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HAPPY 2nd ANNIVERSARY!
THIS is one hell of a milestone for me! Hard to believe it’s been two years I started this journey. When it was first told to me it would take two years to heal, that seemed like such a long way to go. And yet, here I am, already! I never thought I had this much to say and feel I’m just gettin started! LOL What began as just a way to kill the boredom I’d be facing while healing, I came to realize I held vital information for others who needed to know what I knew. Shame on me to hold all this information and not share it with whomever needed it to make their life better! So I embarked on dedicating myself to really thinking and writing the important stuff about my healing….
Since most of you have access to my “real time” healing on this website, I thought as an anniversary present to you, I’d give you a few more pages from my first memoir, FOR BRIAN’S SAKE. Please keep in mind this is copyrighted material and may NOT be used for any purpose without my expressed written consent! I hope this whets your interest to keep in touch with my website as I am gearing up to do some heavy-duty writing soon! (Actually the car broke down and I’m housebound so, I really have no excuse to not write! LOL )
My selection is from further into the book…
I could hardly breath from the numbing meds in the spinal, and I heard the doctor speaking softly to the nurses in the delivery room. I just delivered Brian C-section after 33 hours of labor. The doctor announced the time of birth, “A boy, at 7:34 a. m., March 29th.” He peeked around the surgical curtain and asked, “What’s his name?”
“Brian Joseph,” I answered.
He looked back at the baby in the nurse’s hands, “Welcome, Brian Joseph.”
In my mind, I was pregnant a total of about four and a half months.
Like on TV, I waited for them to place Brian on my chest, to see him, kiss him, and tell him mommy loves him very much. The minutes passed.
I heard a faint cry. I started to cry.
A flurry of activity by the area where they took Brian was taking place. Where’s my baby? I want to see my baby! The murmurs got louder, and I heard someone say something was wrong with his Apgar Score. I can’t understand, why won’t they give me my baby?
Dad coughed. He was standing at the doorway of the room.
“Dad, is that you?”
“Yes.” I could hear the restraint in his voice.
He must be choked up because he just witnessed his only grandson being born.
What he was witnessing was everyone working on Brain’s lungs, getting them to inflate.
“Where’s Mom?” I asked Dad.
“Theresa’s going to bring her in a few minutes,” he answered. “Mom ‘s running late.”
He was scheduled to have a chemo treatment at the same hospital that afternoon. Weakened from the treatments, Dad still mustered enough energy to not miss Brian being born.
When they were monitoring me and my belly, nothing indicated that Brian was ever in fetal distress. But something was wrong. I could tell by the way Dad was answering me; his voice was different. I was confused by what was happening in the room and stressed by the way Frank was acting. I just wanted to hold my Brian.
The sterile smell of the room, the chill of the air, the harsh glare of the lights all made me feel disconnected, like I was in a nether world. Frank was at the head of the table on which I was placed. Looking at Frank I said, “I’m so proud to give you a son.” He turned his head away. It was expected of him to be there—he just went through the motions. “Kiss me?” I asked. Reluctantly came a quick peck. It may have been two decades ago, but those are the moments you never forget.
“Can I see him now?”
The nurse said, “We’re still cleaning him up.”
Someone told me later they were waiting for the Mobile NICU Ambulance to transfer him to a hospital thirty miles away with a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for preemies.
A spinal block was used to reduce the stress on Brian from the gas and chemicals to put me out. I was pretty much aware of everything going on in the room, though I couldn’t see. I sensed they were stalling and didn’t know why.
“Does he have all his fingers and toes?”
One of the nurses said, “Yes.” But it was the way she said ‘yes’ that bothered me.
“He has a full head of hair, and his body is covered with it, too,” another one said.
I just want to see him; LET ME SEE HIM! I thought.
“Is he okay?” I asked. A nurse answered, “We’re just trying to make it easier for him to breath with a little oxygen.”
They were very vague explaining Brian’s condition.
“We’ll bring him in to see you once you get in your room,” she said.
It never occurred to me something was drastically wrong with Brian. My hope was to have a problem-free delivery and be home with Brian 24 hours later. At 35, I was healthy and ready. I’d lived enough and sewn enough wild-oats to settle down and raise my son. But, nothing in my past could have prepared me for the journey I was about to take.
I could feel the tug on my belly as the doctor sutured me up from the inside, then, I heard the sound of a staple gun closing the outer skin. One of the nurses pushed hard on my stomach to help me deliver the afterbirth. The doctor disappeared as soon as he was done. Maybe that’s why I can’t see Brian, because he wasn’t done sewing me up yet, I rationalized.
Patiently, I waited to hold Brian. I was moved to a room away from the other new mommies.
A nurse and doctor were soon standing at my bedside with an incubator to the right of me. All I wanted was to hold my precious little boy. It was so painfully cruel. The tiny body inside was hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires. They said it was Brian. That was my first look at my son. Two round openings in the side of the incubator let me see his tiny face, but they had something taped to his mouth for him to breathe.
The doctor was a short, attractive man of Indian decent, “I’m Dr. Dayal.” In fairly good English he said, “We’re going to take your son by a Mobile Emergency Room Ambulance to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown. There is a level-one team preparing to take care of his difficulties.”
Difficulties? What kind? How long would he be in the hospital? Was he going to be okay? Was he going to die? I never asked those fateful questions though they weighed heavily on my heart. As he explained things to me the nurse attending Brian handed me a Polaroid picture. “You can look at this picture while pumping to bring on your breast milk,” she said. The picture was of Brian all hooked up in the incubator lying on his stomach. He looked like a little frog with his legs splayed out to the sides laying on his belly.
“Can I hold him?”
“No, it’ll be too difficult to unhook him, and it wouldn’t be safe for him,” Dr. Dayal said.
I wonder why they didn’t let me hold him before they put all those things on him?
Years of people telling me what was good for me trained me to be dutifully patient and not rush to hold this fragile, tiny body called my son. My Brian. My upbringing of holding doctors in high esteem gave me the ability to believe and agree with everything they told me. I was a good little girl, listening to anyone in authority. I was so used to this passive behavior, it never occurred to me to ask those important questions, or demand to hold him.
“You can see your son at St. E’s after you’re released,” Dr. Dayal said, and they left with Brian.
Frank was long gone. He had other more important things to do.
The nurses didn’t tell me I would fill up with milk by evening and my breasts would be engorged, ready to explode. If they didn’t hurt so much, it was kinda nice being a D cup! Before I got pregnant, I was like the auto club, AAA.
I tried to pump, but nothing came out. I was so stressed. The nurse told me to relax and it would just start to flow.
She didn’t tell me how I was supposed to look at this Polaroid of Brian and relax. A picture of this tiny baby all hooked up to tubes and machines was supposed to bring out the best in me so I could express milk. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! I didn’t even know what he felt like or what he smelled like! I had nothing in my memory bank to use as a motivator.
Some battle-ax nurse walked in telling me I should put hot compresses on my breasts and handed me a stack of towels. Looking over her shoulder as she walked out, she says, “Wet them in the bathroom sink and hold them to your breasts.”
I just had major surgery, woman! How am I supposed to get out of this bed and make hot compresses for myself. She must be out of her mind!
It was all a part of my recovery, the sooner I got up and moved so all my systems kicked back in, the sooner I could go see Brian. I was so alone and scared. Here I was in St. Joseph’s hospital in Warren, and my baby was in St. Elizabeth’s in Youngstown. Four cities were between me and my baby.
“Can I have the number for St. E’s to check on Brian?” I asked a nurse when she came to take my vitals.
“That’s a good sign, you wanting to check on him,” she told me.
“Sometimes, when a baby and mother are separated,” she continued, “there’s a detachment and the mother and baby have a hard time bonding.” I don’t get that, how could any mother ever be detached from her baby?
Frank stopped by for a few minutes, wearing nice clothes and saying he was going out to eat and celebrate. I later discovered he was going on a date.
What’s going to happen to me and my Brian? This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life besides getting married. How come my joy is tainted with so much pain?
“Will you take my milk to St. E’s for Brian?” I asked Frank.
“Find someone else to take it, I’m busy. You know I think him sucking on your tits is disgusting.” He didn’t want any part of it, even if it was his baby’s nourishment. He told everyone else he couldn’t do it because he had to stay by the phone in case he got a tow call.
We had other guys running tows all the time when Frank was at the races, so why couldn’t he use them now? Further discussion was of no use. Though it was difficult, I pumped enough milk for two days at a time, and instead, either my brother or sister took it to St. Elizabeth’s.
Mom and Steve were Brian’s first visitors in the hospital. Steve took Dad’s Polaroid to take some good pictures of Brian for me and Dad while I was in St. Joseph’s hospital.
“He’s beautiful,” mom shared. I read the worry on her face as she spoke. Steve took Mom to see him again. When she spoke to me about Brian, something in her voice told me things were bad.
“Will you take me to see Brian before we go home?” I asked Frank.
“Yeah, if you don’t take too long,” he answered. I made a beeline to St. Elizabeth’s. as soon as I was released. That was the first time Frank saw Brian, too. In five long days, he hadn’t gone to see his son. The nurses were charting all that information, closely watching how we reacted to Brian.
In order to be in the NICU unit, visitors had to first sterilize their hands and put on gowns in a sanitizing room before going in. It was a few more days before I got to hold Brian for the first time, but the nurses did let me stroke him inside the incubator.
I glanced at some of the other babies in the incubators and it broke my heart. It was overwhelming to see them. One, across the room, a girl, was only one and a half pounds. One baby dressed in blue next to Brian was crying incessantly. He looked healthy; his weight was far more than Brian’s. I judged him to be close to full-term. Nurses tended to him, but he was inconsolable. One walked with him and talked to him, rocking him and whispering in his ear. She shhh’d him, yet nothing calmed him down.
When I came back the next day it was quiet. I spied an empty incubator. I looked at the nurse that attended the baby the day before.
“Was he well enough to go home?” I queried.
She replied, “To his Maker,” as she shook her head, no.
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I couldn’t see until they spilled down my cheeks. This was long before the HIPPA laws.
“His mother decided she would ‘hotbox’ some cocaine to bring on labor. She was tired of being pregnant. He was born hooked on cocaine.” (Hotboxing is when someone takes in continuous hits from cocaine in a pipe.) I was heartsick.
How could any mother do a thing like that? I waited so long, fought so hard, and was willing to do anything for Brian! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this. I had my Brian to think about now, and I said a prayer for him.
“We lost him during the night, he wasn’t strong enough to withdraw from the cocaine cold turkey. We can’t give babies anything to help the withdrawal.”
I turned to my precious little baby. “Thank God, for giving me the strength, wisdom, and courage to do the right thing for him.” I looked back up to see her eyes filled with tears as well.
This is just a portion of one of the chapters in the first book… I hope you like it and will keep reading me…. This has been quite a journey and I have to tell you, I would do it all again to get the son I did, and the relief I have… I can certainly appreciate the good in my life now….
HAPPY 2ND ANNIVERSARY!
I have a lot in my que waiting to be posted so within the next week I’ll be finishing up and posting most of it… stay tuned!
In the meantime, remember to take care of you and yours,