It has been a short ten years ago that I experienced one of my most life-changing moments ever–I became a Mom. I also fell in love with a sweet, blue-eyed boy who caused my heart to grow by leaps and bounds. He was actually born on Father’s Day, 2001, something that definitely wasn’t planned. In fact, our story is one that I never would have planned to happen like it did. However, God in His infinite wisdom had things play out like they did, and I am truly grateful.
Things started out in the fall of 2000. I was married for a little over a year and had two semesters of college left to go before I had my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Despite my determination to get my degree, I really wanted to become a mother. So, I proposed to my husband that we “start trying” and if I would happen to get pregnant soon, I would still be able to finish my degree before the baby would be due. Two weeks later I was pregnant. He and I were absolutely ecstatic, though mildly freaked out by how quickly this happened. Now, I have to admit that other girls who were pregnant before me had complained about how awful morning sickness is, and I scoffed (to myself) that they were probably exaggerating. My apologies ladies, truly. At 6 weeks along, I had not only morning sickness, but mid-day sickness, evening sickness, and even middle-of-the night sickness sometimes. It was really awful. Thankfully, the sickness subsided at @12 weeks and I was able to enjoy my pregnancy a lot more. At 12 weeks I also went to my first ultrasound and got a beautiful view of my unborn baby.
Around this time I began my student teaching, part of the time in a 6th grade class and the second part in a kindergarten class. I felt really good and enjoyed that semester quite a bit. I had great cooperating teachers and some sweet kids who loved the fact that I was to have a baby. At just over 6 months along, I graduated (summa cum laude, may I add!) and got my teaching degree. It was the beginning of May and I was due at the end of July. Since I was planning to stay home with my baby, I was figuring on having some good “nesting” time to myself before he/she was born, working only 1-2 days a week. My husband and I also had a chance to take a little vacation before I got too far along.
Well, at this point we had taken our little childbirth class and I had a picture in my head of how things were going to go. I didn’t even pay attention to the c-section part because there was no way that was going to happen to me. I just knew I would go full-term, have a very natural childbirth and deliver a healthy bundle of joy. Luckily I did pay attention to the part where the instructer told us symptoms to be cautious of and to get medical attention if they ever happen. Soon after this we got a pretty hot spell and my hands and feet got quite swollen. I was not too alarmed by this and atttributed it to the heat. Then I had a really fierce headache that didn’t go away for several days. Reluctantly I called the Dr’s office, letting them know what was going on. Part of me knew something was wrong and didn’t want to admit it. Thankfully they insisted I be seen right away and sent me to the hospital to be monitored, fearing that I was getting preeclampsia.
The following week was a blur of testing, 24-hour monitoring, hospital stays, ultrasounds, and then absolute bed rest. I was seen by several doctors who determined that I wasn’t quite preeclamptic (but probably would be in the near future), had pregnancy-induced hypertension, and my baby had all but stopped growing due to this. I was told that the baby would most definitely be premature and was given shots of hormones to speed up his lung development. On my 3rd hospital stay in just over a week’s time, they decided to release me home to rest. All they had to wait for was one set of test results to come back. At this time my headache suddenly got much worse and what I thought was indigestion became a terrible pain that was literally escalating by the minute in my right side. I mentioned it to my nurse, thinking she would want to know. She left the room in a hurry and at least four doctors roared into the room. I still remember one of them shouting “get a pair of scrubs for the Dad!”
What happened next was one of the most surreal times of my life. Ten years later, I can still remember many details of that short time. Needless to say, I was rushed into the OR and given an emergency c-section. We were pretty much given no explanation at the time, we were just told that the baby and I were in quite a bit of danger. Later on we found out that I was almost eclamptic and had a bad case of HELLP Syndrome. May I just say that I am so thankful for modern medicine and the wisdom and quick responses of those doctors. I have little doubt that were we at home when this hit me, we wouldn’t be celebrating Daniel’s birthday. Or maybe mine either. I can also say without a shadow of a doubt that I felt the presence of God and His peace like I had never experienced before during those moments. If you’ve ever had a c-section, you know that they put drapes up so that you can’t see everything going on around you. I remember seeing my husband’s eyes, as big around as saucers as he sat at my head and gripped my hand. Then I remember hearing my baby’s cry. Up to this point I hadn’t cried. I absolutely lost it when I heard that miraculous wail. My husband later told me that the eyebrows of everyone in the room (and there were LOTS of them) shot up in disbelief. My parents and my in-laws had come to the hospital to visit me, not knowing what had transpired. They went to my room and discovered it in a state of chaos, me and the bed gone. Luckily another nurse told them that I was in the OR and they happened to hear one of his first cries and see my son being wheeled to the NICU, my husband following behind in a stupor.
After his birth, I was able to make a quick stop at the NICU to hold my little guy. When I say little, I do mean little–Daniel was a wee 3 lb 10 oz and 17 inches long. Then they wheeled me to a room and kept me pumped full of nasty meds for over a day and a half, monitoring me what seemed like constantly. I still remember them padding my bed in case I would start seizing. Honestly, I was never very worried about myself at all, even though I’m told I was in seriously bad shape. I was only worried about my little man, his lungs not quite ready for the outside world. After being put on a ventilator for several days, he improved beautifully. I was released from the hospital after a few days, recovering pretty well from my ordeal. My Daniel was in for a total of 15 days, each day spent visiting the NICU to hold my little man. He was sent home on an apnea monitor that would beep shrilly if he stopped breathing, or his heart rate went too low or too high. Oh, how I hated that monitor!
Once home, we started finally feeling like “real parents.” Dan grew like crazy as I was instructed to nurse him at the least sign of hunger. It was exhausting but good. No, he was not an easy baby at all. Or an easy toddler. He was always extremely sensitive and still is a bit to this day. However, around the age of 4, he became such a good kid and is now (usually at least) a very sweet boy. Believe it or not, he is probably my healthiest kid as well. My kids are usually a healthy bunch, but there have been times when all 4 of the others have caught something and he doesn’t get whatever sickness it is.
Due to the grace of God, my other pregnancies were very healthy and full-term, even my twins. I actually started to develop the same symptoms right after I delivered the twins, and the hospital staff were able to catch it and treat me before it got too bad.
We just had Daniel’s 10th birthday party yesterday and his actual birthday is today. He knows a little bit about his birth and this morning, out of the blue (he doesn’t know I am writing this), he said “Mom, I can’t believe I used to be that little.” I can’t either. Now we are facing the tween years and my “baby” is an 80 pound big guy. He is an absolute nut about reading, is whip-smart, enjoys baseball, is a loving son, and a helpful big brother. I am so grateful for that boy and the gift of life we were given 10 years ago. I chose the name Daniel for him because Daniel has always been one of my favorite men in the Bible. My Daniel chose to be a follower of Christ a few years ago, one of the greatest joys for us ever. On that crazy day 10 years ago, when I felt the absolute peace of God, I really felt like He was telling me that He wasn’t done with either of us and had plans for us. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for my little man in the upcoming years. We love you Daniel Drew!!!