My son is turning four today. And as I tape carefully twisted paper streamers, reaching high above my head, I remember everything.
I remember the morning of his birthday four years ago. How I got up early before my scheduled 9 am induction at 41 weeks. I remember sitting at our kitchen table staring at the piece of whole wheat toast with scrambled eggs and avocado – carefully planned to give me the stamina to give birth- but unable to eat it because I felt the same way I had felt before running a race or as if I am sitting in a roller coaster climbing … climbing … climbing.
Then my mind fills with memories of the pain. With the “mechanical induction” where, without going into too many details, I had a weight hanging between my legs; then the too late epidural. The doctor asking me if I wanted a mirror for motivation and me finding my mommy voice for the first time yelling, “NO!”
I remember the perfect moment we met our son for the first time. Then the first week filled up with blurry eyes, no sleep, fumbling hands and a tiny sweet boy. I remember just walking down the bright white hallway felt like a painful march. I bent over clutching my abdomen before finally collapsing on my bed unable to get up again to help my new baby. As a new mom, I thought this is how women must feel after they give birth. I didn’t have a C-section… and this was 5 days later.
There is an Instagram photo I posted of my son’s face that morning. I remember the caption. “Love waking up to this sweet face.” I didn’t know the next morning I wouldn’t be waking up to his face, but to something entirely different; something entirely worse.
I remember the pain increasing as I lay in bed hoping for relief, but now shivering. My exhausted husband rocked our screaming newborn. Finally with a fever of 104, I stumbled into the old corolla and headed to the ER. We thought I most likely had a bladder infection.
I remember lying on the cold metal exam table staring up into the harsh fluorescent lights and waiting. Waiting for the on call OB to finish delivering a new baby because the young ER doctor didn’t know what to say when he examined me. Wondering what that meant. Wondering when I could just get some antibiotics and go home to my baby.
I remember the OB sternly lecturing me about how I should have come in sooner. How the infection was so bad it had gone into my live, how I would have been septic and most likely dead in the morning. I am getting admitted into the hospital immediately.
Then I remember my sister arriving with the breast pump and leaving with bags of milk for my baby. How his sweet face and his warm body instantly was replaced by the sound of a suction cup and the machine’s mechanical rhythm.
I remember a few days later hooked up to IVs of antibiotics and my head hurting worse than any migraine of the past and looking up at the social worker’s face who changed everything. She saw I wasn’t getting better. I remember through cloudy eyes and the fog of a pounding head and sterile hospital room her saying – “she’s got to see her baby. She won’t get better until she gets to see her baby.”
I remember the moment they wheeled me outside into the oppressive July heat and there he was. I remember getting to hold my sweet boy who I had just carried for 41 weeks. Then being able to see him every day for just a little bit in the Labor and delivery wing because the social worker knew the July heat was too much for both of us.
I remember not having the strength to spend more than 10 or 15 minutes with him. I remember the will and determination to get better. I remember holding my husband’s hand as he helped me try to walk around the nurses’ station. I remember the dark circles under his concerned and patient hazel eyes.
I remember spiking fevers again and not making the 48 hour mark of no fever to go home.
Then I remember finally holding him at home; waking up to that sweet face.
As he turns four, all of these hard memories flood back like a tsunami of emotion and anxiety. I must remember now how strong I am. How I am his mother for four transformative and blessed years. How I now have a daughter too. I remember how thankful I am to be here and to wake up and say happy fourth birthday to my little boy.
About the Author
Dana Posthumus lives San Diego with her husband and two kids. She often wonders how she managed to have kids under two years apart who are both equally adventurous and strong willed. She previously worked with inner city youth to help combat substance abuse and gang involvement and utilizes many of her professional skills at home. You can find her at www.intothebunnyhole.blogspot.