I didn’t even know I was pregnant but, something was clearly off with me. I bought a pregnancy test, just to be sure; negative.
I still didn’t feel right. I bought another one. Negative. Perimenopause? I was only 35, wasn’t that too early?
We hadn’t been in Florida all that long so I hadn’t yet gotten around to finding a new gynecologist. Now, I thought I’d better find one to get checked out to see what was going on.
Pregnant… SHIT! Now what do I do?
I had already had two very difficult pregnancies and deliveries. And, my doctor in LA had already (not so subtly) told me it would not be a good idea for me to get pregnant again, ever. My body just couldn’t handle it and the risk to my wellbeing was just too great. But now, here I was, faced with the most difficult choice a woman can make…
I was (still am) happily married and we, gratefully, already had two wonderful, happy, healthy boys so what would be the big deal with having one more? That’s the question you are asking yourself I’m sure…
When it was time to deliver my oldest son, it seems I developed something called pre-eclampsia… I don’t even know what it is (feel free to google it) but I know that kid wasn’t coming out for love or money! Going in I had planned on a natural birth but, eighteen drug free hours later, when he still hadn’t budged, they came in with Pitocin. Six hours of that and still nothing so, my doctor said it was time for a C-Section. The thing I wanted least of all was about to happen. But by that time both the baby and I were bordering on serious distress and really, all we cared about was having a healthy baby so, off we went.
I really did think that “C-Section” was the last thing I wanted to hear. It turns out, in the operating room, the last thing I wanted to hear, after my doctor gutted me like a fish, slicing my abdomen from hip to hip, was her exclaiming “Oh My God!”
We were officially in serious distress. My belly was filled with meconium, (that ooey stuff of baby’s first poop.) The minute she cut me open, it was all over the place and the situation was not good. Something happened; I was bleeding too much and suddenly there were a lot of things moving around in the operating room. I don’t remember a lot after that but it took a long time to get us cleaned up and stable and it took me a long time to wake up. Recovery was long and slow but we were both ok.
In the end, Eli was born two weeks late at 9lbs, 12oz. and today, he is 19 years old and a college sophomore. He towers over me, though he’s nicer about it than his brother. Dylan, who revels in calling me shorty, came along three years later, almost to the day and I spent the last 6 weeks of that pregnancy in bed trying stave off the same issues that no one saw coming the first time around. Even with all the precautions, when it was time to take him out, a C-section was the only option my doctor would support. But, since that kid was causing me so much physical pain, I was happy to cooperate, especially when the doctor took pity on me and decided to take him out a little early.
We were back in an operating room with more problems, more drama, and more moments of sheer terror. The epidural had not been inserted correctly and refused to take hold, even after they literally tipped the operating table downward so my head was aiming at the floor! There were other problems as well and it was all just taking too long to deal with so, my doctor decided to proceed with a cauterizing scalpel and get the baby out.
Now that is some scary shit!
But even born a full two weeks early, Dylan was still 8lbs, 2oz. and I felt like my body had been plundered in his wake. I knew I was meant for motherhood, but I was clearly not meant for labor and delivery, and my doctor agreed. After two harrowing labor and delivery experiences, she came to us and strongly suggested that this baby was our last because, in all seriousness, I might not survive the next time. I always wanted to be a mom. We had talked, more than once, about having three children and her words left me shaken and heartbroken. Yet we had two wonderful healthy boys and I was grateful for every part of that.
I will never forget that moment, sitting on the exam table, the paper cloth still covering my lap, when the doctor came in with a nurse, to share the news. I can’t even imagine the look on my face when she said, “you’re pregnant!” In a gut response, I blurted out, “well I need not to be!” and for all the sheer terror we felt in giving birth to our sons, it was nothing compared with the absolute panic I felt in that moment. The doctor informed me she was not able to help if that was my choice and I respected her for it, even though it only increased the panic welling inside of me. She gently encouraged me to go home and think about it for a few days, to give this new information time to sink in before making any decisions. I respected her for that as well. She did not chastise me for my reaction or try to influence me in any way. She simply encouraged me to wait, think, and then to decide how best to proceed for me.
My boys were happy and healthy. They were in 1st grade and pre-school and they were my life, my loves!! As a work at home mom of two little boys, I was often ‘guarded’ in my office by princes, warriors, spies and later even Storm Troopers… I couldn’t bear to lose them and I certainly didn’t want them to lose me!! And what about the possibility of leaving my husband to care for them alone when his job took him away half of every month, or worse… The thoughts just kept coming and coming…
It’s true that this pregnancy was not a “guaranteed” death sentence.
There was no way to know for sure but, the odds of me having the same problems again were extremely high.
I thought and prayed for days… I cried for days… It was agony and no one knew except Rob and me.
I have always believed in reincarnation and some level of destiny though, at that time I couldn’t yet fully explain it. But, I believed these boys were born to us for a reason. They came to us for a purpose and we had an obligation, as their parents, to do all we could to be there for them for as long as they needed us. I wanted this third baby but, could I risk my own life? Could I risk damaging the lives of my sons and my husband forever? What if I died? Or worse, what if I lived but was left permanently damaged in the process? Would I take such a risk in any other situation? I had already been down that road twice. Was I now willing to play a game of chicken with my life while my boys stood in the crash zone…?
I decided I was not and it was the hardest decision I’ve made. You can judge me if you like but this was MY body and MY baby. This was my choice and, ONLY my choice, to make. I chose to put the lives of my children already here, above everything else. It is a mother’s solemn duty to protect her children and to my core, I felt that was what I was doing.
During this same time, my sister (the one who swore up, down and sideways, she’d never have children; the one who, upon finding out I was pregnant the first time literally asked my father “Why would she do this to herself?” That one…) got pregnant. Our due dates were almost identical and months later, as I sat with her in the hospital awaiting the arrival of my nephew, my deepest fears were confirmed. Here was my sister, having the EXACT SAME problems I had had, TWICE. My heart broke for her but this time there was something I could do to help.
When her doctor came in to discuss a C-section, I explained to them both about my experiences. As she is my biological sister, he said it was highly likely her progression would be the same as mine, and a C-section seemed like the best option to avoid all the impending complications.
I sat with my brother-in-law as he worried while they prepped her for surgery. I sat alone in her room as I waited for them to return and I thought over and over about the choice I had made… Could my nephew have had a playmate or would he have never even known Aunt Shari instead? Watching the same scenario play out again, this time for my sister, I knew I had made the right choice. Even still, not a day goes by that I don’t think of him/her and wonder what if….
So, I am a woman who chose… I am a relatively upper middle-class white Jewish woman and I exercised my RIGHT to choose. The same right some government officials would yank out of my hands in a heartbeat. The right to make a choice no woman “wants” to make. It certainly wasn’t an easy choice. How could it be?! It was a choice that changed my life forever. Maybe, just not quite the way you might think.
The story of this baby did not end there. It turned out that he had another purpose in coming to me. But I had already closed my heart; I knew I had made the right choice. I remain incredibly grateful to the doctors and nurses who took care of me and for their services having been available to me, as they should be to ANY woman who needs them!! Yet, I never allowed myself to grieve this loss. I buried it down deep and moved on with my life. I never forget but, I never mourned either.
In my nephew, I was reminded of my decision every day. Every single time he saw me during the first few years of his life, he would scream blue murder. No one could understand it or explain it but, all I had to do was walk in to the room and he'd go ballistic. I even tried sneaking in to rooms, hiding behind the couch and hoping he wouldn't notice but nothing worked. He always knew I was there and he always screamed and cried. While I tried to brush it off, it broke my heart every time.
It is believed that the veil between this world and the next, the place where the soul resides between incarnations, is very thin for the very young. Small children often speak of seeing angels or other spirits and, it can be incredibly interesting to ask small children what, if anything, they remember about "being big" before they were who they are now. I remember often having angels and spirits in my bedroom as a small child and not thinking anything strange about it, but at the same time, feeling I should keep it to myself as well.
Several years later, I learned that the soul of the child had never left me. One evening I sat in my car, in the parking lot of my local mall, preparing to go home when I quite literally felt an energy lift up out of my body. Hovering in front of me was an area of what seemed to be shadow and light and then there it was, the fuzzy image of a baby, perhaps six or seven months old and I knew in that moment, this was my child and he had been a boy. I wondered, had Fletcher been able to see him all along? Was this why he would always cry when he saw me when he was little? And why was this happening now? If the soul of my baby had been with me all this time, why choose to leave now, at the mall? Later, he told me he had stayed with me because he was part of my spiritual reawakening. He was here to help me re-open my metaphysical eyes and ears. I had a very long road ahead but, he would be with me, to guide me along the way.