This past week was starting like every other week in our life....Church. While getting ready for church, the phone ran as I was brushing my teeth I had a mouthful of toothpaste and my daughter says "It's Grandma, and you can't call her back!" So I grabbed the phone, rolling my eyes thinking, Oh great, what have my parents gotten themselves into this time? You see, they have a tendency to go on what I like to call "adventures", that usually wind up being some hilarious story that I would not even be able to make up if I tried! The last one involved an Arkansas mountain, them in their mustang...looking for a waterfall, on the previously mentioned mountain....on a trail, that we would think twice about taking our off-road Jeep down....so imagine what I was thinking when my daughter said "you can't call her back"
"The baby is coming" was the last thing I ever thought I would hear from my mom that morning...My niece was 27 weeks pregnant on that Sunday morning. WHAT? The baby, it's not time for the baby, it's too soon, surely not. Well, the baby was coming! We were out of the house within 10 minutes and on our way to the hospital that is about an hour away. We made that drive in record time! My parents were at the lake house and even farther away than I was, so off we went.
Addlee Grace was so excited to take on this big bad world that she made her appearance a little after 11:00 am, weighing in at 2 pounds 3 ounces and 14.25 inches long. I'm a great auntie...are you kidding me, a great aunt. I'm not old enough to be a great aunt! When we left the house, my camera was the very last thing on my mind , BUT something told to grab it as we rushed out of the house. I am so glad that I did, because my niece wanted me to take pictures of her new daughter before she was flown to the NICU another 2 hours away. Next to my own kids being born that was one of the most fantastic moments of my life...I was honored to do it. Capturing this little one and her momma meeting, and saying goodbye all in the same visit, was unimaginable...but I had been there, and I understood. At that moment I knew exactly what she was going through. I had lived it, and the fact that I could capture that moment for her....WOW!
I won't go into much detail of our ordeal here, and we didn't spend near as much time in the NICU as Addlee will, but we have no pictures to speak of from our daughters first few days of life, no happy pictures of the delivery room, no pictures of my husband cutting the cord...Honestly, the way that night went, I don't know if my husband even cut her cord... no pictures of me holding her for the first time, no pictures of her first bath...nothing. We have a few of her in the nursery after she born the next day, when they were trying to get her breathing under control, but that's it, and none of me holding her in the hospital she was born in. She was about 4 days old before we got that picture. I'm the photographer of the family, I'm behind the camera, that's how I like it. But my body had been through more trauma than an average birth and I was in no condition to take them myself, that is why I truly cherish those few pictures we do have.
So, when I was able to take just the few pictures of my niece and her baby, while she was saying hello and goodbye almost in the same breath, I was beyond honored. As helpless as I felt, I could do something for this sweet niece of mine who I have watched grow up, seen her have ups and downs in life, and witnessed her at her worst. But in that moment, I have never been more proud of her. She is strong, determined and courageous all rolled up into one. This was her moment, her defining moment as a mom, and she nailed it and is continuing to do so!! Everyday that goes by as she gets news about her newborn, she takes it in stride, with more grace than anyone could imagine!
This past week has been a roller coaster, I have prayed, cried, prayed some more, and cried again, only to not even know what I should pray for. I consider myself to be a very spiritual person, and lean on God a whole lot sometimes. As the rest of my family would agree, have we ever done some leaning this week.
I am hoping to go see and spend some time with my niece this week. I most likely won't see the baby, and that's okay, after all had she been born on time, I wouldn't even be meeting her until sometime in November. If I am asked to take some photos of her, I will happily do so. I wish that I would of had someone capturing some of my moments while in the NICU. My great niece has a wonderful team of doctors and nurses around the clock, but my niece does not, other than the nurses in a NICU take really good care of their mommas. Her mom is there now, and her boyfriend is traveling back and forth when he can get away from his job. But the things that I remember from our NICU stay were very little and selfless acts, it was the shoulders that I cried on, and our pastor who came home early from Texas to come see us, the friends and family who prayed and took care of our son at home. I'm hoping to be her shoulder that she may not realize she even needs.
To say this past week has been a whirlwind would be an understatement, but that great niece of mine is a fighter!! She will do great things in her life.
"And though she be but little, she is fierce" -ShakespeareI saw a quote today that said "It's okay to be scared, being scared means you're about to do something really, really brave." I don't know who said it, but it was so fitting for this past week. I know you are scared but be brave little one for you have a world to conquer!