sweet 16

16 years ago today I was the most scared and happy that I’ve ever been in my life.    She was so tiny – 5 lbs 2oz.    While she slept, I finished knitting her baby blanket – my first ever knitting project (ironically, I wouldn’t pick up knitting needles again for another eight years).   The next day the doctors would whisk her away to the neonatal intensive care unit for the next two weeks.   One of her lobes was slowly and unexplainedly expanding, and her tiny heart was in danger of being squeezed to the point it would stop beating.   The doctors couldn’t tell us why it was happening or how long she had, but  we were able to take her home for two weeks while we waited for the surgery.   I was only 20, and I was suddenly handing my month-old baby over to surgeons to cut her open and remove part of her lung.   I know what it’s like to be so sad that you can’t speak, you can’t stand, you can’t leave, you can’t hear, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep and you can’t breathe.   The nurses made me go home on the last bus every night, and I would take the first bus out each morning to return.   It must have been hours of sitting around watching her get stronger each day, asking the nurses if I could just hold her a bit longer, and waiting to talk to a doctor to find out what was happening.   There was nothing for me to do but wait and watch.   I was still scared when they told me we could take her home a week after the operation.   She surprised everyone by her resilience.   The kid was practically off baby tylenol a day or two into the second week.    Months later, you’d never know she was missing a lobe.  I remember thinking that she was a champ, that every scratch from here on in would be nothing compared to what she had endured.   I swore that that surgery would be the worst thing that would ever happen to her – that she had gotten the tough stuff over first, and from here on in it would be unicorns and rainbows.    Who was I kidding?  Although it’s never been as difficult and painful as those first few weeks,  we’ve gone through a lot.   She made me a mother.  She made me want to be a better person.  For her.   I’m always groaning about parenting a teenager, but maybe I’m upset that it’s all going way too fast.   And I don’t care what anyone says.  It’s easier to protect a little baby than a smart and beautiful teenager any day.   I kid you not – the boys line up.   And I still feel helpless.    I guess I’ll just have to hang in and be there.   Some things never change.   Happy birthday, Ellabella.

9 Responses to “sweet 16”
  1. Robyn Hall says:

    Beautiful…I love it! Nadine, you have a gift of putting thoughts on paper like nobody else…

  2. Julie says:

    what a gorgeous reflection on motherhood!! a beautiful post.

  3. Robyn says:

    Wow! 16! Happy 16th birthday!

  4. kat says:

    Wow – Happy Belated! Knowing you she had an awesome day filled with love, home baking and fun!

  5. Isa says:

    Wow Nadine. I was blinking back the tears reading this one.

    You are such a wonderful mother, and Ella has had 16 years of the best!

    Happy birthday Ella.

  6. Laura P says:

    Beautifully written!

  7. Kanna says:

    Awww Nadine…. Just like Isa, I did feel tears welling up… Congrats for making it this far, and squeeze that kid for me, will you?? 🙂 And yes teenagers are tough beasts… Remember back when? (talking about my experiment in being a substitute mom for my little sister 🙂

  8. Debbie says:

    Well I didn’t just feel tears welling up – I openly bawled. So beautiful, Nadine. I know you joke about having a teenager…but I see the love on your face, in your eyes, every time you talk about your girls. You inspire me in so many ways; parenting is one of them. Much love you to sweet, friend. And happy birthday, Beautiful Ella. ❤

  9. Pam says:

    Beautiful! ‘She made me a mother’ Sent chills down my spine.


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