I was tired and very cranky as I dragged my huge, nine-month pregnant stomach up the front steps to my parents’ house. After spending six hours at the hospital having my pre-admission tests, I wasn’t really in the mood for the annoyed greeting that my mother gave me.
“Why is she so mad at us? It’s not our fault we’re late to dinner?” This was said to my husband in a hushed tone because I didn’t want her to hear me and become angrier.
My mind was thinking of the things I still had to do before I left for the hospital early next morning for my C-section that would bring our second child into the world.
I couldn’t wait to meet my little girl.
The past nine months had been so hard on me and my body. My pregnancy had run into some complications that had me taking shots of heparin to counteract a blood-clotting disorder.
To make things more interesting, it turned out that I was allergic to every drug formula on the market and had to take steroids to manage the huge, cyst-like hives that appeared on each injection site on my legs and stomach. The steroids caused an ulcer, and I had spent most of my second pregnancy sick as a dog and on partial bed rest all while raising my two-year-old son.
Maybe it was because I was so sick throughout the whole nine months. Or maybe it was because as a high-risk pregnancy, I saw my doctor every week, and every little pain and movement was monitored and tested. Or maybe because it had only been four months since the 9/11 attacks, and I was still a bit stunned. But for the last few months, I couldn’t shake the feeling that either me, my daughter, or both of us would not make it out of this one. I had confided my fears to Joe and my mom. They both told me to relax and assured me all would be well.
I didn’t believe them.
Joe and I finished the dinner my parents had prepared for us. I then had the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to Tom. He was so excited about becoming a big brother. I tried very hard to suppress my fears that this might be the last time I ever saw him, out of my mind.
We went back to our house, and I packed up my bag and tried to sleep a little but couldn’t. I got out of bed and started walking around, taking care of some last minute things around the house. All of sudden I had a deep feeling of calm come over me. I knew then, without a shadow of a doubt that my daughter and I would be fine.
Joe and I went to the hospital and I had a very nice, uneventful birth. Elizabeth was here and she was beautiful. I was now the proud mom of a boy and a girl.
A few weeks later I was sitting in Lizzy’s room with my mother when she told me the story of the day before my daughter’s birth and why I thought she was so mad at me.
That day my mother had been running errands with my son, getting ready to have a special pre-delivery day dinner for me while I was at the hospital getting tested. She went to the butcher to get a steak because I spent most of the last nine months craving beef. When the two of them walked into the shop, Tom proudly announced for all to hear that he was going to be a big brother the next day.
Everyone made a big fuss over him. Another shopper smiled and started to chat with my mother about how wonderful it is being a grandmother. The woman explained that she had been spending a lot of time with her grandson because her daughter-in-law died in childbirth but quickly added that a rare blood-clotting disorder was the cause of death. As luck would have it, it was the same disorder that I had.
My mother went white and started to cry. She knew how nervous I had been, and she knew that I was worried that I may not make it. Now here was a woman telling her a story that was just too close for comfort.
Always being a huge believer in the power of prayer, my mother ran home and called everyone she knew and had them praying for me. Apparently I had people from many faiths and from all over the world praying for me and my daughter.
When I saw her that night, she wasn’t mad at me at all. She was terrified that it was the last time she would see me.
My mother knew everyone’s prayers had worked when I called her the morning I went to the hospital and told her that I now knew in my heart I would be fine.
As much as I have always loved this story, I’ve been somewhat reluctant to share it because it was just six weeks later when I realized that there was something horribly wrong with Lizzy. Maybe the story would seem less than ideal because LIzzy’s special needs have made these last 13 years so challenging.
Yet as I was thinking about that special night 13 years ago, I realized that the feeling of calm I had that night has seen me through some very dark days of the soul with my very special princess. Through all of her challenges and all of the scary times we have endured, somewhere deep inside me I’ve always known that she was meant to be here, and one way or another the two of us would always be just fine.