She would not have been conceived at all if, ten months earlier, in July 2007, her brother William had not been pronounced dead at the same gestational age and born still.
This is the origin of her identity as a "preemie" -- an infant born prematurely -- and as an only child.
Not everyone knows she had a sibling or that the maddening mysteries of their disastrous births are what made me decide, with endless guilt, not to carry another child.
As a premature baby, Eliza beat many odds. She breathed entirely on her own for two weeks before needing small amounts of supplemental oxygen. She was never intubated -- a dependence many babies struggle to wean from, even years after their birth. She gained weight steadily. The developmental holes in the valves of her heart grew closed on schedule, even though she was outside the womb.
Of the major medical crises that often affect preemies -- including respiratory debilitation, hearing impairment and abnormal heart function -- she came away with just one lasting defect: myopia caused by retinopathy of prematurity and/or the laser surgery she underwent at about 12 weeks to correct it.
She received world-class care in one of the country's most successful NICUs, at the Mayo Clinic-affiliated Franciscan Skemp Healthcare in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and leapt onto the growth chart for her actual age -- not adjusted to her gestational due date -- within a year.
Today, she is the tallest kid in her kindergarten class by whole inches. She is often mistaken for being much older, an impression she relishes every time. By any measure, she's a miracle.
And yet, I am not content to write out the details of her birth saga and be done with it.
I read a lot about the effects of early-childhood trauma and about the experience of growing up an 'only.' I'm compelled to do more -- to explore more -- of these complexities and create a record that my child may refer to later in life, when -- I understand -- memories have heightened value for an only child but are impossible to verify without the corroboration of siblings.
I concede now that I will not parent perfectly, and I acknowledge that my choices impacting her life could have been otherwise. But I'm a writer, and this is work I can do.