Today is my 20th birthday. Every year, on my birthday, my mom tells me the story of my birth. It’s not as magical and happy as most birth stories might be.
I was born June 2nd, 1997 under the name Justine Nichole Linley, to Venus Ann and Jonathon Kyle Linley (the only real names I’ll even say in the “My Life” posts). However, I was due to be born May 3rd; I was a month late.
When I was born, my mother should’ve gotten a C-section surgery to remove me, but she didn’t receive that because she was 19 years old when I was born. For some reason, my mom’s doctors said she didn’t need a surgery that she really did need. Once I finally did come, the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck several times. I couldn’t breathe properly, but the cord was long enough for me to come out without hanging to my death.
As soon as doctors saw this, they put me in an oxygen tent, keeping me in constant care and supervision. I spent the first month or so in that tent. Doctors said I’d be lucky if I made it to my first birthday.
After I left the hospital, I couldn’t eat. Everything I was fed, I’d throw up. My mom tells me that I never fit into clothes, even new-born clothes would slip off me. I also didn’t have hair, but that didn’t matter as much to my mom as my apparent eating disorder and food allergies.
Much experimentation later, of course, the most expensive baby food was the only thing that stayed in my system rather than ending up on a blanket. Eventually, I began to grow.
My first birthday was the biggest party of the family. Not only is it a family tradition that the first birthday is a big deal for every member, my birthday was a threshold. To my family, my birthday was a sigh of relief that the doctor was wrong and I will have a full life. At this occasion, the entire extended family celebrated, and I became my mom’s miracle baby.
Life isn’t easy, even just being born is life threatening. Strength isn’t measured in muscle mass, or how much you can hold in one hand, but it’s how you survived through hardships, from being born til the day you eventually go six feet under. One of my favorite ideas is, “Happiness isn’t how one passes on, but rather how one has lived their life.” (from Silver Quill) the same can be said about strength.