For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Mom. Sure, there were other things I thought I'd like to be...a teacher, a flight attendant, even a freelance photographer. But being a Mom was always top on my list. I even decided that being a flight attendant, even though I thought it would be a blast, was out of the question because it would take me away from my family too much.
And of course, to be a mom, I knew I would be a wife first. And I wanted to stay home and take care of my husband and children.
16 years ago today, I became a wife.
And 14 years ago today, my greatest dream came true, I became a mom.
However, as exciting as that was, it was a very scary day, and we knew we had a long road ahead of us. Scary, because our precious baby boy decided not to wait the three and a half months longer to be born, but to come early instead.
I was only 24 weeks along with CJ. I woke up on Saturday morning, May 28, 1994 just like any other day. Something was a little different that day, but I didn't think too much about it. I went about my day, with plans to go shopping later for some new shoes to go with my first official maternity outfit that I had planned to wear to church the next day. I was barely showing, so I really didn't have much need for maternity clothes yet. But my MIL had bought me a beautiful red outfit, and I was excited to get to wear it. But I never did.
The morning went on, and we ordered pizza for lunch. But something just wasn't right. I kept feeling some cramping, and it was happening pretty regularly. No pain, just a little discomfort. So I called my doctor. She urged me to come in. I asked if I needed to make an appointment. She said no, that she wanted me to come to the hospital now. I didn't think there was too much concern in her voice, so I didn't get in a big hurry. As a matter of fact, we waited for our pizza to be delivered and ate it before we left.
I had full intentions of going in, getting checked out, and then going to shop for my new shoes!
The hospital was 45 minutes away. Chip was driving very fast. I told him, "I'm not in labor, you don't have to drive so fast." And he informed me he was practicing for the real thing.
We arrived at the hospital and got signed in. The nurse looked at me and asked if I was in labor, to which I answered "No." She asked if I needed a wheelchair, and I told her I was fine. It was a LONG walk to where we were going, in which I had to stop to breathe a couple of times. By this time I was wishing I had said yes to the wheelchair!
I was being examined, and still had no clue what was going on. But I noticed some very concerned looks on the nurses faces. And then I heard things like "She's complete" and "She's 100% effaced" and I had NO CLUE what those things meant. Apparently, since I didn't react to those things, one of the nurses realized I was in the dark.
So she very calmly and sweetly explained to me that I was indeed, in labor, my contractions (so that's what that cramping was)were two minutes apart and I was about to deliver this baby.
I was terrified! They explained to me that if he was born now, he only had a 50% chance of survival. However, if we could manage to "keep him in" for three more weeks, his chances would increase to 80%. Of course, I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. So they put me on magnesium to stop my labor.
On Sunday, we realized we were going to be in the hospital for at least three weeks, so Chip went home to tie up some loose ends and get us some clothes and things we would need.
While he was gone, the doctor and nurses decided that I was in a fragile state, and even moving to get on the bedpan was too much of a risk for me. So they decided to insert a catheter.
I had had catheters many times before (due to some bladder issues as a child), and I knew what it was supposed to feel like. Once they were finished, I looked at them and told them, "You put it in wrong." They looked at me as if I had two heads...of course they didn't think that was possible. So I repeated myself, a little more insistent this time, "You PUT it In wrong!" So they checked. I saw a horrified look from one nurse to the other.
They then explained to me that my water had ruptured. Apparently, since my cervix was so thin at this point, it had managed to break my water. In other words, it looked like it was time for this baby to be born.
My husband was at home - 45 minutes away! I was so terrified that this baby would be born, and I'd have to do this all alone because my husband wouldn't make it back in time! I was just a little bit hysterical.
This was before we had cell phones. But Chip had a pager. They paged him. He had just arrived our house when he got the news. So he FLEW back. I'm not joking. He made the 45 minute drive in 25 minutes. The one time he prayed to be pulled over so he could possibly get an escort...but that didn't happen.
When he arrived at the hospital, I could tell he was as terrified as I was, and his cheeks were tear stained. But he was there with me, and I was so thankful to not be alone.
But we went through the night with no baby. My water was only punctured, so it was a slow leak, and that gave us a little more time.
That night in the hospital, Chip had finally fallen asleep in the uncomfortable chair that is supposedly for sleeping.
I couldn't sleep. I was miserable. I couldn't change positions, I was stuck on my back, with my head lower than my feet. I was so incredibly uncomfortable, and had no idea how I was going to be able to lie there like that for much longer.
I caressed my belly and sang to my sweet little boy (which I still didn't know for sure if he was a boy - but that's what I was praying for). Then I began to pray. I told God that I would do anything for this child. I told Him how incredibly uncomfortable I was and asked that if I was going to have to lie in that bed for weeks, could He please make me a little more comfortable. Then I told Him that this child was His, that He had created him, and this child belonged to Him. Then I prayed the hardest thing I had ever prayed in my life. I told God that if He wanted this child, then He could take him, but if He was going to do so, please do it now, as I couldn't bear the thought of lying in that bed for days or weeks only to not have a baby to take home in the end. But I told Him that if He allowed me to keep this baby, that I would do everything I could to make sure he was raised to love and serve Him, and would know the miracle he is.
At that point, the most amazing feeling came over me. It felt like a blanket being placed on me from my head to my toes. I almost can't explain it - it was well, amazing! I knew it was peace, and for the first time, I was sure everything would be ok.
On Monday morning, May 30, 1994 - Memorial Day, my contractions began. I knew at this time that this baby would be born, and there was no turning back. But I was at peace. I looked at my husband and told him it was time. He made the necessary phone calls to inform our family. They were at the hospital shortly after.
I was very grateful for our dear friend, Laura, (who had grown up with Chip and was like a sister to him) who was by my side the entire time. We had no clue what to expect, and since she had been through giving birth, she was a great help. My husband was the greatest support, but he knew nothing about giving birth either!
She was fantastic - telling me what was going on and what to expect. She would guide me through breathing during a contraction and assure me it was almost over.
As my labor progressed, our family would come in to check and see how things were going. It was a great comfort to know they were there.
I remember talking to the doctor who would be taking care of CJ about how big he would be. I had been measuring a little large, so I asked if he would be a good weight. She told me that I would be "lucky if he was one pound." And then she proceeded to tell me all the difficulties this child would face IF he survived. The possibility that he would never walk or talk or live a normal life. I guess they have to prepare you for the worst.
And at this point, I still had no idea if this baby would live or die, but I knew God was in control, and I was very much at peace about the whole thing.
Then I was told it was time to push. Now, I had never been in this position before, but I had always heard that you would KNOW when it was time to push. And I didn't feel like it was time. But, being the good patient, I did as I was told. I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. And nothing was happening, except that I was getting very tired. I remember seeing the walls lined with masked faces - nurses, respiratory therapists, and who knows who else, for the baby. They were all waiting. I was finally told to stop pushing, that it was actually not the right thing to be doing at the time. Hmmm...
So I fell asleep! That was the first time I actually got a few minutes of wonderful sleep since I had been there.
And then there was a shift change! All those masked faces disappeared and there was one nurse in there. Then it happened, I felt the urge, and I KNEW it was really time to push now. The nurse told me I couldn't push yet, and to breathe through it. Yeah, right. I kept insisting that I couldn't and that I needed to push! And she actually said, "Ok, fine...push!" So I did. I actually was pushing at every urge when the doctor finally walked in. A different doctor than before, because of the shift change. And he introduced himself. I didn't care who he was, I just wanted him to get this baby out! And it wasn't long before that happened. At 10:34 AM, our son was born.
Now, I had always imagined the moment I gave birth, and the doctor would hold my baby up and shout, "It's a _____!" And we would rejoice. Well obviously, the sex of this baby was the LAST thing on the doctor's mind at this point, so that's not exactly how it happened.
So when CJ was out, I remember looking and seeing that he was a boy, and I shouted out, "HE'S A BOY!!!!!" loudly enough that our family, who were waiting outside could hear, and it brought tears to my Mom's eyes.
I heard one tiny, brief cry from CJ, and that was it. He didn't cry anymore, as he wasn't even breathing. But I knew, because of that one little cry, that he was alive. And I knew the answer God had given me. He was going to allow me to be the mom to this precious child.
They laid CJ on me so I could hold him briefly. And let me tell you how amazing God is. When they placed him on me, the doctor said, "He's not breathing, but it's important for mom to hold him." And they were bagging him the entire time. I did NOT hear that being said to me, and I never even noticed the bag attached to his face as they were squeezing air into his lungs. All I saw was a perfect baby boy who I was immediately in love with.
Later, Chip and Laura told me what the doctor had said, and that they had looked at each other in fear of what my reaction would be. They couldn't believe I had not heard it. But God is amazing, and he allowed those few moments be very special for me.
(Eventually, I looked back at the video of me holding him those few short moments, and I realized he was this teeny-tiny little purple thing with a bag on his face. It's amazing that that is not what I saw when I was holding him.)
They took him away to the NICU and that would be the last time I would hold my baby for quite some time.
That evening, once all the visitors had left and the phone stopped ringing, we were alone and had time to think about what was ahead of us. It was at this point we realized it was our two year anniversary, and that we were the parents of a tiny 2 pound 2 ounce little boy, and we weren't sure what the next days, weeks and months ahead of us were going to be like. I got out of the bed and crawled into my husbands lap, and as he held me, we wept together. Tears of relief, tears of fear. There was a lot of emotion - it had been a big day! We were young and a little scared, but most importantly, we knew God was in control.
And the next 3 months were a bit of a roller coaster. The joys of visiting our little boy, the sadness of not being able to hold him for so long. The excitement walking in one day knowing this would be the day we were going to get to hold him, and the crushing let down, when there had been a setback, and we weren't able to hold him. Then the elation on the day we were able to finally hold him. And the terror on the day he coded and we thought we'd lose him. So many ups and downs until the day it happened, and we brought our almost 3 month old, 5 pound son home - the most wonderful day of our lives! We really did have a son, and he was finally to be home with us, and no one was coming to take him. It actually took a while for it to sink in for me...that he really was ours, and we could keep him!
And in the blink of an eye, he turned 14. How on earth did my teeny tiny little boy turn into such a handsome young man so quickly?
CJ - you made my dream come true...you made me become a Mom. And I love you with all my heart.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SON!
And now for a few photos from then: (Sorry about the quality - this was before digital cameras, so I had to scan these.)
He was so tiny!
We finally got to hold him on Jun 21st - 23 long days after he was born.
The first time I was able to bathe him:
The car seat test: (To make sure he could tolerate being in the car seat)
The hospital photo, taken the day he got to come home - August 19
CJ and Daddy hanging out in the floor:
You may notice all the wires, he came home on a heart monitor. Almost 4 months later, in December, we were very happy he was able to come off of that!
And isn't this just lovely of me? LOL! I would feed CJ in this chair, and we took lots of naps here!
In the beginning, I had to hook him up to the oxygen to eat, as he had a difficult time breathing and eating at the same time.