I was never supposed to get pregnant.
I’d been told by seven of the best doctors in the country at the tender age of 19 that I would never carry a child. They told me that if I did somehow manage to get pregnant, that I wouldn’t be able to carry my baby to full term because of complications with my uterus. Basically, my baby would spontaneously abort due to lack of space.
I tucked this painful knowledge away, because I was far too young and unversed to deal with such devastation, and forged ahead.
Fast forward five years. I was 24 and suddenly I’d started to feel…strange. I had new aches all over my body. I wanted to eat peaches, which I’m allergic to. I had violent mood swings that were way out of character for me. I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I took six more tests. They were all positive.
I called my sister, who was in the medical field, and asked her if drinking too much coffee could give you a false positive. She laughed and said, “Absolutely not.” I went to the doctor a week later and confirmed it – I was six weeks pregnant.
After a few months of freaking out, I heard the heartbeat and that sealed the deal; I finally believed that I was really growing a human. As it sunk in, I could feel something emerging inside me, a new feeling I had never known before. I couldn’t name it but I knew it was going to be out of this world.
I held my breath, however, because the words of those seven “best doctors” kept echoing in my head. Despite reassurances from my current OB, I had this deep and permeating fear that I would lose my baby, that their prophecies over my future non-pregnancy would come true. Nevertheless, my baby and my body kept growing, everything was normal and healthy, and I began to breathe a little bit easier.
As my belly grew, I came slowly to believe that I would actually have this baby. I found out I was having a girl, and I knew I had to choose a name. I was due in June, and I felt like that should be a part of her name. A Gemini baby required a strong, wild name. I began to research the word June and its relatives. I stumbled across the name “Juniper” and, as I read on, I realized that was the only name for my impossible baby.
The juniper plant has 50 varieties. It can grow in any climate and any environment, based on the variety. There’s the juniper fir, juniper berry, juniper bush, juniper tree, and so on. It’s a hearty plant that’s been used by generations and its uses include food, fuel, medicinal purposes, furniture, utensils, and oils. It could potentially provide all of the necessities of life for a group of people.
It’s impossibly resilient, just like my impossible baby. As I read more and more, I was filled with hope for my unborn baby girl.
Amidst this hope, I recollected in agonizing detail the depth of disappointment and sting of pain I felt upon receiving the damning words from those “best doctors” that my body wasn’t fit to grow a human and it was an impossible dream. I had only been 19, but I’d already thought about children and how much I wanted to be a mother.
As I caressed my belly and felt my Juniper kick and push, I fully understood the correlation between the determination of my body to overcome this negative prophecy and the resilience of this name, and it filled me with an incandescent, wild hope. I think it was at that moment that I let go of all doubt about the viability of my pregnancy and stepped with total confidence into the new title of mother.
I delivered Juniper via cesarean section on my mother’s birthday, strengthening her Gemini spirit with her grandmother twin. She was small but perfect, and there were absolutely no complications for either of us. I recognized her cry right away and, as I stared into her chocolate brown eyes and held her tiny hand, I knew she was the embodiment of her name. She was the impossible baby, forged from my optimism, grown from hope, and born from the wild determination of her mother.
Juniper is seven now. She’s on the autistic spectrum. She’s brave and smart and compassionate. She’s beautiful and an utter delight to talk to. She knows her story. She knows her name and she knows the resilience that created her and continues to create her. She lives in it every day. I can’t wait to watch her grow up and change the world.