They called to tell me that my pregnancy is not viable, it appears to be a “blighted” ovum. How could this be?
It was 1997, at my place of work, where I received this phone call from the nurse. I headed to my boss’s office in tears to tell him the news and that I would need some time off. Luckily, at the time I was working for a Reproductive Endocrinologist, so I could speak openly of these things, as it was his familiar territory. The first thing he said was “call the lab and have them re-run the test using the bloodwork that they already had” and that “sometimes the lab can be wrong”.
This moment, of hope, and of disbelief all at the same time, was indescribable for me, it was truly a moment of God’s grace in action. And one of my first realizations that science is not always as accurate as they would like you to believe. The labs were inaccurate.
She was just a couple hours shy of being a July baby. If you are a mom, I probably don’t need to tell you how blessed, and afraid and excited and worried I was all at the same time!
Skipping 7 years ahead, it was the day of the Nutcracker ballet auditions, she was beginning 2nd grade. I received a phone call saying “Now what do I do, she won’t go in, and she’s crying in the parking lot.” I had been away on a girls weekend and asked my husband to be sure to get her to the audition on time. I knew as the mom, that she had a gift, a talent, a passion, deep down inside her that needed to be tapped into and nurtured. If she would only break away from the fear of stepping out of her own shadow, I thought to myself.
She never went back in to audition that day, my sweet shy 2nd grade girl, but once again, by the grace of God, the dance instructor allowed her to take part in the show and assigned her the role of an ANGEL, dressed in white with her skirt flowing to the ground, gliding along on the dark stage with a little lit candle in hand. My heart jumped with excitement and joy.
Dancers speak to us with their bodies, they flit and float and glide and twirl, each move with grace and purpose. I couldn’t have been more proud of her at that moment, even though she struggled with the audition, she did it, she got on stage for the first time!
Fast forwarding to this past December, the Sugar Plum fairy steps onto the stage and my heart sinks once again, tears in eyes, as I am behind the camera documenting this moment. Tears of love, joy, and accomplishment, with a hint of bittersweet sadness, knowing this was her last Nutcracker as she soon heads off to college. If you are not a dance parent, you should know that, “little ballerinas dream of being the Sugar Plum Fairy” and her “little” big dream had come true. And I feel blessed to have been able to document it all in photos.
As we approach her high school graduation and her 18th birthday all within the same couple of weeks, I couldn’t be more proud of who she is. I admire her for overcoming these fears and insecurities and pushing through to accomplish something she knew deep inside she was passionate about. From a shy young girl who used to run out of birthday parties in tears because she was afraid of the unstructured social scene, to a poised, confident young adult who persevered with grace, courage and beauty, both inside and out.
There really is no manual on parenting and motherhood, it is a self tutorial course in life, you learn as you go. It is an emotional journey, from the long nights of lying awake with a sick child, to those heart tugging moments when they are afraid to go to school for the first time, or when they had their feelings hurt by someone they thought was a friend.
As much as we want to see them grow up and thrive and spread their wings and fly, it is gut wrenching hard. No matter what anyone tells us, these transitions in life, such as dropping them off to their first day of kindergarten to dropping them off to their first day of college are difficult. It is a journey like no other, because the love that a parent feels for their child is so powerful. We want to protect them every second, even though we know they need to learn on their own. Some days I wish I could just go back in time to their early years, just to observe them and soak it all back in. Just for a moment.
As a parent there is nothing that my kids can do that will change my unconditional love for them, or the infinite pride of being their mama, even when they mess up and fall down. For we are on this journey in life which brings us down many paths. Sometimes that detour is where we are meant to go for a reason. It is all for a reason. It is these detours in life where personal and spiritual growth happens. You can put your heart and soul into something and have the door slammed right back in your face. That is okay, because this is where real authentic growth happens, this is where self esteem, character, confidence, faith and humility develops. This is also where you can turn to your parents, and to God and ask for help. This is life.
Over these 18 years, I have witnessed her commitment and persistence, her long hours of dance practice, even on the days she didn’t feel like it. This may not have turned out this way had it not been for our unconditional love, encouragement and guidance, her dance teachers’ endless hours of pushing, coaching and nurturing, her courage to follow through, and the grace of God which has allowed her gifts, talents and light to shine through.
If you have one of those little ballerina’s, afraid of their own shadow, encourage them, over and over again, nurture them, again and again. Help them to realize that they have a gift and talent that needs to be tapped into. For this world can be cruel and harsh at times, and kids can be mean to one another, but you are one of their biggest fans cheering them on. You are their best role model.
Although I don’t know what God has in store for her when she walks out the door on this new journey in life, I do know that she will inspire many little hopeful ballerinas who are afraid to step out on stage. I pray that she will keep God in her life decisions. I pray that she will love and be loved back, that she will be respected and show respect back. I hope that she will carry the morals and values that we have taught her, close to her heart. I hope that she will make good choices and wholesome friends. I hope that she will dance, and when she does, that she will shine as bright as the candle that little angel carried across the stage in 2nd grade.
No, I am sorry nurse, on the other end of the phone, she is not and never was a “blighted ovum”, she is life, she is love, she is grace, she is beauty, and she is a part of my heart.
And when she walks out that door, you better believe I will shed a tear. I will shed a tear of joy, and of bittersweet sadness as we all transition into this new phase. But I know that by God’s grace, once again, He will continue to fill that little part of my heart, and I will continue to love her and watch her grow to be the woman she is meant to be in this life.
I hope you will enjoy these photos that I have collected over the years. These will be treasured for years and years, to remind me, always, of the the love that comes from keep inside a mothers heart.
On this graduation day and your 18th birthday, know that I love and admire you, dear daughter.