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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thirty Three

Thirty three years ago my mother went into labor after Christmas dinner. It was 3 months too early so at first she thought she was just having bad gas.

The hospital must have stalled things because I was not born Christmas night nor in the dark hours between midnight and 6am. Some time around seven I came eagerly into the world and was whisked away to NICU. I stayed there three months. My mom always said she was disappointed to not get to take me home in a Santa hat, as was the tradition at that hospital, nor did she get to bring me home in an Easter basket. Nope. I was released with no fanfare.

When the time came to bring me home- after several false starts (come get her- oh wait never mind, her temp is up a degree and she lost a third of an ounce in weight), my mother's maternity leave was spent.

The story of my troublesome (and stubborn) nature starting at birth has been told to me a kajillion times. But it wasn't until I was pregnant with my first born that I understood the fear and anxiety my mom must have been in as they pushed her into the labor and delivery room. She had lost her very first child- also a girl- in the same circumstances. The child was only alive two hours. Knowing this, I have to think my mom was bracing herself for the worst.

It wasn't until I was looking at my son while he nursed in those first few days that I realized my mom didn't get to experience that bonding with me. How hard it must have been to know I was in NICU- to not get to hold me. The doctors told her my chance of healthy survival was less than 50%.

Boy did I show them.

I wish I could say I gave my mom no further angst- but like everyone else I went through the terrible two/three years and I did become a teenager with all the drama that comes along with being a perfectionist, a tomboy, and an only girl and middle child.

Or at least that is the way I saw it; but my mother felt differently.

In conversation with my mom perhaps about a year ago, I asked her if she looked back with frustration, regret, or anger on the drama filled years, and she said that she certainly did not. We were all good kids going through the normal ups and downs of life.

As I sit here from the perspective of the ripe old age of 33, and with the perspective of motherhood, I realize how wise my mother was. She chose to look past our errors, mistakes, and temporary teen hormonal imbalances and see only what she loved.

As we contemplate our birthdays, it's a good time to try to step out of our own heads and see ourselves as our loved ones do.

We look through often over critical lenses at everything we do and have done. Our birthdays present an opportunity to remember that we are a gift to the people we love; that we are important to other people's lives. With this in mind, I can begin my own personal new year in a spirit of hope and with a determination to continue to make that difference and to fill the Theresa shaped hole in others' hearts.

And what better birthday present could I hope for than that?

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