I remember reading this quote as a kid, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Ah yes. This. Luck is an equation! It's not willy-nilly or out-of-control. It's about perspective. Got it.
Fast forward to when I was working at a soul-crushing, Boiler Room movie type mortgage office.
There was a gorgeous framed poster over the Xerox machine. I would read and re-read it every day as I copied mortgage forms, and tax documents for my clients. It would remind me, that life was not what happens to you. But how you happen or react to it. Again, I found something that confirmed, life is what you make it.
I hung on to those words until I found the courage to hand in my keys.
As I packed up my office, my fiance (now husband) commented on that same poster while carrying out the last box. Leaving the mortgage industry before the giant train wreck (aka Recession) was an example of me reacting to my career, my environment, the market. We joked that it would be fitting if we took it with us. We didn’t. (I'm pretty sure it was glued to the wall.)
It mattered to me that we both felt so strongly about that poster and its message. It mattered that my wildly supportive guy - got it. Got me. A year later, I bought it for him as a wedding gift. Eleven years later, it hangs in our home office.
And when our baby was delivered and went limp during a normal c-section...do you know what I thought of? That poster.
Ha! Not exactly. I was thinking, “Quit talking to us, doc. Get my baby where he or she needs to go.”
That’s right! In the same moment a nurse was yelling, "crash cart" and a doctor was mumbling, "The University of Chicago," we learned we had a baby boy! Talk about an experience. Luke was born minutes before midnight on St. Patrick's Day. Literally, a day where faith and luck collide.
As they wheeled me to the recovery room, this chatty, first-time, excited Mom was still loopy from C-section drugs. But I remember plenty. Like when I ignored my husband's sobering, teary-eyed, forced smile when I told him, "I want to name him, Luke Daniel, after my dad." That one look told me I had choices to make. I knew the one choice in my control was how I reacted to this rip-your-heart-out-and-send-it-to-Chicago situation.
I didn’t get to touch my kiddo that night.
Within four hours, they transferred him to Comers Children's Hospital for one of the biggest surgeries you can perform on an infant or an adult, a heart and lung bypass called, ECMO. I didn’t meet him for days. I was stuck in a hospital bed with a blood transfusion. We first spoke to him via Skype.
I'll fast forward to good news and tell you, Luke embodies "preparation meeting opportunity." He faced an opportunity that he was uniquely prepared for and we followed his lead.
At minutes old, you might be thinking -- how was he prepared?
He was born full-term, he required an in-house neonatal doctor, who knew a speedy ambulance team, and a well-equipped NICU just 25 miles away.
He took 45 days of specialized care, where he gathered family and prayers close to him, and he cuddled a Mama Bear and Papa Bear who practiced how to react to and reject any bit of news or diagnosis that didn’t fit for our family. That's what made us lucky. We learned our reaction to the situation (and to each other) -- that was in our control.
More than a year later, he is the walking, babbling, handsome little guy that fills our home with a contagious laugh.
I started this t-shirt collection as a side hustle to honor every Mama and Dada, every grandparent, or caregiver who has an imperfect birth experience and a Million Dollar Baby. I chose t-shirts because they remind me of home, where every baby belongs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not delusional. We met parents and babies with many different outcomes. Some great, some devastating. I know not every baby will come home. We had moments when we didn't know either, but I knew one thing that was true for every parent we met. Every family can find strength in how they react. If we can do it, you can too.
If I can be supportive or if I can create or curate something special for your journey, please reach out.
Wishing you all the luck,
Nicole (Luke's Mom)
PS A portion of your purchase will buy books and toys and the rest will help us pay off the remaining medical bills from our Million Dollar Baby.