In The Beginning, God created Abigail
Abigail was a high risk pregnancy. When I first found out I was pregnant I was going to the OB every other day, then every week, then twice a week, then finally twice a month. I was also traveling 6.5 hrs round trip to Pittsburgh to see specialists every 3 months. Pregnancy (despite how you feel physically) is really such a short time in your life I wanted to enjoy it, but I was literally on edge because (until 23 weeks gestation) something could go wrong any second and once that happened I had to get to a hospital in time for them to save my life. Abigail (although perfectly healthy) would be “terminated.”
Having to be at a place in my life where I had to say, ‘My life is worth more than my child’s. Please end her life to save mine” — it was unthinkable. It goes against every instinct and thought I have as a mother. Mothers die to protect their children. If someone wants to go through me to get to my child, fine, but I’m taking them out as I go. Every day was stressful and I couldn’t imagine how I’d live with myself if that situation arose.
Fortunately, we got past that 23 week mark. That was also the mark where other women in my situation had lost their babies. I was on new ground. If the big horrible thing happened now at least the baby would have a shot at life. I still had to stay close to a hospital because, as my OB warned me at every visit, “We don’t want to lose both of you.”
Then I felt guilty. How could I not have ANY good feelings about this new baby? Every second my life and her life were literally hanging over my head. And if I did manage to push all the stress aside for a moment, the happiness only led to heavy-hearted disconsolate tears.
I made it to June (she was due in July). My other children couldn’t wait to be born. I had preterm labor with all but the first son. My youngest (at that point) had been trying to be born since about 25 weeks. My midwife told me if I made it to 30 weeks she’d let me go since the other kids were early and were all okay. (She held out until 37 weeks. Dammit. lol) Abigail? Showed no signs of coming out on her own.
Frankly, this time around that was just fine. My OB and I had no idea what was going to happen during birth. Things could still go wrong, only at this point it would most likely be just me that would die. After worrying about Abigail for the past 8 months I was okay with that. My boyfriend wasn’t okay with that and would only tell me not to worry, we would both be okay. We scheduled a c-section because if the bad horrible thing happened I would have a better chance at survival if I was already opened up and the doctor had access to all my parts. I was told if anything happened before that date to get to a hospital as soon as possible. If something went wrong they wanted to be available sooner rather than later.
The c-section went so well I heard my OB tell the other doctor present that it was kind of a let-down. (HA HA!) Abigail was born, there was no need to remove my insides, and we both made it to the next day.
That’s when the nurse walked into my room (where my boyfriend and I were sitting and trying to adjust to HAPPY mode after being stressed out for so long) and said, ‘I can’t get her to pass the hearing test. I gave it to her three times.”
My face fell. I’m sure I looked like hell anyway, but it got worse. My jaw dropped. No one said anything for a few minutes and apparently we made the nurse uncomfortable because she said “I’ll go try again” and left.
I started crying. I’d been so stressed out for the past 8.5 months and just when I thought it was over…this?
My boyfriend hugged me and said not to worry. She’s still beautiful, she’s still going to be smart and wonderful and awesome…so what if we have to learn sign language? I just felt like someone was trying to kick me while I was down.
By the next day Abigail had passed her hearing test and we had another day in the hospital (I wasn’t tolerating the pain well so they kept me another day) to try to relax and just be with one another and feel normal for a bit. But I asked a few times “Does she look yellow to you?”
The day after that we were discharged. We had signed the papers and were waiting for a cab when a nurse said, ‘Wow, she’s awfully yellow.” and whisked her away to take blood. I was discharged, but they readmitted Abigail so she could lie under the bili lights. Again I felt like someone was trying to kick me while I was down. We stayed at the hospital another 3 days. When she turned one week old we went home. Finally.
I watched her closely to be sure she could hear and even though I was fairly certain she could I worried a year later when she hadn’t started talking yet. At 11 months she’d started walking and I was told that she wasn’t talking because she was walking. Apparently babies do one thing at a time. If you have a talker, chances are he isn’t walking or climbing yet. For the whole year between 12 months and 24 months I worried and asked about her speech. When she did start talking her efforts sounded weak. A few months later I was certain she should have some kind of vocabulary instead of the few words she had. Everyone said not to worry. The speech people said as long as she’s communicating somehow it counted as communication even if it wasn’t speech and there wasn’t anything they would do.
We worked with her ourselves. We talked to her constantly. I taught her some signs because her intelligence was there. I could tell she knew what she wanted and I didn’t want her to get frustrated by not being able to let us know what she wanted. She didn’t sign for a while either, but I kept signing and talking to her. We bought Baby Einstein DVDs, we bought a few of them that incorporated signing. Eventually she started signing what she wanted. Then she alternated signing and talking. She’d use the words she had around the signs she knew. At some point she started just talking up a storm and signs became rarer.
And now I find myself wishing sometimes she’d just be quiet. She wears me out. She talks all the time. She cries when I don’t understand what she’s saying, and she looks at me like I’m crazy when I smile and hug her when she’s getting upset. She’s too young to understand that I enjoy every sound, every word, every sign, every cry. She doesn’t know that when she’s sleeping I hold her and kiss her and cry because she’s so beautiful. She doesn’t know that even when she’s yelling at me or she’s done the thing I asked her not to do for the umpteenth time that I’m just so FREAKING happy she’s here and that she’s all right. She probably won’t understand until she’s grown and had a baby of her own…just how much I love her.
So with all that said, on June 22nd she turns three. It’s been an amazing journey up til now (even with the stress) and I am looking forward to the rest of her life. My only hope is that I love her enough, that I cherish her as much as I should, and that someday…she’ll understand what it meant to me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and emerge with a precious new life dancing on the other side.
Tags: babies, birth, c-section, delivery, Elisa Ashley, endometrial ablation, high risk, motherhood, pregnancy, sign language