On 7/25 last year I went into the hospital. We thought I was going to deliver at 23 weeks 6 days. My husband and I were met in the L&D room by one of the neonatologists. And as my IV was adjusted and I was given steroid shots, we were asked if we wanted heroic measures to be performed when the baby was born. Or, did we want to comfort him and mourn him without medical intervention?
It was a terrifying day. But even with the grim faces and horrible decisions, it was a hopeful day, too, just because I had made it to the cusp of viability when I had been told even just getting that far was impossible.
Then… the baby didn't come.
The next day arrived. I was dirty, starving, bleeding, crying, but still no baby.
Then, the next day. The doctors relented and let me eat.
Then, the next day. A shower!
And so on, for five more weeks.
My breath catches in my throat, thinking about that time in the hospital. It was so hard to be in that bed, a ticking time bomb, only seeing the wee one and the wee-er one for a few minutes everyday. Never knowing what the next minute was going to bring.
My arms were bruised all over from so many shots and blood draws. My legs were clad in awful legwarmer "massage" things to keep blood clots at bay. Days would go by when I would barely dare to hope things would be OK, but then something would trigger a round of contractions, doctors would be called, we'd get more visits from the neonatologists with professional, kind faces, but dire warnings.
And then more time would pass. I would hold my ipod to my belly and play Gonna Fly Now, the theme from Rocky. I would relish visits with friends, and feel constantly thankful that my husband only left my side for coffee and a quick chance to put the kids to bed at night.
Five weeks later, my sweet Ike-a-saurus was born. So tiny, and yet, so big compared to what could have happened. He had reached the magical 28 weeks.
I thought those five weeks were the scariest weeks of my life. But really, they were boot camp. A trial by fire, setting us up to weather the truly scariest part of our lives seven months later. And now, are there more "scariest parts of my life" in the future? I can only guess that yes there are.
My chest aches thinking about this time last year. How hard we were fighting, how much we didn't know, the things we didn't dare to think of or wish for.
I know it's not healthy to live in the past, but I can't help reliving these moments. Yet, so much has happened since then. Wonderful things, terrifying things, shocking, incredible, horrible, amazing things. And whether the memories are good or bad, I think back on how those five weeks in the hospital taught me so much. How to be patient and how to be a patient. How to be an advocate. How to live only in the moment. How to be thankful for every small thing. How to love friends. How to release control. How to channel sheer force of will. How to savor limp green beans because the next day might bring IVs and stadol and no food for 24 hours.
It was a hard time. But because of that hard time, I am as prepared as I can be for this hard time. And that makes me thankful. Who would have ever thought you could be thankful for being soul-crushingly terrified for five weeks on end?
What a hell of a year.