For the last three years, on December 10, I have found myself overcome with emotional-ness. It’s my son’s birthday. The anniversary of my becoming a mother. The celebration of becoming a family of three.
The emotions I feel are not a sadness related to him getting older. I love that fact – I welcome it and am excited by it. I don’t want him to stay little or rush to grow up, I truly love watching him grow and have no sad emotions about it.
Nine years ago he entered our lives on his own crazy schedule – two months before he was supposed to.
At twenty-seven weeks pregnant, I found out I was dilated to one centimeter at a routine doctor’s appointment (this is a negative thing). It was a 2:30pm appointment, and we left the doctor’s office at 5:30pm. Three hours of checks and monitors and medication and being sent straight home and told not to be up out of bed except to use the restroom until the next week when I had to return for another appointment. Diagnosis – pre-term labor. Bed rest.
For six weeks I took drugs and went back and forth to the doctor. They would wonder why I was having contractions and would give me more meds. I had to put a stop to that and tell the nurse to get her hands off of me until I spoke to the doctor – when I was at home, laying down like I was supposed to, I wasn’t having too many contractions, but get me sitting in a car for thirty minutes each way, then sitting in the waiting room, then sitting in the check-up room….yeah my body would start freaking out a little.
There were multiple trips to the emergency room for tests to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid (all negative) and a three day stay over my husband’s (and dad’s) birthday when they threatened to keep me until thirty-six weeks – I could have had my husband, my dad and my son all sharing the same birthday!
That short hospital stay was the worst experience of my life – I‘ve had meningitis and kidney stones and both the spinal tap and the stones were extremely painful, but they don’t top the experience of magnesium sulfate. It is the devil. Pure nasty. They gave me the highest dose possible for 36 hours straight to get my labor to stop. I’ve never felt so sick in my life. Horrible, so sick, catheter. Apparently when your body becomes tolerant of the anti-labor medication, you just go into labor…and it’s really hard to stop it. Two days later I was able to go home, at thirty-one weeks, because my doctor trusted that I was doing what they asked when I was at home – meds every three hours around the clock and staying down.
One week later around 3:30pm my water broke.
When your water breaks you can’t stop labor. You have to have a baby. On a Friday. Driving East toward the D.C. beltway to get to the hospital. In 5pm traffic. While you’re slowly going into labor. At thirty-two weeks and four days pregnant (that’s seven weeks and three days early).
We got checked-in to the hospital and were immediately given a room – the same one I was in exactly a week earlier getting pumped full of drugs. There was a medical staff of at least twelve – a small team for me and a larger NICU team for the baby. The Neonatologist talked to me between my contractions about words I may hear him say to his staff upon delivery and what they meant, letting me know they may all rush out with the baby, that I won’t hear the baby cry, that I may not get to see the baby for hours, that I may not get to touch or hold the baby for days.
Titus was born at 9:55pm. Perfectly healthy. Breathing on his own. 4 pounds and 4 ounces. He and his team stayed in the delivery room for about fifteen minutes, he looked at his daddy when he said his name, I got to hold him.
He was taken to the NICU and was in an incubator for a few days to stay warm and then was moved to a crib. He spent seventeen days there with those amazing doctors and nurses. Growing, eating, sleeping with no medical issues. Then he came home, on December 27th.
Through the entire experience of the pre-term labor, the bedrest, the hospital stays and meds, I was never once scared. Never. Not even a bit. I didn’t worry, I didn’t freak out. I did what the doctors told me to do. I read books and watched TV and my friends brought me Coke and M&M’s and hung out. We even had my birthday party in the basement while I lay on the couch.
Seven years later, eight years later, and now nine years later, I am overwhelmed with emotions on his birth day. I could hardly make it out of the house yesterday without bursting into tears. I just kept hugging him, I wanted to lay with him and snuggle all day.
Today driving home I realized that just because I wasn’t scared doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t traumatic.
Trauma is different than drama – I avoid making things into drama. I don’t want to draw attention to situations or myself. There’s no reason to share a sob story for the sake of attention – so don’t share at all, it’s safer that way. I don’t want pity.
I’m just beginning to understand that this experience was significant. It changed me. It made me. It was traumatic. I’m starting to feel the pain, letting the tears flow, fathoming the fact that this was not normal. My experience was not a normal one.
Babies are supposed to go home with their mama. Mamas are supposed to cry and be sad when they have to leave their babies – I didn’t shed a tear, and my mom was losing it, now I understand why. Getting on the elevator to go home without our son should have been earth shattering. I should have been crying at his bed side. I should have been sitting in his empty room at home, depressed for two and a half weeks. I should have been at the NICU all.day.long, not just a chunk of time each day. FUCK.
These are the emotions I am feeling now, nine years later.
Not feelings of guilt – just emotions that I have never processed or let happen. Emotions that can’t be kept in any longer. Sobbing, snot dripping emotions. I’m letting them flow, it’s time. And it hurts.
I have a nine year old son. We are attached. He is mine and I am his. He makes my heart burst daily. His name means giant.