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22 Years Ago Today

“I think my water broke.” When I got out of the car there was blood on the seat. My best friend from college, Pam, flew down from the Bay Area for my baby shower with our UCLA staff and students. After the shower we went out to dinner and on our way home I felt warm liquid come out of my body. The excitement turned to mild concern. Our last Lamaze class had been two days earlier and the instructor mentioned a “bloody show” at the beginning of labor for some women. We were first time parents so I thought this was part of the birthing process.

We walked up the stairs to our apartment and I told Darrin what happened. He put in a call to our doctor but another doctor on call told him, “Wait until the contractions are five minutes apart before you go to the hospital.” He asked me and I couldn’t feel any notable contractions. My abdomen? Rock solid. Darrin called the hospital. They asked him what the doctor instructed and told him to follow doctor’s orders and wait until the contractions were five minutes apart. Meanwhile I continued to bleed. And we waited for contractions that never came.

Another call to the unhelpful doctor who told us still to wait. Another call into the hospital. The nurse recognized Darrin’s voice and said, “Go ahead and bring her in and we can take a look.” By this point the blood flowed so heavy I was sitting on a rolled up beach towel.

We arrived at the hospital. One look at me and the beach towel and we were whisked off to a room. The room filled instantly with nurses running back and forth. Clip boards and papers to sign. Hushed but serious orders being issued. Terms I didn’t understand. Tension filled the room. They strapped on a heart beat monitor around my abdomen. I could hear the heart rate wasn’t right. It was weak and faint.

Just the day before I had gone to see my doctor. It was my 37 week check up. Everything looked fine, they strapped on the heart rate monitor around my very large mid-section and I could hear the baby’s heartbeat strong and steady. The doctor mentioned how pleased he was with how smoothly the pregnancy had gone. His last words as he left the room–nothing dilated so the baby wouldn’t be coming anytime soon.

When I heard the faint heartbeat I started to panic. I looked up at the name tag of the nurse hovering over me, “Lynn” and next to her name a Christian fish symbol. I grabbed her arm, “Excuse me, are you a Christian?” “Oh, yes. And so is the nurse over there.” Through tears of fear and relief I told her, “I’m a Christian, too.” She took my hand, “Don’t worry. I will be praying for you and the baby all the way through.”

Those were the last words I remember hearing as they pushed me off to surgery. I couldn’t stop shaking. And I remember looking up at the flourescent lighting and watching the hospital ceiling tiles go by overhead and thinking, “This isn’t how I thought it was going to be.”

They put me under for an emergency cesarean section. Darrin remembers seeing a single tear slide from my eye as they put me under. The doctor let Darrin come in to watch the surgery. He even had the honor of cutting the umbilical cord of his first son.

I later learned I had abruptio placenta. My placenta started separating from my uterine wall.

I later learned the lack of oxygen to the baby from this condition often results in cerebral palsy.

I later learned of a mom and baby who had the same thing happen around the same time. They lived outside town and both of them died on the way to the hospital.

My doctor came in to see me the next day. He said, “Angels must have been watching over you. Your placenta was one-third separated. Any more and it could have been fatal for the baby or you.” He mentioned the angels again as he left. Both Darrin and I knew without question God was looking out for us. Lynn, the nurse, came by and I found out she wasn’t scheduled to work the night before but came in at the last moment.

I was finally able to see our son the next day in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit. He had been in an oxygen tent, tube stuck in his nose for feeding, tiny feet bandaged from multiple pricks for blood work. He was by far the largest baby in the NICU. And when I held him for the first time and said, “Hey little guy,” he opened his eyes.

Darrin and I didn’t have a name picked out. The hospital tags read, “Boy Mabuni,” We didn’t have our bags packed for the hospital. Although, I’m fairly certain we were the only couple in our Lamaze class who purchased the suggested paint roller (to help ease the pain of contractions?!). Darrin walked downstairs the next day and informed the “How to take care of a baby” class instructor we wouldn’t be in the class. No time to practice on plastic babies. Our real one had come. Then he drove home and washed blood off the carpet, packed a few things and returned to the hospital with our “10,000 Baby Names” book.

As we talked about all that transpired, it became clear we would name our son Jonathan. The Hebrew meaning is: gift of God.

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From the very beginning we knew Jonathan was a gift to us. His birth story reminds me to hold on loosely. I am a steward not the owner. He, like our other kids, our home, our money, all our stuff, belongs to God and has been entrusted to us for a short while.

And truly it is a short while. Today, we celebrate Jonathan’s 22nd birthday. He has grown to be an incredible young man–bright, caring, hard-working, creative, self-motivated, musical, thoughtful.

I couldn’t be prouder.