Thursday, January 05, 2006

It’s Sophie’s birthday. 7 years. How did that happen? When I watch her, she’s grown up so much, maybe more than a typical 7-year old should be asked to. And yet, she still has her little girl ways. While she plays games with her dolls and feed them bottles and gives them naps, she still sleeps with a blankie and can’t get through the night in her own bed.

The picture is one of my favorites from when she was a lot younger.

I still recall the events surrounding her birth. Julie and I spent the day and night before she was born in the hospital. Jules had been dehydrated from a bout with the flu the day before and her doctor wanted her admitted to get fluids back in her body. When Sophie’s heartbeat wouldn’t stabilize, the doctor decided to induce labor. That was a long day, and I wasn’t the one in labor. Julie was miserable. How do women do it? She got no sleep, was in agonizing pain, couldn’t lie down for very long, and there was nothing good on television (that’s a joke).

The next day (the 5th), the doctor visited and determined that Julie had a partial Placenta Abruptio and that she wanted to do an emergency cesarean section. It was hectic, scary, and confusing for a couple of hours, but in the end, Sophie was delivered and in our arms in recovery.

Budd, Karyn and Max were there. My mom and Dad drove in. And Julie’s brother Michael (who, at the time, was living in California) was on hand as well.

The night, after our family left the hospital, Julie and I were getting ready to try and sleep, I happened to look down in Sophie’s cradle and noticed she was having difficulty breathing. Earlier that day, the same thing had occurred and our nurse instructed me on how to help her cough up some of the saliva she’d swallowed. After several attempts, she wasn’t getting any better. Like the hand of God was there with us, our nurse happened to check in before she left for the night. She took over for me, and after two attempts, she ran out of our room calling out “I‘m taking this baby to the ICU.”

After a moment to let this sink in, I wandered away from my bedridden wife to find the ICU. I remember walking blindly down the long white, sterile hallways and an eternity passing before I found the secured doors for that room. You have to buzz into this room and when I spoke through the intercom my voice sounded like someone else’s. This wasn’t happening to me. She was just born. The doors swooshed open and a nurse intercepted me, leading me into a small waiting area. However, I caught a glimpse of the doctor and nurses gathered around my tiny infant, working furiously to revive her. What must have been five minutes felt like five hours. A television was on in the background. I sat there staring at it, not knowing what to do... not knowing how to act. One thing that never entered my mind, though, was whether she’d live or die. She couldn’t die. I wouldn’t let her.

Finally, the doctor came in and was very pleasant. “She gave us quite a scare”, he told me, with a slight smile on his face. He must have been happy to save a life. He led me to Sophie, who was now on monitors and in a special, Plexiglas case. This wasn’t real. Those baby classes never brought up this scenario. I looked down at her helpless little body and was numb.

I returned to Julie’s side and we prayed together. I prayed all night. Was it a heart defect? Were her lungs all right? At exactly midnight, the clock in our room stopped. We both froze. I raced back to the ICU to make sure all was well. Sophie was still fine. It didn’t sink in until I called my brother to tell him what happened. As soon as he heard my voice he excitedly asked, “What’s happened?”

I lost it and could barely get the words out. Sophie nearly died.

The next morning, we went to ICU and she was doing well. Sadly, they began her on a series of antibiotics that needed to run their course over 10 days. So, we were unable to take her home with us that day or the next week. We would make round the clock trips to the hospital to feed her (even in the middle of the night). And she responded wonderfully. When we finally got her home to our 2 bedroom in North Hollywood, the path to parenthood felt complete. We truly were a family.

In a strange way, what happened with Sophie prepared us for what we would go through when Jake was born.

I sometimes wonder if the ordeal she went through changed her or affected her in some way. I know it altered my view of how fragile life is and how we need to appreciate the loved one’s and good fortunes we all receive. Sophie is a special little girl with an enormous amount of love to share with everyone. I love her dearly and I am so proud to be her daddy.

Happy birthday, Sophie.

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