35 and 4. That’s what my doctor told me to tell them at the desk when I got to the hospital. I was 35 weeks and 4 days into my pregnancy, but she didn’t like how I looked. I kept passing the pre-eclampsia tests, but my doctor had a feeling that something wasn’t right. “Pack a bag, you’ll stay in the hospital under observation until you’re ready to have your baby,” was what she said. I was scared. So scared. This was my second pregnancy, but everything that could have gone wrong did.
During my 8 week appointment, they couldn’t find her during the ultrasound. Apparently, my uterus was tilted. They couldn’t find her DNA in my blood during the genetics testing, so I had to go back and retake the test when I was further along. I was on bed rest. I was hospitalized for high blood pressure. I didn’t have enough amniotic fluid. I had gestational diabetes.
And all the while, week after week, month after month, everything worked out ok until that final exam when my doctor said, “Let’s just take another round of tests. Let’s give you a steroid shot to help grow the baby’s lungs, just in case. I just don’t like the way you look.”
We got the call when we were getting ready to leave to spend the day with my sister-in-law at her pool. The test results were in, and the doctor wanted me in the hospital to be monitored until the baby was born. “Bring some books!” My doctor said. She figured I would be waiting around for a week or so in bed until we passed the 36-week threshold, and my baby could safely come into the world. As my husband and daughter sat in the room with me, settling me in for my extended stay, a nurse came in to do another round of tests, “Just in case,” she said with a smile. Instead, she came rushing back and declared that 35 and 4 would be as far as we got.
This baby was coming today, for both of our safety.
My sister-in-law rushed over to care for our older daughter while we prepped for surgery. Somehow, defying all laws of the speed of light, my mother made it from Brooklyn, NY to Stamford, CT before I made it to the recovery room. No matter how old you are, you always need your mom. It was the scariest day of my life.
And then just like that, she was here. 5 lbs and 10 ounces of beauty, love, and perfection. She was so tiny, and all mine. We were separated that night. She was in the NICU, and I was in a recovery room, hooked up to a magnesium drip. The next morning while being transferred to a regular room, an angel of a nurse took me to the NICU to finally hold my baby. All the struggles, all the uncertainty, all the bad news after each and every appointment disappeared. We were finally together, and I would make sure to take care of her and protect her every day for the rest of my life.
I never talk about all of these things. I never share that I wonder if I didn’t drink enough water. If I didn’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. If I drank too much caffeine. Was I too stressed out? Did I push myself too hard? Was any of this my fault, or was it just the luck of the draw?
As mothers, we always take the blame.
Maybe we should have tried harder. Maybe we should have rested. Maybe we could have done something differently. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But the fact is, you’ll never know why things happen the way they do. All I can do is be thankful that my little baby, at 35 and 4, was perfect and healthy and strong.
Happy 4th birthday, my sweet girl. I’m glad we made it through the storm together.