Originally written October 23, 2009 while recovering from surgery and I should have been sleeping in between trips to be with my newborn son at the NICU…
It’s been a bumpy, yet interesting, ride for the past eight months. I was so not cut out for the emotional rollercoaster, the four months of praying to the porcelain gods, and the cravings my doctors ordered I ignore. There were redeeming moments of course, like finding out at 20 weeks that my baby was in fact the son I felt he was supposed to be, who ran around in my dreams and on my bladder, literally.
34 weeks in, my son decided that he wasn’t into the whole upside down thing like a baby really should be positioned. Add to that his need to accessorize with his umbilical cord by trying to get it around his neck, and at 36 weeks on October 15th, my doc and I decided that his birthday was scheduled for October 27th – 2 weeks before my due date of November 10th. So as I get my mind in gear for what’s to come, my Grams calls to say she’s making lasagna for dinner on Saturday night and being on my list of favourites there was no need to tell me twice.
Saturday, October 17th, around 7:00pm… Lasagna time… spinach and mushrooms, lots of cheese, not too much sauce, meat done perfectly… my mom’s garlic bread… salad and blue cheese dressing… heaven! My Grams, mom, sister and myself at the dinner table stuffing ourselves and chatting and laughing – a great way to spend a Saturday evening. I am polishing off my second helping when I feel a pop like a bubble bursting. I mention it to the table to which Grams replies “maybe the baby is blowing bubbles?” – the laughter that ensued had me heading for the bathroom. As I stood up to head there, there was a little rush of liquid and that started a twenty minute debate between us all and some fab chocolate pudding with whipped cream over whether or not my water had broken. Yes, chocolate pudding, dammit!
At the end of the pudding, Fran has given up trying to figure it out and she calls the hospital to ask the matron on duty what exactly is amniotic fluid supposed to look and/or smell like. The response “Please do not experiment, just bring her here now! And leave the army at home!” was enough to get us on the road to my house for my bag and onwards to the hospital. We alerted as few people as possible so as not to start a panic – my dad was at the hospital before we even left my apartment.
So it’s about 9pm when we get to the hospital, where the Sister in charge just happens to be one of those who is well familiar with our family as we were all born quite dramatically at Nuttall. She sits me down and makes me explain what happened, checks my vitals and calls my doctor. While she is on the phone, I hear her say “ok doc, we will have her prepped for surgery by the time you arrive…”. Everything for the next 30 minutes or so is a blur for me – all I know is I was in a room (the same used by my mom and aunts before me), in a gown, got a catheter (unpleasant is being nice), and was being put on a stretcher and wheeled to the operating theater. At that point Dr. Chatoor, Dr. Thwaites and Dr. Barrett were running the show. I was simply a spectator and I can safely say that having the epidural put in wasn’t anywhere near as bad as TLC makes it look. I had a dream the day the c-section was scheduled that my boy was born at night in a rain storm. This amused me as surgery was scheduled for the middle of the afternoon. As I was being wheeled into the operating room that night, it started to rain.
Before I am even aware that I can’t move my toes, I hear the doctors call out “uterine incision” and I look at Dr. Barrett like “excuse me?” to which he replies “oh yes honey, you’re wide open already!”. That statement didn’t quite have time to sink in before I heard Dr. Chatoor say “I’ve got a foot!” and I felt a bit of tugging then heard everyone, surgeons and nurses, start shouting. My darling son decided it was necessary as he was being pulled out of his mommy to take a pee all over the doctors and nurses – one nurse just started laughing “it’s a good stream too”. I have a feeling that my son was trying to announce his lack of behaviour to me – as if he needed to, he is my child after all (penny section, enjoy lol).
A nurse takes him and Dr. Barrett goes over and helps her clean him up. I’m starting to panic cause he isn’t crying and I notice he is huffing and puffing while they put a mask on him. And then he opened his mouth and was heard clear down the hall and outside in the waiting area. I’m laughing and crying as the nurse wraps him up and brings him over to me and says “Mommy, here is your son”. I look at the little person in front of me and all I could say was “Hi boogie, that’s not my nose”. I just kept laughing at that moment it hit me that just that morning, that was the little person who was kicking me so hard it brought me to tears. As she turned away to take him to the nursery, I realized that at 9:55pm on October 17th, 6lbs 4 oz and 19″ long meant I was in love and nothing would ever be the same.
Getting stitched up was a rather horrible experience that killed my buzz for a few minutes – imagine someone dumping a ton of brick on you, then hopping on top of the pile and dancing around on it. Dr. Barrett stuck me again and I was informed that I would be sleeping out the night and would take on the challenge of motherhood in the morning. Wheeled out of surgery, my sister (my hero!) and Uncle Marcus are standing there. I remember seeing Fran’s eyes all shiny, “you did a good job Mommy” with this giant grin on her face. Back to my room, back into bed, wondering if this is what a paraplegic feels like when Dr. Franklin walks in to my room looking a little too somber for that time of night and tells me that she wants to move him to Bustamante or to UWI because he is in respiratory distress. By this time, everyone had gone home and I don’t remember anything more than calling my mom and asking for her help. I will never know how to express my gratitude to the army of family and friends who did everything I couldn’t do for him that night.
To Bustamante Children’s Hospital for accepting my son at 1:45am and beginning treatment that would ultimately save his life. My dad for putting the fear of God and himself into the ambulance service. My sister for staying by her nephew’s side while he slept in the portable incubator that Nuttall told us to keep until he no longer needed it as there were none available at Bustamante that night. To Dr. Franklin for taking the time to assess, treat and monitor my son, even now. To Lesley M. who stayed at my bedside and held my hand and prayed as I cried like never before, who printed his picture and put in a frame at my bedside. To his godmother Nyree who took up the vigil at his side and kept us posted as he got a space in the nursery and was moved from the ward. To Dr. Lesley C. who made sure I got the information we were all trying desperately to get from the hospital and made sure I knew he was ok. To all my friends and family who called, messaged, visited and just showed love… to everyone, I am in your debt.
Tuesday the 20th was the day that made me realize what being a mother really means as I stood in the nursery at Bustamante and saw my son crash, and was sent out of the room while they doctors and nurses resuscitated and stabilized him. I left my heart in that room while my sister held me up outside the doors. As if that was bad enough, the phone call that night from the hospital telling me that he needed to be moved because it may become necessary to put him on a ventilator almost made my heart stop – “… we don’t have one available, however UWI will accept him so we’re moving him now, you need to meet the ambulance there…”. I don’t remember much other than sitting in a chair waiting at UWI for the ambulance to arrive with him. The ambulance pulls up and this little person wrapped in a foil blanket with all sorts of tubes and wires and beeping monitors passes in front of me and I have never felt more helpless in my life.
It’s almost surreal looking at this little terrorist tearing apart his bassinet, knowing that he was that pale little creature just days ago. He has now firmly established his reputation as the patient who constantly requires restraints no matter how sweet he tries to be. He fools the nurses for a few minutes and as soon as they turn away he is tearing out tubes and unplugging himself from his oxygen support. You can’t help but melt and laugh when he looks at you with those gorgeous eyes – do not be fooled! I am his social secretary, delivering his messages daily. I am his nose and mouth wiper, I must bring him chapstick I am told. I will soon be his on demand buffet and then ass wiper and diaper changer. Most importantly, I am blessed, grateful and honoured to be his mother and continue to give thanks for his steady improvement and am looking forward to the day when he comes home.
Thank you again to everyone who has been a part of this journey thus far and for the road to come. Please keep us in your prayers and will continue to keep you posted.
Love Kimz & J.D.
I find I still can’t read this without tearing up… just because so much has happened since… think it’s time to continue the story…