A day of labor

*I’ve written about a lot of this before, but it won’t hurt you to read it again. Enjoy.

It was a Thursday morning when my water officially broke, one of the super disgusting line items that goes along with the “Miracle of Birth.” I was terrified and excited all at the same time – much like riding a roller coaster – except this ride would end with a beautiful baby in my arms instead of a mild case of whiplash. Although, my birthing experience probably had a little bit of that, too.

I was a newbie at the whole baby delivering gig, so I didn’t really have a good grip on what my body was doing. After exiting the shower on the morning of June 19, 2001, some water hit the floor that wasn’t shower related. I was officially due on June 22, but I’d heard a vicious rumor somewhere that full-term babies sometimes come a little bit before their due date. Oh, how I was ready to be a member of that club! My feet were so swollen. My back was miserable. And I was anxious to meet the little nugget who simply HAD to be ready for more living space by this point.

I called my OB/GYN office to explain what I thought had happened and they told me to go straight to the hospital. I called my boss on the way in to let him know I wouldn’t be coming to work because I was in labor, and (swear to God) he asked if I’d be in the next day. He had been very vocal for my entire pregnancy in letting me know what an inconvenience this would be for him. Knowing what we know now about Ben’s journey, I’m so thankful that he was only inconvenienced until Ben was about six months old. This cancer nonsense would have really put him in a bind. But enough about him.

We checked in to the hospital. They put my name on the big white board as a patient. I disrobed and got comfy in the bed, ready to meet my little person, only to be told by my nurse that I was wrong. My water hadn’t broke at all. It must have been the mucus plug that hit the floor (another disgusting line item in the “Miracle of Birth” experience.) I was unceremoniously discharged and did the waddle of shame down the hall as a nurse erased my name from the white board. There would be no baby coming today. And, my boss got his wish. I went to work the next day.

Since I was due on the 22nd, my OB wanted to see me on the 21st. I arrived for my appointment, and like every other pregnant woman in the world, I had to pee. STAT! I asked for the urine sample cup from the receptionist and headed off to do my business. As I was positioning myself over the toilet with the cup in hand to collect my sample, water exploded everywhere. Having my confidence shaken a couple of days before, I decided to not share with the staff what I thought had just happened. God forbid I be wrong about this two times in a row. They might decide that I’m completely inept and had absolutely no business trying to raise a child. So, I said nothing. I left my “sample” on the back of the toilet, cleaned up as best as I could, and went back to the waiting room.

I told Matt what I thought had happened. He said excitedly, “Go tell someone!” and I’m all like “No way! You!” and he’s all like, “No! You!” In a room full of very pregnant, semi-cranky expectant mothers, we were having a back and forth diatribe reminiscent of a couple of bickering siblings. We didn’t have to argue for long, because the nurse came out holding my sample and asking for “Sarah.” I looked at Matt with a bit of horror, like I was going to get a detention or something. I tentatively raised my hand, knowing I was about to get castigated. She asked, “What did you just leave in this cup?” All the other women in the classroom were raising their hands as if to say “I know! I know! Pick me! I know what that is!” And I answered her with the inflection of a question, “My water just broke?” She sternly nodded her head and told me to head straight for the hospital. All the other women groaned as if to say, “No fair. She doesn’t even know what she’s doing. Why does she get to go first?”

The next 26 hours were horrifying. We’ll just fast forward through all the scary bits of extreme high blood pressure and distressed baby stuff and head straight for the actual miracle: at 11:48 am on Friday, June 22, 2001, the young man who has so dramatically changed my life in wonderful ways was born.

Benjamin Harrison Brewer, you ARE a miracle, in every sense of the word. You arrived wearing a three-piece suit and holding a briefcase, ready for business. I’ve never known a more serious child. But that biting sense of sarcasm (that I’ll take hereditary credit for) and absolute ability to wow everyone with your beautiful manners, compassionate spirit, and aura of nothing but love, makes you such a remarkable young man. Not only am I proud to simply know you, but I’m over the moon to hold the status of being your mother. Never has there been a more rewarding or beautiful job.

For never planning to be a mother, I sure hit the jackpot in the kiddo department. Thank you, Ben, for teaching me about love. I learn more from you every single day, and I look forward to all the wonderful things you’ve yet to teach me.

I love you, my dear son. Happy birthday. mom-ben-iii

Summer Son

There’s an element of every season that I love, but if I had to choose, summer is probably my least favorite. I’m very sensitive to heat and while I love being ON the water (preferably in a small craft like a sailboat or a canoe) I don’t love the beach. I’ll take a snowy mountain peak any day.

And since I was born during the summer, I never got to have a birthday party in my classroom. This always irked me. When I found out that I was pregnant with Ben and had a due date of late June, the lack of a birthday party during the school year was one of the first things that crossed my mind. Priorities, I guess. I just wanted my unborn child to have a better life than I’d had. A birthday party during the school year is a child’s basic right. Ask any summer baby. They’ll all agree.

The impending onset of this summer has had me in a jumble of nerves. In my daily meditations, I tried to explore why I was so anxious about this coming summer, other than the basic disdain for sunburns and heat strokes. With Ben’s quarterly scans usually hitting around the start of each season, I came to the realization that every single relapse he’s had has occurred during the summer months. He had emergency surgery on my 41st birthday, which resulted in his first relapse. His second relapse was right after his 12th birthday. And then his third relapse was just a year later, on July 4th, 2014. Three recent summers overshadowed by recurrent disease. I guess if I had to find a silver lining in all of that, at least we were in an air-conditioned facility for the hell he faced.

So, when these most recent scans rolled around last week, I was beside myself with anxiety. His treatment team has said “it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it comes back, it’s a matter of ‘when.'” Now, I take all of this with a grain of salt. Statistically speaking, Ben is a freaking miracle. I’ve learned (and have had to relearn time and again) to surrender to the information we’ve been given. There’s nothing I can do about it except for love my Ben with all I’ve got. I try hard to not worry all the time and I’ve been doing a pretty good job. But like any human being suffering from PTSD, triggers make those raw emotions rear their ugly head.

We’ve been through hell. The last thing we want is to go through it again and it’s unfortunate that we’ve been told the whole “when, not if” factoid. I desperately want to know everything that’s happening inside my son’s body, so I long for the scans, yet dread them at the same time, because they have the potential to break my heart all over again.

When we got the word last week that Ben had no evidence of disease, I cried in relief. And then I threw up. Twice. I had been walking around with all of this heaviness, setting myself up for the possibility of another relapse, and when it didn’t come, my adrenaline had nothing to do. I’m not complaining, just explaining the whole barfy thing.

Finally. We get to have a summer.

We’re going to enjoy every sunburn. Every heat stroke. Find lots of adventures, like going to the Sand Dunes. Perhaps take that vacation that Ben’s been aching to take? Ben will have his 14th birthday outside of the hospital (see his Facebook page “I love The Bean” for birthday details… all are welcome!) And Thursday, Ben and Mad are headed to Wapiyapi, the most amazing summer camp catering to our precious population.

And I’m going to simply breathe. It’s going to be a good summer, indeed.