I’d just learned that my unborn daughter had both Down syndrome and a serious heart defect, but I refused to live with fear and worry. Instead, I channeled my emotions into action. I’m a planner by nature and I needed to make sure that my house was in order, that I knew everything that would happen in the next three months, with the exception of what would happen with my baby.
My husband, Merle and daughter, Christina were always foremost in my mind. I planned the family schedule ninety days out, I wrote my daily love notes to Christina for the rest of the year, so she wouldn’t feel neglected and I put up Christmas decorations early to keep the feeling of normalcy inside our home. Whatever I could control, whatever I could manage, I controlled. And what I couldn’t, I gave it over to God to manage for me. My mother’s stern words stuck with me and I refused to feel sorry for myself.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had three doctor’s visits every week. My regular OB/GYN to manage my care, along with the baby’s; my high-risk OB/GYN, who focused on the high-risk factors of my pregnancy; and the pediatric cardiologist who monitored her heart to make sure there were no major changes.
Thirty-seven weeks in, the high risk OB/GYN confirmed my baby’s lungs were developed and said it was time to move forward with the induction. I’d been pretty cavalier about the possibility of her being stillborn but at that moment, I finally realized how nervous my doctor had been that she might not survive. He pounded on the desk chanting, “We made it, we made it, we made it.”
Merle and I walked into the hospital a week later, eager to meet our daughter. It comforted Merle to keep busy so he worked in the room with me while we waited for the epidural and Pitocin to kick in. The Pitocin started to work but the epidural was missing in action. My anesthesiologist had to administer a second epidural and for the next several hours things progressed normally. But normal came to a screeching halt when the nurse discovered the baby’s heart rate had dropped.I was immediately rushed to the operating room and sedated for an emergency C-section.
When I woke up, the first thing I saw was the joyous expression on Merle’s face as he jumped up and down and said, “Oh my God, she’s so cute! She’s so cute!” Then the nurse placed this tiny bundle next to my face and I finally laid eyes on my daughter. Catherine Elizabeth was just as beautiful as I imagined.
Come back next week for “Catherine’s Surgeries.”