Three years ago today, it was Memorial Day 2007. I opted to stay inside and rest while my husband and my son went off to spend the day with Scott's family. I know they swam in the pool and had lots of fun. Around 11 am, I got an itch to organize everything. I cleaned out the cabinets under all the sinks. I emptied out the linen closet (something that hadn't been done in the three years we lived here); then organized the items back in. Around 2 pm I started feeling hungry and I was tired of cleaning so I went to my mother's house where she was also hosting a BBQ.
Ah, my last day of being a mother to 1 and I didn't even spend it with my son. After a few hours with my family I decided to clear out. I still had a couple of small items that I wanted to have ready in my bag in case the D-day came so I swung by Stop and Shop. Oh, how happy I was, strolling down the aisles thinking about how my new baby would be. I didn't even know if I was having a girl or a boy.
Once I was home, I relaxed, checked my bag again. Then, at about 9 pm, I started to feel what I thought were contractions. Don't ask me why, but I thought to myself, "oh boy I better eat before this gets serious because who knows when I will eat again, and anyway, this might not really be labor." So I reheated myself some turkey meatloaf and cauliflower. I tried to rest, but the contractions were nagging me and I couldn't get back to sleep. At midnight, I called my ob/gyn's office, I was asked to call back when the contractions were closer together. At 2 am, they were closer together, so I called again. I was instructed to go ahead and meet them at Manchester Hospital. Before Scott and I got our stuff and our son together, it was almost 3 am! We were almost to the hospital when we realized that we forgot the digital camera, so I made Scott turn around. I continued to moan and cry out, and my sweet 4 year old son asked me to "stop making so much noise." I love him!
We dropped Nathaniel off with my mother (2 blocks from the hospital literally, so it made more sense to bring him to her) and we went to meet our new child. During my entrance exam at 3:30 am, I was told I was 6 cm and I was quickly assigned a room. By 5 am I was ready to push!
Our child was not born until almost 7 am due to the fact that I think she was coming down face up instead of face down. The back pain was pretty much unbearable and I couldn't find a position that seemed helpful. You see, I opted against an epidural for both my children. But finally she came and a sweet child was put on my belly.
Those eyes and that small mouth instantly revealed her secrets. I didn't even know if I had a boy or girl and someone reminded me to check between her legs and announce the news. It felt like I was going through trained motions, but I knew there was some devastating news to share, and I just couldn't. I just couldn't bring Scott down. And what would he think of me if I had been wrong? So, I quietly said, "Look, she's a girl." There was no excitement in my voice, no overwhelming joy like I had for my first born. My first born. . . I thought back to when I had him and how the first thing I did was kiss some slimy stranger newborn all over his head and tell him how much I loved him. I tried to do the same thing for my daughter. I kissed her once, and I told her I loved her, but I know it didn't sound convincing.
Soon, before we had even named her, some nurse told us that it seems our daughter might have Down syndrome. No one would know for sure until the results of a blood test came back, but the nurse felt pretty confident of her diagnosis. Scott and I stared at each other. We asked to hold her some more. We were reminded that a name might be appropriate. Scott told the nurses the name that we had planned. It seemed wrong, we had planned that name for a different baby, but it was the only girl name we agreed on, so this new baby was then named Penelope Ringrose.
I focused on doing the motherly things I was supposed to, so the next thing to cross off my list was breastfeeding. Scott and I seem to remember that she latched on pretty well. I nursed on both sides and then cuddled with her until a nurse asked to take her back so they could look her over again.
A couple of hours later a neonatologist walked in and told us that our newborn had some serious cardiac problems because she was unable to sustain her blood oxygen levels. I truly thought that the next words out of his mouth was going to be "We did everything we could, but she is gone." I choked back tears waiting for bad news, but instead, I learned that she was being sustained and that she would need to be transferred to Hartford where she would get a better look and possibly a surgery very soon if needed.
At noon, when she was only five hours old, a team from UConn, took my daughter away to transport her to Hartford Hospital/CCMC's NICU. Scott followed them and I was left alone. I tried to sleep, and I may have for a little bit. It was hard and I was depressed. I could hear the other babies crying for their mothers through the hallway, but I didn't have my baby. I ended up getting discharged at 7 pm, after the nurses made me eat a filling dinner. It was so crazy to think that I was only twelve hours postpartum and I was going across two towns to see my new girl.
Scott picked me up and drove me to Hartford to check everything out. It was so surreal. I was tired, my eyes were puffy from all the crying I did, and I didn't have any clothes that fit me. I also didn't have my baby with me. I will never forget that first trip to the fifth floor, it was dark and quiet on the floor so that the babies could sleep. I scrubbed in and met some professionals. I finally saw my daughter on her warming tray. She was bright red and she looked so irritated. She kept squeezing her already puffy eyes shut and sometimes that made her eyelids flip inside out. Every few moments she would have a sad trembling lip and attempt to cry a little. She seemed like such a stranger, but my heart really did go out to her. What an awful way to start your birthday! I thought.
Well, it really didn't take long for me to fall in love with her. It especially helped when I was allowed to hold her again and also, try to nurse her again when she was ten days old. She ended up having surgery when she was 6 days old to correct a heart defect and she recovered so well. Instead of asking, why me? Why was a burdened with a disabled child? I wonder why I was blessed with such a perfect being. I truly feel so lucky to have been blessed with her.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LITTLE PRINCESS. I know that this year is going to be incredible for you. School will be a challenge, but you will overcome and exceed everyone's expectations!! I love you!