Happy golden birthday, Ruby Lynn!

IMG_3965The morning Ruby was born it was 20 degrees outside — the coldest day so far that fall. I woke up that morning around 5 a.m., shaking violently with nausea and cramps. I had been in the hospital for nearly two days, waiting slowly while my cervix “ripened” and they prepared to induce me with pitocin. I’m not sure how I managed it with unstable legs, but somehow I took a shower. When I laid back down in the hospital bed, my mom and sister arrived. I told them that I was pretty sure I was having contractions. My mom grabbed a nurse and within a matter of moments, I was ready to push. It went against every single cell in my body to hold back while I waited for the doctors and nurses to arrive. In just a few minutes, there were 15 people in the room, and with two pushes, Ruby was born at 7:10 a.m. My dad had hoped to be there for the birth, but he was too late. No one knew she would come so quickly.

I always thought that the moment Ruby was born, I would be full of fear — that she wouldn’t take her first breath or that her condition would be far worse that anyone anticipated. But somehow, when she made her arrival, I felt peace and calm wash over me. After some of the sweetest cries I’ve heard, they whisked her to the other side of the room, cleaned her, and delivered her to me in a warm blanket. I could not believe how small, beautiful, and precious she was, my little earth angel. I kissed her on the lips and examined her face and minuscule fingers. A few minutes later, they took her away again, this time to the NICU. Thankfully, nana was able to be there to stroke her head and hold her pacifier while she endured so much poking and prodding.

IMG_4010The first year of Ruby’s life was filled with so many unknowns, so many doctors making predictions, delivering bad news, asking me to make decisions that would affect her life forever. Most nights, I cried the entire way home from the NICU, my spirit crushed by the doctors’ lack of hope, my arms aching to hold my little girl. I’m not a very religious person, but prayer became my comfort, my lifeline: whispers to God to help me survive, maybe even thrive, in this new life I had been given. Prayers not to be taken under by the heavy burdens that were rolling over me like tidal waves.

It’s so easy looking back now, 11 years later, to see how it all had to happen the way it did to bring us to the beautiful present moment. I needed to walk through fire and burn away the residue on my heart and soul to become the mother that Ruby truly deserved. I needed to be vulnerable and raw and learn how to ask for help. I needed to hit rock bottom and claw my way back up from the depths — many, many times — to fully comprehend and appreciate the incredible gift that I had been given.

Ruby has shown me how to rise up from pain and sadness and transform it into hope and faith. She has taught me how to be patient and brave in the face of life’s unknowns. And most importantly, she has shown me how to love fiercely and without conditions. While I give Ruby love and support and a safe home, it is ME who has grown the most over the last 11 years, and ME who reaps the most from our mother/daughter relationship.

IMG_3981This little girl has touched so many lives, many more than I will ever know, more than she will ever comprehend. I hear how she inspires others and I see the many friends she has and my heart could burst wide open with love and pride and gratitude. This life has become so much more than I ever expected or prayed for — more beautiful than anything I could have dreamed of in those dark early days. There are no words to express my gratitude for my family, my friends, Ruby’s teachers, therapists and doctors, and every single person who has walked beside us on this incredible journey. We would not be here without each and every single one of you.
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Happy 11th Golden Birthday, Ruby Lynn. You are the light of my life and the greatest love I will ever know.