Today's post is extra special! It is a guest post, from someone very important in my life: My mom! Since my birthday is on Monday I thought it would be nice to tell the story of my first birthday for Throwback Thursday, but since I don't remember it, I thought why not have my mom write it. That and I am lazy, and any post that gets written by someone else is one less post I should be writing :) My mom is a great writer, so enjoy!
The awareness that a one year old does not necessarily grasp nor even enjoy a birthday party did nothing to dampen my excitement over celebrating my beautiful little girl's special day. Money was tight, so it wouldn't be some grand event, but an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese's with family and friends was on the schedule; it was to be a special and memorable day.
Special and memorable it was...
The day before her first birthday began with a trip to the doctor for a re-check. Rachel had an infection requiring antibiotics, which was nothing unusual for my too thin, sometimes struggling baby. Dr. Mark, the PA, gave her a good report, stating that by the end of the course of medication she should be returned to good health.
At home, we had lunch and went to the rocking chair for story afterwards, as was our routine. Rachel didn't have the usual enthusiasm for page-turning, but cuddled in and listened. Suddenly, her whole tiny body stiffened and an almost strangled sounding cry emanated from her throat. I didn't know what was happening; I just held her and tried to calm her. After only a minute or so, it ended as suddenly as it started. She looked so confused. I pulled her in close to my chest and rubbed her little back. A few minutes passed and nothing more happened. I felt relief that whatever it was had ended. I was so wrong.
Again her body became rigid, this time the cry more of a scream. The spasm lasted longer, and after, she went limp for a moment, seemingly exhausted. I called the doctor's office. The recorded voice said I had reached a number that had been disconnected or was no longer in service. I knew that wasn't true. I scooped Rachel up and buckled her in to her car seat, headed for the pediatrician. I wasn't waiting another minute.
The spasms came again and again; I began to time them, thinking this might be important. They lasted longer each time but came almost like clockwork, every 7 minutes. It was a very long 30 minute drive.
I rushed into the office, which was nearly dark and silent. The receptionist was the only person there, as a short time before someone hit the pole near the building and cut off the power and phones. Rachel gave her a startling example of why we were there, and she sent us immediately to the clinic next door where they had one physician remaining for emergencies, which my daughter clearly was.
Another spasm in their waiting room, and we were seen by the doctor. He took her vitals, listened to my explanation, checked her over briefly and sent us home saying that she was just having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. I was to simply stop giving her the medicine and all would resolve itself. I wanted to feel relieved, but as another spasm seized my baby's body in the car, I was anything but. Intuition told me that this doctor was definitely not right.
More episodes, every one worse than the one before... an hour of this at home with Rachel becoming less responsive after each, and I could stand no more. I was terrified and desperate. I looked up the pediatrician's home telephone number and called him. Thankfully, he was more concerned about Rachel than his privacy. I described her symptoms and he immediately instructed me to go directly to the Emergency Room; he would meet us there.
Another horrible drive to town, with my precious baby screaming then limp every few minutes. I now understood that the pattern was due to the muscle movement that occurs naturally in the colon in a rhythm without being noticed normally; but her pediatrician was sure it had telescoped inside itself preventing the bowels from moving material through as they should. Internal bleeding would follow if left untreated. I was methodically driving on the outside, but frantic inside.
The ER is a blur of images to me all these years later; a few standing out, like when they took Rachel from me to x-ray her to confirm the doctor's diagnosis, then returned with a clipboard stacked with forms for me to sign to authorize the emergency surgery she was about to undergo. I can only describe my emotions as terror-stricken until only numb. Time dragged past... and the nurse came through the doorway of the exam room with a completely limp baby in her arms, like a warm and beautiful rag doll, and placed her tenderly in my arms.
I was confused, relieved, and elated. The joy I felt can only be compared to that moment when the nurse places your newborn in your arms. I remember smelling her head, breathing in her scent was so reassuring. It seems that the intussusception that had tied her delicate intestines in knots had miraculously reduced itself, releasing her from the excrutiating pain and making surgery to correct it unnecessary. Even when my diaperless daughter relieved herself of the burden of the barium all over me, my joy was undiminished.
After a long night of holding my baby in my arms in a rocking chair beside the nurse's station on the pediatrics floor, her birthday dawned as spectacularly as any day could. When my mother came to the hospital and Rachel opened her gifts in the hospital crib, it was indeed a special and memorable day. My precious blessing was alive and recovering, even smiling and nursing, to celebrate her first birthday!