Time marches on. After a couple weeks of being home from work, I was beginning to have a focus, beginning to feel that I was traveling this road for a reason. I say beginning, because there were moments, at home by myself, when I would talk to God. This relationship had not been one I had ever spent much time thinking about, but here I was in the ‘beginning’ stages of a relationship that would transcend all. Also, Alex’s ‘normal’ life that I maintained helped because I felt like I had a purpose. I felt like I was doing something right.
I was never a deeply religious person, nor am I to this day, but I was alone at home having a pretty good day, quiet, talking to my belly, and
a voice inside me whispered, “believe”.
I felt it. I was overcome with emotion and in that moment, I knew I was here, on this dark, winding, bumpy, treacherous road, for a reason.
There are people who may not believe the cliche “everything happens for a reason”, but there are things that happen in our lives that are so traumatic, so difficult, so emotionally overwhelming, I don’t see there being any other reason for these things to happen than for us to become a part of the experience.
Life happens FOR us, not TO us, as I have come to learn in recent years, and I found myself starting to feel like I wanted to (needed to) participate in this experience instead of succumbing to it. Instead of going deeper into depression with no hope, no promise of life, no energy, no desire… I began to participate.
Participating didn’t mean there weren’t bad days. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t sad all this was happening to me, and that I wasn’t still (at least a little) angry. What it meant was that I began to learn about congenital diaphragmatic hernias and all this medical terminology I was inundated with.
I began to engage with Alex more and see the joy in her eyes. I began to watch some of my favorite shows on TV and just laugh. I began to see something positive that I could focus on for that day… or even that moment. I began to participate in the life I currently had. I began to “believe”.
I am 31/32 weeks along when reality slams down on me once again.
The doctor visits are now every two weeks, extensive monitoring is done to make sure myself and the baby our progressing well, and even fetal surgery is brought up to repair the hole and hopefully give the lungs and heart enough time to develop in utero.
I underwent some testing to see if we (baby and I) were good candidates, and we were not.
The ‘time’ was nearing for the birth of our bundle of joy and the feelings and emotions began to surface even more. Questions arose of how was I going to actually go through this? How was I going to manage giving birth while also knowing that there were so many obstacles to get over?
Plans began to be set on how this was all going to happen. We discussed having a natural birth, but due to the complications that were evident, a C-Section was necessary. The date was set for May 7, 2003 and details were set in motion. I felt anxious, unsure, scared, sad… like a failure really. How could I have helped create a baby only to have so many problems? How could I have let so many people down who were so excited for us to have a beautiful new addition to our family? And especially,
how could I have let my own daughter down, who so desperately wanted a baby brother?
I felt defeated and I retreated back into solitude. The days were dark again, the road had become treacherous, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through all of this. The times I spent alone with myself, I would feel the baby move, kick, and for brief moments, everything felt normal. Those moments were a blessing because my baby was safe with me, healthy, and able to ‘be’ just like a ‘normal’ baby. I was honored to spend those moments together because they were ours, they were special, and they would be the only moments when there was some sort of normalcy to what we were going through.
As the minutes, hours, and days ticked by to our baby’s birthday, other plans had to be set in motion. We knew we wanted to stay as close as we could to The Children’s Hospital in Detroit, but how? We also knew that we wanted, and needed, to keep Alix’s life as normal as possible during this time… how much time we didn’t know. It could be a few hours, it could be one day, it could be one week, it could be longer… we just didn’t know.
We were within days of our baby’s birthday and were blessed to be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House right next door to the hospital. They had a room available and for only $10 a night we were going to be as close to our baby as possible. This place is an absolute blessing for families who have children staying at the hospital for treatments and illnesses. My best friend, Ivonna, planned to stay at our house with Alex so she was able to go to school, sleep in her own bed, and be comfortable with her Tia (aunt) whom she adored.
I was grateful and saw the positive in things taking shape, but… it took all I could muster up, every ounce of energy I had, to remain calm. My hope came and went. My sadness was almost constant. Even Alex was beginning to feel the tension, anxiety, and defeat.
I had to pull it together.
I had to be strong for her and assure her that we were going to do everything possible to give her a healthy baby brother. We had explained a little more to her as the pregnancy went on, so she knew that we would be gone for a period of time so her brother wouldn’t be alone while he was in the hospital, and that Tia would bring her to visit us.
I should have believed all of this myself, but I didn’t. I put on the facade that I was handling it all well, but inside I was broken in pieces, felt like I had failed at being a mother, and I felt incompetent.
This was the most difficult 7 months of my life… and it was about to get even more unbearable.
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