Pearls and Dreams
December 18 has always been an important day in my life. Always. Growing up ...it was a day of celebration. My mom, married my step dad when I was 13 months old on December 18, 1965. To our family, this was a huge day to celebrate.
To my husband and I, our anniversary ...is our anniversary. It's about the day we got married.
To my mom and step dad, their anniversary, was about the day we became a family. While they often would go out and have a dinner just the two of them, we were often out already for Christmas vacation and the whole day was a holiday.
We had a special breakfast and lunch. Many times, we'd go to Yosemite National Park and drive around and look at the snow covered valley. It was a time to celebrate the family that God had formed.
Then, in February 1979, depression took my step father's life. He mistakenly thought that we would be better off without him ...and took his own life.
December 18, became a very difficult day for a number of years. An ache so deep ... a reminder that our family was not the same.
Then ...15 years ago, ... I was pregnant and I was carrying a baby that was very large. So large, they were worried I'd need a C section if I carried to my due date on Christmas eve. I was supposed to go on the 16th ...but I was so weak from the undiagnosed Myasthenia Gravis that I fell into the toilet trying to get into the shower.
I called the doctor and told them. They thought I had chronic fatigue syndrome and said "well, come in tomorrow"
The next day, having rested the whole day, I was able to get up and go. They said the baby was even bigger than it had been the week before, and to go check into the hospital first thing in the morning. I went home and cried all afternoon.
I think the hormones of the pregnancy and the fear of being sick were just a bit more than I could deal with. I did not want him to be born on the 18th. That was a sacred day. No! I called back and said I needed it to be the next day. They said that that was not possible. I needed to show up on Wednesday. Period.
I was terrified, but showed up. I had no idea what my body would do. I was unable to dress without assistance ..and at times, was so weak I could not chew food. Breathing ... was sometimes a joke. What's a deep breath? Swallowing often led to choking ..especially in the middle of the night. How in the world was I going to deliver a baby?
I got to the hospital and the nurse had to help me get into a gown. She was annoyed because "Chronic fatigue doesn't make someone THIS weak, so I had to be 'putting on'" (well ... chronic fatigue might not make someone THAT weak, but Myasthenia Gravis does, and if they'd ran more than a thyroid test ...they might have known I had MG ..but that's another story)
Anyway ...they started the pitossin (sp?) and ... the contractions started. Thankfully ... the hormones worked in my favor. I felt stronger than I felt since an hour after my oldest was born (when the myasthenia gravis hit). I actually felt normal. Double vision cleared. Muscles felt normal! I felt fine! I felt STRONG! I was thrilled ... I felt like I'd been cured. I mistakenly thought that all this started with one delivery and was going to disappear with another. Life was good.
13 hours after they started the drip 8:11 pm ... a 9 lb 8 3/4 oz baby boy was born. Benjamin William Eagler. HUGE child with a BIG head. His cry was weak, his muscle tone weak ...and he could open one eye and that one was droopy. But, he was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
The day, no longer mattered. This boy would complete the family.
I felt wonderful.
All was right with the world.
Suddenly it hit. This day …this baby … was a gift. It was a gift to replace the mourning of the pain of the day. It was almost like it was from my stepdad …to say he was sorry for the pain. A baby to complete the family and a way to celebrate this day that had been so painful. This day, would never again be a day to mourn. This day, was once again a celebration.
The nurse had me get up and go to the bathroom, as they usually do … and I got up and went … I could walk … I didn’t need assistance. I danced a jig on the way to the bathroom. I was tickled at the strength I had. I walked out of the bathroom and my vision went double. My sister said something … I don’t remember what the words were, but I remember the alarm in her voice …she saw the muscle tone drain from my face. She was yelling at a nurse to catch me even though I hadn’t started to fall. A split second later, my body went limp. No one could get to me soon enough. I landed in a heap on the floor.
Unable to assist the nurses in helping me to the bed, the nurses seemed annoyed. This time, I wasn’t sure if they were annoyed with me, or the doctors who diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. “Something serious is going on here, this isn’t CFS”
I wound up with nurses fighting doctors to keep me in the hospital for 2 days instead of sending me home just 14 hours after Benjamin was born. (a good thing too, because Benjamin had trouble just 17 hours after he was born … it’s now illegal to send someone home in the first 24 hours, but it wasn’t then, it was common)
It was a frightening period and exciting. I will never forget having to have the nurses help to lift my son to nurse and I wasn’t even strong enough to change him from breast to breast. My husband had to help me eat … feed me bites of the sandwich because I could not lift the food from the tray to my mouth.
The doctor’s discharged me, with the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome still in place.
A baby who could barely suck, and when he did … the milk came out his nose … it would be 2 ½ months before I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis and we learned that he’d been born with the neonatal form.
We called him Popeye …because his one eye would not open.
All in all …we know we have much to celebrate on this December 18. So much could have gone wrong … Benjamin was born with a very sick mamma …and he had craniosynostosis (not dx’d right away) He has brain malformations and learning disabilities …asthma and a few other problems. But he is one dynamic kiddo.
Because of him, we celebrate today and I am ever grateful that he is my child.
A Mother's Heart
Every mother had Dreams,
Of a Child perfect and whole.
Every mother has Hopes,
For perfection, body and soul.
They told me you're not perfect,
Sweet loving child of mine.
They told me that your learning,
Is taking too much time.
They tell me that your tests came back,
Showing problems and low scores.
They tell me that you have to struggle,
This hurts me to the core.
Every mother has dreams,
They tell me you don't fit.
Every mother has hopes,
They say perfection you won't hit.
But they don't see what I see,
The smile that lights your face.
But they don't hear what I hear,
Your laughter reveals God's grace.
They don't see what I see,
My child loving and whole.
I have hopes and dreams,
Because my child you are a gift from God
And you have a PERFECT SOUL.
© Peggikaye Eagler
Happy Birthday Benjamin