When Carter was born, my Mom gave me a calendar, that was blank, to fill in all of Carter's milestones throughout his first year. While Carter was in the NICU, I filled in each day with his weight, praying that one day he's break the 4 pound mark. I also would write down all of Carter's triumphs, no more oxygen, first bottle...etc. The calendar is hanging right by the door in his room, and everyday we pass it and talk about what day and month it is. When the calendar got to June, it ended, so I decided to flip back to the previous June, the June my sweet baby made his way into the world. Now, everytime we walk past that calendar, I talk to Carter about what we were doing a year ago "today"...and a year ago today, June 18, Carter was born, 11 weeks too soon.
As I drifted off to sleep last night, my mind was heavy with thoughts of the past. A year ago yesterday, I fell asleep angry at Joe. We had scheduled a 3-D ultrasound for June 18th, right after my check-up at the doctor. Joe had forgotten to put money aside and we found ourselves scrounging around for extra cash to pay for it. I was so excited to be able to see who had been kicking around in there, in 3-D this time! I dreamt of it for weeks, I wanted to be able to tell who's nose he had, who's eyes...even before he was born. When he told me we didn't have the cash, I broke down, I was so upset. I probably overreacted a bit...not like me at all right?! ;) But I stomped up the stairs and into bed, determined to get my ultrasound! I was 29 weeks pregnant.
The next morning was the usual "pre-doctor's appointment" routine, I woke up early, peed in a cup, which was to be stored in a fridge until my appointment. I need to stop right there, how can anyone type that seriously?! How classy is that, "honey grab the orange juice...but watch out for my pee, I need to bring that to the doctor!". Anyway, woke up, peed in cup, loaded up on waffles with probably WAY too much syrup, and watched the news until it was time to go. This appointment was supposed to be a regular appointment, so I had no reason to be concerned. My biggest worry was getting my ultrasound!
As I woke up this morning, I found myself reliving all of those moments. Everytime I looked at the clock, my mind would immediately flash back to that day, to that time. I found myself repeating "this time last year...", throughout the day. I had a tightness in my chest as 10 o'clock rolled around, the time of my appointment. All of my feelings from that day rushed back to me, the fear, the confusion...the fact that I still wanted my ultrasound. I remember the Doctor coming in and informing me that because my blood pressure was so elevated and I had all the obvious signs of pre-eclampsia, he had called the hospital to inform them that we'll be on our way. I just looked at him and said, "Do we have to go now? I kind of have this ultrasound at noon..." He must have thought I was crazy.
A year ago today, I was told my son might not live. I remember, so clearly, running out of the doctor's office, crying all the way to my car. I remember all the faces in the waiting room, the doctors rushing around, I remember the feeling of the door handle as I pushed out of the waiting room and ran down the stairs...the same stairs that I could never walk up as my pregnancy progressed...the same stairs that I looked forward to avoiding as my belly grew bigger. I remember Joe grabbing me and trying to hug me, I can still hear the pain in his voice, his tears streaming down his face. I remember apologizing to my sister for not be able to come visit her, I remember Carter kicking happily the whole way to the hospital...I remember asking God to save my baby, not asking, begging.
12 pm: My mom and I arrived at the hospital, I joked with the staff about needing a wheelchair, I laughed with my mom about getting lost in the hospital, I made jokes with the Nurse as I threw up repeatedly, apologizing for being "gross"...I was in denial. My back pain came back with avengence, I yelled at the Nurse for not giving me pain meds, I asked when I could leave...my baby was kicking, his heart rate was fine...I wanted to go home.
3 pm: A whirlwind of things were happening around me, I heard bits and pieces of things
"the helicopter is on its way..."
And then I looked at my mom, who is one of the strongest women I know, and she had tears in her eyes. Up until then I hadn't been scared, I was told I was there for observation, I was told I would be able to deliver vaginally...I was told I'd be ok. Next thing I knew I was being wheeled back for an emergency c-section...I was 29 weeks pregnant, I was told my son might not make it....my family was told I might not make it.
4:22 pm: I heard the sweetest noise I will ever hear, my 29 weeker, crying. He had made his entrance into the world, kicking and screaming...my little warrior. He was whisked away to the NICU, I was taken to ICU, we were told my health status was "unclear", I was unstable, I was unaware.
4:22 today- I was at the Zoo, with Carter, holding him close as he dozed off on my shoulder. My mind flashed back, to a year ago today, and I took a moment to breathe, a moment to revel in the fact that I am here, Carter is here...and we're ok.
Today, I held him much tighter, took in each moment, and struggled to believe that a year ago today, if we had not been at the right place at the right time..........
Some days I can barely catch my breath, I feel guilty, I feel solely to blame for Carter's rocky start. Some days I just look at Carter and I can't hold back the tears, I tell him I'm sorry. But most days, I am overjoyed. Most days, I look at Carter and my heart feels like it could burst, I've never been more in love with anyone in my entire life. Carter is my world, my inspiration, my partner in crime :) I don't know if I've been able to process everything, and I don't know if I ever will. I'm sure there will be days when it creeps up on me, days when I say "2 years ago today...3 years ago today". Days when I'm overwhelmed by emotions. But one thing I do know, I am lucky, I am blessed. And if I've learned anything through all this, I've learned to never take anything for granted, to enjoy each and every moment, to live with a full and open heart. I've learned to believe in miracles....