2012 – Joy and Uncertainty

There will be hands carrying you,
arms in which you will be safe,
and people who will show you without questioning
that you are welcome to this world!

Markus and I met in 2010 and got married in April 2012 when I was already pregnant. In May 2012 I moved from Constance to Heidelberg, where Markus worked as an astrophysicist. Milly was scheduled for 24 July 2012. The months before the move were filled with planning and organising. However, the pregnancy was without problems. The only thing that worried me was that Milly moved very little. Already here the comparisons in the birth preparation course began. But bored I went to the screening examinations, there were no concerns. We also completed all recommended prenatal diagnostic examinations. Everything was fine. We did not have an amniocentesis performed. But it wouldn’t have worked either. Milly’s genetic defect could only have been discovered with a method after everything was already in place. If someone approaches me today with prenatal diagnostics … There is absolutely nothing that can predict or guarantee the health of the unborn child.

Towards the end of my pregnancy the gynaecologist advised me to have a planned caesarean section, as the child was stuck in a breech position. I didn’t want that. I already had the feeling that I had not had a proper pregnancy and now I was not even having a proper birth. But it was simply the safest and so Milly was born on 18 July 2012 with “a sweet breech head”, as midwife Ortrud later said so beautifully. I found the operation terrible and somehow it didn’t really reach me that a child has arrived.

I chose the above saying for the greeting card for Milly’s birth. I didn’t have the slightest idea how true it would be – in all its facets. Emilia Luise was to be her name, after Markus’ favourite grandmother Luise and after my beloved grandma Emilie, called Grandma Millie.

We had already settled into a beautiful maisonette apartment in Heidelberg-Ziegelhausen. The first weeks and months were exhausting due to the lack of sleep. But all parents have to go through that. With the first examination by the pediatrician doubts arose.

Since Milly was our first child, Markus and I had no comparison. Today when I perceive the muscle tension of the babies of friends, the difference to Milly is quite clear. She was flaccid, or hypotonic, so the medical term. She had a neck obstruction, which was treated with physiotherapy. So that’s why she doesn’t develop. I was sure it had to be that. Or perhaps because she was born earlier than expected? You have to wait and see.

At the end of 2012 Milly and I completed the obligatory parent-child courses. As a new Heidelberger, I wanted to make contacts and get to know people. The courses were a shock for me and a permanent gauntlet run. The motor development of all the children was so far advanced that I was suddenly made aware of it. But she is still so small, she just needs her time, she’ll catch up… all tried to calm us down. We also gladly surrendered to this hope.

At this point Milly reacted to us. She laughed at us, but was not interested in anything in her environment. She could reach (only weakly, but that much at least), but didn’t reach for anything herself. Once we drove by car, Milly in the baby seat next to me. I looked at her and was frightened inside. She looked like dead, motionless, her eyes open. I touched her. Nothing. I nudged her harder. Nothing again. I got scared, but didn’t want to say anything to Markus yet. I pulled the pacifier of her mouth. Then she suddenly moved and I was relieved. We should not know what had happened here until much later. Otherwise Milly was a lovely, happy and very balanced baby.