We found out the gender today. If I didn’t know better, I’d say God was crazy. I can’t believe He thinks I can handle another boy! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I always joke that I thought I was a good mom, and then I had boys. Don’t get me wrong, I loooooove my sweet baby boys, but they have been a greater challenge in the toddler and preschool years, and they have WORN ME OUT! Then I realized after my initial thought that God just thinks I’m doing a good job (we can be so vain, can’t we?) that maybe He just thinks I need some more practice. It’s probably the latter, but whatever the reason, I’ll take him. I love him so much already, and knowing that it is a ‘him’, an Isaac, allows me to practice for the day I get to whisper that name to him for the first time (outside of my womb), accompanied by the words “I love you”. I stood over the bathtub full of little boys this evening thinking about how sweet it will be to add another one to the tub next year. Oh, how I love my boys.
Speaking of boys, I left you with the story of our miscarriage, which thankfully for me was followed by the precious gift of our first boy, Harold Coleman. I conceived him right away after the miscarriage. I wasn’t trying, but I wasn’t preventing, either, even though “they” say you should wait a few months after a miscarriage before getting pregnant. Again, I figured God knew better than me and “they”, so I’d let Him decide. The pregnancy went well. My sweet girlfriends at church, many of the ones that held my hand through my surprise pregnancy, threw me a blue shower, and I remember quite vividly having a hard time realizing that all the blue was for me! I was so excited to meet this little man, but I was nervous about raising him. I’m not a boy (if you hadn’t realized that yet), and I didn’t know anything about how to raise one. My mom did a good job with my brother, but it’s not like I paid very close attention to what she actually did with him. So I bought a few books (I think it was three). I read them, and read over them again, determined to get it right with him. And while I think those books have helped along the way, none of them prepared me for what was to happen just a week after he was born.
Again, I felt I had been blessed with an easy baby. He slept ALL the time. In fact, I had to wake him to nurse, and I couldn’t keep him awake to get a good feeding in. He was a little jaundiced, but we’d been through that before, so I didn’t worry. But he started to seem a little lethargic, and that had me concerned. I decided to watch him more carefully, instead of welcoming the long sleeping spells as a chance to catch up on my own rest. Remember, I had three little girls, one of whom was autistic and still making progress through therapy. I had decided to take him to the doctor the following morning. The day I made this decision, we had an evening appointment with a developmental pediatrician to review some testing done with Anna.
Let me back up a bit and say that I was a bad mom. Now, I don’t really carry this anymore and curse myself or blame myself. But I had been there, done that, worn the t-shirt three times before. I was ready to be back to normal with family life for the girls, so we were out and about mere days after bringing him home from the hospital. He also was born at 36 weeks and 1 day, which isn’t quite considered full term, but not quite premature, either. Depends on who you are talking to. Apparently, though, white boys have a harder time when they are born a little early, and they even have a name for it- “wimpy white boy syndrome.” So as I tell you the rest of this story, know that I initially blamed myself for what happened. I’m a mom. That’s what we do.
So, we show up to the meeting with Coleman in tow, and the second the doctor sees Coleman, she seems concerned. She asks if she can hold him, so I oblige (I’m not stingy with my babies, and I certainly trusted a dev. pediatrician to know what she is doing). She looks at me and says, “I want to reschedule our meeting, and I want you to take him to the hospital. Now.” So we took him to Southern Regional, which was the closest hospital and the place I brought him home from just four days before (we stayed a little longer than usual because his circumcision resulted in excess bleeding that they wanted to watch before sending him home). He was eight days old and already making his first trip to the ER. I know boys are likely to wind up there much sooner in their lives than girls, but I was not counting on this.
They took us back immediately for vitals, and his oxygen level and heart rate were both terribly low. They admitted us right away. And let me just say, for all you Southern Regional haters/bashers, I’ve had all of my babies there and only had one cranky nurse I didn’t like. One bad nurse out of seven deliveries, each delivery and recovery stay having a team of nurses caring for me. Not bad at all. AND, while our recent ER visit this year with Adam was a little disappointing, the way the team there that evening responded when I brought in my brand new baby boy was outstanding. Two nurses in particular working with him after admittance would say over and over, “I know what the machines are saying, but he doesn’t look like what the machines are saying” and they gave him even more attention and care than the machines were saying he needed. The doctor decided he needed a spinal tap and called for a bus for us to take us to Children’s Healthcare. When I say bus, of course, I mean ambulance, and the one we got was state of the art!
Adam went home to get the kids straightened out in terms of someone taking care of them, and he packed a few things for us to have at the hospital. He was going to meet us there. As I walked out to the gigantic hospital on wheels, they stopped me and said, “We just want to warn you that we may have to intubate him on the way up. We don’t want you to be startled to see him like that.” And they loaded him in the back, in a little clear box that reminded me of the incubator that we watched eggs hatch in back in elementary school. His temp was still low, so he had to constantly be warmed up. And as the back doors closed and I climbed in the front of the hospital on wheels, it hit me. I could lose my baby, my son. I had experienced miscarriage, and that was hard enough, but this, oh no, I wasn’t prepared for this. I just prayed to God to please not do this to me (selfish, I know). I told Him that I knew Coleman was His anyway, but I wasn’t ready to give Him back after so short a glimpse of loving him. And I cried, hard. This felt like an eternity, but it was just long enough for the driver to walk around the bus and hop in the driver’s seat. Once he did, he began talking to me about things that were random, very little of which I now remember, besides him talking about his wife and some friends and gathering that they didn’t yet have kids. But I didn’t worry, and I didn’t cry, and for a minute, I didn’t think about letting go of my baby boy. I think God gave me that man and his chatter to ease my mind. I don’t know why it worked, but I’m glad it did. That’s an awful feeling to have.
We were greeted at the ER doors of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite by an army of doctors and nurses. For real. An ARMY. They rolled him in the exam room and got busy right away. They talked me through every action they took, asked me questions, and kept a calm, focused concentration the whole time. Adam still was not there yet, and I was there alone, taking it all in. I can’t remember who was taking care of the girls at this time, but over the course of the eight days we would be in the hospital, my parents, Adam’s parents, and my sister-in-law took turns taking care of the kids. They did a spinal tap and discovered that Coleman had meningitis. The thing about meningitis is that it take a couple of days for cultures to come back showing it to be bacterial or viral. So, they treat it as if it is bacterial, which is the truly deadly form, instead of viral, which can be deadly for a baby so young if it is not treated aggressively. Basically, I had to wait and see. Now, you know the end of the story, but the lessons learned for me over the course of the eight days were life changing. I took them as God showing me that He had it. He was there for me. I could survive if I leaned on Him and those He provided along the way to get me through.
Now some of you may be thinking, “Would you be saying that if you had lost him?” I hope so. It might have been harder to get to that place of healing because as much as I already loved that little baby growing inside me only seven weeks, I can’t explain the way that love changes as you carry that child, deliver him, and hold him. I had learned too recently, though, that even though God may allow my desires to be taken away from me, He still loves me. He is still there for me. And even in this process, there was a lot of letting go, which I will share more of in my next post. I can’t say for sure what my post would be like today without him in my life, though, because he did live, and I survived, as well. I’m just grateful that God wants me to learn from what does happen and doesn’t care so much if I know what I would have done had it gone another way.
*originally posted last night, January 24th