Quite honestly, when people hear my daughters names, they are either intrigued by their uniqueness or politely groan as if to say… “Why did you name your kids that?”
As a way to honor his Irish heritage, “mostly wonderful” chose both names. I am also of Irish descent and despite the influx of naysayers; I like to think our daughters will one day appreciate the meanings of their names. If, as adults, they are still unhappy with our choice, I will do what mothers have done for centuries; I will blame their father.
Nuala (Noo-La) is really the shortened version of the Irish name Fionnuala. It means “fair shouldered, exceptionally lovely,” the name has been in existence since the 13th century.
Aoife (EE-Fa) means “beautiful, radiant, and joyful.” In Irish folklore, Aoife is known as their greatest female warrior.
Nuala was due on Valentine’s Day, but was delivered via C-section at 39 weeks. From the time I was six weeks pregnant until the day she was born; I was violently sick. In fact, I have never thrown up as much in my life as I did when I was pregnant with that child.
Doctors immediately classified me as a high-risk pregnancy and ten months of worrying began.
I was petrified beyond belief, convinced that something would go wrong. The further along I got with my pregnancy, the more my optic nerves swelled, until at 7 months pregnant I woke up one morning with absolutely no vision at all.
Little Nuala was causing her mommy a lot of health problems. The doctors didn’t know if either of us were going to survive. My husband had to do everything for me… and I mean everything… from showering me to cutting my food.
It had to be the most stressful time in our marriage. Before he left for work each night I would ask him to give me “the speech,” which went like this:
“The Baby is Okay.”
“You’re not going to be sick tonight.”
“You’re not going to die.”
Now isn’t that a cheery way to end your evening? But, that’s how it was.
The morning of the C-section countless nurses and doctors prepped me in total and complete darkness. Everyone knew the “blind woman” had arrived to have her baby. Everyone was waiting.
The sounds of the hospital were terrifying and the smell of the sterile environment, especially the operating room, petrified me. I was shaking so hard it took three nurses to stabilize me for the spinal block.
Laying on the table, I closed my eyes as hard as I could and whispered a passage from scripture to myself. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
After all my worrying Nuala was born, and of course in true Nuala fashion, there was drama. My husband told me, “she’s out” and then I heard NOTHING. The umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around her neck and doctors had to remove it, so there was quite a delay (at least to me) in her crying. When she finally did cry; I cried. They brought her to my face and pressed her cheek against mine.
I was a new mom, something I had always wanted to be, but I couldn’t see my own daughter’s face. They whisked my new bundle away and knocked me out for the duration of the surgery.
That’s when the waiting game began. My doctor’s theory was the swelling in my optic nerves would diminish after delivery and hopefully some of my vision would return. Almost 5 hours later, I began to see shapes and shadows again. I was given my baby girl and I could “see” her. I knew she was beautiful beforehand, but being able to make out ten fingers and ten toes gave this momma a much-needed sense of relief. We were going to be ok. We were a family. Nuala made 3!
Two weeks after celebrating Nuala’s first birthday, we found out baby #2 was on its way. This time around there was no nausea and much less anxiety. I had no time to think about being sick or worrying because I was too busy chasing around my toddler. I was still considered high risk due to my prior health issues, but the doctors saw me less frequently compared to my previous pregnancy, at least until the third trimester. Thankfully, there was no swelling of my optic nerves with Aoife and my vision remained intact with very little change.
My original due date for Aoife was November 12th, but in early October I developed a bad sinus infection that caused me a lot of eye pain. Doctors opted to deliver her via C-section.
They say the second C-section is much easier than the first. Whoever “they” are…LIED! I kid you not what I tell you I still have nightmares from bringing that child into this world. From the moment I walked into the hospital that day, her delivery was organized chaos. We couldn’t get a room to prep for surgery, so I was stuck in triage. Then they couldn’t get a vein for my IV. My blood pressure was though the roof (possibly from being poked with a needle for a half an hour) and when I finally was in the operating room, ready to go, the anesthesiologist couldn’t get the spinal block inserted because my stubborn Irish warrior was lying on my sciatic nerve! Aoife entered this world screaming her lungs out, and she has been doing it ever since.
Now 7, Miss. Nuala is a calm, imaginative, easy-going kid. She certainly has a flair for the dramatic and although more than half Irish, her love of pasta and cheese lends itself more to mommy’s Italian roots. Nuala epitomizes the “fair shouldered” quality indicative of her name. She loves animals (especially cats and dogs), has a vocabulary that most teenagers can’t match, and she is truly the most observant child I have ever met. That’s a good thing considering her mom can’t see!
Aoife is 5 years old and it’s clear to me that her daddy named her right. When Aoife wants something; she gets it. Her determination is unwavering. She has to do everything herself, whether it’s putting on her own shoes or feeding the family cat. Her favorite musical is “The Greatest Showman” and she will happily give an impromptu performance at a moment’s notice.
My girls are the breath to my life and the beat to my heart. There is no sweeter sound then hearing my two little bugs call me “mommy” – even if it’s only because they need a refill on their goldfish crackers.
John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
I know God chose me to be their mother.
I know growing up with a mother who is blind will have its challenges for my girls.
Despite my many health challenges, I remain committed to being the best mother I can be.
Each and every day is an uphill battle, but we’ll get there… together as a family.