Saturday, June 25, 2005

Oh how a year goes by...

Today we celebrated Ella J's first birthday. Its not really until Monday, but you know how convenient Saturday's can be. Besides, I'm laying down my "Mother of the Year" crown next week in lieu of my "Camp Dean of the Year" tiara and will be missing her actual birthday. (I'll pause for everyone to "boo", "hiss", and throw tomatoes) In my absence, E and her father will be living in the lap of luxury, being spolied by Grandma Rock's fried food and warm lovin'. I doubt I'll be missed too much.

It was a year ago today that I came home from camp, thinking that I had the rest of the summer to settle into the idea of parenthood. I was not due for 7 more weeks. It was a year ago today that someone from camp called me to let me know that one of my campers had contracted "Fifth's Disease", a minor illness that can be harmful to pregnant woman. I made a call to the OBGYN on call, the first call I had made like that, just to make sure that I had nothing to worry about. I did not -- the disease, if harmful to pregnant women, is only harmful in the first tri-mester. That night we feasted at a Vegetarian Indian buffet -- only when that pregnant would I endorse going to any sort of buffet. (Although Indian buffets are generally pretty good.) We slept really late the next day, and went to Barnes and Noble that evening. Something that was almost a Saturday night ritual for us back in those days. On the way there, I said to Pat "I know you're going to think I'm jumping the gun by telling you this now, but I have one small labor plan." I went on to tell him that his presence was mandatory in the delivery room, the presence of my mother, his mother, and my sister were at his discretion, and that I didn't think I wanted an epideral -- but if I asked for one, he'd better not jack around. ha! We got to Barnes and Noble, and I was having some minor contractions, which I had been having for a couple of days, and Pat offered to take me home. We stayed. I remember saying then, "These darn Braxton Hicks contractions -- makes me wonder if this kid won't come early."

OH...the foreshadowing!

Of course many of you know what happened from there. Less than 6 hours after our departure from Barnes and Noble that night, I woke with a start -- thinking my water had broke, but the fluid did not turn out to be water. It happened really fast from that moment on. Oddly, I called from the bathroom for Pat to bring me the phone and the business card for the OBGYN on call that I had left laying by the phone the day before after my "scare" with Fifth's Disease. I now must question, why did I think to call the OBGYN? When you're losing that much blood, it should have probably occurred to me that I should just get myself to a hospital. It never even crossed my mind to call 911 or just get in the car and go. At that moment, I was really, really calm.

Of course the doctor told me to get myself to the hospital. I remained calm as we drove, and Pat informed me that in spite of the fact that we had packed nothing for this trip, he had the presence of mind to grab our toothbrushes. Yes, our toothbrushes. This seems like a terribly odd thing to grab of all things, but I tell you -- after it was all said and done, a good tooth brushing was exactly what I needed. Job well done Pat!

The next several hours were just a myriad of tests, exams, and questions from the doctors and nurses. First trying to figure out what was going on, and later, trying to figure out what to do. Early on, they were going to send me home. My sainted mother, not wanting me to return home to the mess I had made in our bedroom, went to my house to clean-up. To this day, I have no clue how she had the courage to do that, and to this day, she can't talk about what it was like. But as it progressed, it became clear that I would not return home that night after all. When it became clear that this little girl was coming sooner than later, we began to make the other important calls. My in-laws jumped in their car with little more than their own toothbrushes, I woke my boss and co-worker to ask their forgiveness for having to bail out on church that day, and I called all over trying to find my dad -- only to discover that he was in Cancun. Somehow my brother tracked him down.

The original plan, to stay in the hospital for 2 days to receive steroid shots (to jump start the final lung development of the baby) quickly detoriated into, we're having this baby in one hour! Outside of a few moments when reality caught up with me, I remember being calm, serene, and trusting. We had a fabulous doctor. When she told me that because of the bleeding, I would not be able to deliver naturally, I was okay. When she came back to say that because of the bleeding they were also afraid to give me an epideral so I'd have to be put completely under for her cesarean birth, I was fine. I would not have expected to be okay or fine with either of these things. When she told me, when you wake up you'll likely be in Intensive another hospital and your daughter will likely be in Intensive a different hospital...I was NOT okay. Suddenly my super-natural peace fled me and the reality hit and I wept, but thankfully the doctor was wise enough not to tell me this until 1 minute before the anesthesia was applied -- so the weeping was short lived.

When I came to, I remember pain and much confusion. But immediately, or what felt like immediately, Pat was there. I remember him crying, and I had no clue why. But his tears quickly reminded me of the situation at hand, and I feared the worse. He quickly offered that his tears were only those of relief and joy because he was now certain that both his daughter and wife were okay. His DAUGHTER was okay! And of course my tears began to mingle with his.

It started at 2:30 am on Sunday, June 27, 2004 and by noon that same Sunday, my beautiful, albeit tiny, daughter was safe in my arms. An act of blessing and grace that will forever leave me in awe. As the days of our hospital stay transpired, I'd come to know that I was not the only person in awe of our well being. After the dust had settled and we were waiting for Ella J to put some meat on her bones before we could go home, the medical staff shared with us that we were both closer to danger than we ever knew during those wees hours of the morning on June 27, 2004.

Of course our daughter is one roly poly little bundle of energy these days, and the days of coaxing her to eat and hoping for a couple more ounces of weight were very short lived. We are so very fortunate.

And of course one must ask, why the hell is she going on and on about this at length? It was a freakin' year ago. And its this very question that I have been asking myself for the past couple of days. This experience, one year ago, was certainly life altering and completely terrifying. But, from beginning to end, minus a moment of horror just before I was gassed into submission, I was really at peace. I felt calm, joyful, and in the end, just grateful. We called friends and family to inform them of the early arrival, and it was not so hard for me to recall the tale. Outside of a couple of tearful moments with my mother and husband as we understood what could have been, that week in that hospital was not much more than boring. Through out this year, we have had to re-tell this story at various times, and it has not been anything to me outside of a dramatic story that I wish to downplay. But, now, just days before the anniversary of this event, I feel haunted by this tale. I feel anxiety, as what feels like almost each hour, I can remember exactly what I was doing prior to her arrival. (This from a woman who can't usually remember what she had for lunch.) I feel tension and I have no peace. Camp, being a week later this year, starts tomorrow. And as I pack and prepare for it, I remember exactly what it felt like to do all of this last year, only with a protruding belly to stand in the way, assuming that I would have the month of July to eat, nest, and rest. Its almost as if I subconsciously feel like its all going to happen again, just as it did last year. And like in a bad horror movie, I just KNOW what's around the corner -- and I'm afraid to go there.

Yes, this is crazy. Why did it take a whole year for this to catch up with me? Why is it now that I want to write a seemingly endless blog post about it? Why would I even consider being this emotional on the frikkin' internet(s)? :)

I don't know. But I feel better!

With that said...

Happy Birthday Ella June! I love you!

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