I am on the eve of the anniversary of becoming a mother – oh and Kade is on the eve of turning TWELEVE! Twelve years ago this very night, I was falling asleep ((with the help of a strong sleep aid)) in the hospital in anticipation of being handed my very own warm bundle of heaven-scented squirmy love. The path to that night seems as though it was traveled a lifetime ago. But as his birthday approaches – strangely, my heart sinks and warms all at once.
I am sad for how fast time flies and thankful for what has filled the time as it has passed. I became pregnant with Kade in January of 2002. I ((along with a large number of the population)) had a road full of struggles that led to those early days of 2002. My heart doesn’t feel like telling that story tonight so I will save it for another inspired time. I will say, in the Spring of 2002, on my daily drive to work, one vivid memory is often recalled. It was a daily routine of mine, to pray over Kade’s development as I commuted.
Early that morning as I drove toward the sunrise, I prayed for his eyes and his hair. For some reason, I prayed for him to have dark brown eyes and dark curly hair.
On this night, however, I will tell of the days around his birth. Kade is the very first grandchild to be born on both sides of our family. He was the eleventh Schuermann boy to be born in a row over the span of 80 years. Kade is named after his great, great grandpa and carries a load of expectations and fulfills a list of dreams.
I had expectations regarding his birth, haha. I went to the classes, read the books, talked to doctors and typed up a long “birth plan”. I remember few details about the “plan”, but what still stands out, as if I typed it in bolded large point letters: “Ultimately, this plan is a list of my wishes – but my number one desire is to be handed a healthy baby. Do whatever you need to do to make that happen.”
I woke from a lovely night’s sleep ((thanks to Ambien)) early in the morning on October 15. 2002. I was immediately checked and to my delight, I had progressed to a 3 during my slumber. My goal was to deliver Kade without the help of pain blockers. However.
Is it strange to end a paragraph with the word “however”? Probably. So let me clarify. However means my plan and God’s plan were not the same at this point. Over the next few hours, I progressed to a 5 and Kade’s heart started accelerating and decelerating with contractions.
My nurse came in and recommended I get the epidural. I remember insisting I was fine and wanted to stick with my plan. She left the room and as she did, my water broke. Well, more like my water exploded. David could HEAR the rupture from across the room. That is the moment things took a turn – for the worse.
The nurse came back in and insisted on the epidural being administered immediately. I concurred as she said “Epidural now or general anesthesia in the event of an emergency precious time will be wasted if an emergency c-section became necessary – time that may not be available”.
I quickly agreed to the epidural. Even in the haze of those moments and the vastness of the time that has passed, I still vividly remember the nurse looking at the monitor and telling me he was in distress and I needed to roll over and get up on my hands and knees. She followed that with “but you won’t be able to do that because of the epidural…you can’t move.”
I looked at her and said, “I can do anything I need to do to make sure he is okay.” And proceeded to prove that by getting up on all fours. The relief it brought baby Kade was minimal and very temporary.
Time has no meaning from this point on.
Kade’s heart rate would go up and then go down, up and down. Each time it went down it dipped lower than the last. Kade was clearly in distress.
It was lunch time. ((The epidural had been administered about 30 minutes prior – I think…maybe even less than that)). I remember it was lunch because the doctor was doing rounds on his lunch break. At the time he was entering the maternity floor, the nurses were yelling. Yelling for the desk nurse to call him. Kade’s heart dipped. To zero.
My doctor heard the fury of screams and mom saw him turn the corner in a sprint. Dr. S ran into my room, yelled “We are taking the baby now!” – the nurses ripped every tube and cord out of the wall and ran. Within thirty seconds my doctor was in the OR with scalpel in hand. “Can you feel this?” he asked.
“Yes” I said.
“I am sorry.” And with that he cut.
The anesthesiologist cranked the medications up so high I went numb from my nose down immediately.
Within 40 seconds from the time we lost Kade’s heartbeat, he was out. The cord was wrapped around Kade’s neck 4 times.
Kade’s APGAR scores were initially a 7 which is an amazing miracle and soon elevated to a 9. He remained in the nursery under very close observation for several hours before I could see him.
I was taken back to my room for recovery. I laid alone in that room, with only a recovery nurse, for over an hour.
I begged for an update on my baby. She gave me none. I begged for my mom, for David for my Mother-in-Law. She refused to allow anyone in to see me. After begging and crying, she finally said “If you can reach them on the phone, I will let one person come in”.
I was still paralyzed. I could only speak in whispers of air. My body itched and I was vomiting. With great effort, I could force my left hand to crudely move. However, the phone was on my right side and tauntingly aloof. (She would not help me – and to this day that remains a mystery.)
By the grace of God and the shear determination of forces within I had never known, I reached the phone. I stumbled across the numbers and called mom. “What will she think when she sees the hospital is calling her – I know she is keeping vigil in the waiting room…” I was worried I would scare her more – and truly, the place I knew she was in was a place of deeper fear and pain than I would have ever wanted her to be.
It rang and rang and rang. She didn’t answer.
I called my MIL next. It rang and she answered. Hoarse words with almost no sound exhaled from my dry mouth. “I need my mom – now.” I declared.
My MIL cried “They won’t let us in!”
“I need my mom.”
And with that mom flew into the room, crying. As I recall that moment, my throat clenches all over again.
Several hours passed before I received an update on Kade. Finally an update came in the form of good news: he passed all of the tests. He was perfect and unharmed from his traumatic entry into this world.
My boy and I spent 5 lovely, peaceful days together in the hospital getting to know each other. I was learning to be a mom and he was teaching me.
I remember little, as time was still frozen. Days blurred into nights and nights blurred into days. Time was more measured by visitors and feedings, diaper changes and doctors than by the sun or hands on the clock.
The day we were to leave was dreary and cold. The sun never peeked through the thick gray blanket of clouds that day. And rightfully so – for it matched the weather in my heart perfectly. Once the phone rang that is.
It was the on-call pediatrician. Even for a new mom who didn’t know anything about pediatricians, I thought this was strange. Until he began to explain the reason for his call.
“A nurse heard something in your son’s heart. I listened too and heard it as well. We have had him examined and it has been determined, Kade had a moderate sized hole in his heart. There is a very good chance he will need surgery.”
Crushed. I was in one swipe of a few simple words – crushed. Beyond anything I had felt up to that point – ever in my life, simply crushed.
Prayers, hoards and hoards of prayers followed in the days and months and years to come. I was instructed, for the first 4 months of his life, not to leave the house, to avoid any public places and stay away from large numbers of people. Hand washing and sanitizing were critical and exposure to germs was forbidden.
Kade was monitored for 5 years and at the end of that time was given an amazing classification: “He has a perfect heart.” our cardiologist declared. “I was anticipating surgery with this one, 90% of the patients with his condition require some sort of work to be done.”
“It was God, God did the work.” I praised.
So on this, the eve of Kade’s ((Curly as I call him)) birth, I reflect on all of the good things God has done to give me my firstborn son. He has heard my cries and He has answered.
Kade’s birth verse John 14:12-14:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Happy Birthday Curly. I love you forever.