Anne Peterson

Healing words for wounded souls.

Happy Birthday Olivia


Olivia's cake-square


Can I breathe now?

Yesterday was my granddaughter’s first birthday, Olivia Jane.

The image above is the beautiful cake Heather made for her daughter.

Celebrating is always fun. Especially when it involves your family members.

But yesterday was especially significant because we were told our granddaughter would most likely die before birth. “Trisomy 18” were the words they used. A genetic disorder.

But no one told Olivia.

I still remember when she came last year. I fell asleep around ten o’clock, knowing full well she would be coming any day, any hour.

My daughter woke me at midnight. “Mom, it’s Nathan on the phone.”

Half asleep I tried to focus. “Mom, it’s time, can you come?”

I was to watch the kids, so we tried getting a few things together, which is difficult when you’re half asleep.

I was anxious to get there, but scared to death at the same time.

I wanted Olivia to come, it’s just that I wanted her to stay, and no one could guarantee that.

The fifteen-minute-ride took too long. I prayed through my tears.

Arriving at my son’s house he met us outside. Heather was already in the van.

It was obvious he was scared.

“Mom, her water broke. I just had to leave it.”

“Go, go, go!” I softly yelled and then I gently waved to Heather as she gave a small brave smile.

As we walked into her house I burst into tears. Tears that had been stuffed inside me.

Cleaning up the bathroom, I prayed for Olivia. I praised God for who he was and thanked him. I didn’t know the outcome, but I knew he did. He had created her.

I prayed for Olivia’s safety, I prayed for Heather. And still I prayed that she would live. 

On November 18, 2014, I had written the poem, “I’m gonna pray, Olivia.”

But honestly, my prayer was that the doctors were wrong. I wanted Nathan and Heather’s 4th child to be as healthy as the others. I did NOT want her to have Trisomy 18.

Finally my daughter and I laid down. We knew morning would come soon enough for the sleeping munchkins upstairs.

It was about 5:00 when we got the call.

“Mom, can you bring the kids to meet their sister?”

I gasped, and then said, “Yes, I’ll get them ready.” No other words were spoken. I just got ready to meet my granddaughter.

And so I awakened her siblings. One almost 8, one 6, and Ruthie who was 1 1/2.

“It’s time to get up. Your sister is here.”

“She’s here?” Jude asked, looking puzzled.

“No, I mean she’s born,” I said, smiling at how literal kids are.

They moved groggily until I said, “Jude, don’t you want to see Olivia? She’s born!”

With that, Jude moved into high gear and then I worked on Charlie.

In a few minutes we were at the hospital. I explained why we were there.

I was asked to bring in the kids first and then I would get to meet her. I was more than glad to wait my turn, glad to see my son honor his family unit.

So I continued my ongoing conversation with God. One I had started when we found out the baby had Trisomy 18.

Heather’s parents were also there waiting to meet this special new addition.

We didn’t know how long we’d get to know her, but we knew it was God’s grace that allowed us the opportunity.

And when my turn came, I sat and smiled as tears rolled down my face. For there I was holding a miracle.

And now we just celebrated Olivia’s birthday.

Surrounded by those who have prayed for this little one and lifted the family in prayer, we were all thankful to be part of this special day. A day we never thought would come.

God, you didn’t answer my prayers, but you did let us all meet her and love her.

And we give you all the praise.

I remember asking Charlie why his little sister was named Olivia.

“Is it because of the little pig in the children’s book, Olivia?”

“No,” he said, acting a bit irked.

“O-live-ee-uh. We called her that because it had live in it. We want her to live.”

At Olivia’s party, we were given little red bracelets with the words “Oh Live” on them.

We were encouraged to wear them and to remember to live life. To live the hard, scary parts as well as the other parts. To not let fear hamper us in our day-to-day.

I smile as I think of last night and how we sang “Happy Birthday” to Olivia.

It’s awesome being able to see a miracle up close.
Thank you God.

About Anne Peterson

I write words you can feel, sometimes they rhyme. If I'm not writing, I'm telling stories from my head, to little ones who call me grandma.

18 Replies

  1. Starr Ayers

    Oh, how I love, love, love this. Happy Birthday, O-LIVE-ia! What a little angel you are. May God grant you many more years with your family.

    1. Starr,
      Thanks so much for reading. I’m looking at my bracelet right now as I type this. And it’s a great reminder of that night
      and also of how important it is that we live in the moment. Thank you for your prayers for our little sweetheart.

  2. Nancy Hance

    Very deeply felt and written. Thank you.

    1. Nancy,
      Thank you so much for reading. And you’re welcome.

  3. Anne, I’ve followed the photos you’ve posted over the past year as well as updates on this precious little one. I remember the “first” first birthday photo was as I recall one week (may have been one month). And now it’s one year! Olivia’s life is a reminder that each of us should not worry about the future, but take life one day at a time.

    So thankful for this little miracle and that you are celebrating one year.


    1. Joan,

      Not only have you followed her story, you were part of it by praying. Thank you so much for all the prayers. We had a wonderful time of celebrating this past year the other day. I’m sure the words spoken will remain with us. And we were challenged to look at life differently and the little bracelets we were given that say “O live” will serve as a great reminder.

      I am so full of thankfulness. And we know every day is a gift.

  4. Oh live, indeed. We should all wear such a bracelet. Happy birthday little one. I am celebrating with your family tonight.

    1. Crystal,
      Looking at my bracelet right now and thinking of sweet Olivia and also thinking of how she is teaching us to live life.
      Oh did I need that lesson. Thanks for reading.

  5. Sue K

    This made me cry – tears of gratitude, thankfulness, relief, that “O-live-ee-uh” still lives, and that God, in the difficult days, has also brought your family Joy. God=Love. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sue,
      There have been a lot of tears of gratitude on our end too.
      And she sure has brought us a lot of joy. She’s such a sweetheart.
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

  6. Olivia’s story continues to be such an encouragement to me. Thank you for sharing it, Anne.

    1. Kendra,
      I’m so glad that it’s encouraged you. It certainly lifts our hearts.

  7. What a beautiful cake for your miracle grand-daughter. You write so movingly about your hopes and prayers for her and your gratitude for having her.

    1. Andrea,
      Yes, Heather made the most beautiful cake. She does for all her kids, but this one was special in many ways.
      I am full of joy that we have gotten to not only meet her, but get to know her a little. She is so special.

  8. Tina

    Hi Anne. Thanks for this story. Thanks for your tender heart. Thanks for your transparency and I am praising God for O-live-ee-a and how her life has brought God’s grace and mercy to our hearts!

    1. Tina,
      So glad that you got a chance to read about our little miracle.
      So many are praying for her. Please don’t stop. Then you get to praise God with us when he answers prayer.

  9. What a beautiful post, Anne!

    Little Olivia has more soul in her than many. What a blessing and an example she has been for all of us.

    I can imagine your joy for having her this long; your hopes, as well, that she keeps going. I pray for that; for her and the whole family.

    As I was writing earlier, a miracle hides behind every hardship! We keep praying that God allows us to see and live those miracles.

    May 2016 be another year of miracles for the little Olivia and all of you!

    1. Katina,
      Thanks for reading and for your comments.
      I agree there are gems behind each hard thing we go through.
      I’m one that believes in embracing your pain, then God will show you what he has in store for you.

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