~scribbled in my journal hours before giving brith to Rhema
Zero. My sisters and I, we believe eggplant parmesan to be the secret inducer. I eat a lot if it the Friday night, 2 weeks before your due date, because I want you out. To seal the deal I run a couple laps the next day, engorge on eggplant pizza and pineapple. I go into labor that night. (I’ve always been trying to get you to do things on my timetable, even your birth. Was I ever in for a rude awakening!)
The doctor goes in and digs you out. Ouch. A Red Cross message makes its way to Saddam Hussein’s hometown: She’s here. Your Daddy becomes a Daddy in a war zone.
You have hair on your ears! Your skin is cracked red, a nurse comments that you’re “overcooked.” Spiky black hair, puffy face, grey eyes. My mother and sisters cry and say you’re beautiful.
It’s quiet that night, after everyone leaves. I lay you in my hospital bed, film you with the video camera, just lying there for hours. You are actually kind of cute. “It’s you and me, girl. Just you and me.” I doze for a few minutes and wake up to an indescribable, undying love I’ve never known. The baby Sumo wrestler with the bad hairstyle has made off with my heart and changed me forever.
You are amazing, God.
You grow, and my love grows faster. You fill my life, you are my life. Every little thing you do makes my soul smile. Really? You’re mine? I can’t believe God gave you to me.
I have a recurring dream. We are sleeping. You’re on the edge of the bed. You’re falling. Night after night I wake, my empty hands reaching for you, grabbing, clawing.
Something is not right.
Baby girl, am I losing you?
Strangers come into my home, observe you, test you. They ask so many questions. I already know the answer. To say it out loud seems like betrayal. This isn’t a disease that attacks your body, this is a disorder that seems to make a charge against your essence, your intellect, your very personhood. To say it out loud seems like failure and I’m mad because I took folic acid and pre-natal vitamins and breastfed and crocheted a baby blanket.
The autism diagnosis comes from two different doctors, in case there’s any doubt. Your little sister is already growing inside me.
More diagnoses. A seizure disorder. A feeding disorder.
It will be more difficult than we can ever imagine.
Still You are amazing, God.
35 hrs/wk of Early Intervention at home. And Marlena and Lesley who, day after day, draw you out of your world, make you laugh and learn and play. All the difference in the world they make for us and you cannot tell them, but I know loved you them.
We find a special school for you, but it’s far away. You, my three-year old in 2T clothes spend two hours on a bus every day to go to school. I miss you.
Still You are amazing, God.
You do stints in the hospital. You endure countless meds and med changes, bad EEGs, then good EEGs, then bad again. You go through lead poisoning, and your father gone to war again.
You go to school closer to home. Your teachers are angels and miracle workers.
You learn to want to be with us, to communicate through PECs, to use scissors, to potty, to zip and button, to look at us, to trace your name, to ride a bike, to identify your family, to understand and say small-big words, to sit in church (sometimes), to say your verse.
You are amazing, God!
Happy Birthday, my girl. Seven. Said to be a number representing perfection, something that is full, complete. I see you, Rhema, and you are. Full. Of love, joy, contentment, determination, surprises, wonder, gratitude, excitement. I still can’t believe God gave you to me. And I do adore your essence, your intellect, your personhood, I love who you are.
He gives words to your heart, and He speaks through you, and I am speechless.
No matter how hard the day, you are my sweet dream.
I awake forever loving you.
Thank you, thank you, oh thank you my Lord for giving her to us.