This is the story of an event that changed my life. I was 19 years old and dating a man 6 years older than me. I thought I loved him. When I found out I was pregnant, needless to say, things didn't turn out the way I had hoped. I will spare you the details of the relationship and move on to the pregnancy.
I decided that I would have the baby but was unsure of keeping him or placing him for adoption. For me, those were my only two choices. A family member had seen an article in the local newspaper about a new facility not far from our home called St. Elizabeth's Maternity home. I decided to give them a call. I went and met with the director and decided that it would be a good experience for me to live there. I would be surrounded by other women in similar situations. I would be required to go through counseling and my health and my baby's health would be well managed. This was a very difficult time for me. It's a hard thing to be pregnant. To do it without a partner is even more difficult. Being 19 years old and facing a life choice was the hardest part of all.
I was doing well and enjoying my pregnancy. I read whatever I could get my hands on so that I would be well informed. I was also paired up with a woman who wanted to volunteer her time with the home. She became my partner throughout my pregnancy and would help me through the labor process. Her name was Rita and I spent a lot of time with her. I enjoyed being with her and her family. She would take me out for lunch and invite me over for dinner. Sometimes we went shopping and sometimes we would just go for walks. She was a wonderful person to be around.
Around 32 weeks into my pregnancy, I began to have actual labor pains. I visited my doctor on several occasions over the course of about 10 days. He prescribed Brethine to stop the contractions and said for me to take it easy. Then he decided to check my cervix 'just in case' there was any change. Sure enough, I was already dilated to 1 cm. That was it, I was placed on 'strict' bed rest. So, for the next 4 weeks, I stayed in bed and I hated it. I wanted to get up and clean!!!! I was able to get for bit with the help of a wheelchair but NO walking. I went back and forth to the hospital a couple of times to have my labor stopped with IV drugs. Otherwise, things were going pretty good. Finally, at 36 weeks, my doctor decided I could come off of bed rest. At this point he felt the baby would be healthy if he were born. So, I went back to work for 1 day and then took the rest of the week off. I forgot to mention that my doctor thought the reason I was having the pre-term labor was because my uterus was already so big. I had an excess amount of amniotic fluid. He performed an ultra sound at around 35 weeks to make sure that the baby was swallowing the fluid and that there was no blockage. Everything looked fine. Except for how big my belly was. At 37 weeks I already measured 42 cm!! Wow!
December 9th, still 3 more weeks until my due date of December 30th. I was feeling sort of 'crabby'. I really didn't want to be around anyone. I had lost my mucus plug a few days before and may have been experiencing some mild depression about what was about to happen. At this point I still did not know what I was going to do. I could not decide to place this baby or try to keep him. I was sure I would not be able to sign papers while he was still inside me. I felt like I would be carrying a baby that didn't belong to me and, at the time, that was a horrible feeling.
In the early evening I decided to go for a walk. I just did not want to be around the other girls at the moment. I wanted to be alone to think. As I was walking, I suddenly felt a trickle down the inside of my leg and I knew right away that my water had broken. I hurried back to the house and excitedly ran in to tell everyone. They were all in shock. This was the first birth at the center. It was fairly new when I moved in at 5 months but we had not had a baby yet. We were all very excited and a little scared. I guess you could say I sort of the pioneer here. I called Rita and the 'house mother' called the director of the home. We were on our way to the hospital. It was about 8:00pm. We arrived and settled into the LDR and nothing much was happening yet. I had a couple of mild contractions but I knew things were going slow. I lay in the bed and waited. I was 20 years old at the time and not very confident in what to do. I had attended childbirth classes and knew that I wanted to have natural childbirth. I didn't know that I would be stuck in bed the whole time.
Finally around 11pm the nurse put me on a Pitocin drip. This really got things going. (Before arriving at the hospital I was already dilated to 3cm.) The contractions started coming quickly and my water actually came gushing out. (It had only been dripping up to this point). I lost control for a while because the contractions were coming so quickly. I began to hyper ventilate and could not get control. Finally, Rita was able to calm me down and I stared doing the breathing patterns I had learned in childbirth class. This was much better. I was certainly in a lot of pain but was dealing with okay as long as continued to breath with Rita. I slept in between contractions but only after getting some Demerol to slow things down a bit. I labored for several hours and at one point asked for drugs. Of course it was too late because I was in transition. I think I started pushing at around 5am- about 9 hrs after my water broke. I pushed for so long and I was so tired. My doctor came in several times to check on me and sat on my bed looking very sleepy. He was drinking a cup of coffee. He even helped me hold my legs a bit. I was grateful. He determined that the baby was posterior which explains why my back was breaking in half. After about 2 1/2 hours he decided that a c-section was necessary. At that point I didn't care I just wanted it to be over. I don't think the nurses were so sure of his decision. One nurse stood in front of me and pushed my legs back to my ears!! It felt so wonderful and I felt the baby move down some. Progress!!! The doctor was still preparing for the c-section and was waiting for the anesthesiologist. The nurse kept pushing my legs back and I pushed with all my might. Another nurse went to get my doctor. He was glad to see that progress had been made and the baby was crowning. He gave me an episiotomy, which I would not have needed if the baby had crowned for a longer time. Then 2 more pushes and he was born. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He had so much dark curly hair and he was so tiny. Immediately my doctor began to make bets with the nurses on how much he weighed. The cord was cut and the doctor asked if I wanted to see him. (He knew adoption was a possibility.) I said yes and was placed on my stomach. He was perfect. He weighed 6lbs 5 oz and was born on December 10th 1989. I knew the moment I saw him that I wanted him to have the very best and that was... a family. Adoption was what I wanted for him. I knew it that very minute. I cried. It was a magical moment for me and one that cannot truly be put into words.
I spent my time over the next day and a half with my son. I did not feed him but we talked and cuddled and I looked him over completely from head to toe. He was so sweet and perfect. I walked down to see him in the nursery all the time and the nurses brought him to me whenever I wanted him. I even got 'peed' on when I took all his clothes off. I absorbed every precious second of that time. I never wanted to leave the hospital. I knew as long I was there he was still mine. I decided to give him a name. The adoption was being handled by the 'home' and not through the hospital so I still had not signed papers. When the hospital 'person' came to my room to get the information for the birth certificate, she asked the standard questions and then attempted to leave the room. I stopped her and said "What about his name?" She told me I couldn't name him because he was being placed for adoption. I responded with "Right now he is still my baby and I am going to name him!" She told me she would have to look into it. Needless to say, she returned (no apology) and asked me what name I wanted to give him. I felt really good about this. He was real to me and now I could always refer to him with the name I gave him.
The time came when I had to leave the hospital. I don't know if I could have cried more tears. I knew deep down though, that I was doing the right thing. No matter how much it hurt. The baby had to stay because he had jaundice. I had to leave him there. It was a very sad time for me.
I returned to the home and called my mother. I cried and cried to her on the phone. She cried too. Somehow, through all those tears, somewhere deep inside of me, I felt good. I knew this was a good thing and I felt it through the pain in my heart. I told this to my mother. She understood. She told me to come home and I did. I spent the next month sorting through these emotions and trying to heal myself.
By the first of January, the baby was healthy and a family had been decided upon. I had to make the journey back to the home to sign the papers giving up my parental rights. I decided to write him a letter. I spent several days thinking about what I would write. I never took any notes or wrote anything down. I just thought. Then, when the time came, I sat down and wrote it out without changing a word. I had purchased a book to write the letter in. The book was The Velveteen Rabbit. The story seemed so perfect to me. I wrote out my thoughts and wishes for him and his life. I cried more tears about how much I would miss him and seeing him grow and discover life. It was the perfect letter. I had also purchased an outfit for him to wear and even though he was quite small, he looked very sweet in it. I was told that the family would be coming to get him at another facility and asked if I wanted to send anything with him. I asked that he be put into his outfit and given the book. I also sent some pictures from the birth that were only of him. I knew someday he would want to see them. The family that was chosen already had a child of their own but could not have any more children. They were willing to take a child that had special needs if that was an option. I thought they must be very special people. I spent some time alone with him before signing anything. I kissed and kissed him and held him very close. I couldn't stop saying how pretty he was. He slept in my arms and I felt so comfortable with him, but I knew it would end soon. I had to face it.
I was told that my son was given to them in his outfit from me. They had brought all sorts of clothes and toys for him, not knowing how big or small he would be. He stayed in my outfit. I was glad to hear that. I felt very sure about this decision and secure that he would be given everything that I would not have been able to provide. Over the next year I got a couple of pictures and some updates through the home. I felt very proud of him and of myself. He had two loving parents and a big brother. What could be better?
He is 11 years old now and I often wonder what he's like. I'm not sure if I will ever want to meet him and maybe he won't ever want to meet me. We can cross that bridge when we come to it. I am 31 now and I am married and I have a beautiful little boy named 'Chance'. He is 2 years old now and I am savoring every moment with him. I live to see the world through his eyes. He doesn't look anything like my first son. In fact he seems to have gotten the recessive genes that have given him blonde hair and blues eyes. He is perfect and I am totally able to separate this new experience from the first. I have recently realized my hearts desire of becoming a birth doula and I feel it is part of my healing process after all these years. I am sharing this story with the hope that it will inspire someone to look at life in an un-selfish way as I did. These days, there are many people who will never know the joy of giving birth or having a child of their own. Abortion seems to have become a form of birth control in this day and it has jeopardized many couple’s chances of having a family. I am proud to say that I have been given life and was able to give it in return.