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From Teen To Toddler Part 2

(I apologize in advance. I thought I had found a good place to break but this is probably long too. If you're visiting for the first time, Part 1 of the story is yesterday's post so start there.)

From Teen To Toddler: The Full Circle of a Journey Home
By Angie Morrison

I hadn't been on prescription birth control for years due to it elevating my blood pressure so my cycles tended to be very irregular. In order to at least help us "narrow" down the window a bit we bought an ovulation predictor kit test for November. We waited for the indication that I might be ovulating and hoped for the best.

It was at the end of November that I became nauseous on my train commute home. Jeff was out of town and I didn’t want to test, I seriously thought I was getting the flu. Just for my own peace of mind, I stopped at the drugstore on my way home and picked up a home pregnancy test. We were trying to conceive. We’ll need it eventually, right? The mind has a wonderful way of convincing itself of anything.

I sat that test on the bathroom counter and stared at it for about an hour wanting to take the test, knowing that Jeff would be disappointed if I did. I finally gave in and took it. I waited until the test was ready. The digital readout was clear. Very, very clear. "Pregnant". I was pregnant; again. Truthfully I hadn’t gotten used to the idea of trying since it was only a month ago that I had my last period. Is this even possible?

I tried to get in touch with Jeff. After calling our friends and then his cell phone, he finally answered on the 2nd call. He was a bit irritated because I was interrupting a poker game but I couldn't wait to tell him. I thought he would be upset if he knew I took the test without him. It wasn't one of our most stellar "on the same page" moments. We often joke about how he wished I'd waited until he got home. I still think he'd been mad if he’d known that I’d tested without him. I often wonder if we'll still be having this argument when we're 80 but whatever we thought about it at the time didn't matter. I was pregnant and we were going to have a baby.

I'd like to say my pregnancy was uneventful but it wasn't. Just like with Kyle the hormones raged, I was always exhausted, the morning sickness was more like "all day sickness". I woke Jeff every morning at 5am throwing up nothing but stomach bile. I was miserable. Miserable but thrilled. Jeff and Kyle both got used to my moodiness and learned to navigate AROUND me very well.

At night when things were quiet and Kyle was in bed, I would often lie in bed and rub my belly. Sometimes I would play the baby music. Usually at some point Jeff would sit by me and we'd talk. We agreed not to find out the gender of the baby. Actually I agreed to Jeff's pleading. I was dying to know but Jeff was adamant about getting his way with this "one" thing; so I agreed. Men really get the short end of a pregnancy; they get many of the problematic things without any of the honor of carrying the baby. We talked about names, things we couldn't wait for, wondering what our baby might look like. Fun things. However, pregnancy hormones are funny things. I was always paranoid. Would things be ok? What if something went wrong?

Many times my thoughts went to Kyle. Would we be good parents to both of them? Would he feel lost in the shuffle? How in the world could I possibly love THIS child as much I loved Kyle? What if this child sees some favoritism towards Kyle? Somehow deep in my mind I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that I could love them both equally.

Before I had time to torture myself for a full 40-week pregnancy, I failed my glucose test for gestational diabetes so I had to take the three-hour test to be sure. It was at an appointment a week later with my sisters and husband that I was told I had passed that test but that my blood pressure was elevated. Elevated enough to be put on modified bed rest and do a urine collection. What should have been a pleasant doctor visit having my sisters hear the heartbeat for the first time turned out to be a scary day.

The next 2 weeks went by very slow but are a blur to me as well. I spent week 29 and 30 in bed. I returned to the doctor to find that modified bed rest wasn’t helping and as of May 21, 2005 I could not return to work until after the baby. I was ordered to have steroid injections to try and speed up lung development should I deliver early. I was still months from my due date in August and all I could think was “What am I going to do until then? Can I make it all the way through? What if something bad happens to the baby?”

I had pre-eclampsia, which is a hypertensive disorder that causes high blood pressure, headaches, vision problems and severe swelling. The only cure for pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. It is the cause of around 15% of premature births.

We fell into that 15%. On June 3, 2005 at 11:49 p.m. Casey June was born; 2 lbs 11 ounces and 16 inches long. She was immediately handed to a neonatologist and they were trying to determine if they should move her to another hospital for her care. The only reason I can’t go into greater detail about that day is because it’s too painful for me; even now.

My pre-eclampsia kept me in bed for another 2 days being treated with Magnesium Sulfate in order to prevent me from having a seizure. I didn’t get to see my daughter until she was almost two days old. Not that I could actually “see” her because the fluid retention had caused my vision to blur to the point where I had to be 6 inches from her in order to see anything.

You can never know what it’s like as a parent to watch your tiny child be so sick and be so helpless. As parents it’s our job to protect them but what if you can’t? What if you have to depend on the medical field and all the doctors? My daughter lie in that warming unit hooked up to more tubes and machines than a dying man. She looked so frail, so sick and so small. She was fighting for her every breath.

38 days in the NICU. She spent 38 days there. For the first three weeks I couldn’t drive. My poor husband was pulling 18 hour days; sometimes not arriving home to eat until 10:30 or 11pm. How he managed to get through it is beyond me. One of the hardest parts of feeling helpless; is wanting to be in the hospital around the clock but physically not being capable. First, my health wouldn’t allow it. I was on blood pressure medication for weeks to help regulate. It took me three full weeks to get my full vision back and everything we tried to do help wasn’t allowed because I was pumping breast milk for Casey. The other part of not being able to be there around the clock was Kyle. I remembered wondering if he would feel lost in the shuffle months ago…How did my little boy feel now? I think for him it would have been easier if he’d been able to get in to see Casey. Hospital rules were PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS ONLY. No siblings, no aunts or uncles, it was terrible. I’m sure he felt very helpless. He could come up the window but not inside. There was no seating in the hall so even the times he did go he wouldn’t make it more than 20 minutes before getting upset. Eventually with a lot of prayer, medical help and love she got stronger. She got strong enough that she came home; 38 days after she was born at 4 pounds 11 ounces.

Have I said 38 days already? Some people think 5 weeks, that’s not so bad. 5 weeks of being separated from your child that doesn’t even weigh as much as a bag of chicken from the wholesale warehouse; smaller than a loaf of bread. 38 days of going to bed every night staring at an empty crib or bassinet and getting up at night to pump for a baby that is not feeding from you. It felt as though I’d dropped my child off with total strangers and told them to watch her.

To this day, Jeff and I don’t know how we made it through that time. Sometimes I wondered if Jeff and I would still be married when it was all over. I wondered if I’d screwed up Kyle psychologically beyond all recognition. There were times I wanted the boat to sink and just be done because bailing water out to simply stay afloat was beyond exhausting.

But she’d made it, and fairly healthy. She did have horrible reflux and she took medication for 3 times a day. She did initially come home on caffeine; a $250 co-pay. Talk about sticker shock! Plus there was an apnea monitor.

In time she weaned herself off everything and by her 6 month check-up in December she was drug and wire free. By her year exam the doctors marveled at her progress. She’d completely caught up developmentally and on the growth charts. She was a living miracle.

As time went on at home I began to come to grips with the fact that I did love my kids, equally; equally but different. Wondering if I’d love them the same shouldn’t have been my concern. The fact was I loved them differently for many reasons. Sure there are the obvious ones, he’s a boy; she’s a girl. He’s my first born and she’s the baby but there was so much more to it.

The periods in my life with each of my pregnancies were as different as night and day. I was young and single then older and married. I have no experience with Kyle and nearly 13 years experience by the time Casey came. Alone and afraid; then married and excited. Not that I didn't enjoy my pregnancy with Kyle; I did. I just didn't have anyone to share it with. I didn't have anyone to get excited about the kicks against my belly. I just remember feeling very alone. With Casey it was different. Jeff rubbed my tummy; he made up these ridiculous songs and sang to my belly. He got excited about all the little details and the name game was fun.

When I look at Casey I smile and I think about all the things I went through during her first few weeks. I think about nearing losing her, nearly dying myself. I know that experience created a different type of bond between us. A level Kyle will never understand. Then I look at my Kyle; growing up right before my eyes. This handsome, strong, confident, athletic, FUNNY and compassionate kid is MINE. I did this. I helped make him the person that he is as much as he made me the person I am. Back when it was just the two of us and he was my Saturday night movie and popcorn date for months on end, I never dreamed about being married and having another child. It was just me and Kyle. We were a team. That bond, Casey will never understand.
How I ever doubted how well my kids would "grow up" together, I don't know. Nearly 2 years later they are the biggest factors in each other's lives. He reads to her, teaches her things, plays with her, feeds her and snuggles her every chance she gives him. When he walks in the room she lights up, when she wakes up from a nap he's the first to want to greet her. They are brother and sister, their age difference is not important. What is important is their bond and their love for each other. Choosing to bring them both into the world, albeit on much different circumstances are some of the best things I've done. I've raised a great kid to be a great teenager and I'm about to enter the terrible twos and do it all over again.

Crazy? Maybe.

Insane? Possibly.

Brave? Not really. I'm a Mother of two kids. Their ages don't make me or them extraordinary. What's special about them is who they are individually and the bond between them I’ve helped nurture. The journey hasn't always been easy. One day it will come full circle. I'm sure there are plenty more bumps on our road. However, when I return from a quick trip to the grocery store and see my kids sleeping together in my bed ("Cuz Mom that was LIKE the only way she would lay down for a nap.") I know I've found my way home.


Blogger Julie said...

What a beautiful post and story. Your children have an amazing bond - it shows the age gap means nothing. And the picture of them asleep - PRECIOUS. My only sibling and I are 8 years apart and we are closer than many siblings we know who are closer in age.

March 7, 2007 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger CPA Mom said...

What an amazing story. I just read part 1 and 2 together. I am in awe of you, Jeff and your two children. Thank you SO much for sharing.

I ADORE the pictures of the two of them together!

March 7, 2007 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger That Chick Over There said...

I think we should just cry all week long! Crying week!

March 7, 2007 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

Thanks for the smiles and the tears...that was lovely. I really needed some sort of outlet this week so I can have a good cry, and that did it. I nearly lost my youngest when she was born, and it sure brought that all back. But in a good way.

You write beautifully, and it's a beautiful story. There are so many women who could benefit from hearing it.

March 7, 2007 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I am crying AGAIN!

March 7, 2007 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Emma in Canada said...

That was so touching. I too worried about the age difference in my kids, but it was all for nowt. Liam, especially, is fantastic with Saoirse. She is so happy when he comes home from school. It makes my day.

March 7, 2007 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger M said...

I never tire of reading the story though it exhausts my heart going back there with you.

I love you and your little family too. I cannot wait for those kid folks to be old enough to wed. ;)


March 7, 2007 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger SJ said...

Crying AGAIN! What's up with you and Chick posting all these 'tug at your heart strings' posts!

Okay, being a bit more serious...what a beautiful story and what beautiful childern. You have done a great job at raising them both. Thank you for sharing.

Oh, and the pictuers? Precious. I loved them all....

March 7, 2007 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

Great story.

Thanks for sharing. Yeah...more people need to see this.

March 7, 2007 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Gerbil said...

Yep, pass the kleenex this way, too. I cannot picture all that you went through without totally losing it. And then you look ather pictures.... and need MORE kleenex. She truly is a miracle.

March 7, 2007 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Catwoman said...

I just discovered your blog through others that I read. And as a mom of an 18-month old who was miraculously born full-term despite my developing HELLP syndrome (extremely rare version of preeclempsia), I can relate just a little bit to your story and can fathom what it would have been like if my baby had been born early.

You write absolutely beautifully. Thank you for sharing your story. I know you are afraid of rejection, but I think you should at least send query letters to a couple of parenting magazines.

If it's ok with you, I will be adding you to my blog roll.

March 8, 2007 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger velocibadgergirl said...

You know I'm not much for crying, but I'm about to lose my shit, right here at work. God, pluck the heartstrings, why don't you?

I still get shook up remembering those weeks of her so tiny, and then the thrill and relief of watching her thrive through pictures on the internet, and then meeting her twice in person, first as a still-little but feisty baby and then as a too-grown toddler last fall.

That picture of Kyle sitting in the grass and holding Casey is a treasure. A pure treasure. I said it above, but I meant it so I'm saying it again. Thank you for letting me be a part of your crazy life. I feel very honored to know you.

March 8, 2007 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Dawn~a~Bon said...


March 9, 2007 at 4:36 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

That is a beautiful story! Every time I read about Kyle, I think more and more, he is suck an amazing kid! Just amazing! Thank you for sharing that with all of us. I hope that bond they share continues to grow as they do.

It's funny how you love you kids equally but differently. Like you, both my girls have different fathers and the pregnancies were both very different. There is not quite a large age difference, only 5 years, but it's enough. Kaylie loves her baby sister differently then she would if they were only 2 years apart. She wants to mother her and I love to watch them interact!

March 9, 2007 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Brandie said...

Hello. What a great story you have there.
I have sisters who are 12 nad 14 years younger than me ... it's an interesting thing to go through as the older child I think, but it was interesting to read your story to give me more perspective.
And that last picture. Oh my gosh. I could cry it's so beautiful!

March 11, 2007 at 9:28 PM  

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