On the biggest day of the school year, we were running late as usual. The chaos of getting a young child dressed, fed and out the door seemed nearly impossible, even though we had an entire year to perfect it. Out the door, in the car and off to preschool we went, hoping we wouldn’t miss her important ceremony. After dropping her off in her classroom, my husband and I joined the hundreds of proud parents eagerly awaiting their little preschool graduates. As “Pomp and Circumstance” began to play, it hit me—my baby girl is growing up.
Watching her up on stage amongst her peers, you would never know of her traumatic entrance into this world. You would never know that she was just one pound at birth and that she wasn’t expected to survive, being born more than four months premature. You would never know that she is a triplet, that her brother and sister are now her guardian angels watching over her from above. And you would never know the years of uncertainty we faced, wondering what the future would hold for our miracle child.
In those early days, nearly five years ago, I found myself in a haze. I should have been enjoying the pregnancy glow, but instead I was in the NICU, watching my babies through an isolette window. My triplets were born along the blurred lines of viability, their weak bodies being kept alive by machines. None of them were expected to survive; yet our baby girl, Peyton, became a medical miracle. Nicknamed “Diva” within days of her arrival, she proved to the doctors and nurses that the sickest babies could be the strongest fighters.
As I watched my daughter blow kisses to me from the stage, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. My husband and I had no expectations for our surviving triplet. We found ourselves grieving the losses of two of our children, while putting on a brave face for our daughter. Yet, we didn’t know what quality of life she would lead and I often wondered if she would be disabled or developmentally challenged. We never expected her to lead a healthy life, but our daughter had other plans. She overcame years of preemie issues and developmental delays, and on this night, I witnessed her graduating preschool on time. It’s a major milestone I never expected.
I glanced away from my daughter as I tried to hold back the tears, my heart pounding with pride. I looked down at the preschool farewell program and began to leaf through the booklet. Printed on the pages were the names of each student and what he or she wanted to be when they grew up. I chuckled as I spotted professions like “Batman” and “Ninja” sprinkled through the more common “police officer” or “teacher”. And then I arrived at my daughter’s name, the tears quickly rolled down my face.
When Peyton grows up, she would like to be a “kid doctor”. Yes, the same child who has spent the past five years surrounded by doctors and nurses wants to help other kids like her. At that moment, I realized how much my daughter truly understands. Her medically fragile childhood is now a distant memory, but those same doctors who are inspired by our medical miracle, are the ones who have inspired my daughter. What a perfect example of life coming full circle.
As the ceremony wrapped up and we were reunited with our graduate, she smiled and proudly showed off her certificate of achievement. As I leaned down to kiss her, I told her how much we love her and I whispered in her ear, “Dear child, you can do anything you put your mind to.” Who knows what the future may bring, but as this chapter closes, I know big things are ahead. My baby girl is off to Kindergarten in the fall, and from there, the sky is the limit.