One year ago today, my youngest daughter Makenzie was born. And one year ago today, my youngest daughter Makenzie was taken from my arms.
It’s been one year since the best and worst day of my life.
Makenzie was born 3 weeks early, but surprisingly completely healthy. After an easy (16-hour) labor, she was born with no complications. The doctor placed her into my arms, and I swore to myself that I’d never let her go again.
The nurse approached me, and asked to take Makenzie to the nursery, for her first bath. I reluctantly agreed, since it seemed like the logical thing to do. Seconds passed. Minutes passed. Almost an hour passed. I knew something was wrong. The nurse never came back to my room.
A doctor I’d never met showed up instead. Calmly explaining to me that Makenzie was in respiratory distress, and had been taken to the NICU.
But doctor, she was perfectly healthy. Everyone said she was perfectly healthy. I saw her with my own eyes, and she was perfectly healthy!
Everyone ignored me.
I begged Chris to wheel me down to the NICU, so that I could see her. She looked so tiny. The nurses reassured me that she’d be fine in a couple days, when it was time for us to go home. They urged me to go back to my room, and get some rest. I reluctantly agreed, since it seemed like the logical thing to do. She looked so tiny.
The next morning, a different doctor came into my room. After hearing the words “premature lung” and “admit to the hospital long-term”, I mentally checked out of the conversation. Suddenly, I was signing paperwork to allow doctors to place my 1-day old daughter on a respirator. And then, I was going home without her.
I visited every day, but unfortunately didn’t find much comfort in the sight of her. Frail, helpless. And me, even more helpless.
She wanted to be held, but they’d barely let us touch her. So many doctors, so much I didn’t understand.
I fought tears every visit. I wanted so badly to be strong. I prayed to God for healing, for understanding, for peace. I realized that I was so focused on her coming home, that I hadn’t stopped to notice the amazing “firsts”.
Like the first time she held my hand.
And then, she got better.
And to be honest, looking back, it’s nothing more than a distant memory. Because for every second that we missed with her, God has blessed us with countless seconds in her sweet presence. So today, on her first birthday, I thank God. I thank Him for her birth day, the day that she was given to us, and taken away. Because truly: the moments without her made our moments together count.
Happy first birthday, Makenzie. I am looking forward to many, many more.