On this day 16 years ago, I was awakened at 3:00 in the morning in what I suspected was labor. I was 37 weeks pregnant with my first child. Instead of waking my husband to tell him I thought I was having contractions, I got up and went to lie on the couch. I wasn’t really sure they were contractions, but I knew something felt different. I tried timing them but there seemed to be no regularity to what I was feeling. When my husband got up a couple of hours later for work, I explained to him that I thought I was in labor. He asked if I had been timing the contractions, and I explained that I had but that they were anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes apart. Since I wasn’t doubling over in pain, he didn’t think I was really in labor. We both decided to get up and get ready for work. I showered, got dressed, put on makeup, and did my hair all before deciding that maybe I shouldn’t go to work just in case I was actually in labor. I had this fear of my water breaking while I was working with students, so my husband left for work and I stayed home. All through the morning I continued to have those weird feelings but with no consistency. Around 3:00 that afternoon I had this sudden feeling that something had popped inside me. I immediately thought that it was my water breaking but quickly realized that I was hemorrhaging. I immediately called my husband at work and then my doctor. They told me to come into the office. I waited for my husband to get home and then we went to the doctor’s office together. When we got there and they took me back, I was still hemorrhaging a good bit. I was dilated 4 cm, 100% effaced, and in active labor. They sent me straight to the hospital. It was only a few short hours later in my hospital room that a nurse suddenly came running in my room, pushed a button on the wall, called for a doctor, and my room was quickly full of people telling me to turn this way and that, including getting on all fours without telling my what was going on. Apparently, my baby was in distress. Her heart rate had dropped significantly, and they were moving me around to try to get it back up. It was then that they decided it was time to get her out. Using a vacuum and with me only pushing 3 times, I delivered a tiny little peanut weighing only 4 lbs. and 8 oz. It turns out that the bleeding and that popping I felt was caused by a partial placental abruption. Despite being so small and a little early, she was perfectly healthy. She had a little bit of a hard time keeping her body temperature up at first but a short time under the warming lights and she was fine.
This morning I awoke again at 3:00 AM. Of course, I wasn’t in labor this time, but I think my body or my mind must have remembered that time 16 years ago. As I lay awake so early this morning, I thought back over the last 16 years. It is hard for me to believe that in just two short years she will be heading off to college (I hope). She has overcome a lot in her life…a 5 day hospital stay at 4 months of age where we discovered she had urinary reflux, 2 years straight on antibiotics, delayed motor skills, surgery at age 2 to correct the reflux, swallowing a penny at age 3, a learning disability, a couple of broken bones, and 4 moves, 5 different schools, and 3 different gyms. It may not seem like a lot to some, but each thing was a new challenge that she navigated with an unbelievable strength. Although she makes me want to bang my head against the wall sometimes, I am surprised daily by her ability to roll with the punches. I can tell you that she has handled our last move, the summer before her first year of high school, way better than I did when my family moved when I was the same age. I am so proud of her strength. I see a lot of me in her sometimes, and then I see the complete opposite of me at other times. I can say for sure that she is her own unique person, and she brings a lot of laughter wherever she goes whether it be with her or at her craziness. I am looking forward to seeing how she grows and changes over the next few years as she enters her adult life. Lord, help us all! LOL!
While this isn’t the sweet 16 we had planned for her, we will do our best to celebrate her today from home. I was able to get her a small cake and ordered a couple of presents that luckily made it in time. We will figure out something special to do for this milestone once we are able to celebrate with other family and friends. It is hard to think of her as a 16 year old, but I have loved every single moment of each of those years and can’t wait for all the memories to come.