20 years ago

When Jake was born 20 years ago on a beautiful October 1st, we were blessed with  a seemingly perfect, healthy, beautiful boy. Having him wasn’t easy, so we were especially thankful for our miracle. We had been married for 6 years. We started trying to have kids 4 years before. In 1994, I had a miscarriage. A year later I asked my primary care physician, Do you think I need to see a fertility specialist?  “Kiddo, I think you need to relax- you’re fine…”  He ultimately agreed and made a referral to a doctor an hour away. On a cold MLK’s birthday, we traveled to have our first consult. Everything appeared normal and healthy. The lab results would take a few days. We discussed the first steps that might be taken- of course these were not covered by insurance. That got my attention. When we got to the car, I turned to Dave, If you were ever going to get me pregnant, now would be a good time!  Ironically I was already pregnant. I took a home pregnancy test before I talked to the nurse. I told her the news. “Honey, there is no way you are pregnant. There has to be something wrong. You’re likely to have a miscarriage. I’m going to order some labs. You probably have gonorrhea.” WHAT?  I immediately called my PCP. “Kiddo, relax! First of all, you don’t have gonorrhea or anything else wrong. Let’s get our lab to run a pregnancy test.”  I know the lab technicians personally, so I told them what I had been told. They screwed their faces up in disbelief. They delivered happy news. They also sent the results to the specialist. I decided to stick with him because I received VIP care. Instead of waiting for 12 weeks for my first appointment, I’d had an ultrasound by then. We could see a little heartbeat before they could hear it. Implantation. Heartbeat. It was likely this was going to be ok. Things went normally. I had a few scares (with both kids) because while they were very active on the inside, I had trouble feeling them. We planned that I would take a whole year off with the new baby. It wasn’t until the 20 week sonogram that we knew the baby was a boy. He became Jake from then on. I went into preterm labor, but they were able to stop it. My mom retired from her job. We were ready. I finally went into labor at the appropriate time. For 48 hours I was in labor. They tried different things, but I wasn’t progressing. Lucille, my nurse, came in with an enema. For the first time, I got scared. It kicked in fast and with force. I was in the bathroom, embarrassed to death, but there was no holding back. I called out to the room, Can you guys hear me? My mom laughed out loud, and Dave comforted me, “Honey, the whole hospital can hear you.”  Finally an I.V. medicine was used, and I dilated to 10. It was literally Lucille’s last delivery on her last day before retirement. She was stoic. We didn’t joke around with Lucille. When I finally hit that magic number 10, Lucille decided it was time to push. It didn’t last long. She ordered the doctor STAT, and declared I’d be going to surgery NOW. Jake’s umbilical cord was caught between his head and my petite pelvis. Yes, I apparently have a petite pelvis. His oxygen was being cut off when I pushed. When they started to cut me, I could feel it. Dave was taken out, and I was put completely under. Hours later, I woke up. Dave and my mom had Jake. They placed him in my arms. I quietly looked at him. My mom finally broke the silence, “Don’t you like him?” I was still pretty loopy. Yes, he’s fine…I was expecting him to look like I had when I was 6 months old. Newborns aren’t particularly pretty. It didn’t take long for me to warm up to him, and my mothering instincts kicked in. He was so happy and such a good baby. I literally held him that whole first year. Had we known then what we know now, it would have been too stressful. I don’t think I could have handled it. I don’t know if we would have questioned having Molly. What if she wouldn’t have been born his perfect match? I’m glad we didn’t know. It amazes me that a gene mutation likely caused my two miscarriages. A gene mutation likely caused Jake’s natural killer cells to be present but not work. I wonder how many gene mutations are yet to be discovered? They guessed that it wasn’t genetic, but only because the rest of us appear to have normal immune systems. How many gene mutations may be cured or helped with stem cells in the future?  I’m hopeful now that Jake will be healthy. He was sick on his birthday with a cold. It was actually his first “normal” cold. He was able to recover like a normal person would recover. That in itself was a gift…

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