Monday, March 21, 2011

Maternal Instincts

I've never been one to doubt my instincts when it came to my children. When I found out I was pregnant with Riley I had a dream that was so vivid that to this day I can remember every tiny detail about it. A little girl standing next to the number 1 wearing pink overalls, a white shirt with piercing blue eyes, blonde hair and white leather shoes. I knew without a doubt that I was having a baby girl that would have blue eyes, and I did. When I found out I was pregnant with Maggie I didn't have that vivid dream, but I knew that this little girl would change the way I looked at everything and she did. When I found out I was pregnant with our third child - I knew that I had no clue what in the hell I was in for and boy was I right. From the day I found out I was pregnant with our third surprise I was in a tailspin of complete and utter uncertainty.

Not only was I still learning how to be a mother and wife, I was learning how to be a grown up. I mean seriously - how many 22 - 23 year old women know how to raise 2 kids, be a military wife and live 3000 miles away from home? (it didn't help that I was the only child of a divorced irish catholic and that I had only been responsible for myself up until the day I married my husband, so yeah, i was kind of unprepared for this whole motherhood gig) I mean sure, i wanted to be a mother and I wanted to be a wife. I wanted to play house and live that whole little happy white picket fence life that most girls want to have growing up. Yeah - I so didn't get the white picket fence.

My hubby left for Iraq in September 2005, scheduled to be gone for 4 months (but of course the military always said - don't hold your breath, could be longer, evil puppet master bastards!) which of course meant that he would miss the holidays (pregnancy hormones made that WAY worse!). I can't remember what it was like when he left or the majority of that whole wonderful experience, up until the day I went in for my 20week ultrasound. I have no clue how things got scheduled the way they did or even what led up to it, but I won't forget that day.  I remember laying on those uncomfortable plastic tables as the ultrasound tech squirted that horrible blue gel onto my stretchmark covered stomach. (of course it was friggin COLD!) She didn't say much, not even the usual pleasentries asking me if I wanted to know the sex or if this was my first, second, 15th pregnancy. I tried to make pleasent conversation and she actually told me to stop talking. (evil bitch!) Most that know me know that I'm not exactly a "think before I speak" type of girl - so I told her what I thought of her comment in a not so polite manner.

She then said "Mrs. Burton, I really need you to stop talking because I cannot get an accurate view of the malformation." (insert my heart hitting the floor and instant panic) Needless to say - I shut up really quick. She asked one of the other lemmings that was in the room to please go get another physician to come in and look at the "image".  I don't remember alot of the next few minutes (what felt like hours) since I stopped listening at "malformation".  I don't remember them wiping the goo off of my stomach or asking me to go wait in another room to speak with the "specialists". (One of the few perks of military healthcare - they have specialists for everything)

A doctor from Maternal Fetal Medicine came in with a geneticist and neonatalogist and they introduced themselves. (Can't tell you their names now, but they looked like pallbearers in my opinion) One started talking about "malformed cardiac valves and misshapen chambers". Another started talking about "vital vessels in the brain not being present" and the other started in discussing (amongst themselves mind you, not with me) all of the "viable, but time sensitive options". I can remember sitting their with this overwhelming sense of absolute abandonment. It wasn't my husbands choice to be in Iraq. It wasn't my choice to be sitting at that army hospital by myself with 2 small children. It wasn't my intention to be sitting in that room listening to the 3 stooges talk about my unborn child as if it was some form of a science experiement that they couldn't wait to diagnose. Suddenly this wave of absolute RAGE came over me and I remember sitting there and screaming at them to shut the hell up.

I don't think I can ever recall 3 doctors turning into deer in a headlight as fast as those 3 doctors did. I don't remember my exact words at the moment but it was something to the effect of "how dare you presume to think that my unborn child is a mistake?"  I remember telling them that they had nothing definite to tell me other than I was having a baby girl. They couldn't tell me anything other than what they THOUGHT they saw. They sat there looking at blurry images on ultrasound pictures - not my child. I vividly remember telling them that no matter what they did or didn't find - there was no way in HELL that i would terminate my pregnancy despite their "strong recommendations" because GOD does NOT make mistakes. And that no matter what, my daughter deserved a chance at LIFE. I remember hearing one of the idiot stooges suggest that they called down a psychiatrist to come see me and I said feel free - but nothing anyone was going to say to me was going to change my mind about my daughter. At that point, I think I got up and left.

When I got back to my house, I had a voicemail from the doctors saying that they were going to call my husbands commander to suggest that they brought my husband home from Iraq to "talk some sense into me". Which they did. Not as quickly as I would have liked since I spent the next 2 days crying into my wonderful friends shoulders and spending hours upon hours researching all the horrible "malformations" that the idiots said they saw on my daughters ultrasounds. It took almost 2 weeks for my husband to come back from Iraq. During those 2 weeks Riley was admitted to the hospital for another kidney infection that developed into pneumonia. She spent 3 days in the hospital on antibiotics but thankfully was fine afterwards. I spent close to a week arguing with the idiot doctors against having an amniocentisis done. Nothing that those tests were going to show me would have changed my plan.

I knew that my latest surprise was ok. I knew that there was nothing wrong with her that would change her life. I knew that God didn't send that beautiful little girl down from heaven only to have her come into the world "malformed" and I was right.  On March 24th 2006, with more doctors than I can remember in the room,  Ella joined our family. Another c-section, another strange position - this time sideways. Her delivery was the hardest, longest and most dangerous of all of them. The doctors urged me to not have any more children after Ella, and I followed their recommendation. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was the right thing for my health.

Little did I know, that my pregnancy with Ella would be the easiest part of my journey as her mother thus far.

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