As a 13-year-old, I remember eagerly awaiting the birth of my sister, who would be my fourth sibling. Her short life would forever change me.
When my other siblings were born, they all had uneventful, natural births. A year prior to my baby sister’s birth, my mother broke her pelvic bone in a car accident. As a result, she would need to have my sister through a caesarean delivery, or C-section. On top of that, my mom explained my little sister was diagnosed with trisomy 18, or Edwards syndrome, a condition that is caused by an error in cell division. When this happens, instead of the normal pair, an extra chromosome 18 results in the developing baby. It also disrupts the normal pattern of development in significant ways that can be life-threatening.
I was amazed we knew the exact day and time my little sister would be born. After waiting all day, I finally got out of school and my uncle picked up the four of us. I just wanted to be rushed to the hospital to see my mother holding a beautiful girl. By the time we arrived, my mom was asleep. My sister wasn’t in the room with my mom as I envisioned. My dad explained the baby had been rushed to surgery right after she was pulled out of my mother’s womb.
To see her, we were taken to a place called the NICU. The rooms were all identical and between every two rooms was a nurse in charge of the infants. We arrived at a room, and I saw my sister. At first glance, I realized how different she was from my other siblings. I looked at her beautiful brown eyes and dimples – but also saw her enlarged head from water in her brain. I had tears in my eyes. We shared my light skin tone. She looked like me, but she was different at the same time.
Since I am the oldest girl, I had a feeling I would have more responsibility during this time, but I didn’t realize it. My dad was never home – sleeping at the hospital, then heading to work. My mom was always at the hospital while we were at school. I had to grow up, but in a good way. I became more of a leader in my home. The once negative girl was the most positive in my home. I woke up early, woke my siblings, started cooking pasta and rice even though I’d broken the microwave three times.
I saw how my baby sister was so delicate and needed way more than everyone. I saw the world in a different light, understanding my responsibility to others. I was growing up. That shaped who I am today. I feel as though all of my personality comes from the day I laid my eyes on her. Surgery after surgery, my positivity did not change at all. My love for her was forever, even after April 26, 2018. The day she passed. I think about her every single day and how she changed my world. I am entirely grateful for her and the fact she changed how I see everything.
The life and death of my sister makes me want to be a pediatrician and help others through their own tough times and challenges. It captured my heart seeing how the doctors made sure my family was fine throughout our tough times. When she passed away, her nurses and doctors were sobbing with us like a second family. My sister made me realize what I want to do for the rest of my life. Thank you, baby Zenaib.