This time two years and one week ago, I was in the midst of labor. I was foggy and heavy from the pitocin and magnesium, ravenous for ice chips, had lost all sense of time, and was fit only to do as I was told at the time. When they told me to prop my legs up against husband and nurse and push, I did so, for two hours. I remember that it must have been so because the nurse on shift changed right before I started pushing. I had been in labor then for probably about 24 hours by the time I started pushing (looking back now, I think that I must have been in light labor when I left the doctor’s office the afternoon before because my back hurt all afternoon, evening, and through the night). Elizabeth’s head was close, close enough for the doctor to inform me that she had a head full of dark hair, but her heart-rate was dropping as I pushed and not recovering fast enough to make my doctor comfortable. So, at nine o’clock at night, I was wheeled into the OR for an emergency c-section.
As Elizabeth’s second birthday draws near, I cannot help but think about her birth. Not only hers but my own as well. Recently at the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies, Chris Pratt spoke of his son’s premature birth and I could not help but remember my own birth story.
I have inherited my mother’s disposition to preeclampsia and so was put on bed rest three weeks before Elizabeth was born. Mom had the problem with all three of her pregnancies, I the only one of which to survive. She was admitted to the hospital and placed on full bed rest at 24 weeks. She was allowed out of bed ONLY to go to the bathroom, which was maybe six steps from her bed. Based on her medical history, they knew that my sister Jodi was born at 24 weeks and her organs were not developed/matured enough to survive so the doctor’s aim was to get her to at least 30 weeks, at which he was sure I could survive.
I was born at 30 weeks, six weeks premature, 2 lbs. 6 ounces, and 11 inches long. So little that they had no baby clothing that would fit me so I was fitted with doll clothes Thankfully, though, I had no medical problems to hinder my growth and survival. Mom says that I was alert, active, and healthy. My only issue was that I was not big enough to go home, and I didn’t know how to feed so I was fed by a tube for the first few weeks. I was in the incubator for about two weeks, with a total of six weeks in hospital. At six weeks, I weighed 4.5 lbs and was discharged. I had checkups at the hospital’s special clinics for preemies until I was four and then given a clean bill of health and development.
There are times when I sit and reflect on my life, remembering the many times I have been told this story, called “miracle baby”. I dearly wish that my mother had not had to go through the heartbreak and pain that she did, but I am glad to be here, hale and hearty and whole. When I had Elizabeth was the only time I have ever been admitted to hospital since leaving it as an infant. I was blessed with the most wonderful doctor, nurses, anesthesiologist, everyone who took such excellent care of me during my pregnancy, labor, and recovery. Our doctor is moving out-of-town soon so, yesterday, Elizabeth and I went to say goodbye to her. In many ways, I owe that woman my life for her care of me. I am beyond grateful for her care for me and for Elizabeth over the past two and a half years.
Soon, I will celebrate Elizabeth’s 2nd birthday. My baby is now a little girl, full of life and vim and vigor. Smiley and creative. Strong-willed and stubborn. She is a gift, and I cannot wait to see how she grows further.