When I was 19, during my second year of college, I found out that I was expecting, and it wasn’t a planned pregnancy either. My parents were incredibly disappointed, but eventually they accepted it and loved me the best way they knew how.
I struggled in the beginning months of pregnancy; I felt horrible, my attitude and outlook on life was awful, and then finally it happened… a wondrous tingling sensation, at first I did not know what was happening inside my body, and then it happened again, and again. She was moving. I felt her… she was moving and growing and I was having a baby.
I was going to have a baby; I cannot describe the feeling, but the love and want that was born from experiencing her moving is still with me all these years later. When I close my eyes and think of that time I recall the feeling of anticipating and the wonder and excitement of seeing her… touching her, hearing her… I can still feel it.
But, life had other plans… I couldn’t see her. Touch her. Hear her. I figured myself cowardly, or so I thought for years. Life delivered a blow that left me crippled emotionally; I held the pain of death inside for a decade and a half, I finally opened up, and the dam broke… the silence broken.
I’ve shared a bit of my story; life after loss here: Life Gone Wrong.
The reason I am sharing about this, is in part, the reason I blog; you see for years I thought not talking about the tough stuff was the answer. I found a solution to my problems at the bottom of a bottle, and then one day as if I were rupturing I opened up and let it all out. Keeping silent is deadly…
I resigned myself to thinking that my body would stay broken, and having a baby wasn’t an option, and then I get pregnant, but this time I’m older, sober, my lifestyle entirely different, and I’m in love; hopeful that this pregnancy might be different from the one before. Yes, I had my moments when fear crept in, and I worried that it might happen again. I went to my doctor appointments, consulted and observed by a high-risk doctor, and I ate and lived healthfully.
I was expecting. I was going to have a baby.
And then it happened. I felt cramping. I started spotting. I called the Doctor. I went through many exams, yet they found nothing. The Doctor told to go home, rest and drink plenty of water; dismissing me each time. I refused to allow the insinuation, oh it is just in your head, sort of thinking, to keep me from being persistent.
So, one Sunday, at my wit’s end, I have The Sailor take me to the emergency room, I told him that I knew with certainty that something was wrong. Now I’m not just spotting I’m lite bleeding. The Doctor examines me, and then says, “you may leave now; go home elevate your feet, drink plenty of water and get some rest.”
I will always regret not going to a different hospital…, but I was thinking well what if, what if I’m just freaking out, which, after having experienced what I did with my first baby, it wouldn’t be off the charts rare that I might be over reacting, but there was only one problem… I knew. I knew in my gut that something was wrong, yet I listened to the Doctors and did what the Doctor directed me to do and it still angers me eight years later.
Back at home; I rest as instructed… getting up to go to the bathroom; I feel wet. I make my way to the bathroom; I nearly lose my shit when I got up from the toilet, yet doubting myself, so I yell out for The Sailor. He takes a look and calmly says, “let’s go to the emergency room just to be safe” He later told me that he was so upset over what he saw that it took everything inside him to stay calm, but he knew he had to put up a calm front.
You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have. –Bob Marley
I was hemorrhaging; it had advanced to the point that, for three days, they tried to stop the bleeding, but nothing they did worked… at twenty-three weeks gestation, days are critical.
Our daughter began her early decent… born 115 days too soon. The Doctor told us there was no hope for her survival. I told the Doctor, “if there is a God, it most certainly isn’t you; all I ask is you do the job you are trained to do…”
This picture is of me napping with my sweet baby girl at home after a four-month NICU stay. Spending those months in the NICU listening to the sounds, being contained in such a small place, but most of all the emotional roller coaster of not knowing if my baby would make it through the night, day in and day out for months altered me in ways that will be with me always.
I had become NICU reliant, I wanted approval, yet defiant; if something confused, upset or I did not understand something… well lets just say the Doctors and Nurses were highly aware of my presence.
Before releasing my daughter from NICU, I had to get trained on how to care for her. One of my many scariest days came when I had to learn how to insert a feeding tube through my daughters nose, down her throat, into her stomach while listening with a stethoscope for proper placement.
I watched the video, listened to the nurse, reviewed the equipment, and then just before making my way back to my daughter’s room, I excused myself, walked down the hall exited the NICU found the first available bathroom and vomited. I cried and cursed at the walls “I’m not a fucking nurse.” What if. what if. what it… what if I puncture her stomach? Looking at myself in the mirror, no one there, but me to answer. So I stomped and stomped until the bottoms of my feet burned and I couldn’t cry anymore.
I washed my face, and hands, took a deep breath and existed that bathroom determined to do what I needed to do… re-entering the NICU, suiting up; I entered my daughters hospital room while the nurse watched over me, I inserted that tube like… a MOM!
The day we left the NICU I cried; I wanted to take the nurses with me, but they wouldn’t fit in the car, not to mention, kidnapping is against the law, so we loaded up the car and headed towards our destination, we finally reached home… we are still eight years later a family on a journey figuring things out along the way.
My daughter is 1 in 8…
November 17th is World Prematurity Day.
I shared on Facebook about November Prematurity Awareness month; the love, support and encouragement shared over that image was amazing… one of the comments, at first, upset me: “who makes these things up whats it going to be next kidney awareness december?” But then I started thinking about that question. Yes, there are a lot of awareness Months while each one may not appeal to everyone, but THANK GOODNESS we have them because maybe just maybe someone may find hope and together we will bring about awareness.
What if awareness gets us a bit closer to prevention or inspires hope?! Awareness: the power behind making noise lies in sharing with one another; when we speak out others have a possibility of finding hope… finding an answer! Amy
I have one last story to share about how someone shared something with me that brought about hope… When I was pregnant with my 3rd child I thought I needed to have a Doctor with privileges at the Best NICU in our state… one day I was talking to this woman I barely knew, and she just happened to mention problems she had during her 1st pregnancy, so I say to her, “that is why the Doctor I choose must have privileges at this certain NICU”, and she says to me, “maybe if you find the right Doctor you won’t need the best NICU?” She goes on to tell me about this Doctor, she says, “he listens to his patients, and he specializes in high risk pregnancies, I think it may help you to meet with him.”
She gave me some hope… I will forever be grateful to that woman for introducing me to a Doctor who indeed listened and found the broken piece in me. I was given a beautiful gift of giving birth to my 3rd daughter after going full-term. I spent 17 weeks on bed rest, monitored by three different doctors and two different practices, 17 progesterone shots and family and friends giving my family lots of support and love.
When we share our experience with others we may exceedingly well be giving the gift of hope.