Gabriel has been such an unexpected blessing in our lives. First of all, we didn’t even find out I was with egg until I was almost 7 months along. I experienced no symptoms until a couple of weeks before then; but my lame brain still had no idea. I had two indications… one was that my ankles had started to swell up during the day. Then over night, they went back down to their normal size. I thought nothing of it, just that maybe I was on my feet too much, or that I needed to change my shoes. Then one day, on a Saturday, I experienced something that I ever did before. When I woke up from a nap, I got a chill and it affected my breasts. I was in such pain that I had to tear off my shirt and bra to get a measure of relief. Thank goodness I was home alone! That happened two times and to be honest, I thought that something was wrong; but I thought it might be breast cancer since my mother had it. I was really worried but it didn’t happen again.
Then I started to get pain in my groin and leg. It got so bad that by Jan 17th, 2005, I could not put my weight on my right leg, nor walk without assistance. That day, Eddie was home for the holiday and took me to the emergency room. When I got registered in the ER, the woman said that I should take a pregnancy test which was supposed to be routine since I would probably get an Xray. I was called before I had the chance to give a sample and then later, the nurse hesitated on allowing me to take the test; but must have referred to the doctor because I did take it. I was examined and I assured the dr that I was not pregnant. We were waiting for them to xray my hip when the dr came to us and said, “It’s positive.” Right away I said, “WHAT?” I don’t think that Eddie caught on right away, but he soon did. Instead of an xray, I had an ultra sound done. Right then, we found out that I was 26 weeks along and the baby was a boy. We were in total shock. I will never forget Eddie’s reaction to being told we had a boy. The angle allowed me to see his face even though he was sitting behind a curtain. When the technician said we had a boy, his face lit up in a smile and he snickered to himself!
We left there still in shock, with the first, of many pics, of our child. He was so very clearly visible that there was no denying it. I was immediately put at a high risk because this was what is known as a late pregnancy because we found out late and there was no prior prenatal care. I was at high risk for other reasons, too. I was 44 years old (still am), I am overweight, and my mother had diabetes, which automatically puts me at a risk… pregnancy makes it even more risky, indeed, I did get gestational diabetes. I had to be seen by an OBGYN very soon and start on a prenatal care regimen.
In early Feb, I was put on bed rest because the drs were not satisfied with Gabriel’s growth rate. The idea is that I would put all my energy into growing the baby. Unfortunately, I still had a big drive to the hospital two times a week, plus going to the OB. With the diabetes, I needed to get up from bed 6 times a day to eat something and then again to give myself insulin shots…. so complete bed rest I did not get. We were worrying about our baby from the get go. Everything was running through my/our heads.
Then came the day that my dr said that I should consider having a amniocentesis test to check for chromosomal disorders. I was well past the time that this test should be done and the risk was higher for me to go into preterm labor. Eddie didn’t want to have it done because of the risk. He rationalized that an abortion was not an option and this baby would be loved regardless. I, however, needed to know ahead of time so that I could adjust and prepare for such an outcome. I scheduled the test and I told Ed that we could ask questions and not go through with it, if it came to that. So we went and our dr was so patient with all our questions. He answered them all very directly. The bottom line was that there are some other defects that are not “condusive to life”, which was how he put it. It would dictate to him how aggressively Gabriel and I were treated. That really hit me in the gut; but we both agreed that I should have the test done. After what seemed an eternity, we finally got the word that our baby did not have any chromosomal defects. This was uplifting to us; but the baby was still not growing at a sufficient rate. The one thing that was encouraging was that his head was the normal size for his age, but the rest of his body was not. They were watching my placenta very closely. The placentas of diabetic mothers age too fast, get old too fast; and basically starves the baby. When I found out about this, I knew that this was probably what was going on inside me. It killed me to think that my body was starving my baby; but technically, the placenta is actually from the baby, not the mother. Still, I centralized it to myself.
After one of my bi-weekly visits, our dr said that they will have to take the baby soon, but he didn’t know when. That night I told Ed that he should come with me to my next visit because of what he said. I just had a hunch that it was not going to be much longer, plus Gabriel was to be measured again during my next visit. Sure enough, Gabriel did not gain any weight at all in that past month. Dr Smith said that from today on, we should think of Gabriel as being in a “hostile environment”, and that he was better off out here than being inside.
Gabriel Walter was born March 4, 2005, 9:45pm, 3 lbs. 3 oz., 15 1/2″ long. He was born via C-section. I can tell you that I did not feel anything; but I did feel as if they were rummaging around inside me looking for Gabriel while I was up there on the table.
This pic is Gabriel at 2 days old in the hospital NICU. This was a very emotional time for me. My head was tilted downward, I had my glasses on, and I still could not see my baby, though I could hear his little squeaky cry. They finally brought him over to me so that I could see him. I could not stop crying…. even for a long time after that, every time I went to see him in the NICU, I would stand over him and cry and cry, not able to speak at all. One of the nurses said that she was looking for the day that I could walk in there and just talk to my baby. I was just so overwhelmed by it all… everything happening so fast, and now there was this little baby doing just fine in his isolette. He was so light that when he would move around, he would actually crawl forward on his little bed-like pad they had him on. They called him the “Wild Man” because he was constantly moving around. God was truly with us during those days, and now, too. Though he was so small, Gabriel had no other health issues other than his size and weight. I attempted to breast feed him; but I had to abandon that life long dream. I was expressing my milk for Gabriel and bringing it to him every day as he was in the NICU for 24 days. Then, I had a complication and had to have surgery. It all overwhelmed me too much so, and I made the decision to give up on breastfeeding the day before Gabriel came home, which was Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday that year. What a gift! I felt terrible about making that decision; but I did not have any regrets. I was mentally, physically and emotionally a mess, I was trying to get over the surgery and I realized that I just could not handle breastfeeding. Maybe it would have been different had Gabriel been home and actually feeding from me. I was using a mechanical pump and it just was not the same… plus the circumstances surrounding my surgery made it very difficult and I was in a lot of pain. I could not sit and get comfortable, or relax and these are must haves for expressing your milk. Gabriel did have plenty of breastmilk in our freezer, so he did have a good supply at home before I had to switch to formula.
Despite the breast feeding fiasco, Gabriel is doing great now, at almost 19 months. At last count, he was 23 lbs. and 31″ tall. He is now walking and talking (almost); and he eats anything we give him. He’s got a great appetite! I am so glad to be home with him. There are so many subtle little developmental milestones that I would miss if I was.
Time for sleeping!