Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Boy Who Couldn't Wait!

Twelve years. That's how long it has been. They have been good years, they have been fun, and oftentimes hard.

It was twelve years ago that my son was born. He is the boy who couldn't wait. He was 16 weeks premature. He spent the first ten weeks of his life in the intensive care unit. We spent the next year walking on eggshells. He was lucky. We are blessed!

This boy, who made such a dramatic entry in my life, is blissfully unaware of pain and stress of those weeks. It was an apparently normal pregnancy. I had no risks, no complications, no warning. We traveled to my family for a long weekend and visited the county fair. That night we went to the hospital because I didn't feel right. Four days, and many drugs later, my son was born.

We were warned of the path ahead, but couldn't really comprehend what we were being told. We heard "50% chance of survival", "possible aneurysms in his brain", "incubator", "NICU", "lung development", "complications". So many words that had no footing in my brain. I was pregnant. I wasn't ready to give birth - that's inconceivable! I had hardly started telling people I was pregnant because I didn't show very much. Of course the contractions would stop ... it wasn't time for him to be born. Or was it?

My family was everything I could dream a family could be. They sat with me in the hospital. They made a home for my two older children and stayed up nights with them, while I was staying up nights with the boy who couldn't wait. They told bad jokes, made me laugh, and soothed me when I cried. They kept talking to me when I was so loopy with medication that I couldn't talk. They took care of things at home so my husband didn't have to worry -- shipping us clothes and toys for the big kids. They let us focus on me, and the boy who couldn't wait.

Then, the time came. I have vivid memories of the hospital, the steps that let me to the delivery room, the activities and conversations, and tension in the room. But, this is about the boy. He was born in a pillow of amniotic fluid. No bruising or bleeding in his brain. He was born breach, but he was so small it wasn't a problem ... and he had his pillow. We didn't get to see him. He was immediately taken by the Team. If ever there was an A Team, it was this group of people. Once the boy appeared, no one else mattered. He was taken into their expert hands, all our love and prayers and hope going down the hallway with him.

What followed was hours of waiting, weeks of watching, and miles of driving. We split our time, and our family, between New York and New Jersey. We needed stability for the kids, but we needed to be with the baby. Slowly the boy emerged from his critical state and began to grow. He is still growing!

My son was born at 24 weeks gestation, and weighed 1 lb 6 oz. When he was big enough, he was transferred to a hospital closer to our home. He was discharged from the hospital weighing less than 4 pounds. Twelve years later his is a big boy, no smaller than the other kids his age. He entered middle school this year and walks the halls like all the other kids. I hardly mention his early start in life anymore. It seems unrelated to the boy that lives in my house today. We don't hide the fact that he was premature. We have pictures of him in the NICU in the photo album. But none of the kids realize how blessed we are to have our boy!