A few nights ago, I dreamt October 17th 2008. I dreamt the weirdly colored pink pacifier because we lost the other one in the hospital. How could I remember that date so clearly? Because it was the day that I handed my 30 day old son to doctors, not knowing if I would get him back.
My son was born strong and healthy and even though I was a single mother, I had an exceptional support system. I was at home by my parents and being spoilt as much as their first grandchild. My milk was slow to come in so I chose to breastfeed and supplement with formula. Every morning, my mom would come and take my son from my room at 4.30am… feed him, change pampers, play with him and I got to sleep late.
But everything changed when he was 10 days old and he vomited for the first time. But that’s what babies do right? My inner voice told me that something was wrong but I was a new mama, so how much did I really know? Our pediatrician’s office became our second home and as the days slowly crept by, the vomiting got progressively worse. This was vomit spewing 3 feet away from a baby only 2 weeks old. We changed formulas countless times, I monitored my diet in case there was something in my system that was passing to him through the breast milk. But there was no change. I became completely overwhelmed… I wouldn’t let anyone feed him. Even though my dad was driving me and my mom to the doctor, I held my pain and wouldn’t let anyone know of the level of discomfort that I was experiencing just days after a C-section. The doctors could not find anything wrong to cause this extent of vomiting. So it became a constant guessing game trying to rule out possibilities. My son continued to vomit and with each day that passed, I blamed myself more and more. I believed that if I was a better mother, then my baby would be well and this would not be happening; even thinking that God was punishing me for my decision to be a single mother.
When my son was 27 days old, I was forced to rush him to emergency. He was severely dehydrated after being unable to keep down anything for almost 48 hours. I held my baby for countless x-rays, ultrasounds and a barium swallow (which I would not wish on an adult).
October 17th 2008, when he was 30 days old, I handed him over for exploratory surgery. While it was strongly believed that his condition was pyloric stenosis (an abnormality of the lower stomach muscle that causes the muscle to tighten and not allow for proper digestion, thus causing him to reject all oral feed), none of the tests had definitely confirmed their suspicions. So I had no choice but to sign away my son and pray for the best.
We were waiting for the time of surgery to be confirmed, so I pulled out my phone and snapped some pictures of him. My mom was with me and she initially moved his right hand, the one with the drips attached, out of the way. I put his hand back in place and she looked at me confused and asked “why are you taking pictures of his drips?” I responded nonsensically saying “he looks cute with it”. The truthful answer, which I never said out loud was “ I don’t know if this will be his last moments and I need this memory exactly as it is”.
The moment that I handed my son to the doctor for surgery will stay with me for as long as I live. In that single moment, I understood the saying that “to be a mother is to forever have your heart walk around outside of your body”. Physically ripping my heart out of my body would have been less painful than what I experienced.
To this day, I can still remember that anguish as if it happened yesterday. And I can still remember the overwhelming relief and incredible joy when my baby was returned to me, full of life as if nothing had happened.
It was confirmed that he did in fact have pyloric stenosis, but with no added complications. He recovered quickly and continued thriving.
This was the first of several trials that we have had to endure. With this first situation, he proved to me that he is a fighter like his mama and with the support of his mama, will triumph regardless of the challenge.
I am honored and blessed to be your mama 💙