Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The birth of Elliot James

And so it began. I started feeling a bit “full” in early August. I thought that perchance I overindulged with my birthday dinner on the second. Mild cramping, but, since I had no idea what an authentic contraction felt like, (I was induced with sweet Nora), I was merely under the assumption that I ate too much! Interestingly enough, that was not the case. I called the hospital and was told to wait it out, lie down and drink some water. As the “contractions” began coming in waves, (every 10 minutes on the clock…then every 5), I thought that it was best that I head in to the hospital. We woke Nora at 10 p.m. and headed to the facility where we had registered to deliver. Upon arrival and following a cervical check, I was told that UNQUESTIONABLY I was not leaving the hospital. I was 6 cm dialeted and fully effaced and would have this baby boy very shortly! The first word out of my mouth at that point in time was “SH*#!!” I remember it all too well. I was merely 32-weeks pregnant and now, petrified.

I labored all night. I was also told that due to an elevated white blood count it was not in my best interests to have an epidural. So, I continued to labor sans any medication. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t bad.” The pain was tolerable. Tolerable, that is, until my OB arrived and broke my water. I thought that God was taking me away! After rupturing my water bag, I labored for another 10 minutes and was finally fully dialeted. I do not remember pushing; I do remember swearing at my husband and my poor OB.

Elliot James was born at roughly 7 a.m. on August 8, 2006 weighing in at just over 4 pounds. Instantaneously, he was taken away. I saw him for all but 5 seconds. I simply laid in the bed, shaking and sniveling.

The hospital’s immediate concern centered on Elliot’s breathing. He did receive a small amount of oxygen, however, did not receive much. I was so relieved. I expected severe respiratory distress.

Roughly 30 minutes following delivery, the nurses rushed in. “Elliot is being transferred to another hospital’s NICU,” I was told. “You cannot go; you must wait for an ambulance transfer.” Now, I was plainly confused, thinking, “But Elliot is breathing on his own; his lungs are developed; what is wrong with him?” “Nothing,” I was told. “Your pediatrician is simply more comfortable, based upon his gestational age, with Elliot in the NICU.” The ENT boys arrived within minutes and Elliot was taken.

As I waited for a call from the hospital NICU regarding our son’s breathing status, I was nervous. I thought that something may be wrong and I just wasn’t told. At last, I received a call from my father on his mobile line. He was with my mom and Elliot at the NICU. After talking with Dad and being assured that all was fine, the neonatologist on hand picked up Dad’s mobile. His words will never be forgotten. He stated that while Elliot was breathing on his own, there was something else terribly wrong. He said that he thought that Elliot had Down syndrome. I was horrified, and laid in a hospital bed across town, unable to even look at my son. I waited all day for an ambulance transfer. I remember screaming at the nurses, telling them that there was a mistake. “But I had 10 ultrasounds; nothing showed up.”

I kept remembering a particular incident over the summer. I took Nora swimming almost weekly to escape the heat and to gain a bit of refreshment in my pregnant state. There was a beautiful family at the pool each and every time. They were so perfect, I thought. One day, they came with a young girl with Down syndrome. I felt so sorry for them. I thought, “Thank God that ‘I’ will never have a child with that ‘disorder.’”

Upon arrival at the NICU, I was able to finally see what the doctor had described over the telephone. Elliot’s eyes were slanted upward. His ears were set low on his head and he simply did not look at all like our 5-year old daughter, Nora, did at birth. Indeed. We visited with a geneticist and ran a karyotype report on our son’s chromosomes. Later in the week, it was confirmed that Elliot had an extra 21st chromosome, characteristic of Trisomy 21, more commonly referred to as Down syndrome. I was now part of a family akin to the family at the pool. My son had what I previously referred to as “that disorder.” I so wanted to eat my words.

Elliot, despite his low birth weight, was only in the NICU for 11 days. He was an eater. He was a fighter and he was so much more than just a “strong” baby boy. He came home on August 19, 2006.

While he seemed to be fine for the first few days at home, he, in actuality, was not. It was found that Elliot was extremely hyperthyroid. So hyperthyroid, in fact, he nearly went into cardiac arrest.

While pregnant, I was being treated for having an autoimmune thyroid disease known as Hashimoto’s disease (HYPOthyroidsim). Following Elliot’s birth, in reality, it was found that I have both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease (autoimmune HYPERthyroidism). I’m one for the books! Elliot was born with antibodies for both diseases. My antibodies crossed the placenta transiently. Elliot was born two months prematurely because of untreated Graves’ disease. The doctors have all told me that he should have died inutero from cardiac arrest…from thyroid storm. He did not. He was here. God had a plan.

I will now say that our lives have been forever changed. Nonetheless, my life has changed for the better. My son does not have a “disorder.” And I hate myself for classifying Down syndrome as something other than utter beauty. Sadly, I do believe the general population looks at the condition as a disorder… an appalling affliction if you will. Undeniably, a great deal of education needs to take place. It is all that I think about and all that I focus on: elevating awareness regarding the beauty of being an “enhanced” individual.

Our gift was born only a few months ago. I know what fear is. I know what it means to feel traumatized by a sudden turn from my expectations. I know what it means to feel exposed.

Yes, my original expectations are gone, but the joy that Elliot has brought to our family’s lives, especially that of his 5-year old sister, is immeasurable. Indisputably, what we will learn from him!

I continue to welcome my dear cherub into the world each and every day. I am blessed beyond comprehension!


amy flege said...

michelle.. your blogs looks great!! i am going to link you up to mine, if you dont mind!!!
hugs to you

Tara Marie said...

Wonderful blog Michelle....I would love to add it to my blog roll [if that is OK with you]

Amazing birth story....and Elliot is an amazing little boy!

Carrie said...

Michelle - Your blog looks awesome! I think you did a fabulous job and Elliott is an absolute doll.

mom2rhett said...

Thanks for the tears! You wrote that so beautifuly! HUGS!

FamilySnows said...

Beautiful birth story. Your blog is going to be wonderful! I too, would love to add you to my blogroll! Hugs.

S. said...

Elliot is just gorgeous, as is Nora. Thanks for sharing your story!

Sara said...

Looks great :) Can't wait to read updates on your handsome man :)

Jessica said...

Your blog looks great!! Could I also add your blog to my blogroll?

Anonymous said...

I would love to add you to my blogroll too.

What a wonderful birth story.