Christopher, Part 1
I wrote this a couple months ago. Christopher’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been sort of reminiscing a bit. I plan on including much of our journey in a book someday but since that day isn’t here yet…
It would be wrong to say the whole thing started the day Christopher was born. It started much earlier than that. There was the spotting and fears of losing him. Those fears likely wouldn’t have been so strong if it hadn’t been for the spotting and actually being told we’d lost Emily nearly 2.5 years earlier. Fortunately, she showed how stubborn she would become as early as a week after conception and managed to stick around. Unfortunately, we think we did lose her fraternal twin.
So fears of losing him were running around in our heads as I retreated to my room to do as little as I possibly could while maintaining sanity and some kind of feeding schedule for three girls – Maggie was 5, Abbie 3 and Emily 20 months.
Then came the morning sickness. Except it was at night. Every night. Even New Year’s Eve when Debbie and Jamie were over. Couldn’t eat Mexican Chicken until months after Christopher was born. And the exhaustion. I’d been exhausted with Maggie but not sick. This time I was both.
I have to admit that I am ashamed to admit that there were many days when I measured success based on the number of children who were alive at bedtime and if they’d eaten. Three meals of Fruit Loops? That worked for me. Diaper changed within two hours of stinking it up? Better than not changing it. All Disney channel, all day? Saved my sanity.
[For the record, there were no days of all Fruit Loop meals and dirty diapers were changed as soon as they were noticed for fear that continual smells would make Mom puke more. Disney Channel? Well, rotated with Noggin, Nick Jr., PBS and a wide variety of movies… but essentially, yeah.]
After that was the great ice storm of 07. We had no power for three days and ended up at Matt’s brother’s house in Branson [where they had a light dusting of ice] for two days until the power came back on. The betta fish died. Apparently, an inside temp of 45* and a tropical fish don’t go well together.
Then came Emily’s bout with some virus whose name I can’t remember but whose smell continues to haunt me. Rotavirus. That’s it. Horrible, horrible diapers. Diapers so bad that I threw up while trying to clean up the high chair after one particular incident. Said high chair was left on the deck for an extended period of time after that.
There was the ultrasound were we asked the tech 18 times if she was really, really sure that there was a thing and I was really having a boy because that just didn’t happen for us. Every time, she assured us that yes, this really was a boy.
Summer brought seated classes [as opposed to online ones]. Had to have all three girls out the door by 715 four mornings a week. Felicia, bless her heart, fed them. Thank God. Classes were good. Students were good. The rest of the day was spent on virtual bed rest. To be fair, Dr. McCall [who is FAB-U-LOUS!] didn’t mandate it or even recommend it but that still, small voice told me bed rest was best for me at that point.
I’ve learned to listen to that voice. It’s the voice that me the results every time I took a pregnancy test with Emily. Whether positive or negative, I knew. Way deep down in places I didn’t want to go, I knew. If that little voice was saying ‘this one will be positive, she’s still there’, I didn’t want to listen, to let myself hope – just in case it was wrong. The voice that said ‘this one will be negative, but remember, doctors don’t have all the answers. God knit you in your mother’s womb just as He’s knitting this baby’. The voice that told me in January, before a mid-May due date, that the baby was going to be at least two weeks early. The voice that told me, twenty-one days before her due date, to pack my bags – today was the day. [Matt saw me taking the camera and make-up, etc to the van and asked, joking, if I was leaving him. I responded with a flippant ‘there’s already a suitcase in the car’. Three hours later we were on our way to the hospital with what my doctor later called ‘the most obvious rupture of membranes’ she’d ever seen.]
That was the voice that reminded me each baby had been earlier and earlier and there was no way I was going to make it to the August 24 due date. In fact, I wasn’t going to make it out of July.
So I spent most of June and July resting. This was a good thing. I wish I could have bottled up the rest I was getting.
Did I mention the borderline Gestational Diabetes?
At 34.5 weeks pregnant, something happened that, looking back, is amusing in that smirky sort of way.
Maggie, age 5, was admitted to the hospital. Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds but hear me out.
I got to sleep in some on Saturday morning. Didn’t get up until nearly ten. Man, that was nice, especially given what was coming. By midnight, I was sitting in the ER with a little, shirtless, girl praying that they’d see us soon.
I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember giving her multiple breathing treatments over the course of several hours and she still struggled to breathe. The triage nurse on the phone finally sent us to the ER. It was after 11:30 when I pulled off the freeway headed to Cox South, when I heard it.
Maggie threw up, less than 3 blocks from the hospital, all over Daddy’s favorite shirt. Wearing Daddy’s shirt always makes her feel better, but now she had nothing to wear. Me and my big belly carried her into the ER, filled out paperwork, convinced someone to give me a blanket to cover the upper half of my daughter’s body; she was wearing shorts, but there were some pretty creepy looking guys in there watching us.
We went into the little triage room and her O2 levels are in the upper/mid-80s. The nurse said she’d let the charge[?] nurse know and get her back and on oxygen as soon as possible. It was over an hour [and three more throwups] later before we get back. Very nice nurse man got a wheelchair for Maggie so I didn’t have to carry her. More breathing treatments, Xrays [I dozed while they took her back there – I couldn’t go because of the baby], another breathing treatment. O2 barely stayed in the mid-90s while on oxygen. Borderline pneumonia. Admitting to the hospital to keep an eye on her.
I slept by pulling the very uncomfortable plastic chair up to the bed, adjusting the bed to the right height and leaning my head on it. It was nearly 6am by the time they got us to a room on the peds unit. It wasn’t my first hospital stay with a child, but the first one was with a 6 day old who needed help nursing and I was still post partum – and a different hospital with different docs. This was different.
By the time we were discharged at 8 that night, I’d dozed off and on for a total of about two hours. We went through the drive through at the 24h Walgreens. Maggie was asleep long before we get there. We got home, Matt carried her to bed, I struggled through a shower and collapsed about 9pm – only to get up and get all the girls to Felicia’s by 730 the next morning.
I was… uncomfortable at the hospital, afraid of what they’d think of me for sleeping in my daughter’s bed while she colored and watched movies. I slept for less than 15 minutes at a time – but I fell asleep while the respiratory tech left the first time and asleep again when she came back – even though I’d been awake for most of the middle. I was afraid of what they’d think of me.
Then Christopher was born. Little did I know the roller coaster ride we were about to go on.