A few days ago A turned four! It's hard to believe that four years ago was my darkest time ever. This time four years ago, I had just been discharged from the hospital, and went home without A, who was still in the NICU. The next day, July 5, she was transferred to Children's Hospital NICU, a much higher level of care, where she remained for eleven weeks. That whole summer, from Fourth of July through Labor Day and beyond was such a blur of sadness and fear.
We celebrated A's birthday yesterday with a party at Build-A-Bear. I invited five of her friends (children she knows from school and my own social life) so between them, A, and her brother, D, we had seven kids total. It was a blast! Each kid got to pick out virtually any animal they wanted. Then they got to name it, help stuff it, groom it, and pick out any outfit on the wall. A picked out a pink Flamingo (I helped her name it "Pinky") and she opted for an Ariel mermaid outfit for it. Too cute. After the Build-A-Bear part, we all trooped up to the food court where we sang Happy Birthday and feasted on an Ariel-themed chocolate cake and juice.
I was struck by how different my life is from the last time I was at Build-A- Bear. I took D there a few weeks before A was born, to make a "welcome to the world" gift for him to give to her. Back then, D had just turned two. He picked out a pig for A (named Piggy) and he also made a unicorn for himself (named Yogo...and he still loves this animal!) Just like the spiral dance I talked about a few months ago, my life has really come full circle from that day. Then, it was just me and D, blissfully unaware of what would happen when my daughter was born. Yesterday it was...just bliss. A celebration of A's life...how far she's come since those dark days. It was especially poignant to note how far she's come just since her last birthday....since turning three she learned to walk, and stopped using her feeding tube!
Build-A- Bear is now officially a place of celebration for me...and I will forever more associate it with the gift of my daughter. I know that even if A doesn't always cherish Piggy and Pinky, I will keep them always....reminders of her miracle.