Monday, March 3, 2008


I can't sleep. Not sure why. Still riding the waves of this past week, I suppose. New Orleans and getting the Award are fresh and in my thoughts every few minutes. I finished reading My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The main character is a girl named Anna. Two of the supporting characters are named Campbell (Cam) and Julia. Odd, isn't it? I found it to be outright spooky. I usually only read when traveling (ie on the plane or at my hotel) and before I go to bed. I look forward to that time of being all snuggled in with a good book. Took me 8 months to finish the last Harry Potter because I didn't want the series to end. Anyways...back to the latest book.

I knew when I went to bed tonight that it would be the night I finished My Sister's Keeper. I hate ending a book to be honest. I dunno what it is, but I like getting wrapped up in the lives of the people I'm reading about. Call it an escape from my reality. I knew that someone was dying at the end of this book. Christ, do I hate that. Seriously. Dying isn't my thing. Well, I'll spoil it for you (because if I don't, I can't get on with the rest of this entry!). Anna dies. (Not my Anna, the Anna in the book!!) I was devastated. Yeah. I was choked up. Losing a character that you have connected with tears you up.

Here's the ironic part and why I said I had to spoil it. Today, March 3rd, is my Anna's 8th birthday. Eight years ago today, I went into labor and 14 hours later gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl. (Whom I thought was for sure a boy!) I don't do pregnancy well. In fact, I hate it. Some women get that glow, the nails and hair. I get sick 24/7 for 9 months. It's like perpetual PMS. I was a raving lunatic. Emotionally, I thought I was going to lose it. I'm sure that Wayne felt that way too. We nearly got divorced because I was so bad. Sure sure, you say. But look at the baby girl you got in the end. HA! I reply. Pregnancy is not for the faint of heart. It can be the best and worst of times. Something that I have no desire to do again for no amount of love.

She was born at 8:01pm. Full head of black hair (like Cam and me when we were born). She weighted 8lbs 5oz and was 20 inches long. She would be named Anna Elizabeth. Anna after my great-grandmother Anna May McKenzie and Elizabeth after Wayne's grandma Wagner (she was Emma Elizabeth). Yes, I counted all 10 fingers and toes. She screamed like a banshee on fire if I recall. Her ears were bent over, like someone had folded them before she came out. Interesting sign if you ask me...a sign, you ask? Yes. A sign. Who would have foreseen that in less than 24 hours after being born, we would find out that Anna held a secret.

Some secrets are meant to be kept forever. Like the one about your best friend having a crush on the geeky computer nerd. Some secrets can't be kept. Like the one Anna had. In the summer of 1998, our local hospital started the Newborn Hearing Screens. Babies that were at "high risk" would have their hearing tested. Well, sometime later, they changed that to ALL babies would be tested. Anna was tested sometime during her first 24 hours. Carol (an OB nurse) came into to tell me the results. Anna had failed the screen. They would be testing again, before we went home. Usually it's fluid or vernix, but most babies past. Anna wasn't like most babies. She failed again and again.

Not for one second did I ever look at her as less than what she was. My daughter. The baby that Wayne and I had dreamed about for 9 months. Here she was. Cute. Pink. Smelling like that sweet baby smell. I remember laying in my hospital bed, just looking at her and dreaming about her first date, the senior Prom, her wedding and the children she will have. How could anything change the course we had choosen? How could anything take us down a different path? How could hearing loss alter the life of the most perfect baby?

The answer: IT HASN'T

Hearing loss hasn't changed Anna. It's part of who she's always been. It doesn't define her, but it is part of what makes her Anna. I'm sure as she grows we will have bigger struggles, but for now, we're celebrating 8 years of pure joy and a life that shines brighter each day. I look at Anna and see a very determined and spirited kid who loves life, loves dressing up and being a glam rock star. She loves to play the guitar and piano, she loves to write songs and wear dangling earrings. She's everything that I could have hoped for.

Happy Birthday, Anna. Momma loves you more than you'll ever know.


Mom to 5...Daughter of the King said...

You beautiful girl, I hope your birthday was amazing!!

Aunt Cheryl said...

I've got to quit reading this in the morning. I'm crying again (whats new). That was truly beautiful Melissa, as is our little Anna. She is a doll, she is unique and she is a very special to all of us (diva and all - lol). I remember her birth date like yesterday - and never will. I'll be singing to her later.

Dawn said...

AWWWWW what a wonderful post!!! What a lucky momma you are to have such a beautiful and awesome kid!!! I hope she had the bestest birthday any 8 year old princess could have!!!!

Our 7 Blessings from God said...

Happy 8th birthday, Anna! Melissa, that was a beautiful post. Thanks so much for sharing.

Kate said...

Happy birthday to Anna! Glad to see your trip to EHDI went well. I am headed to the Acousitical Socity Meeting on Wednesday in Arizona! Yay for warm weather! Then I have the Academy of Audiology meeting in April! Yay for ear conventions!

Megan said...

Tears welting up!! Thank you for sharing!!