Monday, January 24, 2011

Mommy to a Miracle - An Essay

I recently wrote an essay for a contest.  Nothing major, not great monetary prize or anything, but I wanted to share our story.  The category was Women's Issues, subcategory was Family. 
Enjoy.  (Please note, this is an original work...I don't mind sharing, but don't steal!)

Mommy to a Miracle

Every little girl has a dream. Some little girls want to be teachers, some doctors, some ballerinas. I was not different. I had the dream of my perfect life when I grew up. I wanted to be a mommy, and being the traditionalist I always was, that meant being a wife too.

From day one, I was ready to start a family. But we knew it was in our best interest to wait. So we did. Finally when we had been married a little over 2 years we decided to go for it! However, God had other plans.

In April we stopped birth control and waited a couple of months before we really started trying to conceive. A couple of months passed, we did our part, and excitedly my period was late! However, the pregnancy tests came back negative. We went to our general practitioner and he said it was probably just my body adjusting and to give it some time and wait. Two months went by and still no period. Our general practitioner then referred us to an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She assured me that we would get me pregnant soon. She was an awesome lady, who I learned was struggling with infertility herself.

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). After four unsuccessful months of taking Metformin (a diabetes drug that helps treat PCOS) and Clomid (a fertility medication). Following some other tests, we decided to continue the Metformin but to forego the Clomid and take a break. I was ready to give up, I was done. I was depressed, exhausted, and resigning myself to the fact I would never fulfill my dream and be someone's mommy.

But once again, God had other plans. My period was late. Here we go again, I thought. However, two lines showed up on that test that morning. And two lines that afternoon. And the next morning. And at the doctors office the next afternoon. Needless to say it took a little convincing for me to believe it. I was indeed pregnant.

My pregnancy was like a dream. Not one stitch of morning sickness. Very few symptoms at all. I worked on his nursery, made all his crib bedding and accessories myself. I hand quilted a quilt I'd made just for him. I was living my dream. Everything was perfect. Then one Saturday, shortly before my 28 week mark, I had a feeling. A feeling my son would be tiny and a bit early. This feeling was so nagging I went into his room and pulled out the tiniest sleeper we had been given in our hand-me-downs, a preemie size, and laid it on his bed.

That Monday morning I woke up with a backache. I was assured by my friends and family that during pregnancy your back would hurt and to drink some water and rest. That night we had the first installment in our childbirth class. The instructor mentioned that if any pain is timeable and regular to get checked out. Following class I asked her about my back ache. She again, like everyone else, told me to go home, drink some water, and put my feet up. I did as instructed, but the pain did not let up, in fact it got worse. I felt nauseated and ill. I couldn't sleep. Around midnight, I couldn't take it any more, we packed up and headed to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital. Everyone initially was very calm. I anticipated getting some kind of shot to stop the pain and then we'd go home. I had no idea my life was about to change forever. The nurse came in and checked me and quickly hurried out of the room. Within moments the entire staff in Labor and Delivery were in my room. I was finally able to get a word in edgewise and ask what was going on. The informed me I was having a baby tonight and was fully dilated. I was 28 weeks pregnant. I asked if my baby was going to be ok, and I was told “We'll do the best we can.” Not what any mother wants to hear. My doctor arrived shortly thereafter on her cell phone trying to get a helicopter to take him to Arkansas Children's Hospital. None was available. She then called all the other hospitals with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in search of a helicopter, again, none were available. She then resumed the same calls asking for an ambulance, finally Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock said they had an ambulance and got a transport team in route.

During this time, I was told I was not allowed any pain medication since it would run the risk of slowing baby's heart rate. I was fine with that, I had desired a natural birth anyway. However, what I did not anticipate was being told that I couldn't deliver until the transport team arrived. Since we were at a small rural hospital, they were not equipped for such tiny babies. That moment, in my mind, is when I became a mother. I became determined to do, what they whispered amongst themselves, was impossible for me to do. Why? Because it was what my son needed in order to survive. So I prayed with all my might and made it through. Three hours later, I was nearing my limit when we were informed the transport team had arrived. Waiting for them to walk down the hall was the most excruciating wait of my life. Then I was finally given the go ahead. Five minutes later my son was born. This was not how I had envisioned his birth. I'd heard stories of the first moment of you saw your child and him being placed on your chest. I was not granted that pleasure. Instead my son was immediately rushed out of the room.

So there I sat, finally a mommy. However, I had still not seen my child. Roughly an hour later he was wheeled in. He was hooked up to countless monitors and tubes, laying quietly in the transport isolette. I was allowed to reach in and touch his hand briefly. I was then given instructions about what to expect and how they would call me when he was stabilized at the NICU. Then my long awaited son, my 2lb 14 oz miracle, my little Isaac, was gone. I sat alone, in labor and delivery, while my child was 100 miles away fighting for his life. I could hear the hustle and bustle in the halls of mommies and babies having visitors. The oohing and ahhing. No one visits a mommy without a baby. I was finally released shortly after lunch. I was wheeled through the hall, not with my child in my lap while I proudly beamed, but alone and somber and clutching my cell phone in case I got a call.

We finally made it to Little Rock to see our son. Again there he lay, helpless and tiny and all alone. After our brief visit we left our child and went home, the next day we returned and spent the following week in a hotel in Little Rock, just in case we were needed quickly.

On the way home that first night we stopped and purchased a breast pump. I had always envisioned nursing my child at the breast. I never imagined beginning this journey with an electric pump sitting in a hotel room one hundred miles from home.

While most new parents are learning about their baby's coos, smiles, and personalities. We were learning terms such as Intraventicular Hemorrhage, Retinopathy of Prematurity, Patent Ductus Arteriosis, Bradycardia, Apnea, Hemocrit, Picc Line, Pulse Ox, etc. While most new parents are waking up to a crying baby, I was waking up to an alarm and a breast pump and making a late night phone call to the NICU to check on my son.

Two weeks into his stay, we were informed he needed minor heart surgery. The night before the surgery, I was granted the opportunity to finally hold my son. It was, and still is, one of the best moments in my entire life. Finally, things felt right. I sat there in the rocking chair, my teeny tiny personal miracle asleep on my chest. The world around me stopped. Life was fantastic for a brief moment.

On October 1, sixty-three days after my life changed, we were greeted by the doctor, “Are ya'll ready to go home today?” I couldn't believe I was hearing those words. Home. All three of us. “Yes, please!” Following lunch that day, we walked out of the NICU for the last time. I held my breath for fear it was a dream or a mistake. That the doctor would come out and say he couldn't leave yet. Finally I was the one walking through the lobby and out the door with a baby. As we loaded him in the car, I was still holding my breath. Was it real? Was he coming home to stay?

It was true, our son was home. Though our journey wasn't over yet. We still had things to deal with that most parents don't. A heart monitor, medications, nursing issues, occupational therapy. But we held our heads high and with prayer and God's grace, made it through. Our hard work paid off. Two months later we were allowed to return the monitor and finally, for the first time had a cordless baby. Medications were ceased. He finally got the strength to nurse, and I was finally able to sit and rock with my baby at my breast, like things should be. At his first birthday, we was released from all therapy and declared normal.

Today our tiny miracle is two years old. He is a rambunctious totally normal toddler boy. The only indication of his prematurity are the scars on his hands and feet from every needle prick and IV. And just like those scars on his hands, I bear scars on my heart.

Today, as I write this, we are just one day away from the two year anniversary of our homecoming. In some ways it feels like yesterday, in others it feels like it was a lifetime ago. It has made me a different person. A stronger person. A better person. I am eternally grateful that I was chosen to be a mommy to a miracle.


Janine said...

I sat here crying reading this. *Hugs*

Claire said...

Such a good essay, Erin. I love your way of telling your story.


Anonymous said...


*is sobbing*


I am so very happy that you have your miracle - so very happy.

Be well,

Donna said...

Amazing...I hope it is healing to share your story.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Great essay Erin - you did a fantastic job. Both as a writer and a mommy! ;)

Jen said...

Love the way you told your story..
Great essay Erin!

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

What a beautiful story, Erin! And how blessed you are that Isaac has no lasting effects because of his early arrival. Thank you for sharing.

stackfamily said...

erin, for some reason after updating my own blog, I clicked the "next blog" button and yours came up. I had the pleasure to read this beautiful story. My son was put in the nicu for a week after he was born. My story is DEFINITELY not as hard as yours, but your touched me so much I had to comment on it. Thank you for sharing this story.