Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Against all odds

I held the stick in my hand and scrutinized it with one eye shut. Was there a second line? Man, I couldn't tell! I opened both eyes and looked again. Still couldn't tell. I looked again with one. Cripes, was I pregnant or not?

I was twenty and not even through my first year of marriage. I wasn't even old enough to drink yet here I was taking a pregnancy test. I was so scared, yet excited, too.

I'd always thought about how I wanted to surprise the father of my children when I told him I was pregnant, but honestly, how could I do that when I couldn't even tell for sure if I was? These tests were so hard to make out in the early weeks.

Reluctantly, I had him look at the stick. He looked at me with a slight smile and nodded his head.

We were going to be parents.

That pregnancy was miserable, for the most part. I was sick from the first month all the way through my fifth. Then, just when my stomach settled down, my heart took over and started kicking my butt. My health deteriorated in the second trimester and by the time I hit the third trimester, I was on bed rest for high blood pressure and then hospitalized for what I finally learned was pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was high, I was losing protein in my urine, I had retained 45lbs in water weight and my skin was so tight it felt like it could split any minute.

The morning I delivered, my blood pressure was 190/110 and I'd gained three pounds overnight. The doctors had to get this baby out before we both died. I was transported to a neighboring hospital who was better equipped to handle the delivery of a 29-wk old fetus. They couldn't even call it a baby yet.

I remember hearing a nurse in the delivery room say "Bless his heart" and hoping my son was okay. I remember the warmth of his tiny head against my lips before the doctors whisked him off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and then being left alone when my husband followed the baby. The doctors knocked me out at that point and I don't remember anything clearly until the next day. Even those memories are sketchy.

But I remember the fear our son's young life left in our hearts as we wondered if he'd make it through the night. He'd been put on a ventilator and given a very small chance of survival. Then we were told if he did survive, the chances that he wouldn't have permanent, on-going disabilities were almost none. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night two days after he was born to be told his lungs had collapsed, he'd been given a chest tube and put on a high-frequency ventilator. 

I was still bed-ridden with high blood pressure that was supposed to have come down the day I delivered, so I couldn't even see my baby, much less hold him and tell him he'd be okay. It was several days before I was finally able to be wheeled into the nursery to touch him and almost two weeks before I could actually hold him.

I went from being a kid to feeling forty overnight. I learned medical terminology, how the respiratory system worked, what all the monitors were for and what it meant when they beeped. I learned that I could survive on very little sleep if it meant getting to be at the nursery all the time with my son. The nurses took notes every time they did anything to him, any time we visited or called and what the doctor said when he came in. That binder was three inches thick during the ten weeks he was in the NICU. He survived collapsed lungs, respiratory issues and developmental setbacks.

To say this child was a miracle is the biggest understatement ever. He has defied odds, outsmarted science and shown the world he's a force to be reckoned with. Today, that baby turns eighteen.

My baby is now a man and I couldn't be prouder to be his mom. I love you, son.


  1. I just can't believe that you have an 18 yr old! You're a hottie Rockstar ;) I love how he has defied the odds & proved what a fighter he truly is!! Happy 18th Birthday to your "baby" boy :))

  2. beautiful,and Im crying! :)