nearly a year ago, emma entered our world with a thunderous clap.
i watched her from across the operating room, me in the midst of the final stages of an emergency c-section, her undergoing resuscitation. we were a pair the two of us. my red, life-filled blood overflowed the operating table, yet she was listless and blue.
after an unbearably long, cold, metallic silence, i learned through my husband's eyes that something was very wrong. no one was speaking. i didn't hear emma. i asked what was happening. the doctors and nurses were tightlipped.
then, finally, emma screeched.
but before i could see her, touch her, kiss her, she was wisked away to the neonatal unit where she stayed for over a week. a scattering of doctors and nurses slowly, cautiously informed emma's father and me about her numerous heart defects and the many other markings of her "diagnosis."
because of the newness of it all, the shock, the grief at the time, i couldn't see - or maybe, i wouldn't see - the markings of her strength and beauty. i saw only the curved pinky fingers. the thickened neck. the slanted, star-filled eyes. the flattened nasal bridge. the crease in her palms. the struggle to breath. the struggle to be. the struggles that lie ahead for her, for us.
she wasn't who we expected. we had prayed for a different child. for one who was healthy and strong.
from my vantage point, my heavy heart, all i could see at the time were her "weaknesses," her differences - the things, the features, the "defects" that would lead to a life of challenges and grief.
in truth, all i could see was me. i didn't see emma at all. i saw all of my real and perceived flaws and failings embodied in her 6 plus pound little body. sometimes, i still do.
but, i also see this gorgeous little ball of light and love and kindness and fun. this wonderous child who with all of her struggles (and she does have them), manages to show her father and me (and virtually anyone else who comes into contact with her) what it means to live.
to squeal with delight when she hugs her favorite doll or sees her daddy when he's returned home from work. to smile with her whole body when she wakes up in the morning and sees her mommy staring adoringly into the blue pools of her eyes. to giggle hysterically when she plays with the tamborine or drum or plays "airplane" in daddy's arms. to smack her lips voraciously over the darndest foods- from gazpacho to fennel and parsley-laden orzo, from hummus to fresh avocados.
to quietly listen as her parents say her (their) prayers at night with her ("now i lay me down to sleep, i pray the lord my soul to keep, thy shall guard me throughout the night (our adaptation to the traditional prayer) and wake me with lots of morning sunlight").
and then, when she's told she is sleepy and it's time to go to bed, she stares up at us, lets out a little grunt/squeal and flips to her belly and falls quietly, quickly asleep holding my hand tightly just as she did the first time i met her in the neonatal unit, emma laying on her back looking up with a rosey-cheeked smile through the plastic incubator, me reaching my hand in ever-so-gingerly to say hello.