Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reliving The Past



Today begins a hard week, actually month for me. Seven years ago, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. It was my first official day of maternity leave and I reveled in my new found freedom while mopping my kitchen floor midday.

The day itself was uneventful. I remember eating a bowl of hot oatmeal while sitting on my front porch watching the school busses go by--thinking I should be at work already. My only physical complaint of the pregnancy was my swollen ankles. The air was warm and it was sunny. The windows were open and I was in nesting mode.

It was shortly before dinner that I received the phone call. It was my OB and she had a very strange tone in her voice as she spoke with me. She asked if I was home alone. She asked if I was ready to listen to something important. I was loading laundry while we had this conversation as she had my latest sonogram results from a few days earlier and I kept loading while she talked not fully grasping what she was saying. Then I remember sort of dropping the handful of laundry and asking her to explain it again. We had already lost the twin of this pregnancy. How could this be getting worse?

I remember walking into the nursery while waiting for my husband to get home to take me up to the hospital as the doctor ordered and looking around. It was painted but not fully decorated. I looked at the layette outfit waiting on the dresser. I noticed the lack of diapers and wipes, bottles and equipment. I was no where near prepared for a baby--I still had 9 more weeks.

The hospital visit was a blur. IUGR was mentioned several times. My baby weighed 2lbs 12 ounces and was not only not growing, but it was shrinking. The size of a 25 weeker, the baby for some reason was below the 3rd percentile and failing.

They ordered bed rest and continued daily bio-physicals and ultra sounds. They added a team of specialists from a hospital with a advanced NICU. My days blurred into nights laying on the couch eating as much food as I could while wishing the baby to grow.

Four days later, due to signs of extreme fetal distress a C-section was ordered immediately. He was born in a near standing-room-only OR in a blur of controlled chaos.

He would spend the next 28 days in the NICU and I would spend those same days mostly split between the hospital and on my shower floor crying.

Last week I read a study where mothers of premature babies, especially those who had extended stays in NICUs, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. It make so much sense to me now.



So here I am, as I always am on March 17th feeling like I am trapped in the movie Groundhog's Day. Reliving every moment. Seeing the clock and knowing exactly what I was doing 7 years ago to the minute on some days. I can hear the sounds and smell the smells. And this will stretch into April, as it does every year.

He will turn 7 on Saturday. He is healthy and fine, argumentative and strong willed. Brilliant and funny. But somehow I get stuck right back in this place every year.

And each year I expect it to be different.

6 comments:

||| laura frantz ||| on March 17, 2010 at 8:47 PM said...

Wow, this is such a heavy story, one shared by lots of other moms. Maybe you should write a book about this experience. *wink*

Liza Medina on March 17, 2010 at 9:53 PM said...

I can relate. Every August 1st, I am trapped in a memory of a panic stricken phone call, racing down the thruway and seeing an ambulance pull away. I can still picture the look on my aunt's face when I had to tell her that her only child passed away. Some scars are horrific.

However, the key to life is knowing that the scars make us who we are. Without the circumstances of Michael-man's birth, he wouldn't be quite the scrappy fighter he is today. He is a miracle-- no doubt about it-- and a survivor from day one.

Angela Hammarth Ehlich said...

Jen that is one hell of a story. My daughter was in NICU for 17 days and every year I do the same exact thing in September. The air, the smells, the body wash I used at that time, the sound of oxygen monitors, brings me all right back. God bless your son, these children are all blessings and miracles. As Moms and women we hold these things deep in our hearts and forever will.

Anonymous said...

To a friend from a friend, to a parent from a parent. No matter how far you lock those memories deep inside yourself, I find it amazing how they creep back into your thoughts when you least expect it. At a red light, the beeping of machine at a convenient store, or as simple as drinking a cup of coffee. I have come to the realization these thoughts will probably never go away, probably lessen in frequency over time, but never go away. Thank you for sharing.

Mami2jcn on March 20, 2010 at 9:48 AM said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I had 3 miscarriages before I conceived my first child. He will also be 7, in a week and a half.

Nicole on March 20, 2010 at 8:47 PM said...

My son was IUGR, also, and I remember getting the ultrasound that would determine if we would have to go ahead and deliver him at 32 weeks. Thankfully he was big enough to complete the pregnancy. But as his heart rate stopped twice during labor, I wondered if we had made the right decision. He was born by emergency c-section (without complete anesthesia .. ouch!). I was in shock, literally. All of my children had been 8 lbs. They held up this full-term 5 lb. baby and I thought, "What a I supposed to do with a baby that small?" (BTW, your second pic of him looks exactly like Eli looked.) He had that big head, and tiny little body. But he was alive. He has neurological delays and was a sickly thing as a little boy, but he's with us. He's now in full-time kindergarten and getting smarter and stronger every day.

So thankful you had a happy ending to your story!

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