Yesterday my baby, my youngest son, turned 18.
It is so strange, I can remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. He was a planned c-section, I was a high risk pregnancy- I have a mitral valve prolapse and my first son had been an emergency c-section- which I guess made me high risk. I was 20, which now seems like a child to me.
My pregnancy was healthy, if stressful, I had already had a baby, was a newly wed and now had ANOTHER unexpected pregnancy- we moved to the States on Valentines day 1992, Stevie was born in July.
As his birth was planned, the doctor offered to schedule the c-section for the 4th of July, that year it was a Saturday. HELL NO! I wanted to see the fireworks! Besides my husband HAD to work on the 4th. That 4th of July I walked all the monuments in DC, stayed on the mall for the fireworks then took the subway home, something I now view as complete INSANITY as I was going to give birth in 2 days.
Sunday I rested during the day, and looked forward to a night with my husband. My husband worked nights, in fact he worked 2 jobs 4-12, then 12- 8am. Since we were having a baby on Monday, he had Sunday night off. We had a nice dinner at home, even thou my cooking skills at that point were truly atrocious, it was nice to be together. I was a treat to go to bed at the same time, but we didn't get any sleep! ha-ha I know my kids have no interest in this blog, but we had sex, lots of sex that night.
We were at the hospital at 5am- Stevie was born at about 7am. We were there alone, we had no friends, no family- we only had my parents and they stayed home to take care of our 15 month old son. My husband was 24, he was not in his own country and had limited English (which was worse when he was nervous.) I was knocked out by the anesthesia (something I hate, since I clearly remember seeing Alex the moment he was born and crying I was so happy to see him.)
My youngest son was born with polysyndactyly- on his hands and feet. He had extra digits, fused fingers and toes (with bone, tissure and blood vessels) and webbing. My husband was told as far as congenital birth defects presented themselves, his polysyndactyly was severe and was found in many complex and sometimes lethal groups of anomalies or syndromes. I at the time was out cold. I can honestly tell you that moment affected the rest of his life- the feeling of helplessness. His congenital birth defects- were all physical- it turned out to NOT be part of any syndrome- of which Down's was bantered about. Do you know how long genetic testing on medicaid took to get results, let alone see a specialist? Six months. Six months we held our breath.
The moment I saw Stevie, I knew he was going to be fine. I may have been girlish naivety or it may have been a mother's intuition, or more likely a survival mode. By the time he was in the 1st grade Steve had 7 surgeries, most before he was 2. At one point he had simultaneous surgery on all extremities, with an IV in his neck, he was tied to a crib in the hospital- it was gut wrenching. They had taken skin grafts from his pelvic area for his fingers and toes- For skin grafts to take, you have to be immobile. How do you immobilize an 10 month old baby? You put casts on him from finger tip to shoulder, elbow bent, from tip toe to upper thigh, knee bent. The fist few crucial days, you tie him to a hospital crib, lest his finger tips rip out the IV in his neck. AS I write this, I can tell you I honestly forgot how bad it was. Except that time, I was on the burn victim unit, because of space constraints. DC children burn unit- if you ever want to feel lucky in life- go there. If you ever think your kid is a pain- go see a child being treated for burns- you will see what PAIN is. the older he got the worse the surgeries were- when your baby can tell you he is so much pain and ask why over and over, you just want to die.
This post could go on forever- every surgery could be a book- I never think about it- once in a while someone who doesn't know our history will ask me about Stevie's scars and I will tell them about it. And it seems so foreign to me- such a past life. I forget how much my child has suffered- truly suffered. As a toddler, he would see anyone in a white coat, let's say an optometrist at the Mall and he would scream and run the other way! It has been easy to spoil him and treat him like the baby, even though he is only 15 months younger than my first born. When I tell people, after they ask- they always say- you were so young, wow- I admire all you did- you're amazing- to which my answer is mostly certainly- What other option did I have? Run away? Not care for my child? Not fight tooth and nail with every fucking Insurance company we ever had? Oh yeah, once we got insurance, because I was pregnant when I can to the US and could get Insurance- he was born uninsured. Not battle doctors, nurses and pharmacies to make sure my son got what he needed? Was it an option to go to bed and cover my head with a pillow and never come out? My friend laughed the other day and she said- yes! Some people do!
This was taken last night- my little trooper turned 18