Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

October 3, 2010

One Year

Let me be sarcastic for a moment... (I am entitled really, it's 6:30 am and I have been awake - or at least out of bed for the past hour and a half). So, back to sarcasm, pregnancy is grand, but the postpartum period is SO much better!

Leaking boobs, zero sleep, grumpy 2 year old, and doctor appointments where they ask invasive questions, although let's be honest they have already been where no one should go, including that baby that just sprang from your loins.

I have spoken at length about Josh, told you all the woes of his birth and his health issues after his birth. Now, let me tell you about my second pregnancy. (There is a point to me bringing this up now... keep reading). So, the day I found out that Kaleb was there, growing inside of me I was both shocked, excited and terrified. The risks for more heart troubles in a second child go up once you have a child with a cardiac issue. I was scared to get too excited because what it if happened again? Then came the realization that I had a child running around me and I was already exhausted, what business did I have to do this again? Was I insane? Pregnancy left me exhausted the first time, I could barely get out of bed some days and ALWAYS required a nap! How can I possibly take time to rest with a spunky Joshua running me ragged. Then, underlying all those thoughts was the sheer excitement that one can only feel when they learn that they are bringing life into the world. That inside of them there is a little miracle growing and waiting for your arms. I got over the fear and shock and I embraced the joy.

We were entitled to a Fetal ECHO because we had a child with cardiac issues and Tim and I decided that we would rather know, rather be prepared so we went ahead and made the appointment. The day came and Tim couldn't be there with me, but my Mom came to care for Josh during the appointment. I lay on the table while they poked and prodded at me, and finally told me that they were just getting the doctor to go over the results with me. While I was a little nervous I have to admit I didn't really think anything way wrong. Neither did Tim actually which is why he didn't come. So, when the technician asked me to wait not in the waiting room but in the counselling room (where we heard the news about Josh) my heart fell and instantly tears came. They had found what 'could' be a whole in the heart but could also be nothing. The doctor smiled, it will be nothing like you had with your first child. You can enjoy your pregnancy and relax. RELIEF! I was still scared but not as worried as I had been.

After that the pregnancy ran really smoothly. The baby grew well, and I got so huge that I honestly didn't think that he could grow much more. I had a midwife who was taking good care of me and a Mom who allowed me to spend a lot of time at the cottage to keep cool and to get help with Josh. Things were good. :)

Then on September 17th Tim went to the UK for work, he was going to be gone for almost 3 weeks. I was supposed to go to the cottage for the whole time. The second night of my time away I woke up in the middle of the night feeling so dizzy that I got motion sickness. I couldn't walk straight, in fact it felt like I was on a boat and the waves were tossing me this way and that... scary stuff! I was awake the rest of the night feeling sick and scared. The next morning I was feeling a little better, but that afternoon it came back, I felt so sick and my head hurt. We googled the problem (this is the era of self diagnosis is it not?!) Apparently this can be caused from high blood pressure. Now, I don't know about you but I have never had blood pressure issues, nor do I really know anything about blood pressure, and up until that point I didn't really care. It was foreign to me so I dismissed it. I would be fine, just needed to lie down. I wasn't fine though and finally that night my Mom made me go to the local walmart to check my blood pressure. I don't remember the number but I do know that my Mother got worried. It was high. I called the midwife and she asked me to come back to Toronto, to head to the hospital and have it checked there. I found this SUPER annoying because the last thing I wanted was to drive 2 hours when I felt that sick, but Mom was there to insure me that I had no choice.

When I got to the hospital I was again sure that nothing would be wrong, that they would take the blood pressure and send me off for another 2 hours in the car. That was not to be however, my blood pressure was higher than before and they were admitting me. I had what they call pre-eclampsia (the silent killer of pregnant and post partum women). I couldn't think of a suckier situation (and yes I know that suckier isn't really a word). With Tim in England and my Mom needing to take care of Josh I was on my own. I made some calls and managed to get Tim's Dad who phoned Tim, who then called me, and it wasn't until I heard his voice that I started to cry. (Funny isn't that we can hold up and be strong until someone we love comes along and offers to be strong for us, allowing us to finally shed the tears that need to be shed?)

So, now I am in the hospital, the doctors run tests and one doctor comes in to tell me that I am having contractions (Now, I have never had a contraction before - keep in mind that Josh was Emergency C-section) but I have spoken to and heard women who did and were having contractions. From what I understand it's not something that you need to be told you are having. However, the doctor moved me to a delivery room and hooked me up to yet another monitor, told me that the contractions were 6 minutes apart, then promptly left the room. :s HUH?

I was still alone, lying on that bed for an hour thinking I was going to have this baby and Tim wouldn't be here to help, in fact no one could help because Mom was watching Josh. Talk about a way to make someones blood pressure rise. Anyway, without explanation (to this day I have no idea what happened that day) I was taken off the monitor and taken back to my room and put on bed rest.

My prayer quickly became, just keep the baby in until Tim comes home. I was allowed to go home, but I had to stay on bed rest and there were strict instructions to come in should anything change. The problem was that every day I felt sicker, my head always hurt and I didn't know if that was a 'change' or normal. I don't know how many nights my Mom and I discussed whether or not I should go to the hospital. One night, I was so sick that I finally took myself in, I got a doctor who's name I cannot for the life of me remember but I called him Dr. Death. He kept telling me that I should not take this so lightly, that I could die (he said that so many times that I barely remember the rest of the conversation). I promised to things seriously and he let me go home but again made me promise to remain on bed rest.

It seemed life forever before Tim got home... I was SOOO glad! Finally I had someone to come to the hospital with me, or to keep me company while I sat on my bed and did nothing... Our small group came over and painted Josh's big boy room so that we could have the nursery ready for the baby. Things were coming together. Everyday I felt worse, until finally they scheduled a c-section for October 12th (Thanksgiving day for you Canadians). I just had to make it to that day. The Thursday before the baby was to come I became very ill and had another dizzy spell, we went back to the hospital. I had a pre booked apt. for the Friday so they allowed me to go home after a few hours instead of admitting me. Friday came, and I came for the appointment but was so sick that the doctor decided to take the baby that night. It was an intense night, I was so sick that I was vomiting in the OR and for many hours after Kaleb was born. He was so sweet though, so tiny and perfect. He sucked his fingers, and took to breast feeding immediately. The paediatrician checked his heart and found nothing to be off, there was no whole. He was a healthy baby boy! The relief I felt was so intense, I was going to take home a healthy baby, breast feed him and experience all the things that happen in the first few days and weeks after having a baby. It was fantastic! There were still health issues for me, my blood pressure took months to regulate and the toxins that had leaked into my kidney's did damage, I had a lot of trouble with the C-section scar and ultimately I was diagnosed with post partum depression.

All of that, and here I sit, with two wonderful little boys, one of which turns one year old in just a few days time. I look back at the past year, at all that we have gone through with my own health issues, trips, home owning and renovations and what stands out for me is the moment I met my youngest son, just minutes after taking him out of me they placed him in my arms and he sucked my nose. It was a moment I never got to share with Joshers, a moment that I longed for a finally got. Watching Kaleb grow, watching him learn and smile and call for me, I realize that in all the coming years of his life, and Josh's life I will be the luckiest woman alive, I am so blessed, so rich to have them in my life.