Oh man, here goes. [disclaimer: since I cried typing this, you may want to grab a Kleenex]
This week, as we near Luke’s first birthday, I’m feeling all sorts of things. One sentence or one blog post can’t really sum it up. Shoot, that might be a book! Over the next few days, I’ll be posting about our fear, our hope, our joy and our journey.
Today, I need to remember the fear we felt. Recently a friend urged me not to *go there.* “Kathryn,” she said, “you can’t keep reliving those moments. You need to move on.” I agree with her – sort of. In order for me to move on, though, I have to relive those moments until I am at peace. Some of those moments I have already reconciled, some of them are a work in progress and some of them…well…they may never be resolved. Time is becoming my constant companion.
All I know is that trying to forget the worst moment of your life that involved your child is fruitless. Coming to terms with that moment and seeing God’s grace? That is what I hope for in the coming months and years.
So much of my pregnancy was filled with fear. At the 20-week ultrasound when the sonographer asked, “Are all your babies small?” that freaked me out. When the perinatologist walked in and told me it was quite possible my baby could be born before 24 weeks and that it had zero to no chance of living, or, in his words, “The baby isn’t viable and would die immediately,” I almost had to gasp for breath.
Damn. Thanks for sugarcoating it.
Actually, this is the same doctor for whom Luke shares a middle name. So, we did come to love him, clearly. But in that moment, I was fearful. Sitting in that sterile room with Scott, staring at one another in disbelief was the beginning of our new life. We didn’t know it then, but God was giving us bits and pieces at a time. I most certainly would’ve crumbled in that very room if he had laid out the next twelve months before my eyes.
I remember coming home that night and while Scott was getting kids in bed, I went to the bathroom and caught a glimpse of how tiny my baby bump was in the mirror. I clutched my belly and doubled over sobbing. Please, God, don’t ask this of me. Don’t make a lesson out of this baby. This child is innocent and I cannot be that strong. Those tears kept coming. I have never, ever, cried like that before. It was tears of fear, undoubtedly. Those tears, I would soon learn, had to be shed first. It was only after I cried my tears of fear and anger and disbelief was I able to see God’s hand in our journey. The next morning I woke up and I began to pray…for strength and for support.
Oh my, how God answered that prayer.
The day of my amniocentesis carried so much fear. Not because of the needle, nope it was the meeting with the genetic counselor. Trust me when I tell you, those meetings just totally freak you out. Oh, and the waiting for the results was pure torture.
With each week, some of the fear subsided as I got closer and closer to that magical 36-week goal. Baby W was slowly cooperating, gaining weight, but not nearly as chunky as we had hoped. During my 36-week visit at the perinatologist, the sonographer did her standard ultrasound. She didn’t say much and as she was leaving I asked her the baby’s weight. She told me and then slipped out of the room. I quickly did the math and knew that a three-ounce weight gain in a week was not good. Dr. H came in and confirmed that my weekly visits were done. People, it took all I had not to burst into tears right then and there. He left to get some papers and I was all alone for a few minutes. I steadied myself near the counter and tried with all that was in me to hold it together. I was planning on having lunch with a friend that day, but I just couldn’t do it. The last thing I saw when I left the doctor’s office was Dr. H and the sonographer looking back at me with forced smiles, saying, “Good luck.” Not, “You’ll do great!” or “We’re so happy for you.” Good Luck.
Fast forward to delivery day. So many emotions. I think my biggest fear on that day was this, would I hear our baby cry? I wondered if the baby would be strong, what it would look like. And, I wondered, just how tiny is 3.5 pounds?
There was fear as I entered the NICU for the first time. Fear that I was carrying germs that he would catch.
Fear when I tried to nurse Luke and he wouldn’t latch. Well, fear and a few cuss words.
Fear as I wondered when we would be discharged.
Fear when he stopped breathing.
Just this weekend, I got an email from my sweet college roommate, the one who’s the OB here in Austin. She is good person, Charlie Brown. As we zoomed out of the Seton hospital parking lot in hot pursuit of Luke’s ambulance to Dell, Felicia was the first person I called. I was freaking out and God led my fingers to dial those numbers. Thank the good Lord Felish was still awake. She talked me down from the ledge and gave Scott and I some valuable medical information. We needed to hear it from a doctor, but more importantly a doctor that we called friend.
I think my posts from a year ago tell the story better than I could today. For those memories are fresh, just a few hours removed from when it all happened.
There have been so many more moments of fear and uncertainty. Every doctor visit. Every phone call from the hospital. Every surgery. Every diagnosis. Every “we’ll just have to wait and see.”
They all came with fear. Yes, ultimately we found hope. As humans, though, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be fearful. It’s okay to question. It’s okay to cry. At least for me, it was the only way I could find peace.
Tomorrow, I tackle the hope. And we’ve had a boatload of that.