There should be a law that Fridays have to, by nature, always be good days. I’m trying, but I’m feeling I’m being bombarded emotionally today.
September 6, 2000…..a day that lives in my infamy. It was the beginning to a different beginning than we had planned for. It was a Wednesday. I had been at work, until – for the second time – I’d experienced sharp, knifing pains in my lower back which almost knocked me to the ground. I’d nearly passed out, and saw stars. My husband dutifully picked me up and drove me home. Feeling somewhat better, and recalling that my O.B. had said I just needed to put my feet up, maybe get a massage, I drove myself to my first massage therapy appointment 30 minutes from home. The masseuse and I had that first-meeting chat, and then I went to the bathroom before we got started on the massage. It was there, in that moment, my world came crashing down. Seeing a toilet full of blood when you’re 23 weeks and 4 days pregnant…well, frightening doesn’t do it justice. I called my “fabulous” O.B. who suggested I drive myself back to the “fabulous” hospital he had rights at….45-60 minutes away in rush-hour traffic. Um, no sir, thank you very much. There happened to me a medical center just down the hill from where I was, not even a quarter mile away from the therapist’s office. That awesome man drove me right up to the E.R. door, parked my car, brought my purse in to the desk to be delivered to me later, and walked back up the hill. I wish I’d had the chance to thank him properly. He saved me and my baby. Hearing a heartbeat from my beautiful son when the nurse strapped the monitor on my belly helped me breath again. A few phone calls later, my husband was on his way to the hospital, parents were notified, and I let my boss know I had no idea when I would be back to work. I had an hour-long ultrasound as the doctors tried to determine what was causing the bleeding. They found a placental abruption. And I was contracting. Sometime in the night, I had my first (and only) ambulance ride to a different hospital, one that could “handle a 23-weeker.” The doctor there started an I.V. of magnesium sulfate to slow or stop the contractions. Now I know what it feels like to have fire flood through your veins. The next morning, I was moved to the antepartum unit. A high-risk O.B. came to see me. The bleeding had slowed, but not stopped. I was not allowed out of bed, nor even to sit up. He started giving us odds….less than 10% chance of survival for our baby, zero chance he would survive without severe, lifelong medical issues. Every day, every hour I stayed pregnant would increase his chances, but the outlook was grim. I received the first round of steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop. More calls were made. Our parents were en route. Friends were notified. Our church started a prayer chain that eventually stretched as far as Japan. And so went the first twenty four hours of our new normal. Thirteen years later, I stare at the clock and countdown the minutes until *that* time, the exact time it all began. And each day I will count down and look back until we reach his birthday. Then I will think about how extremely far we have come, how blessed we are, how amazing my son is.
Added to this today is the stress of knowing how much my youngest baby is struggling to adjust to the new school year. The first couple of weeks were the honeymoon period. He’s past that. Now we will likely struggle for a few weeks until he settles down. He spent the last day and a half at home sick. Most of his class has been sent home at one point or another this week with a stomach bug. When the nurse called me at 11 this morning, my anxiety level kicked up. She said he was fine. He’s not throwing up. He doesn’t have a fever. He’s just struggling. The nurse’s office has somehow become his safe place – a place to calm down, and pull himself together. When she called, he had come to her office for the fifth time since school started. Five visits in three hours….Oy. She didn’t want me to come pick him up. She was just letting me know what was happening, and asking for suggestions. I asked her to call the speech therapist. He knows her, and she’s very calming. I asked the nurse to call me if he was still sideways by 12:30. Here we are, almost 2pm and no more calls, so I’m praying they were able to talk him down.
My momma’s heart aches so much. Moms are supposed to be able to fix things for their babies. I can’t fix this. I can’t make it go away for him. I can’t make it better. He has to work through it. We will have to battle our way through. It’s breaking me at times. Today is one of those times. I told a friend the other day that dropping him off at school makes me feel like I did when I left my oldest in the NICU every day for 93 days. He’s where he needs to be. It is a safe place. He’s in the best and most-capable hands. But it kills me that I’m not there every minute to calm him, to comfort him, to guide him back to center. I anxiously wait the entire school day for that phone call – the one that says to come get him, or that he’s gone sideways again, or he’s crying, or he’s not eating, or he’s just had a bad day.
If history serves, he will take the next two or three weeks to get settled, and then he will be fine the rest of the year (for the most part). These are just some of the dark days we have to face, but the sun will shine again. It’s just getting through the rain that drains me completely. And I worry, oh how I worry, teachers and staff and other students will not be as patient and as accepting as he needs. I worry they won’t look beyond this to what is inside of him that makes him amazing.
Fridays should just not be this rough.