Friday, June 19, 2009


so today . . . is my baby's birthday.

i guess i should quit calling her that--she is now 24 years old!

when rollie and i were first married, we talked about what we thought our family would look like some day. we always thought we would have two children--a boy and a girl. that is the family structure that both of us grew up in, and so that just seemed normal to us. the discussion usually centered around which should come first, the boy or the girl (like we had any choice about it!) i always voted for girl, which is the way it was in my family, and rollie always voted for boy, because that's the way it was in his family.

and then diandra appeared. she was perfect. she was beautiful. she was the world's best baby. not to mention, she was a girl and she was first (i was right~ i was right~)

she was the light of our lives. she grew. she learned to eat real food--even peas. she loved books. and her cinderella video. she can probably still recite every word of that video if she doesn't think about it too hard. she wore pretty dresses and always had one pair of red shoes.

and then one night, she stopped breathing.

she was 16 months old. i was rocking her to sleep, which i did sometimes, when she suddenly stiffened up and arched her back away from me. the pacifier dropped from her mouth, and when i looked at her, i could see she was not breathing. and she was starting to turn bluish . . .

i tried to heimlich her. it didn't help. i ran outside with her to where rollie was, screaming all the way. there were people at the church (which was right by our house) and someone had the sense to call 911, but since we lived so close to the hospital, rollie grabbed her from me and someone drove them to the emergency room. i say drove, but i am sure they flew. i followed as soon as i could, hysterical as i was. all i could think about was, "how can i call my mom and tell her that diandra is gone?!?!?" my mom would brave ice storms in the columbia river gorge to come see that baby. she would drive 7 hours each way just to spend a weekend with her, and i couldn't imagine how i was going to give her the news that i knew i was going to have to deliver.

i just knew she was gone. i knew how long she had been not breathing. i knew that even though we were only maybe three minutes from the hospital, it was going to take precious seconds to explain the problem and get someone to help her. i knew rollie had taken her from me, because he didn't want me to have to cope with what might happen.

it was a nightmare.

i fully expected to hear the worst when i went racing into the emergency room several minutes later. and then i saw rollie's face, and he said, "it's ok, she is breathing." i can't describe the relief i felt. i got weak in the knees, and i then i just lost it. it is always amazing to me how we can hold it together during a crisis, only to fall apart as soon as the danger is over . . .

she spent the night in the hospital for observation, and although i spent the night with her, i didn't sleep much. i kept checking to make sure she was breathing, which i did for many more nights after that. and she was. and has been ever since.

i did not know that i was going to share that story when i started blogging tonight. sometimes something happens to me during the day, and i think to myself, "there's my blog for today." but some days, i really have no idea what i am going to write until i begin. today i had a plan. it is diandra's birthday, so this was going to be a "diandra is my favorite daughter" blog.

but this is the story that came out.

i think diandra would say that her life was mostly happy and peaceful growing up. but she did experience some things that seemed too difficult for someone her age to handle at the time. and yet, she did. her adult life has taken some twists and turns that we would never have imagined. and yet she perseveres. i watch her deal with the difficulties in her life, and then use what she learns to help someone else. i watch her refuse to let other people rob her of who she is. i watch her become stronger and smarter and more compassionate. while her very difficult circumstances have had an effect on her, they have not destroyed her.

we sing a song at church that says, "i'm pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. i am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure, and His joy's going to be my strength. though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning."

i have found that to be true, over and over again.

i don't know why things happen the way they do, but i am very grateful that on october 31, 1986, diandra started breathing again. as it turns out, not only was she our first child, she is our only child. and while that was not our original "plan," for us, it has been the perfect plan. we have enjoyed her, and loved her every day of her life. i am so proud of her and who she is becoming. it isn't always easy, but she is making her life work! and although she doesn't really eat peas anymore, she is still the light of our life!

i love you diandra! you will always be my favorite daughter!!


Al said...

happy birthday diandra!

Mom said...

Your blog made me cry. Just think, we can't imagine, what our lives would have been like without Diandra, now that we know her. She has been given to us twice. She is loved by all who really know her and her joy for life is contagious. Not a day goes by that I don't think of both our children and their families and know that we are truly blessed. I love you all. And yes, girls are special, especially the first. Now I'll go get another Kleenex..

Diandra Ann said...

okay well i am just now reading this and you made me cry too. I havent heard that much of the story. I'm glad I started breathing again too. And you'll always be my favorite mom :) I love you!