In life, things don’t always go as we had planned; sometimes the Universe steps in, creates a wind of chaos and then leaves us to sort through the debris. That’s exactly how it felt five years ago, when Olivia was born.
Olivia was our third child. My previous children were all delivered via cesarean section, so it was recommended by my doctor to schedule this delivery as a c-section. The date for the OR was booked and we had a plan in place. A day that was so particularly planned changed into something no one seemed able to predict.
Our precious baby went into fetal distress prior to delivery. I was rushed into the OR and she was delivered nonresponsive. Several agonizing moments slowly slipped by as I lay on the operating table watching several doctors and OR nurses trying desperately to resuscitate our baby girl. I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a living nightmare, everyone and everything around me seemed to be moving in slow motion; my doctor speaking, but his words fell silent upon me. I desperately wanted to hear her cry or something to let me know she was alright. When I looked at my husband, the color had disappeared from his face and fear filled his eyes.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be!
Our plan changed that day. On October 28, 2010 our daughter Olivia, weighing 9 lbs. 3 ounces had suffered brain damage due to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Olivia had lost blood and oxygen to the brain and would spend the next 14 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Seven months later she would be diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, a condition that affects muscle function and control.
Olivia is now five years old and it has taken us the majority of those years to sort through the debris the Universe brought. In the beginning, we carried a heavy amount of grief, anger and feelings of isolation; sorting through it took time. We loved and adored Olivia so much. She was the sunshine that brought us through the storm.
No one is ever prepared to be the parent to a child with special needs and it’s not something you can teach. It is a relationship, in which many times, the child becomes the teacher. From Olivia I have learned patience, to slow down and value today. So much can happen and can be learned in a day. Good or bad, a day can change your life. She has taught me to have hope. We never know what tomorrow will bring, but whatever comes, I am hopeful that tomorrow brings promise. I smile so much more because of her! It is impossible to stay in a funk when Olivia is in the room. My favorite moment of the day is walking into her room to say good morning. Those big blue eyes widen and her face fills with the most gorgeous, loving smile. There is no better way to start the day.
Something else I’ve learned, the storms of life often produce the most beautiful rainbows.