Called my husband again…. he was RUSHING home from work, driving in the hazard lane on 101 for over 40 miles…..NOT recommended, btw. We headed to SF with surprisingly high spirits, we were together….a family. I thought to myself, we caught it, things will be fine. LET’S HAVE A BABY!!!! YEAH!
We arrived and they didn’t really know why I was there. Yes, my OBGYN called ahead, but no one saw any reason for concern, nor did they understand why I thought something was wrong. After about an hour and a phone call to the OBGYN they induced me and asked for my birth plan. I laughed, and so did they. I guess I wasn’t getting the “hippie” (their word, not mine) birth I wanted, but they would try to stick to the parts they could. I felt like they really cared. I had to abandon my exercise ball, freedom to move about, intermittent fetal monitoring etc….I didn’t bat an eyelash, I knew this was how it had to be….for my little one.
After about 8 hours of labor and no meds they expressed concern for my baby…again. I was only dilated 1cm!!!!! and the baby wasn’t responding well to the increased contractions. They brought up the C word, and that was the first time I really cried. Why was all this happening? After a series of heart rate drop/stops they really recommended a C section and I knew that it was necessary. I felt the severity of it all. I accepted it all right there. We need to do this for our baby.
Surgery went well, John needed some apple juice to help with fainting and it all was great, for what it was. They delivered our little baby boy at 3am and daddy held him up to my face…”it’s a boy, honey, we have a baby boy.” Tears, oh the tears. He’s here, I survived surgery and he is fine. A bit small at 5lbs 4oz, but no pear! We all went back to my room to rest. My parents and my in laws were there with us. Everyone got to hold their FIRST grandchild. When I held him, I thought….he looks awkward, different. He must have really been through a lot in there. Everyone gave us kisses and headed home to rest. Around 6am they came to get our little Jack because he wasn’t keeping temperature and they wanted to monitor his breathing. John went with the doctors to take him to the NICU. They were gone for what seemed like over an hour.
At this point I am worried, but trying to rest. When they come back John is crying and the head of pediatrics is with him. I think to myself……..he died. Silence. No one spoke. John is still crying. The head of pediatrics steps in. She says, “I already told your husband, but we think that Jack might have Down Syndrome.” more silence. It wasn’t shocking, it wasn’t horrible, it was almost like I knew. It was almost like I was expecting them to say it. Like, finally, now we know.
I know this will sound crazy….if you’re even still reading this, but I knew all along. Really, promise. I told my mother in law once (she doesn’t remember) that I was worried that there was something “wrong” with the baby, that that was my biggest fear. She said, like what? I said, like that he/she will have Down Syndrome or something. I said that. And more than anything, I am so grateful for her response….she said, ” Oh, really. Those kids are great.” I haven’t cried at all through writing this, enough time has passed…I have healed. But as I think of that moment, I cry. I cry because I know that my family loved him before he even arrived. I know that he is accepted and cared for for who he is and not because of what he wasn’t.
After they told me, I didn’t cry. Not one tear. I consoled my hubby (the strongest, most incredible man I know). They kept sending in social workers and doctors to check on me. To make sure I understood what “it” meant. They spoke with our parents, my mom asked them to send in a minister….she thought I was in denial, she said I was taking it too well. I don’t know why on that day I didn’t cry. Maybe because I was in shock, maybe I knew I had to be strong for my son, my husband, and my family. I had to show them that this was ok. That he was healthy, and perfect and I was happy. And I was.
Jack had to stay in the hospital for a week for various monitoring: white blood cell count, sleep apnea, low temperature, and an eventual transfusion. But, other than that he was healthy. Once I was discharged (3 days later) we went home without him…..and I cried. This is what wasn’t right. This is what I needed support for. My baby should be with me, not in a hospital full of strangers. When we got home we sat in his nursery and cried and held each other. I think I actually kept saying, “wow……wow…..wow, is this really happening” I cried and tried to adjust to this new idea of family and life and living. John and I decided then and there that we HAD to make communication a priority. That we HAD to vent to each other, we had to talk about all the things that we were afraid to say, admit, wonder, worry about.
When Jack was finally discharged one LONG week later (which seemed like an eternity after 2 yes’s, 2 no’s and a final YES) we were “normal” parents. We dotted onver him, we dressed him in his best preemie outfit (which my mom had to rush to buy, at 5’8” and 6’3” we weren’t expecting a tiny little guy) and shot pictures all the way to the car. We joked about how cool he’ll be when he’s older because he’ll get to say he was born in San Francisco. John stressed about the city traffic and we noted his first trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. All was well in the world, we were a family. We came home to an outpouring of love and support, which continues to this day. And I think, thank god for my family, friends and my loving husband. And thank god for the greatest gift of all, my perfect son, Jack
Written by mama extraordinaire, Angi B.