Dressed in her new karate gee tied with an oversized white belt, she let out a loud “Kiai!” as she punched and kicked a large pad being held by a black belt teacher. She gave him a high-five afterwards and returned to the back of the line. While waiting for her next turn, she looked at me and gave me a giant smile and thumbs up. I returned her thumbs up.

A week earlier my wife and I walked her to her first day of Kindergarten and lead her to the front door. After a hug and a kiss, we watched her walk through the doors. I expected her to turn and give one more wave or a teary eyed expression. I got neither as she walked through the doors without looking back.

That’s my fighter. That’s my girl.

Five years ago this past June, my wife looked at me with a worried look on her face. She was going into labor. We had a little over a month to go before the due date. The baby girl had been measured small during past checkups, but she felt ready to make her early appearance. When we arrived at the hospital we checked into the birthing center, but were quickly moved to the labor and delivery ward. Our doctor told us that she had a feeling that we needed to switch. This saddened us because we really wanted to have our daughter in the birthing center, because we started out there with our son but had to be moved then as well. Being moved turned out to be a wise choice. The delivery happened quickly and my purple little daughter was born. She did not cry. There was no sound. There was no movement. She was as limp as a noodle. A pediatrician and some nurses quickly grabbed her and put her on a table and began working on her. They smacked her, slapped her, and poked her with needles. I tried to watch, but the nurses blocked me from watching. The doctor yelled, “He’s the father and has the right to watch!” Then he looked at me and said, “Come in.” I slid between the nurses and reached out and grabbed her little foot. With tears swelling in my eyes I said, “breathe Miciah… breathe.” Her chest moved and she began to fight for air. Call it good timing. Call it the end result of the medical staff working on her. I’ll call it a miracle. Roll your eyes if you want to, that was my daughter on the table. They continued to work on her and attempted to get her breathing under control, but she couldn’t keep it up on her own. She was only a month early, but had all the signs of a much younger preemie. For the next 8 days she stayed in the NICU and we would touch her through a glass box with gloves on. Before we could even do that we had to scrub down from our elbows down to our finger tips. My poor wife had to sleep on a cot and pump constantly because Miciah wasn’t able to get air long enough to breast feed.  For the first two years of her life she had problems with talking and people constantly told us, “you’re baby is so quiet.” Nobody will ever say that about Miciah again.

There are moments that I look at her and think back to those early moments of her life where she fought for every breath. Fighting comes naturally to her. So get ready MMA world, I would not be shocked if I was raising a future World Champion.

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