Every year this week is a difficult week for me as it marks the anniversary of the single most horrific event in my life, the birth of my son. I know that childbirth itself is painful, and the pain is meant to be quickly forgotten when you hold that tiny perfect creation in your arms, swimming in the sweetness of his innocence and marvel that I have created such a beautiful thing....but this is not how it went. Not everything goes as planned, and not all doctors and nurses know or do what is best in a frightening situation. But I am not going to reflect on the horror that I went through, but that beautiful and precious life we met eight years ago.
After 36 agonizing hours a silent and still body came into this world. They wouldn't let me see him, as they whisked his lifeless body away, franticly working to bring life back into his perfect little body....I did not hear him cry and saw only the worried faces of my husband and mother, who couldn't bare to tell me what they had seen. I was so full of hope, in that uphoric ecstacy that clouds every new mother's mind as they wait to hold their first born child. Then the neonatolgist came in...."your baby is very, very sick," those words came crashing through, stabbing at my heart, "we need to get him to another hospital that has the facilities to care for him as quickly as possible, and a helicopter is on it's way." then he handed me two polaroids, the first images I saw of my baby.
I don't think I quite understood, at that point, just how grave the situation was. Even those pictures could not have prepaired my for when they wheeled my little son into my room, selaed behind the glass of an incubator, a machine breathing for him and tube and wires running to and from his frail little body. I was shaken. I still wanted to believe that everything will be alright because I had done everything I possible could to grow a healthy and perfect child. I touched his soft little hand hoping beyonf hope that his tiny pink fingers would curl around my hand as newborn hands generally do, but they were still. I held back tears. I am not sure I slept that agonizing night, waiting for morning, when I could be released to go and join my son, not knowing if he would live through the night. The hospital was cold and empty like my broken heart and I was warmed only by my husband's comforting hand....he alone knew how much I had wanted this one thing in my life, to be a mother.
Ethan was little more than 12 hours when we arrived at the Level III NICU that was fighting to save his life. He had dozens of tiny probes stuck to his head, measuring brain activity...I swear he had half as much hair after they finished removing the probes, but he did not whince, nor did he cry, though I knew this must be painful.....a passing nurse mistakenly asked the nurse caring for my son if this was the baby that had "coded" twice lastnight...she saw us and quickly left regretting the words that we were not suppose to hear. Atleast he was breathing on his own now. The nurse finally asked me if I would like to hold my son....I felt as if I had waited a lifetime for this moment. When he was in my arms, the whole world and all the problems in it disappeared. In that moment, I held forever in my arms.
Slowly things got a little better, and tests were done to see just how severe the damage was. No mother should ever have to research what Hypoxic Ischemic Encephelopathy is, and doctors should never have to tell a parent "we will just have to wait and see". We left the hospital on day 11, with many unanswered questions, just happy to be leaving at all....living in the moment, because that was all we had.
Ethan was the happiest, most pleasent baby ever. He was quick to smile and rarely cried. I spent many days with therapist, working with Ethan as he dropped farther and farther behind his peers in development. We talked alot about weither or not to have another child, and ultimately desided Ethan needed a sibling to love him, and motivate him, and help him....we must have found out that I was pregnant within days of that discussion, even though we had planned on waiting a year or two before trying.
It is difficult to believe it has been 8 years. After surgeries, many MRI's, CT scans, swallow studies, wheelchair fittings, learning to change a g-tube, give nebulizer treatments....and many more unpleasent things, I find that I am incredibly blessed to have this precious child in my life, And I am totally certain that I live everyday in the pressance of an angel.