see this world and what it's all about. Without me. How can I protect her from the big bad world now? I still need her to need me and want to be with me. I want her never to leave me but she is going to do just that. And she will do it sooner than I will ever be ready.

By the same token, I am so proud of her I can't hardly stand it. I've raised her the best I can. She has impeccable manners, a good work ethic, and an amazing mind to go with her personality. She started a job two weeks ago. I didn't want her to go work. She doesn't need to work. Yet, she has been determined to find a job for a year now so as to make her own money and be her own person. She finally accomplished that goal and works quite a bit as a hostess for a nice restaurant. Again, a goal was set and she made it happen. Just this morning, we paid the reservation fee for her dorm at college for the Fall semester. I was kind of forcing her to go to her Senior Prom until she finally told me she really and truly didn't want to go. I was informed that spending that much money for one night is just stupid. She had valid arguments (she always does) and I finally gave in and told her that she didn't have to go if she didn't want. The relief that came over her was just crazy. I was projecting my own selfish ideas upon her and she was going to go for my sake and finally spoke up. She doesn't like high school because she's been an old soul since birth. She's so excited to get these last weeks of her Senior year done so she can get busy with the rest of her life. She won't look back when she crosses that stage to receive that diploma and I think I will go bawl in a corner now.

Paige, I have done birthday posts for you since I started blogging many years ago. So many times I've told you how proud I am of you and how much I love you. I meant it every single time. I mean it now. I also meant it today when I hugged you and said, "My baby is 18 and is all grown up but Mama is still in charge."

I can't express in words what you have done for me. How you taught this young woman who had a baby to love something more than herself. I never truly understood how one person could die for another until I had you. I would lay my life down at your feet if need be without hesitation. I will always be your biggest fan, cheerleader, advocate, supporter, and Mama. I will always want your happiness above my own because your smile of happiness makes me complete.

The world isn't in the best shape right now, Baby Girl. Lots of drama and craziness out there where no one has control and the autopilot is broken. You have so much inside of you to share with that world and I have full and complete faith that you will be able to fix your corner of that world with style and finesse.

You will break my heart when you fly. This particular break will heal because I know no matter where you go and no matter what you love your Mama as your Mama loves you.

Paige, I love you. With all my heart. Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

Just a simple cake this year. Paige didn't want a fuss but this Mama doesn't let a birthday go by without a cake! It was so good (I ate a tiny bite just to taste).

We saved the cake for today as she asked to sleep in late yesterday for her birthday and had to go to work in the afternoon. So, I fixed us a good Sunday meal and we had cake and ice cream before she went to work this afternoon.

I love this picture because she's laughing after blowing out the candles. Her laugh is infectious and it makes me laugh when she gets tickled.

We went out to supper for her birthday Friday night (this kid had a full weekend of celebrating going on!). While we were waiting, she and her siblings took some pictures.

These two love each other so good. And it makes me jealous some times because I don't have a blood sister. I have those I've picked as heart sisters, but I'm sure having a blood sister can be an awesome thing. And, yes, that is The Tiara that the ladies of the house wear on their day. Every lady should have a spare one laying around for special  occasions.

If I were to ever see a picture with all three perfectly posed, I might would faint. This is real. These are my kids. I love them.

Go ahead and say it. I did when I saw it. "AWWWWWWWWWWWWWE". Yeah, we may need therapy for these two when college comes.

We tried to take one of the two of us at the restaurant the other night and this was the least blurry. I have to have my picture with my birthday baby.

I forgot to post when the braces came off back in mid-March. I believe the metal was worth every penney we paid and day she wore them. I am constantly amazed at how photogenic this child is with self portraits.

Because I am the Mama and I think my child is beautiful (even if she doesn't believe it herself).


Fred said...

I know I have only been a part of your life for about 10 years, but, I have grown to love you very much. I am so very proud of you and can't wait to see what you do now. You have become an irreplaceable part of my life and my heart. I just want you to always remember that you will always have a home as long as your Mamma and I are here.

I love you, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Get Off My Lawn! said...

Four things:

1. I've been stalking for a while. Now I'm saying Hi.

2. 40. Pshh. I'm 42.

3. The world has always been this way, its just that over the past year or so, we all got to see that the autopilot has never worked.

4. Happy birthday Paige. Happy graduation. All the best. Soar and be free.

Krys72599 said...

Better late than never, I hope...
Happy Birthday!!! 18 is a big one in many ways, but mostly because it is the start of so many big ones!!! 21, 30, 35, 40 - Mama, have you fainted yet?!?
But seriously, they all get better and better now!
Happy senior year, happy graduation, and happy life!!!

Lishak said...

I can't believe how similar our stories are! Reading your story made me grateful to have had V in more recent years with better medical help. And that the hospital let me stay in my room across the hall from the NICU for free. And that I had Greg there for me.
I'm sure you were scared out of your mind back then! Paige turned out to be a beautiful young lady and I know you're proud!