I am not a religious person. I never have been. Even in high school, when I went to church 3 times a week I was really just playing at it. I had friends who went, so I went along for the ride.
Since my son was born I have been questioning, more and more, what all this stuff called life is about. Is there a reason for us being here? Is there someone up there watching out for us and guiding us?
Christians say that God has a plan for everyone and that He never gives you more than you can handle. There are times when these thoughts seem comforting. When it feels cozy and safe to know that all the pain that I experience is part of something larger. These feelings have intensified and deepened since Alex was born.
Alex was born 7 weeks early, on June 29, 2008. I have diabetes and although my blood sugar was well controlled it seems that it still caused problems. My placenta was failing and Alex wasn't getting the blood supply that he needed. My amniotic fluid was disappearing. The doctor doesn't know why, but that combined with the placental insufficiency caused Alex to stop growing at about 29 weeks gestation. I was on every other week visits because of my diabetes and as soon as the problem was discovered (about 30 1/2 weeks) I was put on bedrest at home. I rested for 4 days and my amniotic fluid came back up, the blood flow seemed stable. So, I was allowed to return to work on light duty. No lifting, no standing, no walking except to go to the bathroom. If it couldn't be done at a desk, I wasn't allowed to do it. After 3 days of light duty I returned to the doctor. My amniotic fluid was almost gone. My placenta had further deteriorated. The blood from the umbilical cord was no longer providing sufficient blood flow to Alex's organs. His body was shunting blood to his brain, a last ditch effort that the body makes to protect the most important organ. I was immediately admitted to the hospital.
Once in the maternity ward, more than 7 weeks before my son was supposed to arrive, I was hooked up to an IV and almost immediately given a steroid shot for Alex's lungs. The IV was for hydration, to try and restore my amniotic fluid. I was confined to bed for most of the day, with continuous monitoring of Alex's heartbeat and my own heartbeat and respiration. I was allowed to get up for 15 minutes a day, including bathroom breaks. I spent three nights in the hospital, receiving IV fluids and being monitored. My doctor was not optimistic about my chances of carrying to term at this point, but he wanted to keep me pregnant for as long as possible.
On my second day I received a second steroid shot (its a 2 shot series) and several visitors: my OB, the hospital's neonatologist and the hospital chaplain. The hospital that I was in is a Catholic hospital. They have nuns and offer mass. A chaplain visits all the rooms, and is available for counseling at almost any time of the day. I was uncomfortable with the conversation at the time, and relieved when a phone call interrupted it.
Looking back I wish that I had taken the chaplain up on her offer of support and assistance. Since Alex's birth (on the 4th day of my hospital stay, 33 weeks gestation exactly) I have marveled so many times at the miracle that he is. All of the things that the neonatologist and the NICU staff braced us for never came to pass. He wasn't on a ventilator (he never even needed supplemental oxygen). He started feeds through his NG tube as soon as I was able to pump for him (3 ml at his first feed, the little pig). He didn't have any of the typical preemie problems. No brain bleeds, no ROP (a condition of the eye that often affect preemies), no heart problems, no digestive issues, no breathing issues except for one episode when he was trying to breastfeed, a very stressful time for both of us due to the fact that his mouth was smaller than my nipple. He would open as wide as he could, but it just wouldn't fit.
Looking back on that time, and all the months in between make me question my place in this world. Makes me wonder if there is someone up there that has something in mind for my family. Would the universe have given me such a perfect child if there wasn't some purpose to it?