What has really happened is much greater and more overwhelming than a wedding, actually. I learned in April that a friend of mine, Wendy, was pregnant. (We've technically known one another since high school, introduced by mutual friends we still share to this day.) It was honestly all she ever wanted, and I was so happy for her. She was due on December 11th. A few weeks later she learned that there were some complications and health concerns with the baby, and eventually it was revealed that the baby had a number of severe and potentially life-threatening complications - Turner Syndrome, cystic hygroma, and hydrops (the Latin name for it is hydrops fetalis, which is pretty direct and terrifying). A few months later, she and her husband learned that the baby was not growing adequately in the womb. She was now also facing intrauterine growth restriction, and they suspected it had to do with intermittent/absent umbilical cord flow.
On Friday September 7th, she was admitted to the hospital on bed rest. I rushed with Christine and Katherine to Babies R Us and we purchased Dreft and preemie clothes and receiving blankets. We wanted to make sure our friends had something. We washed the clothes and blankets at my place and drove like bats out of hell to the hospital with them so that she could keep them with her, not knowing what the future held.
On the 16th, we had a Mama Shower in her hospital room because she never got to have a baby shower before she was admitted, and we wanted to show her love and bring her things to keep her entertained. We had spent, and would continue to spend, many days and nights with her at the hospital keeping her spirits up. I was there so much that my friend's grandmother thought I was her nurse.
On the morning of the 24th, her daily monitoring revealed that the bloodflow in the umbilical cord was no longer intermittent/absent. It was reversed, or taking the life out of the baby. They performed an emergency c-section and Jordan Aubrey was born at 3:35pm, weighing in at 1lb 14oz and 13 3/8" long. She was just shy of 12 weeks early.
Perhaps the thing that tethered me so tightly to this experience, beyond being there for a friend in need, is that Jordan's due date was also the birthday of someone in my life who passed away a few years ago, Elizabeth. I've written about her before here, and I carry her in my heart always. A few weeks before my friend was admitted to the hospital on bed rest, I sent her an e-mail telling her the story of Elizabeth, and also sharing that it has always been my belief that when souls pass each other up in Heaven (or wherever we go), they send the new life down to Earth with similar characteristics to the person who passed. In Jordan's case, I feel in my heart that Elizabeth is her guardian angel, and I can see this to be true already in her brief life so far. Resilience, perseverance, stubbornness, beating the odds. These are all things Elizabeth did with grace and gentleness, and all things I can see in Jordan already, too.
Photos by Jordan's dad, Jason Dunham