Boy One turned eighteen on Saturday. I'm not sure how this happened, because I still feel 28. We had some family over for dinner and cake, and everyone was equally stunned at how quickly the time had passed. One is not often the center of attention. He doesn't play sports, or perform in school plays, so I think he enjoyed having a moment in the sun.
On birthdays, I usually recount the guest of honor's birth story. Hands down, One has the most remarkable tale. So, to honor this momentous occasion, I will share some details.
I awoke in the middle of the night, at the beginning of labor. I waited to call the doctor, and headed to the hospital about two hours later. Labor was progressing, but One wasn't responding the way we wanted. Specifically, his heart rate was dropping during contractions, when it should have been increasing. He was in distress, and it was decided that we would deliver him via cesarean section. (Side note to doctors: don't promise a woman in active labor that the anesthesiologist will arrive at 1:00, if he is not going to be there AT ONE O'CLOCK!)
I got wheeled into the operating room, and the Captain sat next to me. At 2:32 PM, our first boy was born. He sounded great, lots of gutsy crying, so they cleaned him up, and whisked him away. I stayed behind to get stitched, and then went off to the recovery room, where I did my best to scare the nurses with my plummeting blood pressure.
During that time, it became clear that One had issues. He was having episodes of apnea. They could massage him to get him breathing again, but the episodes continued. They thought he was having seizures. They did a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. They were stumped, and the hospital lacked a neonatal intensive care unit. He would have to be transported to a nearby hospital that had the proper doctors and equipment.
I was lying flat in bed, so they wheeled him in, in his isolette, so I could see him. They left me with a Polaroid picture of him, that I taped to the bed rail. My husband had a difficult decision to make. He was concerned for me, because I had just had surgery. He was concerned for the baby, but it was snowing heavily. If he went with the baby, he might not get back to me. He chose to stay.
It snowed, and snowed, and snowed. And then it snowed some more, up and down the eastern seaboard, just to make it into the record books. The Captain was trapped with me for two days, while we waited for a diagnosis. Finally, he dug the car out of three feet of snow, and went to see One. It had been difficult to get technicians into the hospital to perform tests, so the neonatologists were considering two possible diagnoses. The first was that One had a massive brain tumor. The second, more remote possibility, was that he had suffered a prenatal myocardial infarction: a stroke, in utero.
After five days in the hospital, I was released, and went to see my baby. He was hooked up to monitors, and drugged to the gills to prevent seizures. But he was stable, and they let me hold him for a long time. A pediatric neurologist had looked at his MRI, and confirmed the stroke diagnosis. It was difficult to hear, and accept. But we looked around the nursery, at all the babies struggling, and we were thankful.
And now, our baby is eighteen. There have been many challenges through the years, and more await us. But I reached up to hug him yesterday, and I was thankful. We are blessed to have him in our lives.