Sunday, May 31, 2009

NOW WHAT?

With the whirlwind of nurses, doctors, phone calls, text messages, friends & family, our stay at the hospital was like a blur. There are several things that are etched in my mind forever. I clearly remember when Emily's pediatrician came into our room to talk to us. He pointed out Emily's physical traits that were characteristic of Down Syndrome: the extra skin folds in her neck, her small & slanted eyes, small ears, the large space between her 1st & 2nd toes, her small mouth, etc. He basically diagnosed her with Down Syndrome, however, we had to wait for a blood test to get final confirmation. The blood test was sent away to New Mexico & it could take up to 2 weeks to get results...lovely. At this point, the blood test really didn't matter because we trusted the doctors & they were confident of the diagnosis.

The doctor then told us that a baby with Down Syndrome has a 50% chance of having a heart defect. I was floored!! At that point, I froze & panic set in. What were we going to do if there was something wrong with Emily's heart? What if she needed heart surgery? What if she died? This was all too much to bear. The doctor also told us about the possibility of Emily having hypothyroidism, cataracts, hearing & respiratory problems. This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. My heart was now shattered & my dreams were crushed.

Emily's doctor is a wonderful man!! He held Emily in his arms & rocked her. He looked at her & told her how beautiful & special she was. He also told us that our lives are not going to be as we had planned. It will be different. In some strange way, that gave me comfort, but but it also scared the shit out of me! Will Emily be able to live on her own? Will we have to take care of her forever? Will she be a dancer like her mother? Will she have a boyfriend? A career? Go to prom? College? Have a job? All the perfect plans I had in my head for my precious little girl went out the god damn window. Now what?!?!?!

When the doctor left the room, I felt empty. Eric sat on one side of the room & I sat on the bed. My whole body felt numb. All I could do was cry & I honestly felt like I was going to crumble in a million pieces. Physically, I could feel it. Eric had no emotion. I wept uncontrollably & kept saying, "What are we going to do?" There were no answers. Our plans, our hopes, our dreams were all gone. Eric & I were so numb we could barely speak. We didn't hold each other. We could barely look at each other. This was all too much. Now what????

Thursday, May 28, 2009

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

I have always told people that I will be writing a book someday. I feel like my life has been very interesting to say the least. My best seller could be on a variety of topics: dating an orthodox Jew that left his religion to be with me, my adventures of being a teacher in an inner city high school,, my crazy life as a military wife...so many options. My mother says I get my writing talent from her mother, my Grandma Joan. She was a real estate broker & always wrote the most interesing property listings. She had a knack for writing our family newsletters & we all looked forward to them every month. I thank her for passing this on to me. Here's my version of a best seller.

I think it's important to start this blog with how Emily entered the world & how this journey all began.....

On April 4, 2009 our sweet Emily Grace was born. My due date was April 18, but I was expecting Emily to come about 2 weeks early since her big brother, Aidan was born 2 weeks early. The doctors kept telling me that nature repeats itself, so I was ready. On April 3, my husband left for training with the National Guard. He would be 2 hours away & would be reachable by cellphone. I was not comfortable staying alone with Aidan in case I went into labor, so I sent him 2 hours away to my parents' house for the weekend.

On Saturday, April 4, I awoke at 4am with sharp contractions. Right away, I knew this was it! The contractons came every six minutes. I wrote all the times down & soon they were coming every 5 minutes. I took a shower, shaved my legs, & did a load of laundry. I knew the baby was coming, but I had some last minute things I wanted to do. Everyone thinks I was crazy for doing that. I remained very calm. I knew my baby girl was on the way & I wanted to be ready...shaved legs & all!

I called Eric at 5am & told him that this could be it & that he should get on the road & meet me at the hospital. I called my doctor & he told me to get to the hospital as soon as possible. I called my girlfriend Barbara who was "on call" for the weekend & told her to meet me at the hospital. She lives 20 minutes away & I thought it was silly to wait for her & then drive 20 minutes to the hospital...too much wasted time.

I stepped outside & loaded my suitcase into the car. It felt strange to be alone & going to the hospital, but I knew I could make it & I wasn't afraid. I remember how quiet & peaceful the neighborhood was. I looked at my neighbors' houses & thinking, "everyone is sound asleep & I am about to have my baby girl!!" It was so exciting to think that the next time I walked into our home, Emily would be in my arms. I couldn't wait!!

I arrived at the hospital & Barb arrived shortly after. While I was waiting, & in full labor, I made phone calls to my parents & my sister. I also texted some co-workers & close friends. Was I out of my mind??!?!?! I wanted everyone to know that Emily would be arriving soon.

I decided that I didn't want any drugs for this birth. I had an epidural with Aidan & I was determined to give the no meds route a try. I knew that Emily was going to be our last child & I thought I should try to experience it. The pain was horrific, like no other. Barb held my hand & supported me. Thank God for her!! I tell her that she saw a side of me she probably never thought she would. We are bonded for life! :) My soul sister!!

Emily Grace was born at 8:33am. . Eric missed her birth by 15 minutes. On his way to the hospital, he was pulled over by a cop for speeding. The cop let him go without a ticket.
Towards the end of the delivery, the doctors were telling me to push. There was an intensity in their voices & in my heart I knew something was wrong. When Emily was born, I did not hear her cry. I remember the silence & it seemed to last forever. I would later find out that the umbilical cord was knotted & around her neck. The doctors did not put her on my chest like they do on all those baby shows & in the movies. They immediately brought her to a warming table across the room. She was there for an hour, but it seemed to last an eternity. Emily was surrounded by a team of doctors from the NICU. I had no idea what was wrong & no one told me. I was so out of it from just giving birth & felt like I was in La La Land.

Eric walked in & went right to Emily. No one congratulated him. They focused on Emily. The head pediatrician came over to me & was babbling on & on. For the life of me I can't remember what he said except for the words, "Down Syndrome". He also said something about Emily's physical features & that they were characteristic of Down Syndrome. I nodded & said, "OK".
I had no idea what the hell was going on.

My parents finally arrived with Aidan, followed by my mother-in-law & my sister. Everyone was so excited to meet Emily. When the doctors finally let me hold Emily, I immediately knew that something about her was different. Her face & head were very swollen & bruised from the umbilical cord. It wasn't that though. Something was different about her. I knew the doctor said Down Syndrome, but I was not thinking Down Syndrome, just different.

The hours that followed were somewhat of a blur. We were swamped with phone calls, text messages, nurses, doctors, friends & family. Emily & I stayed in the hospital for 2 days. My entries will recall & reflect on this time & what has occured since. Thank you for reading our story. I am grateful to share "Our Life With Emmie" with you.