Motherhood sent me a curveball before it ever fully came to fruition. I could spend hours going over the details of every single thing that went wrong with my pregnancy, from how I found out (emergency room), to how many times I thought it had become a loss (six) but that would be a tireless checklist, and quite frankly, too long. So, I'll quickly sum it up the best I can. As many of you know, my son SJ is feisty. The same way he illuminates this world is the same way he entered it.
At 28 weeks we saw the very first signs of our little baby's growth stopping. A probable factor due to my uterine didelphys (google away) and testing indicating placenta abnormalities. I began contracting regularly mere days after the first signs of growth slowing, and every few days I returned for multiple IV infusions to slow contractions and fetal monitoring. The Georgetown Medstar parking attendants were my besties, fist bumping the familiar pregnant lady maneuvering her SUV through their garage time and time again, and my buddy Matt, the tech, often explaining nuances of elevated cord blood levels and walking me through counting my unborn baby's breaths. Certain breaths within a minute and we were clear, certain movements within an appointment and we were clear... on and on it went. I cried silent but grateful tears every drive home and each week my app told me my baby's "size" I again cried silent tears in my office because my baby wasn't that size and my body was trying so hard to force this tiny human out. Quickly, my baby wasn't any size, dropping off charts, yet we fought for another week to keep this new life inside, hopeful lungs and brain would continue developing. Did you know a fetus with a depleting cord blood supply instinctively knows to send the blood flow to the brain and less to the stomach in a fight for survival? I didn't, but this smart unborn baby did.
After more appointments than I could possibly count, my baby fully stopped growing. At 33 weeks and 3 days, the contractions couldn't be stopped and my little 3 lb. baby had stopped moving. "Have you eaten recently?" my friendly tech asked, concerned. I had just demolished a big brunch and coffee.
I remember the specialist trying his hardest to keep the baby in one more day, leaving the labor and delivery room saying he would see me in the morning and further discuss options then. "Does your wife cry?" he asked Shaun seriously. If either of them ever knew the countless, lonely tears or times I spoke and prayed to this baby alone in my office, the car, the courthouse... everywhere, every moment. The head of the NICU came in to discuss the morning, the door my child would be quickly moved through after delivery, the baby's size, indications of breathing, possible brain bleeds, and other complications. She was kind. I was still scared. "You'll likely not hear a cry because the baby won't be breathing independently," she said.
Minutes later we couldn't find a heartbeat. "We are going to put you out now," a nurse said quickly. Panic set in... slowly the beat came back. The c-section couldn't wait until the morning. As they rolled me, I cried, every ounce of my heart opened up and cried a very public and very necessary cry. All I really could think of as I lay there shivering was this baby not breathing and not crying. A silent and massive unknown as the baby was removed and then silently moved into the NICU. How would I even know the baby was alive? Would anyone even tell us if it was a boy or girl? Would I be able to hold my baby, see my baby, let my baby know the only way I made it this far was praying over him or her?
Suddenly I heard a cry. The doctor let Shaun announce that the baby was indeed a boy. She even went so far as to hold him over the curtain, I saw a small foot before he was whisked to the NICU. SJ has entered the world. All questions had answers, he was breathing on his own, and while his health wasn't perfect, he continued to push through. The next year many things weren't perfect, but he was here.
So motherhood sent me a curveball but quite honestly, with some lonely tears and prayers, we are here. It is a month before his third birthday, and I would relive every hard moment a million times to see him run circles like the little cave man.