Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sweet Sixteen

No pictures today due to computer malfunctions, but today is my middle son's 16th birthday.

Sixteen years ago, my amniotic sack tore during my 11pm-7am shift at a hospital in Little Rock. I went home, concerned because the baby was 6 weeks early. My doctor wasn't too worried since the baby was already close to 6lbs, shouldn't be any problem. I go to the hospital, my labor never really starts, they start me on a pitocin drip. After laying there all day, nothing happened. The decision is made to try again the next morning. The baby's heart couldn't handle the pit so the decision is made to do an emergency c-section. It's routine. Not the way I planned to have a baby but it's ok. The c-section went fine, a 6lb 9oz baby boy was born at approx. 10:30am on Dec. 13, 1990. A few minutes later he went into respiratory distress. This wasn't part of the plan. He was put on a vent. The hardest words I heard that day were "if you want to know if your baby is going to live or die, I can't answer that". It didn't help that I had just had surgery, didn't have freedom of movement and had no clue what was happening to my baby other than he might live or die. That's all anyone knew. One outcome or the other. They were doing everything they could but there were no answers. I cried a lot. The nurses who were kind of mean to me, until someone checked my chart and saw the information about the baby, then nurses who had had premature babies who did well, came and talked to me. I don't remember anything about that. Other than blah, blah, my baby's fine, blah, blah, the drs here are great, blah, blah, it'll be alright. My doctor did everything he could to keep me in the hospital as long as possible but eventually I had to go home and leave my baby. I wasn't thinking straight at this time. All I remember is thinking about the oldest DS almost three and that I was leaving the hospital but not with my baby. My baby who was hooked up to machines just so he could do something as natural as breathing. My baby who couldn't eat, except through a feeding tube. My baby who I was afraid to feel anything for because he would die and my heart couldn't handle that kind of pain. An ice storm hit Little Rock, we lived outside of town and getting back and forth to the hospital was impossible, especially with an almost three yr old. The days were hard, the nights long, the pain raw, jagged, and so deep I don't remember feeling anything those days. There was no love, there was no hurt, there was only an ache, an ache that never let up, the ache of a love so deep, the ache of the fear of loss, not being able to go on. It was there at the bottom of my heart, in the shadows of my mind. I lost myself to this ache.

On December 29th, my baby boy was able to come home on an apnea monitor, yet another ice storm was headed to Little Rock, they loaded us down with formula, they wanted us to be able to hunker down at home, not needing anything, just being able to hold this baby who had missed so many hugs in the early days of his life. His early days, full of wires and cables and tubes and needles. Days that should have been full of hugs, kisses, family. His early days full of lonliness.

I was so young, so stupid. I could have camped out at that hospital with the almost three yr old. I didn't know that. I remember thinking at the time, with him there with me, I wouldn't be able to see Jack. There wasn't anyone to watch the oldest DS, we'd be sitting in a waiting room all day and still not get to see Jack. I expected barriers. I know so much more now.

The first two years of his life are a blur to me. I went back to work, I didn't sleep, I still couldn't let go of that fear of losing him. It could happen at any time. We don't know if he'll live or die.

Other than a cold and the chicken pox the child hasn't been sick one day since those difficult first weeks.

The early years, he was quiet, a good baby, a good kid, very independent, a little aloof. Now he is almost six feet tall and wanting "be somebody". He spends his free time working on his basketball skills, his skateboarding skills(chicks dig guys with skills) and trying to figure out who he is, where he's going, and how to make lots of money. He's very much his own person and doesn't pay a lot of attention to what people think. On the other hand, he loves clothes, the right clothes and know exactly what he wants. He's gone from being a painfully shy kid to a kid who will talk to anyone and ask anyone anything no matter how inappropriate it might be, he's seeking information and the only way to get answers is to ask.

He's silly, he's Jack. He's my baby, the one who might live or die, they didn't know. If they could only see him now. He's healthy, he's strong, every time I look at him, I remember those dark early days, and I want to protect him. I hope he never knows that kind of pain. The pain that there's no name for because it's so deep, so dark. I hope he only knows happiness, joy, and he figures out who he's going to be because sixteen more years of nightly discussions on "being somebody" is going to put me in a home.

Happy Birthday Jack, I love you more than you can ever know.

PS: I don't know if this post makes a lot of sense. I have a lot of trouble even now talking and writing about those days after his birth, they are still so foggy in my mind, I don't visit there often. I'm just so thankful that he's here and healthy and in our lives.


Anonymous said...

His birthday is a day of celebration indeed! Happy Belated Birthday to your boy. And hey! At least he's talking to you! That's a very good sign!

Kimmie said...

Our son was 4 weeks early and spent 2 weeks in the hospital 45 mintues away. Luckily, it was spring and the in-laws live in town and my parents are only an hour away so we had plenty of sitters for our 4 year old daughter so we could go down for a couple hours every day. It was still a hard scary time.

He's 4 now and nothing keeps him down. LOL

Meari said...

I'm sure my Mom can relate to your story. I was born premature at 4lbs 6oz. She had to leave me at the hospital where I stayed for two weeks. I'm sure it had to be hard on you, and my Mom.

claudia said...

Oh your story made so much sense! I cried, because I know your pain. I did get to take my daughter home from the hospital, and she wasn't premature, but she was sick. I didn't know it until she was six weeks old. It was then that I started living that nightmare! But thank the Lord...she is nineteen now and healthy and asking all those questions as your son is doing. Isn't it wonderful to watch them now? Happy belated birthday to your son, and congratulations on having one so wonderful!