It has been such a long, long time since I’ve been present in this place that I’m not even sure I know how to write anymore. I feel so foreign at the keyboard. My fingers seem to be dragging the words out of my brain like some literary taffy pull and it isn’t a fun feeling.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had writing. It has been my way of processing the events that swirl around me. It has allowed me to create order of the chaos that I feel inside my “generalized anxiety” disordered mind. Last year after my miscarriage I lost more than the precious baby I carried inside me. I lost a bit of my footing, too.
Three weeks after my D&C I discovered that I was pregnant again. I will not lie. It was a terrifying moment for me. The weight of my loss hung so heavy inside of me that I wasn’t prepared to discover new life there again. I had spent 5 weeks feeling like a walking tomb as I waited for my body to deliver the baby and to discover life again in that tomb was a shock.
My heart beat so loudly at my first midwife’s appointment that I thought it might burst forth from my chest. It was a true miracle that they discovered a heartbeat so early and I will forever be thankful to the kind and patient midwife whose steady hands coaxed that sound out of the fetal heart monitor.
Still, in my nervousness, it took me 4 months to tell anyone I was pregnant. I spent the remaining 5 months in an absolute panic. I was terrified each day that I would awaken to find this baby gone as well. I was scared to be excited. Scared to be happy. Scared to be hopeful.
I remember the morning of the day I went into labor. I woke and frantically poked my sweet girl to get her to move. I needed a reassuring jab in the ribs to make me relax and know that she was okay. She obliged and kicked me lovingly in the bladder. I’ve never been so happy to almost pee my pants!
Viola Sky Ahonui Loving was born just after midnight pushing her into a May 1st birthday. A very important thing to her 10 year old sister whose birthday I spent laboring. My first and last baby born nearly exactly ten years apart. There is something really special about the timing of that.
Viola was breech, a fact which surprised everyone but me. I had spent the last couple months telling the midwives only to be reassured that I was wrong. But I knew, as mothers often do, where this baby of mine was nestled. My C-section, one of the family centered variety that I will blog more about some other time, was as lovely as a C-section could be. I nursed Viola immediately and snuggled her skin to skin. I marveled at her dark hair and her big milky eyes and one other thing– the fairly large pre-auricular skin tag by her ear.
I remember looking uncertainly up at Thomas as she was passed to me. Is she okay? I mouthed. Is something wrong with her ear? The midwives, sensing my concern, reassured me that it was a simple skin tag. That she was fine. And that old monster of anxiety that had plagued me the last nine months crept stealthily into the operating room. Something was different. And I did’t know what.
The next day was spent in those blissful newborn moments. Oh, how I love those first warm days of life with a newborn. The tightly wound ball of anxiety in me started to uncoil. Viola was fine. She was better than fine. She was amazing. And I nursed her and kissed her and wrapped my arms around her every minute of the day. When she didn’t pass her hearing test on the second day I was assured that it was perfectly normal for that to happen with C-sectionn babies. But then she didn’t pass it the next day and I got worried.
Maybe I had been right. Maybe something had been wrong. She looked so different from my other children in their newborn state. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I spent time on Google feeding the monster with every possible scenario that could be causing her differences. I became convinced that the doctors and nurses were scared to tell me what was going on with my baby. I knew where this anxiety spiral would lead me and so I put a call in to my midwife for my usual post-partum anti-depressant cocktail before I was even discharged.
Eventually we had her pre-auricular tag removed. She kept failing hearing tests and we were assured that any hearing deficits were minor so we continued to enjoy what a beautiful sweet spirit our Viola is.
There were things I noticed, though. Torticollis. Slightly twisted arms. A precious little tongue that perched out on her lips all the time. And her skin. She had rolls like I had never seen in a baby before. Soft, sweet bunches of skin that reminded me of wearing socks that were far too long for your legs. The skin bunched up around her thighs and upper arms. But I assumed it was just the result of some good breastmilk, kissed those sweet arms and legs, and moved on. The monster would not take my enjoyment of my daughter away from me.
And then we went on vacation. We spent time at the beach and in the sun and I looked at my little girl more and more. I was getting closer to discovering just what it was that was different about her. She was little. Not just small. Little. My mom and sister and I took some pictures of her and sent them to a friend who is a Little Person and a pediatric PA. Could Viola be a Little Person? Could that be what I had been missing? What everyone had been missing?
The moment the question was asked I knew. I mean, I just knew. THIS was it. And I was flooded with relief. Because I finally felt like I had discovered the truth that my daughter had been trying to show me. She was different. She was amazing and beautiful and she was Little. And I was relieved to know who she had been all this time. We were months from any real diagnosis* but I didn’t need a doctor to tell me what I had known all along. I could see her so clearly now.
I remember driving home from San Destin and being somewhere in the midst of Alabama and just mentally digesting the possibility of what new information would be ahead of us and I wept. Not with sadness. Or disappointment. I wasn’t unhappy that my daughter was a Little Person. I had met too many amazing LPs who had accomplished great things for me to be fearful of “disadvantages” for her. I wept with relief. And understanding. And a bit of nervousness for the ways this world might treat her. But, also, I wept with love and thanksgiving. I was so thankful to be given the opportunity to parent such a special girl. I was thankful that she was born into a family with a sense of humor and a fierce sense of protection for its members. I knew in that moment that Viola would be fine. More than fine, she would be amazing. Like each of my kids, she would be deeply loved and cherished by each of her siblings and by her parents and by all the members of our family.
Her differences don’t make her more special than my other children. They don’t make her more important. But they do make her a unique gift to our family. Each of my children have changed our family for the better in so many ways and though Viola may be smaller in size her gift to our family has been monumental. And I wouldn’t change a thing about our sweet girl.
*UPDATED: In August of 2015, after a trip to see the (amazing, awesome, wonderful) Dr. Bober at DuPont Hospital we were given Viola’s diagnosis of Hypochondroplasia. You can read more about that here.
Just a few hours after meeting Viola. I was exhausted but completely in love!
Just minutes old, Viola meets her daddy for the first time.
Our sweet girl is one! Oh how we love her.