Happy Birthday Olivia
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.