But, to me, nothing is ordinary about it. In the space of a breath I remember the journey we took to bring her into this world: the desperation at hearing the problems we and she would face throughout the pregnancy, and possibly throughout her whole life; the crushing worry for her well-being; the feelings of helplessness mingled with a determination and ferocity so fierce it was nearly violent to fight for our little girl's life; the overwhelming love and concern that grew with each kick and roll; the tiny victories we celebrated together when we managed to get through yet another day without going into labor. This little girl who we fought for, prayed for, cried for, and pleaded for, is alive. She breathes. She thinks. She thrives. In the face of all probability, she is asleep in the next room clutching her favorite corner of her blanket.
The thing is, I would have loved her anyway if she was blind. I would have loved her anyway if she couldn't breathe without support. I would have loved her anyway if she had down syndrome, or a faulty immune system, or cerebral palsy, or metabolism problems, or any of the other issues we were told were a possibility. She was my little girl, and I just wanted her to survive her tumultuous fetal life. But not only did my Madeline survive, she defied medical odds and waited to be born until she was full term, something no one dared to hope, and is now completely healthy. She has never had anything more serious than a minor stuffy nose.
Her life and her health are nothing less than miracles.
I don't know why our family was given this miracle, especially when so many others are denied theirs. But I do not forget it. Not even when she wakes up for the eighty-seventh time at night. Not ever. Because I know how tenuous and uncertain her life once was. Because I know what if feels like to confront the mortality of a child. Because I love her with a love deeper than the ocean. Simply put, because I am her mother.
So when she cries and won't be comforted by anyone other than me, or when she wants to read that board book again, or when she spits out the food I just finished making, or when her giggles fill our home, or when her head rests on my shoulder, or when her arms reach for me to hold her, or when her large blue eyes meet my brown and light up with joy just because she's happy to see me, or when I watch her little body sleep - I will remember the miraculous singularity that is her life. I will remember, and I will love her all the more.
All babies are miracles, in their own way. But this one - this curious, vibrant, happy, demanding, hilarious, beautiful, loving little miracle - this one is mine.