Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Me, Motherhood, and Jeremiah

Jen, my buddy from Denton Sanatorium, is having a blog hop again. She has queried her readers about our various journeys to motherhood, and being an avid mother, I am jumping on board. Some of the questions will be answered in the body of this post, and I'll take care of the rest at the end. Here goes!

I need to begin by explaining that my mom had one heck of a time getting her five kids signed, sealed, and delivered. Both conception and gestation were tricky for her, and I applaud her determination and sheer force of will in eventually becoming a mother. It took her all of five years to get the ball rolling, but get the ball rolling she did. Mom not only managed to give birth successfully four times (after suffering at least that many miscarriages), but she initiated the whole process by adopting my big sister! (Strange how it so often happens that infertile couples have a baby soon after adoption.) My sis and I were only 17 months apart in age, which kept our mother busy. Coincidentally, my husband is just 14 months younger than his big brother, who is also adopted! Yep, the hubs and I share that same history...

But I digress. My point is that I expected to have a difficult time with my pregnancies. Like mother, like daughter, right? That's why I talked my husband into starting our family a little earlier than we had initially planned. (He was an easy mark, by the way.) Being a dad was something he wanted as much as I wanted to be a mom. And we got our collective wish! ... on the very first month we tried.

Soon after the rabbit died (Is that just a figure of speech, or did they really used to test for pregnancy that way?), my husband transferred to California...mostly because of me. We'd been in Chicago three years, and I was kinda done with the weather. Homesick, too. Fortunately, he liked the idea of moving to the golden state (he had a sister here), so we were on our way. This worked out VERY well for me, forcing a welcomed exodus from my job as secretary for a couple of ambulance-chasing attorneys. Arriving in Southern California, we decided that nobody would want to hire someone who was pregnant. We also decided keeping my status secret wouldn't be fair to prospective employers; so that was that. I had six glorious months of doing nothing but a few housewifely chores whilst lounging around the swimming pool at our apartment complex, reading everything I could get my hands on about gestation and delivery. I doubt that anyone ever enjoyed a pregnancy more, and I felt great, too! Right up until my water broke, that is...five weeks early. Unfortunately, I didn't go into labor soon enough, so my OB-GYN admitted me to the hospital for some lovely pitocin. Ugh. Natural childbirth and pitocin. Not a good mix. Double peaking contractions are no fun at all, especially when you've only made it through two of your six Lamaze classes! Still, I managed to huff and puff my way through the most excruciatingly painful delivery ever with only one shot of Demerol. (The shot was early on...and so unpleasant for me in its effects that I refused to take more when it wore off.) That demon Demerol did nothing whatsoever for the pain...addling me just enough to make it even harder for me to deal with it!

I should mention here that there was a lot of pressure on women at that time to deliver naturally, without the use of any drugs whatsoever. To be honest, I'm glad there was. I had the other three without any shots (or spinal needles...ouch!) at all, and I have to say that there's something exhilarating about going through that experience. The only thing I can liken it to is the time Dave and I shot some rapids that turned out to be a little more rapid than was altogether safe. Or enjoyable. It took us most of a day to get through them, and the water was so crazy that we were unable to pull over (or out) until the very end. What's more, we were usng a canoe for the first time (before, we had used a raft), and the two of us were figuring out how to work (row) together as we went. It was crazy, crazy, crazy...and we were in danger of spilling over the entire time, but we made it! We survived, largely because we hung together and didn't panic. Natural childbirth was kinda like that. And there was nothing more exhilarating than getting through it and coming out with a baby on the other side. I wouldn't give up that earth-shattering experience for anything in the world. Natural childbirth = natural high. For me, anyway.

Be that as it may, our first boy finally arrived, weighing in at a little over 5 lbs. with a shaky apgar score. They thought he was doing okay, so they sent me home with him a couple of days later. Shortly afterward, he became so jaundiced that we had to return to the hospital, where he barely avoided having to undergo a complete blood exchange. They put him under the "bili lights"; for those who know something about bilirubin numbers, his was 24! The pediatrician said if it didn't drop to 17 by morning, the total transfusion was on. We prayed, gave him a blessing, and the next morning it was exactly 17. What a relief...

I have to admit that I cried like a baby when they readmitted him to the hospital, something I rarely did at that stage in my life. (Now I've become the boob of all boobs and turn weepy at the drop of a hat. I even get teary reading some of your posts!) But again, I digress.

I'm not going to make you sit through my accounts of the other three births. Let's just say that I got pregnant easily, felt mostly okay throughout, and had a little trouble hanging on to the pregnancies all the way to the end. Our daughter, Karin, was three weeks early; our son, Ryan, was two weeks early; and our baby, Todd, was one week early. As you can see, the situation DID improve every time...although I had to go to bed for the last month with Ryan and almost went crazy running the household from my rocking chair. (Jen can relate to that experience all too well!) Every single child had jaundice, and every single child stayed in the hospital because he/she had to go under the aforementioned (now pictured below) lights. They all had asthma, too, and some had it badly. For the first few years, my kids were sick most of the time. Great kids, though! The BEST!!

We always wanted six children. That was the plan, and Dave was more than up for it. Todd, however, was in respiratory distress a lot, and by the time we got around to trying again, my fertility situation had changed. I wound up having a hysterectomy (unnecessarily, but that's another story), and we stopped at four. A funny story in our family is that Todd was conceived using several...count them, SEVERAL...types of birth control. He was "begun" on a romantic weekend in Palm Springs. At the time, Dave joked, "Is that baby really mine?" Neither of us could believe I had become pregnant under such hostile conditions, using nearly every kind of birth control device known to man, but I did. Now we realize that Todd was MEANT to come to us, and so the Lord sent him when He hook or by crook. And boy, are we grateful!

In answer to Jen's specific questions, I have to admit that the name "Matthew" was chosen because of Trixie Belden's brother. (Sorry, Matt.) The rest of the names were pretty much spur of the moment ones. Fortunately, Dave and I had similar taste. We went down to the wire on Todd, though. We just couldn't come up with anything. Nada. We even took advantage of the brand new ultrasound option to find out whether he was a girl or a boy, just so we wouldn't have to choose two! (By the way, that option wasn't available for our first three kids. Ultrasound was around, but you could only get one if you had complications or were over 35.) At any rate, we arrived at the name 'Todd" over a baby book at Marie Callendar's. It suits him perfectly!

I always wanted six kids. The gender was up for grabs, as long as I had at least one of each. (Species was non-negotiable.) Motherhood was something I ALWAYS envisioned. Ours was a purposeful ride, and it took us to a wonderful place.

If you'd like some evidence, look at the great kid below. Jeremiah is the son of our firstborn, Matthew. (Heather helped, too.) We're happy to say that the J-man is nine years old today. Happy Birthday, Jeremiah! We think you are the best guy ever!!!

And the coolest, too...

(See what I mean??)



Jeanette said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I enjoyed reading your post. Just the right amount of humor--because that's what it takes to get us through this crazy life sometimes-right!

gabe said...

I agree with you about the feeling giving birth naturally. . .so accurate actually! It was way different when I had the epidural with Lydia( my last). . .I felt like I was kind of a bystander, not actually part of the process. . .I wouldn't do that again. After all the pain does stop eventually!

Cherie said...

Isn't it funny that we all go through this great journey called motherhood and our stories can be similar and yet so varied. I'm glad you were able to have your 4 wonderful children. And that grandson of yours really does give off the cool vibe - hee hee.

P.S. All of my kids wore the sunshades under the bili lights too.

jen said...

Sue. Thanks for writing this. There are a few strings you left hanging on this one. Gonna elaborate one day?
Hope so. And I see we had a little rest time in common.
I had a few bili babies, too. Only Heidi needed the light--but she was in the NICU anyway, so who cared?

karen said...

Interesting to hear your story. We shared one thing in common: didn't cry much back in the day, but sob at the drop of a hat now. *what is up with that?!?* Your kids are lucky to be in such a great family!

Donna said...

We have a LOT incommon! Our first births wer a LOT alike except I was 7 weeks early and with twins. Everything else is ditto, ditto, ditto! Readin your blog is like reading a do-not-put-down book...great!
PS>Jeremiah is one handsome kid!!!

Karen said...

Trixie Belden was my Favorite in Jr high!! Great story!

Love ya!

Jackie said...

Your mother sounds incredible. AS are you. I love this post. Wow. That boy was surely meant to come to you!

Darlene said...

I must say, that was really interesting. I had forgotten (or did I ever really know) some of the things you mentioned, so it was fun for me to reminisce.

AND, I agree with you that natural childbirth was the only way. I had all of you that way. It did get easier with each one, except for Rich who was stuck and needed the forceps. Incidentally, my doctor was really good at hypnosis.

Aren't families wonderful? I feel so sorry for some of my friends who never had children. What a lonely old age that can be.

Jamie said...

1-Demerol had the exact same results on me & I stopped after just one shot. That was some crazy stuff!

2-Trixie Belden rocks

3-Almost all our children were conceived while multiple forms of birth control were in use, I think you're right-sometimes it's by hook or by crook when it's right!

Fun post, and an interesting story, so glad you linked up and shared your journey.

Kerri said...

I have loved reading everyone's story today. Thanks for sharing yours! I too never cried before I had my son...I just didn't feel as much back then. And now, I can cry over a sad commercial...and I am always putting myself in another mother's situation.

Ang said...

Blog hopping today was fun. Loved your post. Absolutely agree that natural is the only way to go!! I should have added more details....maybe another time!

cj Schlottman said...

Sue, I enjoyed this, feel as though I know you much better. I started early, too, but was only able to conceive once. (Endometriosis). As you know, my 41 year old son has special needs, but carrying him and birthing him was a piece of cake. He was born 3 weeks after I graduated from nursing school, I walked 3 miles on the beach that morning, went into labor at 9:30 that night and out he popped at 1 AM. No anesthesia. After the painful periods that come with endometriosis, labor was a breeze. Horrible postpartum depression nearly paralyzed me, but I recovered and, until Parrish's mental disorders came to the fore in his mid-twenties, he was the happiest and best little guy in the world.

Thanks for this post. It made me remember all the good that came before the demons. You're the best!


Lisa Loo said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this ride!! THanx for sharing!

Grandma Honey said...

I really enjoyed reading about your 'pregnancy and giving birth' life. It was especially interesting how you got Todd.

Oh yes, it was all about natural childbirth. I overheard a young mom recently discussing her labor and delivery of her newest baby. She went on and on about how 'traumatic' it was for her because she didn't get her epidural in time. It made me laugh to myself.

Kristin said...

Sue, Thanks for sharing your story! I love this!

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