Today is Jack’s first birthday! I can’t believe that I have a son, much less one who has survived birth 10-weeks-prematurely. And open heart surgery. And three heart-catheters. And paternal abandonment. And tachypnia, jaundice, apnea and his heart stopping. Twice. I have been blessed with a truly miraculous child who is stronger than I ever imagined he would be. And he has shown me how strong I am, too. He has brought me so much joy, and I consider my life much better for having him in it.
That is the portion of today’s post where I remember how much I have to be grateful for. Now comes the crap storm portion of the first day of Jack’s life…
Jack was born very early and I had been in pre-mature labor two days before a c-section was ordered because he wasn’t tolerating the labor well anymore. His heart rate was plummeting after each contraction, and since we knew that with each heartbeat, his heart was creeping towards heart failure, surgery was the best option to deliver my son safely to me, and the surgeons who could save him. I was terrified, but all the appropriate personnel were in the delivery room and prepared to rip Jack from my body and immediately thrust him into medical interventions meant to prolong his life until we could get to the Children’s Hospital where they would try to figure out how to do open heart surgery on a heart the size of a small strawberry. I heard him cry a blessed four times before they intubated him and set about placing iv’s and lines into each and every (it seemed) open vein in his tiny body. Below, he is four pounds, two ounces, and 17 inches long.
The delivery was fairly routine, according to the doctors and nurses, but they took my baby and put him in an incubator isolette and delivered him to the NICU, where he waited for emergency transport to Egleston at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I was taken to “recovery” where I merely “rested” until they took me to my room. My own recovery wouldn’t come for a while. I was told that I wouldn’t touch my son for weeks, if I was lucky and he did very well. I felt like I had been robbed of the emotional climax of pregnancy, being allowed to hold my son just seconds after his birth. But in those horrible and scary moments, we began life together. Faced with major health issues and forced alienation, Jack and I were apart and I had to let go and trust that others could care for him in my absence. This would be a struggle that continues to plague me.
While his first day was terrifying and disappointing and awful, it is still one of the most amazing and wonderful days of my life. I remember the news of the c-section, the epidural, the delivery and those wonderful first cries as if they were yesterday. And I remember exclaiming, upon hearing those tiny cries, “I’m a Mama!” It was suddenly clear that I had a child, and that this was what I was supposed to be my whole life. Jack’s Mama. And I relaxed. No time the previous ten years of work and life with his father had it ever been so clear to me what my purpose on Earth was. I knew that we were in for an epic journey together, but I felt peaceful just having him in the world with me. He was here, and now we could begin healing him. And what a journey it has been, but that story will come in time…
For now, I have to decide on the first project or activity that will help deliver me to “happiness” in the coming year. Check back to find out what I have decided to attempt in this first week of my journey. I may start out gently, or I may dive right in. I have a few ideas swirling around my noggin, just gotta figure out where to start…
I will decide by the end of this week, and in the meantime, I am enjoying a delicious glass of wine, which is, in and of itself, a mini-step towards happiness. Prior to my separation, I enjoyed wine regularly, but since I have lived alone (and was pregnant, then breastfeeding) I haven’t done so, in part because I couldn’t finish a bottle by myself before it went bad. But this week, I bought a delicious bottle of red, and will enjoy it until it sours, and then I will throw out the remainder, without guilt. The point of enjoying life is not limited by achieving the absolutely most efficient use of my funds. I haven’t spent the equivalent of a car payment on the bottle, just about $10, so I will not fret, and I will not be concerned with the safety I no longer believe a big savings account can buy.
I will merely enjoy my glass of wine. In the back yard. Yes, that’s it. Because I live in Georgia, where the spring and summer evenings are among some of the most beautiful on Earth. And I deserve to enjoy them. I can feel the happiness creeping in already………..
Below, a photo of the love of my life, on this, the anniversary of his brave and valiant entry into this world… Heart defect? What heart defect!!