Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Joshua Was Born . . .

Today is Joshua's eighth birthday! He is our eldest, has been the guinea pig and has taught me more about parenting than anything or anyone else. He and I are alike in so many ways, creating a relationship in which I can lose my temper too easily but also where he can touch my heart in such a real, tangible way. As a tribute to my first love of motherhood, here is the story of his birth . . .

On Palm Sunday, the alarm clock went off. We would be driving from Kent up to St. Luke in Shoreline to attend Mass with my parents. As I rose out of bed, my water broke. Jason was not surprisingly still asleep, and I called out, "Jason! Jason! It's time!" He called the doctor and we drove up to Northwest Hospital in Seattle.

At the hospital, things did not go as expected. There was reason to believe that there may be complications with Joshua's health. After only a couple of hours at the hospital, it was determined that I needed to have an emergency c-section. While this was disappointing, we wanted to do whatever we could to make sure Joshua would be healthy.

I was really scared because I'd never gone through a surgery before and foolishly, although I had read so much about pregnancy, birth and babies, I can skipped right over all of the sections about c-sections. When I was rolled into the operating room to receive the anesthesia, Jason waited outside. It seemed to take forever before they let him come into the room to hold my hand.

The procedure was painless but just very uncomfortable. I remember feeling very nauseous and a sharp pain in my shoulder, which the doctor assured was normal but freaked me out anyway. After a lot of pulling and pushing performed by the doctor, he pulled out our 9 pound 14 ounce "little" baby boy. As they stitched me up, they brought Joshua over to Jason and I and we stood in awe, in tears and in utter joy over our new son.

Once back in our room, Joshua proved to be a great eater with a big appetite. Nursing came very naturally to both of us.

Because there was still a slight chance that Joshua may have contracted an infection, he began receiving medication in the NICU every eight hours. The chances were slim, but if he had contracted an infection, it could have been fatal because his immune system may not have been strong enough to fight it. The medication was preventative, just in case. This was obviously very stressful and difficult to process. We knew that most likely, Joshua was fine, but the thought of him potentially being very sick was there, sitting in the corner, a constant presence in our first days with our new baby.

On our first night, Joshua laid on my chest as he and I slept together in my hospital bed; falling in and out of sleep; staring at one another when he would open his eyes for brief periods of time; nursing and sealing the bond that was instantly created the moment I laid eyes on him when he was born.

After a couple of days, we learned that the tests that were first performed to see if Joshua was sick were inconclusive. In the end, the only way to be sure was to have a spinal tapped performed. When the doctor very graciously explained this to us, I became somewhat hysterical. While I understood that the test was necessary, the idea of this painful procedure being performed on our new infant was heart-wrenching.

My dad, who is the director of the King County Public Health Lab, was present through all of this. He was able to listen to the doctors and ask questions that we never would have thought of. If we didn't understand something completely, he was able to explain the situation to us in a way that we could. His presence, reassurance that everything would be fine and that we were making the right decisions were invaluable, providing us a comfort that nothing else could.

I did not want to have to watch the spinal tap procedure. I felt very guilty about the idea of not being there, but I was so exhausted and emotionally spent at that point. Heroically in my eyes, Jason agreed to be with Joshua during the procedure, and I tried to rest. It took a couple of hours and to this day, Jason has not told me much about what happened. We had to wait another couple of days for the results to come back and in the mean time, Joshua continued to receive medication.

Finally, five days after Joshua was born, we received the glorious news that Joshua was perfectly healthy. It seemed that we had been through a lot of needless worry and stress, but we were just euphoric that our baby was healthy and that we were finally able to go home.

I remember on our way home, feeling that scary feeling that I think most new parents do after leaving the hospital: So we just get to take our baby home now? We're just supposed to take care of him? On our own? You trust us to do this?! What if we mess up? I'm not sure that we know what we're doing!

But it didn't take too long for us to learn. And with each baby, we've learned a lot more. Each one is of course different than the last. But I don't think we'll leave the hospital this next time feeling as though we don't know what we're doing :)

Joshua's First Birthday Party

Last month at his First Reconciliation

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