Today is Hattie’s due date. Dates are arbitrary. April 10 was the day we planned for. April 10 was the day we prayed our bouncing baby girl would arrive, happy, healthy and full of life. But things don’t always go as planned and January 6 is a better day. January 6 was Hattie’s due date; we just didn’t know it.
I loved being pregnant. I loved feeling Hattie move. Chris and I loved talking to her and telling her about all of the dreams we had for her. We would tell her how excited we were to meet her, imagined who she would look like and wondered how big she’d be when she was born. I was craving a big pregnant belly but I never got there. I didn’t have a third trimester. I did not experience the uncomfortable part of pregnancy I’ve heard about; the I can’t see my feet, I waddle when I walk, this baby is digging into my ribs, I can’t sleep, my baby has the hiccups. I never stressed about packing an overnight bag or worried is this it, is it time? I’ve heard the third trimester sucks, and I probably would’ve been miserable, but I still missed out on the sucky “joy” of pregnancy.
I’ve been a mixed bag of emotions all day. Mostly I feel grateful and thankful to the Lord for keeping Hattie safe. I am so, so happy Hattie is home and thriving! I love having my whole family under one roof and I’m elated I don’t have to make a daily commute to see my baby.
However, Mommy guilt has come flooding back to me. I feel guilty that I couldn’t do something so easy as stay pregnant. I feel like I wasn’t making a good home for Hattie and she had to get out. Should we have gone to the hospital sooner? Did I miss signs that she was in distress? How did I not realize I was in labor? I had an ultrasound nine days prior to Hattie being born and everything looked perfect. I feel guilty that my body inexplicably went into pre term labor and Hattie had to endure an 80 day NICU stay because of me. I am sad that Hattie’s entrance into this world wasn’t as easy as it could’ve been and wasn’t as easy as she deserved for it to be. But I am comforted in the fact that Hattie is happy, healthy and progressing perfectly. I know that Hattie came to us exactly when she was supposed to and I wouldn’t change it, but sometimes I feel guilty. And I’m allowing myself to forgive myself as God has forgiven me.
I didn’t have the birth experience I was expecting. I did not hear a loud cry when she came out. I didn’t get to hold my baby on my chest immediately after I delivered her. She wasn’t breathing. Her heart rate was in the 60s. My husband wasn’t even in the delivery room for goodness sake! But this was our experience, and it was meant to be that way. I remember vividly the first time I saw Hattie. I had just pushed her out and Dr. Fritz held her up for me to see. Hattie was completely still, very, very tiny and gray. I remember asking “why isn’t she crying, why is she so small?” The next thing I remember is Dr. Alexander asking if she had a name. I exclaimed “Hattie” and then immediately thought, “oh, no, Chris isn’t here; Hattie is what we decided on, right?” (We had decided on Hattie after our first scare in mid-December. We were at church and I started bleeding. While we were waiting for the on call doctor to call back we were praying together. Both of us kept calling the baby Hattie and we knew our decision was made!) Dr. Fritz yelled “get Dad!” Chris came in to the OR and I asked him if Hattie was ok, his first indication that our daughter had been born. Chris’ eyes were red and I knew he’d been crying. We were scared but at least we were together. They let us give Hattie a kiss before she was whisked away to the NICU. I remember thinking please Lord don’t let this be the last time I get to kiss my baby. We had prayed so hard for her and she was here, way earlier than we expected. She belonged to us and instantaneously we loved her.
You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have. The last three months have been a wild ride. This was nothing we were prepared for or expected to have to endure. But we did it. And for that we feel proud. Back in February, when we were only about a month into this journey, my sweet friend Lisa told me that she felt the reason God sent Hattie when he did was so that Chris and I could share our faith with others through this event. She gave us a huge compliment saying we were being such good examples of what a Godly marriage, family and life looks like for the rest of us. This is not the script I would’ve written for us, but if we could help or inspire just one person though our journey it was worth it. And I am confident our little miracle baby has impacted the hearts of many and will continue to do so throughout her purposeful life.
While some might think all of this has nothing to do with God, I know it has everything to do with Him. God sent Hattie in His perfect timing. He held her in his loving arms during those fragile first minutes of her life when she received compressions and medication to expand her lungs. He helped her take her first breath on her own when she was extubated after only 12 hours. He eased mine and Chris’ fears and provided us comfort that our baby girl would be ok; that Hattie would survive and have no longterm effects from being born 14 weeks premature.
I was browsing through pictures on my iPhone today and found several from Hattie’s first few days of life that we haven’t shared. Looking back she was so tiny and almost sickly looking. But to us she was absolutely beautiful and strong.
I don’t remember life without Hattie and I cannot imagine not having the past three months with her. Today has been tough. I did get a hot cup of coffee today though. Yesterday my cup of coffee sat full teasing me for three hours. I microwaved it twice. Maybe Hattie knew mommy needed a little help today.
Hattie just chowed down on a 120 mL bottle; the little piglet ate 4 ounces in one sitting! She loves to grab at her bottle and hold my fingers while she eats. She tries to eat her bib when I burp her. She makes a lot of grunts and squeals while she’s eating making me think she’s enjoying herself. This is all proof of how far she’s come. I’m taking advantage of some extra cuddle time with my pretty baby today. I think I’ve told her I love her and kissed her head about a hundred times. I reminded her today how many people have prayed for her and for her parents. I told her that never once did we stop listening to or trusting in God’s plan for her life. I am so proud to be her mama. God is too wonderful.