well, it is his birthday. the day i gave birth. the day i gave birth to my son. a day i will never ever forget and that i still struggle to make peace with and that makes my eyes well up with such a strange cocktail of joy and sadness and frustration and pain and wonder. today we will celebrate him all day. and he will simply know that for some reason this day is special, he gets some presents, he gets to eat cake, daddy came back to south carolina to see us, he gets a lot of attention. he is so excited even though he doesn’t fully seem to get it. this morning, laying in bed awake much earlier then i would have wished and trying to convince him that it was not a good idea to turn on the overhead light and fan, i told him a little bit about what a birthday is.
this is your birthday. the day your born. do you know where you were living before you were born? you were in mama’s belly. i grew you in my belly just like i grew chickpea in there. and then one day, three years ago, you were ready to come out. and so you were born and we got to meet. it was a very special day. i was very excited.
he nodded and smiled and he told me, “i am so sited! today we have cake.”
well, yes, i am excited about cake too. i can’t lie.
but for me the emotions that return on the day he was born are so much thicker than simply excitement about refined sugar and chocolate. they are, the wonder of my first birth. the realization that i could do it, that i did it, that i did it on my terms how i wanted to despite the bumps in the road, and the pride i took in that. and then right along there with all that sense of power and joy is the other side of my first birth.
with my first pregnancy i knew nothing about pregnancy and birth really. i knew i wanted to do things as naturally and holistically as i could but i had no idea i could just use a homebirth midwife, and i am not sure i would have if i had known. what i wanted was a holistically focused ob but that was not possible to find so i just found two local practices and asked my spirits which one to chose. and there i went.
in retrospect there are about a million things i would have done differently but i guess i had to learn that in order to do it differently – which i did with the pea. but with the bean i knew nothing and i was just doing the best i could by him. and it did all work out in the end, but as i mentioned there are some parts to make peace with. the parts that just barely thinking about, just thinking near, evoke tears and that warm achey feeling in my heart. the kind of ache where you feel like the two sides of your chest are kind of collapsing in on each other and your face is going to drop down to meet them.
the bean was a big baby in utero and the obstetricians did not like that very much. it made sense to me, babies ran big in my family and flash’s, but nonetheless the ob’s had me marked as growing fast and kept a close eye on things. they also diagnosed me with gestational diabetes which i could argue was incorrect at this point but i won’t even go there today. so the bean seemed to be big, i was big, they wanted to keep an eye on how big he got for their own reasons. when i was thirty four weeks pregnant they asked for another ultrasound to gauge his size again. i knew nothing so i agreed to it.
i was thirty five weeks pregnant, large and uncomfortable, up several times a night to pee, and sleeping propped up on all sides by pillows when the phone rang at seven am in the morning. the caller id showed the obstetricians practice so i answered, groggily, mind thick with much needed late pregnancy sleep.
i didn’t recognize the name or the voice on the other end. she reminded me that my doctor was away for two weeks and she then she simply said that someone saw a possible problem with my babies heart on the ultrasound and that we would need to see a specialist. i said, “what? what kind of a problem? when do i see the specialist?” and she said, “i don’t know what kind of problem or when you will see the specialist you will hear back from our office at some point. i am just the doctor on call right now and they asked me to call you. i am actually at the hospital at a birth and i do not have any other information.”
and that was that. and let me say now just once really clearly, “who’s fantastic idea was it to call a pregnant mama at 7am and tell her something is wrong with her babies heart but you do not know what or when she will get more information ok goodbye?!?!?!?” it is really difficult for me to get over my anger at that decision. but i will try to continue on here.
a few days later. yes, that is right, a few DAYS later i finally had an appointment with a specialist. those few days were challenging and emotional and dark but we’ll leave it at that. the specialist was a high risk pregnancy ob at the hospital outside the city that i had thought i would be giving birth at. he was irish, and kind, and thoughtful, and gracious, and if i ever had a high risk pregnancy i would look him up in heartbeat. he gave me his direct cell number to call. he called in favors for me. i can’t say enough good about him. by the time i was in his office i needed a good kind doctor so thank you universe.
he did an ultrasound himself and there was a lot of heavy dark silence in the tiny exam room and then he said that yes, he saw the potential problem and the next step was to get me in to see an even more specialized doctor a pediatric cardiologist at children’s hospital. i was alone at his office. i took the news very bravely and i asked him, i begged him, i pleaded with him at the point of sobbing to please get me in to see that doctor before the weekend (it was thursday) because my baby shower was on saturday and i couldn’t have it if i didn’t know if my baby was ok or not. as i said, he was kind, he understood. he said he would make some calls and get back in touch with me. so, there was nothing i could do by heave myself back into my car — wading through my own personal depth of darkness and fear — and start driving home.