Earlier this week I was asked to write an article for TravelingMom.com about being fearless – or fear less. I wrote from a travel perspective, but have been thinking about the most intense fear I have ever experience, which was when Veronica was born.
We knew Veronica was going to be a small baby, although nobody knew why. We had numerous ultrasounds and tests and she looked healthy, just little. She moved less than my oldest did when I was carrying her, but her sister was a maniac; always moving in utero and didn’t slow down after she popped out, so I told myself Veronica’s movements were how babies were supposed to be. That she was a mellow baby and would sleep better than her sister did. He sister’s sleeplessness seemed so exhausting at the time, I had no idea what exhausting really even meant.
At 1:00am the morning after my due date I felt like I was in labor and checked in to the hospital. They hooked me up and monitored my contractions, telling me I wasn’t really in labor and could go home. I had precipitous labor with my first born and my doctor told me if I even thought I was in labor that I should go to the hospital. I told the nurse this, she replied, “If it makes you feel better you can stay, but you’re not in labor.” Whatever. I was staying, and climbed right in to the jacuzzi tub.
An hour later I told my husband I felt like I wanted to push. He went and got the nurse, who rolled her eyes and checked my progression. She suddenly looked panicked, “The baby’s on her way, get out of the tub, on the bed and don’t push. I’m getting the doctor.”
Don’t push? My body was doing what a body does in labor and a couple of minutes later my husband delivered my sweet little girl and placed her on my chest. The doctor walked in and joked how we didn’t need him any more and the nurses started to take care of Veronica. I heard them with the Apgar scores and knew that they were being generous as they tried to get her to respond more. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and looked forward to holding my baby again. It turned out she needed oxygen and they escorted V to the NICU carried by her daddy. As soon as I could, I went to see her. Such a tiny thing, 5″13oz. She was in an isolette next to a 10lb baby, which made her seem even smaller.
By the next morning it was clear that something was wrong. Veronica had red marks on her face and head, kind of like stork bites but darker. Her body was slightly asymmetrical, including her ears. She wasn’t getting enough oxygen and she hadn’t opened her eyes. Tests were ordered for a CT, they thought she had part of her brain missing or malformed. A specialist was called to check her eyes, and we were told she was blind and would never see.
I cried – no I bawled. My whole body was seized by this emotion of fear for my new little baby, who I was already so in love with. I remember being in my hospital bed turning from side to side, as if I could find a way to be comfortable with this news.
We were transported to a hospital with more specialized support, and more tests were run, including a hearing test. Veronica failed. We were handled a brochure and told to have her retested with a BAER test when she was 10 months old. We asked if maybe there was fluid in her ears. “No, just read the brochure.” Thanks for that.
I felt like my heart and soul had been ripped out of me. My husband took Veronica back to the NICU and I went to our hospital room where I took a shower and cried at the top of my lungs. I asked God how V would know I loved her if she couldn’t hear me, what the future held for my baby, and how I was going to be a good mom for her. I was terrified and hurt to the core.
I got dressed, walked back to the NICU and picked up my little girl. I held her beautiful hand and snuggled her soft head. And then it hit me, I just needed to love her. I thought about how my husband and I were able to work from home and had great medical coverage and how God was taking care of us. I just needed to keep moving forward. God has a plan for everyone, including me and my new baby.
That night Todd and I were in the NICU with V, she had just fallen asleep when a dad across the room sneezed. Veronica flinched. She could hear it! The next morning our geneticist was making rounds. She was a older German woman, with a heavy accent and years of practical experience. We told her about the hearing test and how V responded to the noise the night prior. She clapped her hands over Veronica and Veronica startled. “Oh! All these expensive tests, clearly this child can hear,” she said.
The next 2 weeks in the hospital were spent with tests during the day, the results, and a new frightening theory on what Veronica was facing when doctors had rounds before they went home. Finally, my husband asked what it would take for us to go home. I was terrified of that prospect, but the stress of the hospital was not good for anyone and V only needed a small amount of oxygen, so after CPR training and learning how to use portable oxygen tanks we took her home. It was the best decision. With no scary news and invasive tests we could start to breathe again and began living this new life as a family. One day at a time.
So, what’s your story? What makes you fear less? Happy early Mother’s Day to all you fearless moms, you are amazing!