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I am a bit stubborn, when I want to be. Just a bit. Like the way water is a bit wet or the sun is a bit hot.
My wife is a bit stubborn too, when she decides to be. And now we have kids. Twin girls.
These kids could teach stubborn to mules. They’re a bit willful at times. Just a bit.
I’m not complaining, mind you. Being stubborn is a positive character trait in my book, as long as one is stubborn about the right things. Like staying alive.
The twins were born eight weeks early by emergency c-section. Considering the doctors had considered delivering them five weeks before that, to the point of giving them steroids to help their lungs develop, we were happy to make it to the 32nd week of the pregnancy. The weather that night wasn’t good, with a major snowstorm on the way. Normally the predictions for snow here in NC are overblown, but this storm was for real. The doctors were debating moving us to the downtown hospital with the larger NICU since our twins would bring the one here close to capacity, and with the weather they were worried about staffing. But with my wife’s blood pressure continuing to climb, it became a moot point. The delivery had to be done right away. The surgery room was prepped, an extra incubator was brought in, and the procedure began.
When Baby A was delivered I heard a weak cry, then she was quickly handed off to the NICU team. Several nurses were huddled around her incubator, and there was intense but quiet discussion. Resisting the urge to find out what was happening, I waited quietly and made sure not to distract them. A minute later, Baby B was out and crying. Only one nurse worked at her incubator, the rest remained with Baby A. After what seemed like an eternity later, there was a sigh of relief and a nurse told me that Baby A was breathing fine. We had two names picked out, but hadn’t decided which one was which. I told my wife, who was still getting stitched up, that Baby A had picked which of the names was hers. She was Faith.
Later, the nurse practitioner in charge that night told me what happened. She said it was the scariest delivery she’s ever done. After that one cry, Faith had stopped breathing. They were trying (unsuccessfully) to get a tube in her throat when her heart stopped too. The crash cart that would normally be in the room had been removed to make room for the second incubator and there was no time to bring it back. As they were rolling it out, the NP had picked up a syringe of epinephrine and dropped it in her pocket just in case. That syringe saved Faith’s life.
Despite her dramatic entrance into the world, Faith recovered quickly and was able to leave the NICU only one day after her sister. Four and a half years later, she still has a flair for the dramatic and gives a whole new meaning to the word “willful.” Not that I mind. Well, I do mind sometimes, like when she refuses to apologize to her sister or mother or me or admit in any way that she was wrong, ever, but I remind myself that that same willfulness is what get her through to today.
Stubborn children are a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we don’t have to worry that they’ll ever give in to peer pressure. No one is going to force them to do something stupid if they don’t want to do it. The challenge is to teach them not to want to do anything stupid. Some of their willful behavior now is just the normal toddler resistance to being told what to do, just turned up to eleven. Picking the right battles is essential, as is winning the battles we pick. That’s where our stubbornness comes in handy. The verdict is still out on who’s more willful, us or them, but there’s no doubt we all are pretty darn stubborn. Just a bit anyway.