Thirteen years ago our lastest baby was born premature, via an emergency c-section at National Womens Hospital in Auckland New Zealand. She arrived after I stayed in hospital for many weeks trying to #keepHerInUtero and growing for as long as possible. I was sick with pre-eclampsia and each day as I got more swollen and my blood pressure went up a little more and the headaches got worse, the chances of her staying safe in her rent-free abode, got smaller. I would see her outline on the scans, and wish I could hold her already, somehow whisk her away from the worry and uncertainty of hospitals, take her home to where her dad and siblings waited to surround her with love. Today I’m remembering with gratitude the staff who took good care of us, and the loved ones who supported and prayed for us.
After all the worry and stress of growing her, and remembering our other premature babies, I expected her to be a frail quiet thing, but she surprised us with how loud and ferocious she was from the minute she was born. Unlike the others, she attacked the food source right away (totally freaking her mother out with her #vampireTendencies), shouted her arrival with great gusto, and had the most inquisitive look on her face as she inspected us and her surroundings. She wasnt like a newborn at all, let alone a premature one! She well-deserved her nickname of The Beast 😂.
Her father was there for all the babies and their emergency arrivals, but this was the first baby to respond to him right away (since the others were whisked away to live in incubators, or in the case of Sade the Sloth – just ate and slept.)
In those first few days Darren forged a particularly special bond with his youngest. He slept on the floor in our hospital room and I would wake up in the middle of the night to see him holding her on his chest and talking to her while she stared at him with big curious eyes. She’s always been a child who understands more, sees more and knows more than you think she does. And is forever wondering and pondering about the world and people around her.
She is the ui’i of the family (translation:she is spoilt rotten according to her siblings) and likes to remind us all that as the youngest, “Im going to be the one to travel with mum and dad all over the world on their holidays, and keep them company.” And her wit, humor and insight make her fabulous company to have. She’s a reader, writer and dreamer. She’s also the bravest bestest swim buddy any scared-wannabe-triathlete could ever hope to have. (Thank you for always keeping me company in the ocean Lastest Child!)
Her forever questions challenge my own perceptions and understanding of #stuff. She calls out racism, inequality and injustice wherever she sees it – and makes me want to be more brave about doing the same.
She lives with what they call, a sensory processing disorder. But what we call her superpowers. She feels / tastes / smells / hears so much more extremely and vividly than the rest of us. There’s times this is a challenge for her. But as she pointed out to us, “Maybe there’s nothing wrong with how my senses experience the world? Maybe it’s everybody else whose senses just don’t work good enough like mine?!” I like her perspective!
At the beginning of this year, she was hospitalized and needed transfusions. She had lost a lot of weight and as she lay there with tubes attached to her arm, she looked so small and fragile. It was hard for them to find veins that worked so they had to stick her with needles several times over and it hurt a lot and she cried. I hated that I couldn’t take her place, couldn’t keep her safe from sickness. And like that first hospital thirteen years ago, I wished I could somehow whisk her away and take her home to where her dad and siblings waited to surround her with love. Yet even then she was trying to reassure me, making jokes and worrying if I was comfortable sleeping in a chair next to her bed.
This past year has been one of watching her closely, making sure she eats enough, and takes her supplements and pills twice a day. It’s been months of getting happy-relieved as she slowly gains much needed weight, grows slowly stronger, swims a little more, runs a bit further with her Dad, and gets back to being her outspoken fierce fiapoto self. Its also been a joy to see her adapt to her new school, make new friends and thrive in her new surroundings.
So as we celebrate her birthday this year, I am especially grateful for the blessing of our lastest child. That she is strong and healthy, not in hospital, able to fully relish her role as the (spoilt rotten) ui’i of our family, and she’s forever making me alternately laugh, get frustrated and go Hmmm I never thought of that…with her humor, wit and insight.
I love you Bella.
I’m so thankful I get to be your mother, and be a part of #BellasWorld.