Thursday, May 28, 2015

Perfection

The English language is colorful, sometimes flowery and full of unique ways to describe a situation, person or action.  Then we have our core words--base terms everyone understands what you are trying to imply.  A prime example is the word "perfect."   This word is overused and often utilized when something is really great, but there are so few things in life that are truly perfect.  Without any flaws.  

The tale I am about to tell is my perspective on a story that isn't my own.  I was extremely fortunate to be a witness and to play a very small role in a true miracle.  I am forever grateful that my presence was welcomed and I am forever changed.  Grab a cup of your preferred beverage and allow me to share with you one of the most beautiful stories there is to tell.

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March 5th started out like any other work day.  Just kidding, it was far from an average morning. Overnight, Dallas had experienced a freak snow fall that blanketed our streets in 3-4 inches of stunning white powder.  I had been warned of the potential ice that would occur (and possible treacherous driving to work, perhaps a delayed start) but was completely in awe of our new scenery.

I was lying in bed and around the time I would be leaving for work, Amanda (the BFF) called me and asked me if I had gone into work.  I told her that I hadn't, I was going to see how the roads looked when the sun came up and then make my decision.  She replied, "Well good, because my water just broke!"

As she was 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I had been on high alert for THE CALL for about a week now, but this time I was totally shocked.  I immediately squealed and jumped out of bed; I had to move my body because I was so excited.  

Some background information for those of you who are not familiar with my relationship with Amanda.  She is so much more than a best friend but there isn't a phrase or term that can describe it.  I once called her my soul sister out of desperation to convey what she meant to me, but even that doesn't touch what my heart feels.  Think of the person whom you are closest to and multiply it by infinity-that is what she means to me. The birth of her first child was a big deal for me and I was so overwhelmingly giddy.

Amanda’s labor and the birth of her baby was truly a miracle.  She fought hard to respect and honor her body and deliver her baby into the world in the best way possible.  I’ve always respected Amanda but the level of respect I gained from watching her bring her stunning baby into this world is immense.  I will never be able to let her know how much I appreciate her for letting me witness it. 

As breathtaking as the birth itself was, this is where the story becomes real, and so beautifully raw that I still become quite emotional as I recall my memories.  I will never be eloquent enough to channel the true emotions that occurred that evening but I am going to try.

Within two minutes of the doctor suiting up and putting on his gloves and only a couple of pushes later, sweet Sydney June was born at 10:39 p.m. weighing 7 lbs 14 oz and 20.75 inches. 



Amanda's mother and I held onto each other and cried, I was snapping as many photos as possible.  Jeff was kissing Amanda on the forehead and Amanda had a look of relief and exhaustion as she waited for the doctor to reunite mother and daughter.

The nurses placed Sydney on Amanda's chest for just a moment and asked if it would be ok to clean her up.  Amanda granted permission and I walked over to the warmer to start obsessively taking pictures of Sydney in her first minutes of life.  I couldn’t get over how cute her pouty lip was and the rolls, oh her delicious rolls.  I took photo after photo, documenting everything about her.  I saw her sticking out her tongue over and over and this caused me to pause.  I knew that wasn't typical of a newborn but assumed that it was because she was a little early. I also noticed she was very swollen and turned to Amanda and she asked me how she looked.  I said she was swollen, but absolutely gorgeous.

The next moment that happened is something that will forever weigh on my heart because I feel like I failed my friend, my soul sister.  Amanda looked at me and whispered so that no one else would hear, "Does she look like she has Downs?"  I immediately told her I didn't think so.  I turned back to Sydney again: it hit me in the stomach as to what she was referring.  While I truly thought she was still swollen from birth, I could see a hint of facial features that caused the alarm in her mother.

The nurses needed me to move away so I went and sat on a chair and immediately searched for symptoms of Down Syndrome in newborns.  After only one or two links, I knew.  Amanda on the other hand didn't need to do any research, she already knew.

When I think about the vulnerability Amanda had to display in asking me about her brand new daughter, only being part of this world for five minutes, my heart literally writhes with pain.  And while I know I did nothing wrong by answering off the cuff my initial thoughts, she didn't need me to reassure her that Sydney didn’t look like she had Down Syndrome, she needed someone to share with her acknowledgement she most likely did.  She needed someone to share that fear with her and I failed her.

It was only a short while after the nurses set Amanda and Sydney up to do skin to skin cuddling.  Amanda's doctor became one of my very favorite people on this Earth when he compassionately told Amanda, "Sydney is an absolutely gorgeous baby.  She does have some facial features that are characteristics of Down Syndrome so we will have her tested in the morning."  With his compassion and reassuring presence, he set the tone of, “this is not what you expected but it is going to be ok.”

Amanda looked down at Sydney, shook her head yes knowing that the test results would come back positive. In that moment, as she shook her head yes, tears running down her cheeks, I saw her go from becoming a mother to being a mother.

My friend looked at her baby girl and while I will never know the true feelings she had in that moment, I know she decided to love her baby no matter what.  She seemingly put on her momma pants and decided that while this was going to be different than she had imagined, this was not going to be a detriment to their relationship. She stroked the softest cheeks there ever were, staring into her daughter's eyes.  She smiled at her, reassuring Sydney that she was loved. 

This was an alternate version of parenthood that Amanda and Jeff had dreamt but that didn't mean that Sydney should have any less of a celebration; so celebrate we did.  I held Sydney and whispered all the things we would do in the future.  I told Sydney of how we would have sleepovers at my house; I promised her that she could tell me anything she was scared to tell her mother.  I told her that I have two eager girls at home waiting for her to become best friends.  I kissed and loved on Sydney as if she was my own.

As the visitors started to leave and we were alone in the hospital room, I became nervous.  I wanted to make sure I said the right thing and desperately didn't want to say the wrong thing.  One thing I just couldn't get over was how in awe I was of Amanda and Jeff.  Any venture into parenthood is difficult but to go in blind and experiencing something you don't have an example of, well I wouldn't handle it with the grace and confidence (even if it is faked) that she and Jeff had.

I was the last to leave that evening and when I got in the car I just burst out crying.  It wasn't fair that my friend, the most amazing woman I know, didn't get the opportunity to experience only the excitement that comes with a newborn.  I wanted to badly to shield her from the fear I could only imagine she was experiencing, and any pain she was feeling from the unknown.  Then a wave of calmness overcame me.  I remembered that when Amanda was pregnant, she told me that in her gut she knew everything was going to be ok and I will trust a mother's gut over anything.  While not on the outside, Sydney was already here just not physically with us.  Nothing changed, this was the same exact baby that Amanda had the gut feeling that everything was going to be fine.  A different version, but it was going to be ok.

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We all truly love Sydney.  Her little round head covered in scraggly, but silky, hair. She is spunky and determined, much like her mother.  She makes me laugh when she raises her eyebrows just like her daddy.  

Sydney is absolutely, undeniably the epitome of perfection.


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