Sunday, June 5, 2016

My 20 Year Old Gift

I haven't known many things for sure in my life, but I did know, from a young age, that I wanted to be a mom.  Of course, wanting and becoming are two different things.

I married at 23, and was ready to have kids right away. My husband felt differently so we waited a few years. I had trouble at first getting pregnant. I finally did and promptly went away for the summer to work at camp. The day I was leaving camp, I began to miscarry. I was scheduled to meet my husband at the airport and fly directly to visit his family in Mexico. Instead, I ended up in an ob-gyn office in Chicago hearing that I had miscarried. I went home to Louisville where we were living at the time, had to have a d&c and that was that. We went to Mexico in the end and i remember crying hysterically in the car the night we went to see Silence of the Lambs.

Once we returned home and were working, the miscarriage hit me like a truck. I couldn't sleep, I was petrified of dying and I had panic attacks. When my husband traveled for work, I had to stay with my parents. After a bout of therapy, we decided to move to Skokie and get a fresh start. A year had passed and I still wasn't pregnant again so I began to take a round of Clomid.  And then, I didn't get my period. I took a home pregnancy test and it was negative so I was sure I had some horrible disease since I had been having my period like clockwork since age 10.

Again, I found myself in a strange ob-gyn office, having just moved to Skokie. I told the nurse I had done a pregnancy test at home and it was negative. She said they were pretty accurate and then decided to do one anyway. Lo and behold, I was pregnant. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. My husband too, was over the moon. At the doctor's office, I had done all the tests, etc. and a day or so later, received a call telling me that my hormone levels were low and I was in danger of losing the baby. The panic came roaring back. I was prescribed hormones to take in hopes that would boost my levels and keep the pregnancy.

It did. My baby boy was determined to be born. My pregnancy wasn't easy, I had off the charts blood pressure and ended up on bed rest. On one of my doctor's visits at 36 weeks, my blood pressure was so high that the doctors determined I had to go to the hospital and have the baby. So off I went, scared and tired, only to be caught in an enormous traffic jam on the way to Evanston because Princess Diana was speaking at Northwestern University.

For three days, they tried to induce me. They took me on and off the induction - they were too busy and then took me off at night so I could "sleep". I had an amniocentesis in the middle of the night to see if the baby's lungs were mature and to determine if he was ready to be born.

My parents and my sister came immediately along with my nephews. In the end, we all settled in to wait. I starting going into labor but the baby didn't like contractions, and his heart rate would go down whenever I had one. The residents kept coming in and out, they broke my water which meant I was going to have the baby in 24 hours. My parents and sister went to dinner and a movie and we sat and waited, watching the baby's heart rate.  My doctor came in, took a look at the ekg of the baby and that was it. I was going in for a c-section. Immediately they prepped me, took me in, gave me a spinal block and began the surgery. Once I wasn't contracting, the baby's heart rate was fine, so I was allowed to stay awake. During the surgery, the loudspeaker in the OR started announcing: "crash cart" "STAT" "anesthesiologist STAT". I knew it wasn't me, but I felt like I was in an episode of ER. (ok, I'm old that was a popular show then). The doctor later told me they had to put in some blood pressure medicine because it had spiked during the c-section. Hmm, I wonder why.

And then he was there, this beautiful, tiny little boy. Perfect. The doctor came to see me and told me I was very lucky. You see, I had a blood vessel running through my placenta instead of around it. It's very rare and she even showed it to the residents in training. When they broke my water, if they had nicked it, I would've hemorrhaged and we would both would have died, me from blood loss, the baby from drowning essentially. Had I given birth vaginally, the pressure of pushing would've broken the vein and it would have been the same result.

Today, that beautiful baby boy, the first of three gifts that I had wanted so badly from such a young age, turns 20. My memory sucks, my kids will tell you that, but I remember this story like it was yesterday. For the last 20 years, from that beginning, I have watched his story unfold. No longer a baby, no longer a kid, no longer a teenager. He has achieved his goals and fought hard what he believes in, including himself. On that day, 20 years ago, his being born alive was the gift. Now, on this day, 20 years later, who he is and what he has become is the gift.