Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Long Chapter

Let me begin this post by saying that I am a member of a sorority.

And I'm not talking about the kind of sorority that just popped into your head. It's not the one full of gleeful, curly haired college girls who band together and randomly blurt out songs about sisterhood, who share secret handshakes and wear a tiny gold skull and crossbones pin above their heart. (Although I do suddenly feel the urge to give a shout out to all of my Tri-Sigma sisters - SLAM).

I digress.

It's the sorority of HRP - High Risk Pregnancy. I wanted to share my pregnancy story so that my son (when he is much, much older obviously) will know just how much he is loved and what a gift he truly is. I also wanted to share my story so that all of the HRP newbies who join our sorority's rank daily will know that there are happy endings. Because I remember my days as a newbie -scouring the Internet looking for any bit of hope I could find ... yet only to find the Internet full of doom and gloom.

Because I want others to know that even in a world full of doom and gloom, there ARE happy endings.

So, I begin ...

I did not have the kind of pregnancy we see in those films they show on the Hallmark channel. While the beginning was mostly uneventful (mostly), I did not have that moment where I excitedly jumped out of bed at 3 a.m. and told my husband it "was time." I did not glow. My labor was not celebrated by throngs of relatives who stayed by their computers or phones anxiously awaiting news of how many pounds and ounces - instead they were anxiously awaiting news of whether or not my son's premature lungs were strong enough to provide enough oxygen for his tiny body.

My first trip to the maternity ward was when I was 25 weeks pregnant - barely halfway there. I went in to my doctor's office for a routine check-up, but instead found myself in a whirlwind of doctors and nurses. I did not understand all of the medical-speak around me. I did not understand the gravity of the situation.

Initially, I was excited to be there - I was having my baby! I mean, sure it was a little early - but preemies are born every day! They can do so much for them! Right?


Then, someone brought me crashing down into reality.

"Ma'am, we need your baby to stay. If he is born, his chances of survival are not great."


That was the moment I first felt the raw, deep, gut-wrenching fear that all mothers feel.

Fortunately, they were able to stop the contractions. However, it also landed me in bed for 12 weeks. And I don't mean casually lounging about and having an excuse to be waited on and pampered for 12 weeks - I mean not able to even sit up (but for a whole 30 minutes a day) and virtually losing contact with the outside world. I missed an entire season. I got into bed during the final, hot muggy days of summer and emerged just after the year's first snowfall. I missed all of Fall 2005.

To keep my body from going into labor again, I was prescribed a drug cocktail of sorts that contained three different types of smooth muscle relaxers. (At least I was able to sleep well.) I was also prescribed steroid injections to help my son's lungs (one of the last organs to fully develop in a fetus) grow so that he stood a chance of surviving his imminent premature birth.

(Don't say I didn't forewarn you about all of the doom and gloom.)

I was helpless. I could do nothing to help my son except lay in bed and wait. I shut the door to my son's nursery because I couldn't bear to look into it. I treasured each kick, even though each one also brought a pang of fear with it. I was terrified. Really, truly, terrified. I don't think even my closest friends and family knew just how terrified I was. I don't think they understood the gravity of the situation.

However, ever the obstinate one, I defied all of the doctor's predictions and proved them wrong. My son was born early, however he and I made it all the way to just 3 weeks early. He entered the world greeted by a large team of nurses and doctors, all on standby just in case. But we made it. Three weeks when no one else thought we would make it that far. Three weeks were a miracle.

And then we all heard it - my miracle. The deep, loud, full out scream of my new baby boy. And he kept screaming. And screaming. And screaming.

His lungs were OK. He was OK.

The final paragraph of the final chapter of my pregnancy story had been revealed - and it was a happy ending.

"Well, there's nothing wrong with his lungs," said one NICU team member.

And they all filed out.

No comments: