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A Letter to My Daughter, the Little Girl Doctors Said Shouldn't Be Here

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Dear Piper,

My biggest wish is that one day, you will know in your heart of hearts how truly fierce, capable and resilient you are. If you understand and believe in what’s inside of you, you will be able to accomplish anything you set your mind to.

When you were just 6 weeks old in my tummy, that was the first time we thought we’d lose you. I started having horrible bleeding, and in my mind, there was no way you could’ve survived it. We had to wait weeks before we were able to go in and see that amazing, strong little heartbeat fluttering on the screen. Your dad and I breathed a sigh of relief, if only momentarily. We repeated this process several times throughout those early months. Episodes of bleeding in which we were told we would most likely lose you, that you had a 50 percent chance of making it, that you were hanging in “for now.” 

At 20 weeks I was sitting on the couch and felt a gush of fluid. After nervous laughter (“Did I just have an accident?”) and frantic calls to the doctor, we found ourselves driving 90 miles to the hospital in the middle of the night. The results? My water broke, and there was no measurable fluid and next to no chance you would survive. We were told most women would go into labor within the next 48 to 72 hours. If this happened, I would have to deliver; they would not stop the labor. If I did not go into labor, I would be sent home until 24 weeks. At that time we would be admitted into the hospital until you decided to make your appearance. 72 hours came and went and nothing happened, so we went home. Every week we would again drive the 90 miles to the doctor’s office and have blood work and an ultrasound done. Every week there was still no fluid, but we were a little more hopeful. However, we were reminded that with little to no fluid for your lungs to grown and learn to breathe with, you may not survive after birth, no matter how long I was able to stay pregnant. 

When we neared 24 weeks, we were told that if we wished to end the pregnancy, we only had a short period of time in which to do so. We declined, having said from the start that this experience was yours only, and that we would support you for every second of it. I believed how long that would be was up to you. 

Around 25 weeks we traveled to the next state over so that we could be in the best hospital to save your life. Before you were even born, we knew your life would require saving. To our heartbreak and surprise, they told us you were too small, had major heart conditions and most likely a genetic disorder. Any one of those alone would have been a battle. However, all three of them, along with the fact that you had spent the last four weeks with no fluid and would definitely be born premature — it was too much, they said. You most likely wouldn’t survive. We were asked what we wanted to do. Again, we stated that this is your life, and we wanted everything done for you.

During the stay in the hospital, we were told things like your chest to abdomen ratio was at a “lethal level,” and that they gave you a “1 percent” chance you would live. We had one doctor tell us she had so much more hope for your survival last week. 

Guess what? You were born, all one pound, 10 ounces and 11.5 inches of you at 28 weeks. You made it through the first week, then the first month and now two years. You fought through 128 days in the NICU to come home with a resolved brain bleed, feeding tube and oxygen. You have had countless doctor appointments, therapies and hospital stays. Just when we thought we had one thing taken care of, it came back and you are fighting that with the grace and fierceness you have from day one. There are hard days, but there are days full of smiles, laughs and lots of hugs and kisses. You are a survivor. The world may know statistics and possibilities, but it didn’t know the heart and soul in one pint-sized little girl.

Originally published: September 5, 2015
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