Pregnant at 42! or Dear Mom, Thanks for Teaching Me How to Fight
Pregnant at 42! What?
Nine months after suffering a massive heart attack and nearly dying, I found out I was three months pregnant. Two rounds of costly in-vitro fertilization procedures in my mid-20's resulted with being told my eggs were bad (the first failure we were told my husband's sperm was the problem), we would never conceive and to think about an egg donor. Second opinion, third opinion…we were given the same advice.
Nearly 15 years later, my husband and I received the surprise of a lifetime.
We had a lot to think about. I was a high-risk pregnancy just because of the heart attack. Additionally, for the entirety of my first trimester I was on medications that were either not safe for pregnancy or had not been studied during pregnancy, to include a drug-eluting stent. We were old(er)—our friends had grown children who had children! A diagnosis of infertility made the pregnancy all the more risky due to unknown factors that may be present.
We moved forward with caution. We waited to tell friends and some family members. Every single day felt like an eternity. What I had always dreamed of never happened—the excitement, the happiness, the enjoyment of being pregnant, looking forward to motherhood, decorating a baby's room. None of that happened.
It was difficult to find a doctor that would take me on as a patient, especially since I still suffered from chronic chest pain. My cardiologists didn't want to touch me or be involved in my care except to run any tests required throughout my pregnancy.
The pregnancy was difficult. I suffered nausea and vomiting throughout the entire pregnancy—so much so that I weighed less at the end of my pregnancy than I did before my pregnancy.
My pelvis separated halfway into my second trimester, and I couldn't walk without the assistance of a walker, and even that didn't help to ease the pain I felt.
Two weeks before the planned c-section, reality began to hit. We still had a "spare" room that was better described as a storage room for the past 17 years. We had no baby clothes, no diapers, no bottles, no bed, and no blankets. I gave in and bought a stuffed bunny. I remembered my great-grandmother telling me that she never had enough money for a crib, and she used a dresser drawer as a child's bed for her children. They all turned out fine!
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Last-minute Baby Shower
Surprise! A last-minute baby shower one week before my due date, and afterward my sister came over to help remove some of the storage, and Baby Boy Andrew was lucky to have about a third of the "spare" room and half of a closet.
My husband and I were still frightened. Would my husband come home alone? Would my husband come home with only one of us or would all three of us come home?
In July of 2016, Baby Andrew Robert was placed into my long-awaiting arms. He was gorgeous. I caressed his beautiful head, full of dark hair. I stared into his large and wondering eyes. I noticed how he was noticing his new surroundings—turning his head when he heard people speaking and also toward the sounds of the medical equipment. He was well aware of his surroundings, and I was well aware that this was one special, little boy, who, against all odds, was here among us for some reason and with purpose.
Before being discharged from the hospital, I knew there was something different about him. What newborn baby feels colors with his hands? What five pound newborn crawls with all of his might up his mother's torso, grunting, as if he was climbing Mount Everest, and then would wrap his little, tiny baby arms around me to nuzzle into my neck? And I wasn't too happy that he was able to hold his little bottle all by himself. Yes, I did remove those little baby hands from his bottle.
And was it normal that nurses were coming from different floors to see the newborn baby boy that all the nurses were talking about?
The day of discharge from the hospital, I cried when we finally got to the car. My husband later confided in me that he had never been so afraid to drive in his entire life.
Walking into our home was like a dream. We placed Andrew in a mini-baby swing as the centerpiece on our dining room table and stared at him for the longest time.
I wasted no time entering information in Andrew's baby book. I spent the longest time on "The hopes and dreams of my parents". I finally wrote: HAPPINESS!
Our Dining Table Centerpiece
My mom also used to tell me to trust my instincts...I no longer hesitate.
A few days later, a very tired Mom and Dad took their baby to see the pediatrician for the newborn visit. Our first outing…and at about a week old, Baby Andrew turned his head toward a tree when he heard the leaves rustling in the wind.
I had already noticed that he was highly perceptive. He often stared at the skylight, which is normal because of the light, but he would also stare at pictures and paintings on the wall. He noticed people's hair color. He was still feeling every color he saw, rubbing his hands on my shirts, rubbing his hands on pillows. He was somehow escaping from his swaddle blanket (although at the time, my husband and I were accusing each other of not knowing how to swaddle properly).
I did not like the pediatrician. My husband did. Against my instincts, we kept the pediatrician, and for much too long. When I told the pediatrician that Andrew was highly perceptive, he gave me a funny look and just said, "Oh." I elaborated, "Abnormally so."
While going through my pregnancy history, I mentioned the heart attack, and that I was taking xanax as needed for panic attacks due to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from nearly dying (the worst part of which is seeing your loved ones after a near-death experience and seeing how they would react to your death—it's an awful thing to see).
I didn't find out until later that the pediatrician did not mention my cardiac history on Andrew's chart—he left that out, but he did indicate: Mother is mentally ill.
Well, that would partially explain why my concerns were completely disregarded at every well-baby visit.
And so the journey began. And it is here that I thank my mother for teaching me how to fight, fight, fight…not just for myself, but also for those who do not have a voice. My mother died when Andrew was 11-1/2 months old, and Mom, I am fighting for your grandson, for other children like him, and also for their parents who trust the professionals to do what is right, when sometimes it's completely wrong.