20
Nov
2017
Beautiful baby - photo by Carissa Byers Photography

GIVE THANKS FOR THE BIG & SMALL THINGS IN LIFE

Give thanks for all the small things in life - photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Give thanks for all the small things in life – photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

It’s the season to give thanks and this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share the birth story of our youngest son, Googie. Why him and not the older two? Googie was born in early November. It’s not a birth that most parents envisioned. It was so traumatic, I nearly died and he wasn’t alive when they took him out via emergency caesarian. One of the most haunting and distressing experiences for parents after a birth is going home without  a baby. We Ieft the hospital with hollow, empty arms. As I reflect on this journey, I realize that it’s not just the big things I give thanks for. We shouldn’t forget all the little steps, the ordinary strings that form the big picture in our tapestry of life. But as you know, ours had a happy ending and Googie did eventually come home. And for that, we give thanks.

 

THE NIGHT OF HIS BIRTH

I remember the day of his birth vividly. It was election day and I was 35 weeks pregnant. I had meant to go to Ikea that day to pick up some new towels when I got a call from my contractor saying he was coming over just as I was pulling out of the driveway. I was a little irritated by the contractor as he didn’t give me any notice but I turned the car back in.  For this small  unremarkable interruption, I give thanks. Staying home ended up saving both our lives.

Staying home ended up saving both our lives.

I spent my day instead on the couch waiting for the contractor to finish the last few touches on our kids’ bathroom. Later, my husband and the two older boys went to watch Wreck It Ralph at Studio Movie & Grill. I was feeling too sluggish to move so I watched the election numbers for Obama versus Romney instead at home. I remembered playing with my bump who was moving about vigorously while I lay on the couch. For those sweet of hours of quiet together, I give thanks.

I got up to go to the bathroom when I heard a ‘SNAP’ like a rubber band.

The boys came home around 9;30pm and my husband put them to bed.  I got up to go to the bathroom when I heard a ‘SNAP’ like a rubber band in my stomach. Then the blood began to drain from my face and I began to feel pain in my stomach. Unbeknownst to all of us at the time, Googie had ruptured my uterus and I had begun to hemorrhage. We called 911 and they arrived a few minutes later and for that, I give thanks.

Just a few days before the early birth of Googie - 35 weeks pregnant - Photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Just a few days before the early birth of Googie – 35 weeks pregnant – Photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

I was floating in and out of consciousness but I steeled myself not to go unconscious until I saw the doctor. When we finally go to the Labor and Delivery Ward, the baby’s heart rate had dropped to 72 beats a minute, An average newborn heart rate is between 120-180 beats per minute. I was worried about the doctor on call as she was new to the practice and I remembered my last words before they put me under general anesthetic “Don’t worry about me. Save my baby”.

I had arrived at 10:45pm. Googie was out by 11pm. But by then, he wasn’t breathing. His heart wasn’t even beating. He was born with an APGAR score of 0 which meant that none of his vital signs were working. By the grace of God and nothing short of a miracle, he came back. For that we give thanks. If the words Give Thanks equaled to a drop of water, then we have oceans of thanks to give. There is no number large enough for us to describe how grateful we are.

My uterus had split right open and we were told that he may be severely brain damaged due to the lack of oxygen for the undetermined amount of time. For my quick thinking medical staff, we give thanks. You saved my life and his.

SMALL STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Googie in his incubator at the NICU- photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Googie in his incubator at the NICU- photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

The next few weeks, Googie lay in an incubator at the NICU. We weren’t able to hold him or feed him. I looked at the other babies in the NICU room he shared and realized that they were half his size. My baby at 35 weeks was 21 inches and was too huge for my body size. For the NICU nurses that cared for each and every one of those little babies round the clock, we give thanks.

This will be an emotional ride. It’s two steps back and one step forward just know  you are heading in the right direction

One of the doctors who had his own baby in NICU, said something I will never forget, “This will be an emotional ride. It’s two steps back and one step forward. Just know  you are heading in the right direction”. One day Googie was able to breathe without all the tubes and the next, his lung would collapse. The only thing we could hang on to was hope and faith. For this one statement of hope, we give thanks.
Another day, a doctors came in with test results, “The results are UNREMARKABLE. This is the one time you want to hear your child is unremarkable which means that there didn’t seem to be anything wrong,” he joked. And for that one word, we give thanks.

every night we stared at an empty bassinet

Slowly he healed, day by day. We watched friends go on with life, posting Thanksgiving photos and vacation plans on Facebook while every night we stared at an empty bassinet. We finally held our sweet baby for the first time when he was 8 days old. We were so heartsick, we hadn’t even named him at this stage. Finally, a day after Thanksgiving, he came home. What thanks we gave that day!

THE FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY

When Googie was about to turn 1, I started having anxiety attacks and nightmares. Instead of planning a birthday party, I was crying and reliving the night of his birth over and over. I had spent the last 12 months unable to speak about his birth. It may have been survivor’s guilt because I knew of others who weren’t so lucky. I couldn’t even lament about sleepless nights or constant feedings like all new mothers do. I didn’t feel that I had the the right to complain in light of the alternative.
Every day we wondered if he would be ok - photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Every day we wondered if he would be ok – photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Then I decided to call up the doctor who was on call that night. The one who gave me the emergency caesarian. Unfortunately she had left the practice. But by serendipity, I had gotten the doctor’s nurse who also happened to be her mother. She remembered my case as a uterine rupture is such a rare occurrence and also because her daughter was quite shaken by it.  I’m told by other medical professionals that uterine ruptures are mostly incidents that they read in text books and rarely experienced in real life. I bawled to my doctor’s mother. Fortunately the phone call was all I needed to get release from the anxiety and for that, I give thanks.

We had won. For that, we give thanks

I realized later that this must be what post-traumatic-syndrome patients experience when they come up to the first anniversary. My red caesarian scar looks thick and angry. It’s not straight or neat and when they sewed me back up, and there’s a little fold in my skin because of the way it healed. It’s ugly but I wear it like battle scar. We had won. For that, we give thanks.

FOR THE ORDINARY, THE SIMPLE, THE UNREMARKABLE

Every smile, every step we gave thanks for - Photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Every smile, every step we gave thanks for – Photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Over the next two years, we held our breath at every milestone. Would he smile at three months? Would he sit up? How about crawl or walk? Will he talk like other children? He didn’t always make his milestones on time and we celebrated each tiny victory. These were all the small, ordinary things we took for granted. Googie had a special pediatrician and a neurologist that we saw regularly as well as a physical therapist. We prayed that he would be average. We weren’t hoping for a genius, just a normal kid. And for all the unremarkable milestones, we give thanks.

FIVE YEARS ON

Simple pleasures in life. Feeding chickens at a farm in Oregon - Photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

Simple pleasures in life. Feeding chickens at a farm in Oregon – Photo by IttyBittyFoodies.com

This November, Googie turned 5 years old and he’s doing just great. He’s kind, loving, funny and joy to all. He never asks for anything and is content with just being alive. He loves his family and is constantly happy. He loves to read, skip and counts fish and cucumber as some of his favorite foods. We have learned so much from our Googie. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, every day is a day of wonder no matter how ordinary. You don’t need anything dramatic to happen in your life to practice these powerful words. And for that, we give thanks.
What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comment below. Thank you for reading this far… today’s blog was a long one. It’s taken me five years to put my feelings in words. If you know someone who may benefit from reading this, please share.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
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