Eighteen years ago this week I sat in a leather chair in the high-risk section of the NICU at Baylor Hospital in Dallas and watched the monitors.
The monitors never stopped.
They scrolled and rescrolled and scrolled again with beeps and sounds and blinking lights in the darkness of the room and surrounded two extra-small 2-pound little girls fighting for their lives with every breath. I watched those two tiny twins holding on tenuously to every minute.
And even though I watched, I was never exactly sure what all the numbers on the screens meant.
Just between us? I never really understood any of it.
But that didn’t matter.
Because I am a mother.
And my mother’s heart told me that if I sat in that still, dark room with the lights of the monitors blinking in the darkness and kept an ever-present watch.
Nothing bad could possibly happen.
Every day there was a new challenge.
The doctors warned us not to be too optimistic. The battle they were fighting was overwhelming. The mountain ahead was steep and full of treacherous roads ahead.
They were twins.
They were born almost three months early.
They only weighed two pounds and some change.
And the doctors talked to us in soft low tones with voices that said, “Brace yourself.”
They told us there could be developmental delays and brain damage and retinopathy of prematurity and that they might have challenges walking. And they bandied about words like kidney issues and brain bleeds and vision problems and on and on and on….
….until I wanted to scream.
I wanted to scream from the frustration and worry and the pressure and the feeling like my heart was breaking in two and all the scary, frightening unknowns.
But I couldn’t.
I am a mother.
I was supposed to be strong and courageous and patient and full of faith.
But I wasn’t brave at all. I was scared and nervous and worried and overwhelmed.
So I did the only thing I could.
And watched the numbers and the monitors and the oxygen stats and the endless beeping…..
….and silently screamed in my head.
And then one day something wonderful happened.
As the nurse and I sat silently together in the NICU unit, one of the twins slowly raised her leg into the air and swirled it around.
Then she lowered it.
And raised it and swirled it again.
And at that moment—in that brief flash of a second—it felt like that tiny two-pound girl fighting for her life…..
….was trying to dance.
(the ballerinas from their NICU beds that the nurses made)
She didn’t know the odds.
She didn’t know about the beeping and monitors and the possible complications and the long journey ahead.
She didn’t listen.
She didn’t worry or fret or care.
She just danced.
They never looked back—those two dancers of mine.
They called them the “baby ballerinas” of the NICU.
The nurses cheered and encouraged and made these signs to hang on their incubators.
And week after week passed, bringing improvement after improvement.
Each day they grew stronger and bigger and bigger and breathed on their own and yawned and stretched and opened their eyes.
Until one day they defied all the odds and came home.
That was eighteen years ago.
Those two little tiny 2 pound babies are almost grown.
They defied the odds.
They are strong and intelligent and smart and funny and sweet and kind…
…I praise the Lord for the gift that he gave me all those years ago.
Something amazing happened.
Something that I never ever could have imagined all those years ago when the monitors were blinking and I prayed for every minute and life seemed so uncertain.
I am so proud of you my wonderful incredible ballerinas.
I cannot wait to see all the amazing things you are going to accomplish.
I know you are going to TAKE on the world…
…dancing every step of the way. 🙂
I love you.
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