Harper Rose Kligman Goldberg was born on June 8th, 2005. Our experience with pregnancy those previous months had been blissful and without incident. All that changed the moment Harper was born.
Harper’s entrance into the world was about as dramatic as could ever be imagined. Unable to draw her first breath and purple, she was whisked away from us the second she came out. Scores of nurses flew into action and began the process of removing fluid from her lungs to get her breathing. Removal of fluid did not resolve the issue, so she was rushed out of the room where more specialists and equipment were called into action.
The scene in the NICU was tense. A few hours into her life felt like years. The team working to keep Harper alive continually failed to pass a breathing tube around a cyst that was blocking most of her airway. A pastor asked if we wanted Harper to receive her last rights.
Like a knight in shining armor, Dr. Duane Lundeberg arrived from across town to save the day. Dr. Lundeberg most certainly saved Harper’s life. That brief moment of relief was quickly interrupted; we had to allow our little hours old daughter to be loaded into an ambulance that transported to a different hospital for surgery. The drive across Portland was pretty strange. It was sunny, bright blue with soft white clouds. Surgery was short, and deemed a total success. We remain ever grateful to Dr. Lundeberg!
Harper spent the first month of her life in the NICU at Emanuel Hospital. Each and every night was painful as we headed home without our precious little babe. However, the nurses there were nothing short of angels, and took such wonderful care of Harper. Within a few days of our homecoming we were summoned back to the hospital. While in our daze following birth and surgery we were asked to allow genetic testing, and the results were in. Seated in a rather dreary room across the table from some rather dreary faces we were informed, “Your daughter has Emanuel Syndrome. It’s a very rare genetic disorder that we know very little about. We looked it up on the internet, and it appears you should expect your daughter to never walk nor talk in her lifetime. Sorry.”
As I write this today, Harper is a happy, healthy, and loving 6-year old girl. She is a blessing like any child and beyond. Harper loves and is entertained by her younger sister, Lennon. They are a good pair. Harper has a joyful disposition, and especially loves hanging out with her friends. Part of the extra helping of blessing that is Harper is how she forces us to remain present in the moment.
Harper loves her local playground at Arbor Lodge Park. She especially likes the swings. As she grows, the playground will become less and less accessible to her. We started Harper’s Playground to change that. We’re certain that Harper knows what we are up to, and is happy about it. We are in more certain that she would be thrilled to know that her playground will be accessible to more people than any other playground in the entire city of Portland. She is the most sweet and generous soul we’ve ever known, so this playground project is very fitting to bare her name.
Harper also loves a good party, so plan on a really big one the day we celebrate the completion of this playground project.
PS Harper took her first independent steps on December 6th, 2010.