On occasion, flawless beauty emerges from the harshest environment. When subjected to the perfect combination of high pressure and sustained high temperatures deep within the Earth’s mantle, carbon atoms bond isometrically to form diamonds. However, even perfect conditions do not guarantee a diamond will emerge from the melted carbon, let alone make it to the Earth’s surface through the many volcanic eruptions. Rarity is no small part of their allure. Derived from the ancient Greek word, adamas, diamond means unalterable, unbreakable, or indestructible. The diamond is the hardest known material to man, leaving it valuable in its many industrial applications. However, it is their exceptional ability to capture and reflect the prism of colors found in light that make it the most prized of all gemstones.
Not long after my first was born, I began my second go-around with fertility treatments. There were drugs, procedures, and disappointments. Impatience grew, pressure built, and temperatures rose with each passing month. A little over two years had passed before the “+” sign finally appeared on the small test. That’s when things got tough.
There was nothing easy about my second pregnancy. During the first 4 months, I required compounded progesterone twice daily to prevent miscarriage. “Morning sickness” lasted around the clock, causing a 10 pound weight loss in the first trimester. In the sixth month, the doctor heard “something” during a routine appointment, and I was referred for a neonatal ultrasound. At that appointment, we learned she was a girl, who had a heart murmur and premature atrial contractions. We were also reassured that she would outgrow both. Relief set in, but was short-lived. Shortly thereafter, I began regular fetal non-stress testing; my baby was not moving regularly. As the doctor became increasingly concerned, plans were made to induce my labor early.
I was scared that day. We still didn’t know why she wasn’t moving. It was almost a full month before her due date. We were prepared for the worst–her lungs may be under developed, she’d likely go straight to the NIC Unit, I wouldn’t be able to hold her, they would do their best. Our day started early. By 7AM, we were at the hospital. I was strapped to machines and IV’s. The morning was long, but the afternoon intense. Alarms had sounded indicating the baby had gone into distress. It all went so fast. There was no doctor present as the nurse tried, and failed, to find her heartbeat. There was no doctor present as I pushed. There was no doctor present as she emerged. There was no doctor present as the nurses frantically cut away the umbilical cord, which had been wrapped 3 times around her neck.
The first doctor appeared as she cried–cried with lungs so strong she did not need the NIC Unit. Though her first APGAR scores would not have earned a gold medal, she had ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers, and a set of fighter’s lungs. With improved scores, she was placed into my arms. I stared at her and she at me, and I saw flawless beauty. From two cells, and under tough conditions, grew my adamas, my unalterable, unbreakable, indestructible diamond.
Very rarely does a diamond emerge from the mines that does not require a skilled jeweler’s unveiling. The vast majority require cutting, shaping, and polishing to be fully appreciated. When she was only six months old, my mother saw within her a familiar spirit –mine. She advised me to “train her spirit, don’t try to break it” as she had tried to break mine. I have certainly had my share of challenges in following that advice. She can be spirited, defiant, and demanding. She has a strong sense of self and makes no apologies for it. She can be confusing, exasperating, and exhausting. She teases with a wry sense of humor, loves skulls, and still snuggles with her dad. She is loving, just, and fiercely protective of the “underdog.” She is my prickly pear– potentially dangerous in the novice hand, but exceptionally sweet and tender on the inside. I cut, I shape, I polish all with the intent of revealing her true beauty. She is a reflection of myself, and she is entirely herself, unique as no two diamonds are the same.
This past week, she turned 14. For 14 years, I have cut, shaped, and polished her spirit, and she mine. She is my baby who loved to nurse, walked at 10 months, and defiantly asked me, “You want a piece of me?” when being scolded at 24 months. By the age of 7, her time-outs were often imposed for my sanity rather than her discipline. She is every bit as strong today as she was the day she was born, though perhaps a bit softer around the edges.
Confucious once said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” For years, I thought I needed to trim away all the crust to reveal the pure diamond within. She has taught me that a skilled hand may reveal the gem within a crusty rock, but it takes the eyes of a mother’s heart to appreciate the perfect beauty of a diamond in the rough.
Now, in the throes of her teen years, I can honestly say our battles are farther and fewer between than they were during her “single digit years.” Yes, there has been cutting, and shaping and polishing, and yes, there will likely be more. However, as I parent her through her transition years, I focus more on the polishing and less on the cutting. She does not need me to cut away at her rough exterior to reveal her rare beauty; it is already visible to eyes that take the time to look. It wasn’t until I saw her as flawless as I did on the day she was born could I appreciate her authentic beauty.
Happy birthday, my adamas! Thank you for being unbreakable.
(Photo credit: Maren Miller at www.marenmillerphotography.blogspot.com)