When we decide to become parents, we subconsciously sign up for a whole slew of bad stuff. Don't get me wrong, there are all of these amazing, wonderful moments that make being a parent the best job in the world. However, every once in a while, something happens that makes you wonder if you are strong enough to handle this journey.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant, Hershey and I went in for a routine anatomy scan. We found out that we were having a little Jane and a little Emma, and after an extremely long consultation with the doctor, the technician returned with the doctor to deliver some other news to us: Our little Janey was presenting with something called a "double-bubble". Basically, it looked like there was some kind of blockage preventing Jane from fully digesting the amniotic fluid that she was swallowing in utero.
The doctor then went on to explain that there were many reasons why this must be happening. The first possibility that she noted was "she may have Down Syndrome." That was all I heard before I went into shock and started crying hysterically. Luckily, my husband is very level-headed and asked all of the right questions, because I wasn't hearing anything else this doctor was saying.
When the girls were born, I had to wait in recovery for about an hour before having my hospital bed wheeled into the NICU so that I could hold them for the very first time. As the neonatologist approached my bedside, the only words that I could muster were, "Is Jane ok?"
I don't think I'll ever forget that moment for as long as I live. I'm crying as I'm writing this. The overwhelming sense of relief and joy is something that only a parent who hears that their child is healthy after worrying for 4 months that they are not would understand.
It turned out that Jane's pancreas had wrapped around her intestine and fused it shut. Two days after she was born, I wheeled myself alongside her little incubator and sent her into surgery, the second scariest moment of my life. Those four hours until the doctors came to my recovery room to tell me that they fixed the issue and that she was going to be alright were unbelievably difficult.
I then had the heartache of watching her recover, looking up at us through the tubes and wires that were keeping her "comfortable" as if to say, "Mommy, why is this happening? Why can't you just pick me up and hold me and tell me I'm going to be ok?" There's nothing like feeling so helpless while your child is suffering.
Of course she's now a happy, healthy six-month old (who LOOOVES carrots!), but I remember feeling back then like this nightmare would never end.
When we brought the girls home, they had to remain on apnea monitors. Because they were born so early, they sometimes forgot to breathe, and their heart rates would slow. The monitors alerted us to when this was happening so that we would be able to revive them. Hearing those alarms go off in the middle of the night, knowing that your child is not breathing...waiting for them to take a big breath...absolutely terrifying.
The girls came off of the monitors for good in October. We were finally out of the woods! Until this past Friday night.
We decided to give the girls a bath together. They are very independent now, and love splashing in the bathtub. Jane sat in a sling, as Emma stood up on a foam mat with me holding on to her. She wiggled and splashed, and managed to swallow a little bit of water. Hershey whisked her out of the tub and brought her into the nursery as I finished up with Jane. I heard Emma crying, and figured she was just giving my husband a hard time (as the girls like to do on the changing table now).
As I walked into the nursery with Jane, I realized that something was not right. Hershey said that it was like she couldn't breathe, so I quickly grabbed the Nose Frida, handed Jane off to Hershey, and worked to clear out Emma's air passage. Her lips began to turn blue, and her frantic, hysterical cries got caught in her throat. I screamed for Hershey to call 9-11 as I stripped her jammies from her little body and blew into her face.
By the time the police arrived, Emma's cries were dying down, and she was turning from bluish-purple to white, her eyes were slowly closing, and her hands, feet and cheeks were all cold. The police officer gave her some oxygen, and she slowly came back around, smiling at the officer and looking curiously at the crowd of emergency responders gathering.
Her vitals were checked and she was back to normal, so we opted out of going to the hospital. Hershey called the pediatrician, and we learned that "some kids just do that." It's called a cyanotic breath-holding spell, and it can happen when a child becomes frustrated, upset, angry, or scared. They cry and hold their breath until they pass out. And Emma now does this. Awesome.
Needless to say, we watched Emma like a hawk for the rest of the night. As soon as we put her in her crib, I broke down and started crying. I thought I was watching my child die on her changing table, as my other child looked on from under the teddy bear hood of her towel.
I'm not telling these stories because I want you to feel bad for me. I'm telling these stories today because I want other mommies (or daddies!) out there to know that you are not alone. These terrifying moments will happen, and you will question your strength and fortitude. But looking in your child's face, you will know that it is worth it. 1,000%.
What moments have you had to overcome as a parent? When did you first realize that you're stronger than you could have ever imagined?