Five years ago, I was in a hospital room delivering baby Hope. She and I both came dangerously close to death in those early morning hours; and following her birth, I was told I could expect to touch her and hold for only a few days....a month or two at most. How incredible it was to be told our baby was expected to die. Frightened beyond belief, I trembled each time I looked at Hope and hated myself for being afraid of my own flesh and blood. After a month in NICU, Chappy and I walked out the doors of Vanderbilt Hospital and took Hopey home; upon leaving, we were again warned she could die suddenly without warning: "Just be prepared" were the only words given to console. Throughout the terror-filled nights that followed, I chose to forgo sleep in order to watch my baby's every breath. I was determined to be by her side when she crossed into the heavenlies to meet her Creator, the Lover of her soul. Thinking back, I remember praying aloud with tears dropping from my face onto her bundled up sleeping body: "Lord, are you going to take her tonight? Please, won't You give me just one more day?" Ironically, I still pray that same prayer sometimes now....five years later. (Thank you so much, Lord, for five years!)
The first year of Hope's life marked the most difficult of my life; but finally, after seeing that Hope was determined to beat the odds, the doctors relieved me when they exclaimed: "Hope is obviously going to follow her own rules, so we aren't going to give you any further predictions about her life expectancy." (smile) That has proven to be Hopey's motto. For anyone who really knows our girl (Moore Elementary, I am especially talking to you).....she definitely marches to the beat of her very own drum. Ha! Ha! Head held high, that girl rallies those short little legs into high gear and marches (expecting everyone in her path to march too!)
Following a stomach surgery, eye surgery, three open-heart surgeries, and an aneurysm that continues to grow in Hope's heart, we find ourselves on the eve of celebrating our miracle girls' fifth birthday. My heart is full. I will post pictures of her birthday celebration tomorrow, but this evening, in anticipation of tomorrow, Caleb, Lydia, and Natalie have asked to honor Hope by sharing their hearts about baby sis:
From Caleb (big brother):
The light of my world.
The strongest person I know.
The most pure and innocent little heart ever created.
You are my girl; no one on earth will ever take your place in my heart.
The spot you hold with me is too special.
You are the primary reason I fight and do my best in all aspects of life.
It is hard for me to believe you are turning 5; you are and will always be,
my little "inspiration". Happy Birthday. I love you!
You might have Down Syndrome, but you are a beautiful angel to me. If you had not come into my life, I am afraid I would have become a selfish person who was not humble at all. You have taught me so much, and you are just a little girl. It is amazing. I cannot describe how much I love you. It is truly something crazy. People may stare at you and make snappy comments from time to time, but those people just need someone like you in their lives. You could teach them about blessings. Truly Jesus didn't make a mistake when He made you. I am blessed to be called your sister, and I love you Hope! Happy Happy Birthday to you.
Ever since you came into the world, you have been happy. I don't care if you have Down Syndrome, you are a sister who I adore. To me, there is nothing wrong with you. Without you, I don't know what my life would be. You are an angel. You are a blessing to me. I love you Hope with all of me!
And to close:
From a momma and daddy who happen to be madly and insanely in love with a feisty little green-eyed girl in pig-tails who has the brightest smile in spite of the extra-chromosome that makes life a bit difficult to manage: "You keep right on marching sweet girl! We will plan to celebrate number six, same time next year!"