When my youngest brother, Michael, and his wife, Jenny, announced that they were expecting, my heart was filled to its brim with love, joy, and excitement. Of all people in the world to become parents, I knew these two would be exceptional parents. Having gone though a lot to conceive, it was their special time! Our families came together to become one, as we learned that there were THREE.
Yep, triplets. Three of everything. I made quilts, crocheted soft, little baby scarves, bought clothes, stuffed animals, and loads of pink. I stood by and cheered Jenny on, as she was ill throughout the entire pregnancy. "It will be so worth it", I'd say, as I offered Reiki and smiled to her belly. Those babies were all girls. They say it takes a special man to make a girl. And well, Michael is THAT special, he gets THREE.
The girls were born at Lankenau Hospital on October 1st, 2013. They were a bit premature, as multiple births many times are. They each weighed 3 pounds. Everything was perfect. They were healthy and quickly admired as they lay incubated in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) About a week later, we got a phone call that Maya had developed NIC (necrotizing enterocolitis) which is a common, but serious condition affecting premies. Her digestive system was slightly underdeveloped and now infected. At nine days old, she was moved to the NICU at DuPont Hospital for Children. Maya had intestinal surgery. We were able to visit only by appointment. I just sat and wept, as I prayed. Each of us reached out to family and friends and every prayer warrior that we know. Each day was long and intense. Those of us, in our family, as Maya's parents, as her grandparents, and as her aunt and uncle, faced it and reacted in different ways. We came together during this most difficult time. Seeing the newborn cut across her six inch wide body was the most difficult thing I have ever been through in my life. We had no idea, at that time, that Maya would then go on to suffer dangerously high fevers, MERSA, and one medical challenge after another. Every time my phone rang, I paused, took a deep breath...Months of constant prayer and talking to God.
The staff at DuPont was incredible. They had a great idea, early on, and insisted that Jenna and Eva be moved from Lankenau Hospital to DuPont be with Maya. Since Michael and Jenny were making several trips a day to feed and visit all of their girls, this was absolutely amazing, and I believe, life-changing for Maya and her sisters. Immediately, Maya responded favorably to being with Jenna and Eva. For brief visits, Maya was able to lay entangled with her sisters, despite the many tubes and wires that filled the sterile room. If you want to talk about tears, ask me. As if that weren't enough trauma, as weeks went by, Maya's vocal cords were damaged, as a result of surgeries and tubes passing in/out. Have you ever watched a newborn cry and hear no sound. My heart broke. We stood by and were completely blown away by her strength and resilience. As an infant, doctors realized that she had hearing loss as well. After many appointments with specialists, Maya, received two cochlear implants. Guess what? Her voice is now carrying words that make terrific sentences. At age three, Maya, with an aide, began taking a bus to the city to the Clarke School. I love watching her march on and off that bus, all by herself. Wow! She has a world of her own; teachers who adore her, friends who love her company, and has become independent beyond belief. Her hugs and really tight squeezes make my life better
The Alfred I. DuPont Hospital saved Maya's life. We have thousands of texts, videos, and moments of pure joy with the "Izzi Trips." They are five years old now. They are so beautiful and different from each other in many ways. Jenna and Eva have become watchful over Maya, and the bond between them is outstanding. We love watching them with their dog, Nico, play with their cousins and friends, act, make music, sing, and dance.
So, you are probably wondering why I am sharing this story now, five years later. Well, it has taken me this long to NOT CRY, every time I sit to write it. Maya has blossomed. Her heart shines though her smile. She is fearless and so full of love. She laughs, screams, and doesn't let anything stand in her way. She is a happy, smart, and amazing five year old.
Two weeks ago, my nieces performed in their very first dance recital. Not a big deal to many. But to me, it has enhanced my life. With her sisters on stage, Maya stood front and center, with a crew of other young dancers, and led the way. She knew every word, every step. The other girls watched her lead. She smiled the entire time and with her arms in the air, ran from the stage. After a lengthy bow, we can talk more about tears now!
There are no words to describe this joy in watching them grow. It makes me proud and so joyous to be called “Kiki” when these three come running. God has blessed me with them. I am grateful. And, I am still joy-crying as I edit....