Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Birthdays

Danielle's birthday and Maura's birthday. Back to back. They would have had the same birthday had I gone with my gut feeling way back when.
Twenty-three years ago, on Danielle's birthday, I woke up with a jolt at 3 a.m. and thought, "Something is wrong." My ninth month of pregnancy with my third child, and this premonition was the first and only one of its kind for me. I had never had any of those airy-fairy feelings or sense of communication with my unborn children that you hear about in baby magazines. I talked to my babies, but they never talked back. So, I disregarded the jolt and went back to sleep.
Later that morning, I couldn't shake the feeling of wrongness, but we were celebrating Danielle's birthday, and it was Sunday, and I wasn't experiencing any weird symptoms, and I had an appointment with the doctor the next morning anyway.
Fast forward twenty-four hours. Dr. Leff said everything looked, felt, and sounded great...but since I had this feeeeeling, she would send me over to the hospital for a fetal monitor test.
Guess who failed the test. Big time. Her heart rate looked more like a sonar map of ocean valleys instead of an ekg strip. My body was no longer a safe place for her, so Maura was born. Turned out she had the cord wrapped around her neck three times. Mother Nature would push her head down, choking off the blood supply, and she would bounce back up. Maura had a strong will to live from the very beginning.

This year, Danielle's birthday celebration was muted, but went off without a hitch. Family, friends, a funny movie, and dinner out. It was a good day. She is a sweet, beautiful, talented daughter, and she deserves happiness. Next year, her birthday will be easier.
Maura's birthday. Rocky.
It wasn't a wallowing day. It was a furious day. Fury and tears. I cleaned like a madwoman, attacking the floor with my broom and mop, scrubbing the sink as if it were stained with blood. Joel spoke. I lashed out. He retreated. Smart man.
I finally, finally, sorted through some miscellaneous bags that we brought home from the hospital. Some clothes, some toiletries, an unread book, deck of cards, Maura's Dynamo shirt, hand-signed by six players who visited her a couple days before she came home to hospice care (eat your heart out, Jerusha). I wonder if they know that she has died.
In the evening, I managed to pull it together for company. Friends came over for game night to celebrate Maura's birthday. Food and fun and friends and a little competition. All good. I like how every game night we bring out ten games and always end up playing Catch Phrase.
And the day ended with conversation and the four of us together, not quite willing to go to bed, even though we were falling asleep on the couch. All good.

4 comments:

SLY said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Kathy said...

I'm glad you were able to celebrate :)
My youngest, Emily, had the cord wrapped around her neck as well. I never had a sense there was something wrong ...until my now, loudest child, was born quiet. That only lasted a minute or two. Emily's lungs quickly recovered and though she was taken from me initially for monitoring, the nurse brought Em to me often because she cried so loud, she was waking up the other babies. I don't think I've slept much since her birth

((HuGS)) and happy birthday Danielle and Maura.

Kathy

Laurie B. said...

Dear Erin,
Thank you for continuing your blog. It's incredibly touching and I like knowing what's going on with your family while you continue to deal with daily life! I miss you!

Michelle said...

I sometimes forget how hard my illness has been on my parents. This story you shared made me realize a few things I forget. I am not fighting this alone.
Thank you for sharing and for your strength.
Lots of love, Michelle