At nine days of life, Judah showed signs of struggle. He would not feed and spent all day sleeping. Sufficiently concerned, I called the pediatrician’s office to voice concerns. Maya had been 6 weeks premature, and only weighing in at 3 pounds at birth. I had been vigilant ever since and with each of the children. Judah was not acting right for a supposed perfect ‘brand new’ newborn. While on the phone with the nurse, I took Judah’s temp. 94. Pause. I took it again. 94. Judah was ashen and 94 and not alert. I told the nurse I was taking him to the ER. Judah was packed up and rushed to the ER. The ER was mostly a blur. I remember they couldn’t figure out the problem. They told me they were going to do an LP. (lumbar puncture) I stayed in the room, but I probably didn’t have to. Judah didn’t wake up, move, nothing. I knew right then, he was seriously ill. No one, let alone a newborn baby would sit still like that for a LP. That’s when I really began to worry. Eventually they moved him to intermediate level of peds care. He was not there but an hour or two and they moved him to the ICU……he had DIC. Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation…..this is when you bleed and clot at the same time. This is very serious and Judah was critically ill. By the next morning, we had a diagnosis. DCM. Dilated Cardiomyopathy. As soon as the words were uttered, I was lost. I understood everything the doctors were telling me. I have a BS degree in Biology. I understand. I knew I would never see him grow up. I knew there was treatment…but no cure. My beloved grandfather died of this disease when I was 10 years old. And up until I held baby Judah in my arms, I grieved for him everyday. EVERYDAY. He and I were very close and he was my greatest supporter. I could do nothing wrong in his eyes and I needed that, since I was a constant disappointment in everyone else’s. So I was in utter shock, when my days old son was given the same death sentence. I knew my grandfather’s DCM was caused by his over zealous regard for alcohol. I saw the look in the doctors eyes. To have this terrible disease at birth, did not make the outcome any different. He was going to die. Not after me, like nature dictates. In my arms. Of course there was a chance he could get better. But it was only a chance. And I felt that my whole life was leading to this moment. Would it break in my favor or against me. I always always felt like I would never give birth to a son. This was something I just felt. For the first 5 years of our marriage, any children seemed improbable. We even, in the end saw a fertility specialist. I took several months worth of medicine designed to stimulate my egg production. Nothing. We were too poor to go any further into IVF, etc… If the pills didn’t work, we were done. The month after my last set of pills, we got pregnant for the third time. The first 2 pregnancies were lost. But this one….this one was staying! Hooray! At 6 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound produced surprise. A healthy pregnancy was developing. Two healthy pregnancies were developing. WHAT? 2 babies? I was very shocked by this news. VERY. I was considered high risk and so 2 weeks later, another ultrasound. This time I took my husband and my mother in law. One heartbeat had disappeared. One remained. Will this pregnancy stick?? I look back on it now and I should have just laid down on the hospital bed then. MAKE THIS BABY STICK. I knew this was my last chance. I had so many ultrasounds, they have their own book. By 20 weeks, the baby had slowed down in growth and my fluid was low. IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction) and Oligohydramnios (low fluid). I had puked my entire pregnancy. Everyday, twice a day, three times a day. In the Doritios bag on the way to work. On the side of the road on the way back home. I never want to see puke again. The maternal-fetal specialist kept asking when I could stay home. I was like ‘Never’, unless she was gonna pay my bills. Finally at 31 weeks, she looked at my husband, “Take her home, pack some things, take her to lunch and go to the hospital.” I was done. Now I just had to lay and wait for the baby. 3 fun hospital weeks (Lord of the Rings marathon, I love you so) later it was done. Baby needs to come out momma, you are doing her no good. Child was supposedly 4 or 5 pounds and I wasn’t doing her any favors. 34th week was D-day. So, on January 2, 2007, by way of C-section fame, Miss Maya Emerson Kirkham entered our world at 3 pounds, 1.2 ounces, 6 weeks early. She was perfect in everyway…well….except she had not one ounce of body fat. Not one ounce. She was so perfectly healthy, that from the delivery suite they took her to the normal nursery! My OB was sewing me back up when my husband told me. I asked if she was OK, since all mothers know, it’s our fault if the children aren’t well……he said she was perfect and going to the nursery. How much did she weigh I asked, since I had been hospital ridden for 3 weeks drinking awful Carnation Instant Breaksfast shakes and my parent’s homemade Christmastime caramels. 3 whole pounds. (FYI, a bag of sugar is 4 pounds.) I have never been so mad in my life. She was supposed to be double that! But she was perfect and I had no reason to complain.
I was so damn happy we had a child. We had a child and it was alive and fine.
Never had I been so happy and so scared.