to our maddie baby on her second birthday...
i have wanted to write the story of you for quite some time. it has been two years since you joined our family. it was a road of uncertainty that caused a different kind of stress and love and lessons to be learned that we wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. dad and i were shocked to hear we were going to be a family of four. you defied a lot of odds to get here, even the doctor was surprised. everyone told us you were just meant to come. i never really believed when people talked about things like that, but you changed my thoughts on a lot of things. i surprised daddy for his birthday and took him to the ultrasound to see if you were a boy or a girl. i was thrilled. we all were.
when i was about twenty weeks pregnant daddy rushed me to the hospital with what we found out was a tumor on one of my ovaries. there are complications doing surgery while pregnant, so they sent me home with orders to return in three weeks to measure you and the tumor again. i didn’t sleep much in those three weeks; i was worried for our tiny baby girl. daddy was steadfast; he said he just knew you would be fine.
the day came for our ultrasound. we went to the hospital and sat through what would be the first of many long, stressful ultrasounds. the tumor is benign and more of a pain than anything. but when they took a close look at you they that some of the measurements in your brain weren’t quite right. they didn’t know what to make of it. i heard them saying some scary things, but more than anything i remember the peaceful feeling in my heart. it was gentle and shattering all at the same time. i think i will remember that exact moment forever. they didn’t have very many answers for us, these types of things are hard to decipher as your brain is growing and changing everyday. we were getting ready to leave for new york city for dad’s big internship. through a few small miracles we were set up with the top neurological fetal development doctor at nyu.
the next few weeks were a stressful rollercoaster of emotions. i tried so hard to cling to the peaceful feeling i had felt...but the further away we got from it, the harder it was. looking back now, i think it’s the biggest lesson i’ve learned the last few years. my faith was shaky, all the “we’ll wait and see" moments were hard on my impatient self. i wanted answers. no matter what they were, i knew we’d be able to get through it. we already felt more love for you than i ever imagined we could. but all that waiting and guessing and hormones, they took their toll on me, and i felt helpless and frustrated that there was nothing i could do. i wanted a plan, i wanted to do everything in my power to help you, and prepare for your life. i started feeling like it was my fault. but your dad, he was calm and steady, just like he has always been. i’d talk and worry and he’d say the same thing, “i think it’s all going to be just fine, i have a good feeling.” if i could go back to those moments, i wish i could have been a little bit stronger for you. patience has never been my strong suit. i learned so much from you before you were even here. it seemed like we had a whole world of people praying for you. i hope you know just how many people love you.
i’d catch a taxi every week to nyu for my doctor appointments. they’d measure and calculate. some weeks were promising. some were discouraging. every week left our questions unanswered. we started planning for a little bit of everything. with each plan and discussion, we got a little more excited. there was a fierceness to my love for you. i felt a stronger need to protect than i had ever felt in my life. i knew you were meant for me, and i was going to do everything i could for you. my frustration and worry were still there, but there were more and more moments i grasped onto that peaceful feeling i had months before, and it grew and grew.
we headed back to utah to prepare for our baby girl. poor gracie had no idea what was coming! after a few false scares, they scheduled to induce me. driving to the hospital knowing we would be meeting you in a few hours was crazy! they gave me an epidural the second i got there, they wanted to be prepared in case your little body became stressed. after a rocky start you settled down and they suggested i get some sleep. sure enough, a couple hours later they came in to check on me, woke me up, rushed the doctor in, and 15 minutes later you were born. aunt chelsea snapped a picture of dad right as he saw you for the first time, it describes that moment better than any set of words i could string together. we were relieved to have you here with us. they rushed you to an incubator across the room to check you out. dad was nearly pushing past all the nurses just to get a peek at you. you screamed and screamed, they determined quickly that you had quite the set of lungs. we had a list of possible names, one of the nurses suggested we name you whichever one meant firecracker. it’s like they knew that’s exactly what you’d be. they brought you over to me and i got to hold you for the very first time. the second they laid you on my chest, you calmed down. and in that moment, i did too. after months of questions and testing, i didn’t really care anymore. you were here and that was all that would ever matter. daddy didn’t get to hold you for nearly an hour. i thought he was going to lose it. he picked you up the second they let him, and a bond was instantly formed.
i spent your first few hours just looking at you, wondering what you held in store for us. there were a lot of uncertainties still. just as i had with gracie, i felt like there was a piece of me that i had always been missing, and now that i had you i was complete. dad brought gracie in to meet you. we were pretty nervous, she was 19 months old and a little unpredictable. dad put you in her lap and she leaned down and kissed your forehead. she immediately took to the role of protector and has always been your biggest fan...despite her small biting phase, but you turned out just fine.
the next day started your testing. first was a series of failed hearing tests. i called your dad a little panicked. an hour later after releasing trapped fluid and finally a passed test, i called your dad and interrupted him watching youtube videos on sign language with gracie. there was no hesitation or discouragement. just pure love for you, exactly as you were. we are pretty lucky to have him. your brain scans showed the same irregularities, along with what looked like some brain matter loss. they couldn’t tell us what that meant. they sent us home with a twelve month plan to track your milestones and development. dad and poppa gave you the sweetest blessing. i cried through it all, but i remember them blessing us to feel comfort, and i remember feeling a sweet spirit. poppa and dad felt it too, and they both said they had a great feeling about you. poppa and grammie talked about how much they loved you, they knew you were special.
over the next few months i researched milestones and what to watch for. i was nothing but diligent. i worried i’d miss something, i felt i needed to catch any signs to make sure we got you whatever help you needed. i wanted to be the very best for you, and while my intentions were good, i wish i could go back and tell myself to just take a deep breath. your first smile came, and then your giggle. grasping and reaching, recognizing your name. sitting up and babbling. you nailed each one, most ahead of schedule. i relaxed as the year went on. by month nine your doctor and i both said how comfortable we felt with your progress and he didn’t feel like there was a need for another brain scan. it had been a year of uncertainties, getting those answers didn’t make us love you any differently. you are our maddie girl, and we love you no matter what. as we sat today and listened to you string together sentences and communicate like we couldn’t imagine, those moments seem so far away. as for all those irregularities and complications, all we know is that little brain of yours is unbelievable.
there were promises made to me about my life, in blessings and when your dad and i were married. i know that you fulfilled so many of them. you have stretched me to become a better person, helped me to see where my weaknesses are and have loved me in spite of them. you were made to be loved sweet girl, and i feel so lucky to have you. there is no one that knows you that doesn’t feel that. i sometimes sit and wonder what you have in store for the world. the mischievous twinkle in your eye and that giggle that stops me in my tracks is almost more than i can take. there's enough personality in you for a dozen toddlers, wherever you are there is fun to be had. you love your gracie the most. the two of you are unstoppable, i feel so blessed knowing you will always have each other. i love you for a million reasons and all because of who you are.
so to our moo baby, thank you for filling the last two years with more joy than one family could have imagined. happiest birthday sweet girl!
(and i figure this is as good of time as ever to apologize for your nickname. i can’t remember the exact moment you were deemed maddie moo, but gracie belle ran with it and it has stuck.)
//her favorite way to giggle//
//her best grumpy face//