Today Luke is 8. His story has been a journey for all of us. So much of the journey has been unexpected. We didn't plan for a pregnancy of extreme morning sickness, induced birth, or Asperger's diagnosis. But, that is life and life is full of unexpected. You either choose to sink or swim and we are swimming like there's no tomorrow.
I've battled for a long time with sharing Luke's birth story. It was complicated. It was bittersweet and I have always chosen to dwell on the sweet and not the bitter.
However, life is about the bitter too. Without the bitter, we cannot not fully experience the sweet.
So here it is. The bitter. The sweet. The story of my Luke's birth...
When you are pregnant, you are told to expect the unexpected. Doctors and childbirth educators encourage a "flexible" birth plan.
I had no idea what I was in for.
Despite the lupus and 6 months of horrible 24 hour sickness, my pregnancy was rather typical. I had more doctor visits and ultrasounds than most mamas to be, but really it was uneventful.
In fact, I taught softball to 20 first graders the afternoon my labor was induced.
After work on January 17, 2003, I stopped by the hospital for my fetal monitoring, which was a precautionary step due to my lupus.
I had been doing it for weeks so it was routine at this point. Really, it was just one more thing to check off my To-Do list for the day.
Except this time was different. My blood pressure was alarmingly high. The nurses calmly informed me that I would not be leaving the hospital until I had a baby in my arms.
I was a bit surprised by the level of concern and politely asked, "Can I please go home and quickly take a shower?"
Obviously, I didn't realize what was a stake with preeclampsia.
Kevin was at a conference 90 minutes away and I was not allowed to have any visitors in fear that it would raise my blood pressure. No lights, no TV. It was just a scared first time mama to be in a dark hospital room freaking out.
Eventually Kevin arrived and they started the meds to bring down my blood pressure. They also started the induction.
This was not on my birth plan.
I had a severe reaction to the meds and ended up excessively throwing up throughout the night.
This was not on my birth plan either.
By the morning, I had stopped dialating and there was concern that I was too exhausted from the night before to labor. The conversation of C-section was brought up. My doctor gave me one hour to progress or she was making the call.
This was not part of my birth plan.
Fortunately my body kicked into gear and all went well. Luke was born just before midnight on January 18th, 2003.
And as any 1st time mother knows, the instant the doctor puts your precious new little one in your arms, you know this was all you ever wanted.
Luke and I spent our time in the hospital bonding, struggling with nursing, and sleeping. I just remember staring at him all the time. I could not believe he was actually ours.
I was delighted and frightened at the same time.
The day that we brought Luke home was calm...at first. Shortly after arriving home, Kevin went to his parents for a quick stop. I was a bit afraid to be left alone with Luke so soon, but I figured it would be fast.
Suddenly, as I was nursing Luke, I felt this intense wave of sickness come over me. I rushed to the bathroom where I began to violently throw up. I knew this was beyond anything typical. I called Kevin and laid down with Luke swaddled next to me on the carpet right outside the bathroom door. I just prayed that he would not start crying because I didn't know how I would get up to hold or feed him before Kevin got home.
After calling the doctor, we headed to the ER. There was discussion of many possibilities...infection, flu, etc. However, it was my rhumatolgist who quickly solved the mystery. I was having a severe lupus flare up which is common after delivery.
I was admitted to the hospital and instantly started on IV steriods. For the next several days I drifted in and out of sleep in the hospital bed. I knew where I was and that I had a baby, but I was too sick to even give it too much thought.
Once I was out of the fog, Kevin brought Luke in to see me. It was such an odd feeling and I was devastated that I was not the one providing Luke's care. Even more painful, I was no longer allowed to breastfeed given the toxicity of the meds.
That was not part of my birth plan.
And when I was finally released from the hospital, Kevin and I quietly drove home. I didn't know what to expect.
As I weakly opened the front door, I found my gracious mother-in-law who was taking shifts with my mom and sister, washing dishes in the kitchen. Luke was swaddled peacefully in his bassinet. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I quickly rushed to the bathroom, locked the door, and wept. I didn't want anyone to know that I was crying in fear of seeming unappreciative.
I felt foreign in my own home. In only a few days so much had changed and I was absent for all of it. There was such a strong level of disconnect. Although I was truly grateful for the wonderful women in my life who stepped up to provide care for Luke and Kevin, I was devastated that it wasn't me.
That was not part of my birth plan.
However, over the next few weeks, I got stronger and began to heal. It was not an easy journey, nor is it still. Luke's birth rocked my lupus to a whole new level. 8 years later I am still trying to decrease the prednisone. I take more than 21 pills a day and have a bald spot and weight gain which I have to combat from the meds. Neither of which are good for this girl's self esteem.
But I get over it because I have Luke and his brothers. And I never want the shadow of lupus to cloud over the brightness of Luke's birth.
Those are small things when I look at my Luke. He was perfectly made and perfectly matched for me to be his mom. And I know he is from a God that is good despite circumstances that are not always good. And to be perfectly honest, this is coming from a girl who constantly struggles with faith and does not find it an easy path to follow.
So today, I give thanks for my Luke. My heart is filled with gratitude for the person he is shaping me to be, for the sweet he brings to my life, and for the gift it is to hear him call me Mom.
Happy 8th birthday, Luke. May each birthday remind of you of how much you are loved and treasured.
(coming home from the hospital)