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My baby girl is four. How did four years go so fast? It blows my mind how much children develop in a short amount of time. One day they can’t lift their heads and then suddenly they’re shouting, “Go away, Mommy!”

Lucy is my rainbow baby. She was born on a Wednesday evening in October. Our first day with her, we rested and gazed at our little creation. At midnight on Friday, we sent Lucy to the nursery so I could rest.

At 2 a.m. a doctor rushed in. He flicked on the lights. Our tired eyes were blinded.

“Lucy is exhibiting seizures. We don’t know why. She could have a brain injury. We will continue to monitor and report back.”

Lights out, and he was gone. He was like an apparition. We were left for hours with no answers.

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My mom and dad arrived at 4 a.m. As the morning wore on, our forcefield of support grew.

Seeing Lucy in the NICU was unbearable.

Her face was swollen from being pumped with fluids and anti-seizure meds. I watched as her little hands trembled. Her seizures were so delicate. I looked around at other babies, such tiny little creatures. At 7 pounds and 14 ounces, Lucy looked out of place.

My hospital made the decision to transfer her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They put her in a transport incubator with wires attached to her to track her vitals.

Lucy’s first car ride was in an ambulance.

We followed behind in my in-law’s car. I could see the little box through the back window of the ambulance. I can remember feeling numb. The morning was a tornado of scary medical terminology, and then she was in an ambulance. 

Lucy spent four days in the NICU. Only four days! It seems like nothing in retrospect considering some babies can spend months there.

The doctors said she had a stroke and the seizures were a side effect.

They weren’t sure, but maybe her umbilical cord could have been wrapped around her neck at one point during labor causing a lack of oxygen to her brain. My mom was in the delivery room with me, and she remembers noticing that Lucy’s heart rate dipped during labor. It makes sense that that would be the moment it happened.

They reassured us that her brain was able to recover and that she shouldn’t have any issues. I still don’t understand how a person can have a brain injury and be okay. The wonders of infants and the human brain.

We had the best and worst days of our life in a week. I’m still like WHAT?? It’s amazing what you can get through when you have no choice but to move forward. I relive those days every year on her birthday.

We met other parents during our stay in the NICU whose babies were in far worse condition. There were babies who had brain bleeds and babies on oxygen and feeding tubes. After we were discharged, we learned one of the babies in Lucy’s unit passed away. I found myself feeling guilty that Lucy was doing so well. While I questioned why is this happening to us, I was also questioning why are we so lucky?

I still harbor guilt about her injury.

How could I not? I carried her through pregnancy, and it was my job to get her out safely. Mom guilt to the max.

RELATED: Your Heart Never Truly Leaves the NICU

I’ve realized, if I hadn’t had miscarriages, if I hadn’t experienced what it was like to overcome an unexpected situation, I don’t think I would have been as strong for Lucy in her time of need. If we hadn’t experienced Lucy’s hardship, we wouldn’t have the wisdom we do now. It was impossible to reconcile at the time, but maybe things happen for a reason. Maybe it’s true God will never give you more than you can handle.

This wisdom has been put into practice these last couple of years. My husband and I know what roles we take when we are forced into fight or flight mode. I had both my sons during pandemic times. Having two babies in an unprecedented time in human history was scary. Regardless of my fears, I have remained focused on how blessed we are that we are armed with the skills to get our family through the lowest of lows.

I will always worry extra about Lucy. Not that I care about her any more than her brothers. I love them tremendously and equally. But it’s always going to be different for me with her. My first baby, my only girl, the most traumatic birth experience. I do know she will be able to tackle any obstacle in her life because I have already seen her overcome a big one. But such is motherhood, worrying is part of the job.

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Kate Ells

Hello, I'm Kate Ells! I’m a stay at home Mom of three from Philadelphia. If I’m not chasing my kids, I can be found binging shows with my husband or taking a minute to write about my life. I have always loved sharing stories. My hope is that others can relate and learn from my experiences. Follow along with my personal blog katesprandio.com

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