One morning 7 ½ years ago, I felt a sharp cramp in my abdomen as I lay in bed. Unusual as I never get menstrual cramps. I remember my eyes were closed…then I realized something. I hadn’t had my period. I jumped up and drove to Walgreens in my PJ’s to buy a pregnancy test. Five minutes after returning to our apartment, I received the shock of my life….I was indeed pregnant! I can still recall the nervous/exciting feeling I had. I drove to my then fiancé’s job to tell him – he was happy, but also shocked.
In my 20s, I opted for apartment living and declared that I wouldn’t have kids – but, there I was…knocked up, expecting my first child in 8 months.
We announced the pregnancy to the masses after the 1st trimester. We’d previously planned a destination wedding…mermaid style wedding dress, etc. I was unable to return the dress, so at 6 months of pregnancy I had the dress altered – we stuck to the plans and married in Costa Rica. A few months later, I found a day care and I was grateful for my then employer’s willingness to allow flexible hours after my expected return to work.
All was planned – then came the baby…
It was the Friday before my impending due date. At this point, I’m still working in the office. My thoughts were to continue until my due date which would allow more time saved to utilize after he was born. It was the end of summer and most of my colleagues were out of office, on vacation, etc. I felt fine as I sat at my desk quietly working…until my boss walked over to check on me. “Sun, you ok over there?” she asked. “Yes!” I replied and chuckled. And that was it. I immediately began to feel fluid leaking uncontrollably from my body. I snuck out of the back door to the hallway, then into the bathroom. As I stood in the stall in my dress and flip flops, I realized there’d be no way to be discrete about it. I walked back into the office, called the nurse who said that if I weren’t in pain- it was fine to drive myself to the hospital.
I remember the sudden shock of it all…I called my boss on the phone and said, “I’m leaving!” Nothing else.. no, “Hey, my water just broke!”
I was freaking out, but calm at the same time. I called my husband who also left work to grab my hospital bag from home. I checked in at the hospital, then handed my birth plan to the nurse. BIRTH PLAN – what a waste! I was soon given Pitocin and went downhill from there. I labored through the night, fully dilated and ready to push the following morning – but, he wouldn’t budge. After 3 hours of pushing, the baby was distressed and an emergency c-section was ordered.
At 10:41 am that morning my son was born. I was initially told that he wasn’t breathing – I immediately stopped breathing. Then I heard him cry and was overwhelmed with fear, happiness, and anxiety…all the perfect ingredients to an ugly cry which my husband unknowingly caught on camera.
So, that’s the beginning…almost 7 years ago. His entrance into the world nearly scared the “B’JEEZUS” out of me…It should’ve been a telltale of what’s to come. I remember initially thinking we’d have 2-3 kids….2-3 years apart. NOT!
Once he was cleared in NICU, he roomed with me the rest of our stay. I stared at him the entire time in awe and disbelief. “I’m a mother.” I remember thinking. Back in my 20s, I declared that I wouldn’t have kids, so that may have had something to do with the mere shock of it all. He was jaundiced and my milk took a few days to come in, but it did and we were released after five days to begin our new life with a baby!
Although it was a huge adjustment – we were both thrilled. He was a spunky and energetic kid from the very beginning. As a babe he’d move constantly and loathed baby slings/carriers. And I tried a few. He didn’t sleep much at night…which lasted two years. He began walking at nine months, so no rest during the day either! At a month, he began to show signs of food allergies/eczema which was unbeknownst to us at the time. (but, probably had a lot to do with his sleeping issues) After the first year, I had removed the top 8 allergens from my diet in order to continue breastfeeding him and ease the eczema. As I mentioned, we were NEW to food allergies – we initially didn’t get what all the fuss was about…until I gave him a store bought snack. I placed him in his highchair and thought I’d get a little work done on my computer. Shortly after, he broke out in hives and began scratching at his neck. I jumped up, ran into the kitchen for Benadryl and water. I gave him both and he began to calm down. We immediately took him into the doctor who referred us to an allergist. THAT’S when we learned about his multiple food allergies (Peanut, Dairy, Egg and Wheat) Oh man! I thought, “What will he eat?” At this point, he wasn’t in daycare yet and now the thought of enrolling him terrified me. We were on several waiting lists and planned to enroll him after his 2nd birthday.
I then went on a mission to find foods that were SAFE for him to eat. Everyone I told – couldn’t relate to how I felt because most kids can eat anything- no problemo. There was a Natural Grocers recently built near my job, so I ventured there first with questions. So glad I did. They just happened to have a nutritionist who helped me with food allergy friendly foods, non-dairy milk and the local food allergy group, Austin Families with Food Allergies. It was great. I didn’t feel alone in this….The nutritionist, Trevida Trevino helped with the food related issues and the group shared their stories and experiences which made me more receptive to send him to the Montessori school we’d planned for him to attend. Our social life took a huge ding as we’re constantly watching him to ensure he doesn’t get into foods he can’t eat. I remember travelling to visit friends and family members often…over the years that decreased. Just out of pure exhaustion. Trying to “catch up” with an old friend while watching a toddler – didn’t work. As much as people would ask about him out of concern – they’d still offer him food that wasn’t safe for him. It’s the labelling….I never knew all of the different names for dairy, wheat and gluten products until Danny’s diagnosis. Who knew certain candy could have traces of peanut and/or dairy?? When I began reading labels, I was introduced to the many names for his allergens as well as the unsurmountable amount of chemicals listed. Once again…this did affect our lifestyle in a huge way. Our grocery bill doubled and I looked at the processed foods at parties and get togethers differently. Now, I think back to the times of spontaneity. When we’d go places, road trips, eat out at restaurants. I meet friends occasionally for lunch, but eating feels different. I feel the social aspect of it has been taken away thus isolating our family. Over time it did cause friction in our marriage as we seemed to be more confined to our house – more than usual.
All was well, until…
I took their advice and made info sheets for church, babysitters and the Montessori with his photo, list of food allergies, medical and contact information. My little social butterfly LOVED the Montessori and made new friends. The teachers and administrators were extremely cooperative and concerned about his safety – which made it a little easier to leave him there. We had a routine going he enjoyed his time there at the school and I’d receive notifications regarding upcoming holiday/birthday parties. This allowed me time to plan for possible alternative snacks and desserts to bring to the festivities. My son progressed into a little talking toddler with friends or “best buddies” as he’d refer to them. I’d periodically get a phone call during the day in which I’d leave work because his eye would mysteriously swell or some other allergy related symptom. I’d take him into the doctor’s office – they’d reassure me that it wasn’t food, but environmental. He’d also, like other kids have his round of illnesses. But, two months before his 3rd birthday he was ill with high fevers and cough – all week. He was misdiagnosed earlier in the week (with hand, foot and mouth disease) – which resulted in a 3 day hospital stay. He was diagnosed with pneumonia with asthma complications. Yes, it was official – he also had asthma. One more thing to add to the list. I was beside myself. I was scared, upset, furious with the doctor who misdiagnosed his illness and most of all terrified for him. I thought about all the doctor visits he’d had since he was born…now one more thing. By the end of this, I’d lost my voice. Not from screaming or crying, but from a lack of sleep. It was a long week of spiked temps and coughing all night. Looking back, I realize I need to take care of myself…but, it was the farthest thing from my mind at the time.
After he was discharged, we switched pediatricians and we were referred to a pulmonologist. My then, 3 year old now took asthma meds daily to control asthma symptoms…we also have an allergist for annual visits. Two years ago, he took a baked egg challenge in the office and passed it! So, instead of the egg replacer we’d usually use to bake bread, we can use eggs! A little progress! We’ve continued to seek advice from the nutritionist at Natural Grocers. Initially, we had problems getting him to eat any protein. Around 4 years old, he was referred to an endocrinologist after an annual wellness visit. The pediatrician noticed a possible stint in growth that year. I actually noticed it, as well. I’m usually really laid back, but after the visit with the endocrinologist followed by the nutritionist (who said his diet was carb filled)…I went home and put my foot down. I was no longer working full time, so my focus was his diet. I prepared grass-fed meats, organic fruits and vegetables. I told him this was all we had…Boy, did that go over well! Ha! Was it easy? Of course not. The first month was extremely difficult – he was used to eating his usual carb filled diet- but, he eventually cooperated and 4 years later, still going strong!
He LOVES life! My extremely extroverted, adventurous, babe. He makes me and others around him laugh when he’s around. I think about his natural ability to pull others in and realize his high energy and huge personality is a good thing. I know I’m a worry wart because of all the health challenges, but he has lots of fun in spite of it all.
His diet’s better. He loves to hangout with friends, play with superhero/ transformer action figures and of course LEGOS and MINECRAFT on his iPad.
When I was pregnant, we entertained the idea of 2-3 kids, but then I found myself at lunch with friends and colleagues referring to him as my “TwoFer…” – my two for 1. He has all the common temperaments of a second child: wild child, outspoken, high maintenance, LOVABLE, and a little prankster! After everything, my husband and I didn’t talk about another kid. Then in January 2014, I had stomach pains and decided to make an appointment. Why? Well, a week prior to that I’d eaten some of my husband’s ice cream…no biggy.. It’s just that I hadn’t eaten any dairy products in awhile…which made me ponder the idea of being lactose intolerance or another possible issue. After my doctor’s visit I received a referral to see a gastroenterologist. An hour later, I’m in the line at Jumpoline, the nearest trampoline park. I open my wallet to pay and my phone rang. “We apologize for the phone call…we wish we could’ve caught you before you left. Please cancel the referral [to the gastroenterologist]…you’re PREGNANT! They went onto explain the next steps but, I didn’t/couldn’t get passed the “you’re pregnant” part. I stood there for about 5 minutes holding the phone to my ear in one hand and a five dollar bill in the other. Once I finally paid, I sat down and watched my son jump…up and down, up and down – in shock! My first thoughts were, “Am I capable of doing it again?”
First born, second
After a few months had gone by – TIME helped make it more of a reality. Time and speed walks helped me deal with it all. We learned we were having another boy. The kid was surprisingly excited about it and upon learning he sex of the baby I also learned my husband secretly wanted a girl. I remember thinking, “Two wild childs??!?!?” Not sure how I’d manage…but, then he was born. He looked exactly like and reminded me of my first. EXCEPT – he has this calmness about him. I can recall telling a close friend of mine years ago, that I’m not sure if I can love another kid as much as I do my first son, but-
I see I can, I will, I AM in love all over again.