A Question of… Fate? Yes, I think it is.

You know that saying, that when God closes a door he opens a window, well, sometimes out of nowhere he’ll do you one better and he’ll kick a whole wall down.  ~Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, Glee

Ok, so maybe it’s a little cheesy (I actually like Glee, but KSP subscribes to Dave Grohl’s position on the show), but I can’t help it because this is exactly how I feel about today.  Today is April 6, a big day for us as it is the adjusted birthday of the babies, they are officially 15 months and this time period 2 years ago was extremely critical helping our little angels come to be with us.  For those that think I must be kooky because I keep saying the babies are 17.5 months (ok that may not be the only reason you think I am kooky, but we can talk about that later), how is that they are 15 months today, let me explain.  The normal term for babies to stay in the uterus is 40 weeks.  When your baby is born prematurely such as ours were at 28.5 weeks, they basically just continue counting their gestational age (29 weeks, 30 weeks, 31 weeks, you get the idea) until they hit their actual due date (in my case January 6) and the time from this due date is called the adjusted age (essentially because they are adjusting for the  gross motor, fine motor and cognitive development from that point forward).  They do this because babies in uterero meet certain milestones for every week they stay in the belly, so for example the “suck, swallow, breathe” ability isn’t usually prevalent until approximately 34 weeks so this is when they will generally allow babies to start bottle feeding by mouth in the NICU etc.) So while our babies are actually 17.5 months,  they are evaluated developmentally  at 15 months which is their their adjusted age and what they would be had they been delivered on their due date.

Ok, so sorry for those that were like, yes, we get it, please continue.  My post today is about fate.  Some people see fate from a spiritual place, some see it as free will, some see it as coincidence and some don’t see or care to acknowledge it at all, and all of these are very personal viewpoints. I happen to see fate from a spiritual place but this message is not to convert anyone it’s merely to tell our story of what I call fate and how today it was prevalent in every part of my day.  If you look up “Fate” in the dictionary (online dictionary, do people still have hardback dictionaries?) you will find a few different definitions, but I am talking about fate as defined here from Miriam Webster’s Dictionary:

Definition of FATE

1: the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny

As I have said before, I believe that things happen for a reason and this to me is fate. So on to my story. When I went to bed last night, I knew that I would write about this, but what I didn’t know is that I would be shown so many examples today in stories from you all and one significant event for us.  When I woke up this morning, everything started as usual and after getting the wee ones ready, I looked at my email and I saw these amazing messages from friends and family.  My friend B from college was in a serious car accident last weekend and talked about finding strength after and opening her nice bottle of wine (note she only had one glass, she is on painkillers afterall, but can you blame her?!), and my friend T who has been shouldering an incredible burden of sadness and courageously shared in her comments on the blog, and my friend A whose baby boy Ev continues to battle his many issues that have been with him since birth and how she needed to know it was ok to lose it and sob for her baby as they took him off to his 16th surgery.  Fate has brought us all together.  Later in the day, I heard from an old friend who I used to work with and he told me the heartbreaking story of his baby J and how he struggled and how is home now and doing well, this part is not so much fate (or maybe it is) but rather please send your positive thoughts to the people who have courageously shared their stories, as you will see later in this post, it truly helps.

For some, Fate presents itself in a major way, such as people who miss a flight or change a ticket on a plane that ends up going down, or due to a good deed missed being at the Millennium Hilton on 9/11 at exactly the time the second plane hit the World Trade Center (like me) but my story today is not one that would ever make the evening news.   The experience I am about to share with you runs very deep into my soul because it involves both death and life of people that I love.  As I said last night, I had a very special relationship with my Grandma Grace and what I didn’t say is that this also extends to my Grandpa Virgil.  I would spend nearly every day at my Grandma and Grandpa’s  house. It was there, I learned to ride a bike, I ran away from home for the first time (note, since penny loafers are back in style, do not, I repeat do not wear these shoes without socks on hot days and walk long distances – you have never seen blisters so big) I would go there when I was sick (and when I was faking being sick so I could be there) to watch Price is Right and eat cinnamon toast with my Grandma (I think she knew sometimes that I wasn’t sick, but she enjoyed it as much as I did).  We didn’t have much money and they would ensure we had enough school clothes every year so we wouldn’t be embarrassed at school.  What they lacked in parenting ability for my mom and her siblings, they made up for ten fold in grandparenting.
So, 6 years and 7 days ago when my Grandma passed away I was devastated.  After my Grandma passed, my Grandpa began to deteriorate.  4 years later/2 years ago, he passed away.  If you are still with me, here is where I piece together this puzzle.  Beginning in late March 2 years ago, we had started the process of IVF.  The never-ending rollercoaster of hope and sadness month and month and year after year of trying to conceive had been too much and so we decided to move forward with medical help.   I had been doing all the appropriate preparatory steps (taking the hormones and getting daily bloodwork) religiously and for me the opportunity of science combined with the ongoing faith and conversations I had been having with my Grandma Grace to please put in a good word for us, gave me renewed hope.  At the time, I was working at a digital startup that was starting to experience some serious issues with our financing, so while things were stressful at work, the prospect of finally being able to have a baby was a respite and kept everything in perspective.  On the morning of March 30th (the day my Grandma died),  when my Fertility Doctor called and said, “I am sorry to tell you that the process isn’t working,  so stop the meds, but come in a few days so we can take one more blood sample to determine when we can start again,” I was crushed. (Since a lot people don’t talk about the IVF experience, it’s an incredibly precise process. Absolutely everything is monitored and measured so when they say it’s not working, it’s not working and they know because every possible detail is scrutinized).  We would have to wait another month. Three days later, I went in for the blood work as instructed and went off to work.  Admittedly I was in a funk so I decided to leave early.  Around 4 that afternoon as I was driving home from work my phone rang, it was the Doctors office.  They said, they were calling with good news.  “They weren’t sure how it happened, (he literally sounded baffled) and it’s nothing they had seen before, but according to my bloodwork my body had kicked back in and even though I had stopped the meds my body was doing the work on its own”.  I was thrilled! We could continue.  My mood lifted and I turned up the music and felt lighter as I drove down Santa Monica Blvd. I called a friend/client and chatted about business stuff and 15 minutes later my phone rang again, this time it was my sister K calling. Since I was on the phone with a client when she beeped in, I didn’t answer but she called again, and again.  I figured at this point something must be up (read, wrong), so I ended my call and answered.  She was hysterical, crying and saying she needed to find our mom because our grandpa had been taken to the hospital around 4 that afternoon and was on life support. She hadn’t been able to find her and had tried everywhere.  Our mom needed to get over there because it was time and it was important that she get there to say her goodbyes.  I instantly shifted into crisis mode to help her and eventually, bless her heart, she drove around town to places she thought our mom might be and found her.  And with a broken heart my mom went to the hospital where she helped to send my grandpa to be with my grandma.
It was a terribly sad time for our family but we took comfort in knowing they were reunited. 2 days later I flew home to be with my family for the funeral.  When I got there, we stopped by my grandparents house where my Aunt was now living to care for my grandpa and it felt strange, but I walked inside to the house I knew and loved for so long.  I sat in my grandpa’s favorite recliner and thought about how quickly it all happened and all of a sudden I felt like I was hit by a lightening bolt, my grandpa’s soul passing over was making room for our baby (we didn’t know yet if we were pregnant as we weren’t there yet in the process, but from this moment on I knew it would happen).  If you don’t believe in fate, I sound completely crazy, but at exactly the time my grandpa was declared brain dead, I got a phone call telling me for “some unknown, never before seen, reason” I was back on the road to having a baby.  I believe our babies have many guardian angels, but Grandma Grace and Grandpa Virgil sit front and center with KSP’s Dad Ellis (Q’s middle name is Ellis) in ensuring they and we are watched over in this journey.  This was a bitter sweet manifestation of fate for me, but I now know why we received the gift of 2 babies, one boy, one girl.

As I said earlier in this post, Fate has been a common theme throughout the day today starting with our friends and family posts and culminating in one big extraordinary baby E moment.  Since I was working today, I had a lunch in West Hollywood (for non La folks, it’s about 20 minutes from West LA where I work).  Since I had to drive by our house anyway, I looked at the shoes I was wearing and decided they were inappropriate for my lunch and on a whim swung by the house to change them.  As soon as I opened the front door, Miss D, E’s vision therapist was visibly excited and said “Just the woman I was about to call, we had a huge breakthrough today”.  She went on to tell me that E, sweet little baby E, who doesn’t look at faces, ours, hers or anyone’s for any length of time was actively looking at herself and engaging with her face in a mirror.  She had done it several times and was reaching out to touch her image and trying to put her mouth on the mirror to further explore (thank goodness we all get over the need to explore things by mouth, can you imagine meeting someone, shaking their hand and putting their hand in your mouth to learn about them, the image cracks me up).  So to show me, she pulled out the mirror and I watched, amazed as E looked into the mirror and smiled.  Smiled at her image, reached out to her face and smiled again as her head dove toward the mirror to give it a taste.  I was in awe and guess what I did next, I cried!!! Good grief…but they were tears of joy because this was such a huge step for her and us.  Eye contact is so incredibly important for bonding between parents and children.  You never see advertising with mommy or daddy staring at baby and baby looking over mommy and/or daddy’s shoulder or at their forehead.  He or she is always gazing lovingly back at mommy and/or daddy. We had never had this with E.  The human face is the most complex image for a child to process visually and with E’s delays she the input of her face, ours or anyone else’s was too much, until today. For me, this event has been my greatest priority. To have the moment where E sees me, and I know it, and she knows it and she smiles and stays there.  We are getting closer and closer.
And here’s where fate came into play…I wasn’t supposed to be home, it was a last minute decision. I would have missed this moment and not experienced it for myself and missed the chance to celebrate with my baby girl. But for whatever reason, I had forgotten that I had a lunch when I picked my shoes, and I made a last minute decision to change them and I walked in at exactly the moment when she was at her peak.  It was amazing! But it doesn’t stop there. Miss D went on to be incredulous about E’s experience today.  She said, “S, this just doesn’t happen. This is huge.  Usually babies take these steps in a small way and build up to repetition but she did this today, over and over, I can’t explain it”.   It was then that I told Miss D about the blog and all the people sending their prayers, love, support, positive thoughts and energy our way and how I truly believed this has contributed to this significant event. D agreed that she too believes that these positive contributions can make a difference.  As she walked out, she looked at me and said “and you weren’t even supposed to be here today, usually you are working and would never have been here at this time,” she too saw that this had been fate, if only for this moment in time.

Our challenges have been both our door and our window and today I feel wholeheartedly that the whole wall was knocked down and I can really only attribute that to fate in the moment that I took my leap of faith and you all caught me and showered our family with love support and positive wishes.  Like everyday, today, we thank you because we are a step closer to gazing at our baby E so lovingly as we do everyday and soon we can now believe she will look back at us and see us as she never has before.

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