Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Very Special Christmas Stocking

When I was 20 and a day I received the special gift of a baby boy. He arrived three weeks early, weighing only 6 lbs 8 oz. He thrived and grew rapidly and all was right with the world.

I found myself pregnant again, before my body had fully healed. My due date was BJ's birthday, December 17th. It turns out that all was not as right with my world as I had thought, my husband was seeing someone else. I struggled both physically and emotionally for most of this pregnancy. Around November 10th I was taken out of work and told the I'd have my baby "any day now." Things at home continued to be stressful. I was still in a fantasy world that we could work things out. BJ had more than made up for his low birth weight and was in no hurry to walk. Somehow I managed to strain the ligaments to my uterus. My back hurt constantly. I fought just to get through each day.

December 17th came and went. The doctor continued to say any day now. Sonograms were not performed back then but the baby's heart beat was strong. I finally went into labor in the early evening on the 24th. On Christmas day we went to my mother's. His family met us there because we weren't sure when we'd have to head to the hospital. Gifts were exchanged, everyone had a nice dinner (I had weak tea) and my contractions continued. We watched the Bells of St Mary's and my mother got progressively more nervous. Finally about 5:00 we left for the hospital. That Christmas day was the coldest on record; I can still remember the pain of the cold walking from the parking garage.

When we got to the hospital I got the same nurse that I'd had the year before and she was absolutely wonderful. I had a birthing room and my husband promptly fell asleep in the recliner. I told the nurse to leave him. My doctor was not on call on Christmas so I got the other doctor from the office who I had only met once before. He was nasty to me and worse to the nurses. When the baby was finally ready I was told not to push because the doctor was having cookies and eggnog. I requested the intern but the doctor did arrive in time for the birth (but not in time to perform an episiotomy.) Just after 9:30 I had a perfect but tiny baby girl. Bean weighed only 6 lbs. 1/2 oz.

Phone calls were made. I was moved to my room and my husband went home. Bean was moved to the nursery where the nurses slid her into this stocking. There were only three babies in the nursery and they all looked so cute in these stockings that had been handmade by a hospital volunteer. We stayed in the hospital three wonderful days. I missed BJ but I had been so worn out that it was wonderful to have all of the nurses and other staff dote on us. I had learned the year before that before Christmas the maternity ward is packed so that everyone could be home for Christmas.

The first sign of the trouble that lay ahead came on our third day when it was evident that I would not be able to nurse. For the next six months I wasn't sure that she would survive. She lost weight. She was allergic to the formulas we tried. A soy formula was the best available alternative at the time and she only kept down a small part of each feeding. She slept around the clock and had to be awakened for feedings. I kept her right next to my bed and checked on her several times a night. At her six week checkup she had gained very little, the newborn clothes still too big on her. She was anemic and I had to take her for regular blood work. They'd stick her tiny foot while I held her and cried. When she was four months old my husband finally moved in with his girlfriend. One burden had been removed and things got a bit easier for me. She started to stay awake more and keep a little more down, including the iron supplements. In June she finally turned the corner and started to grow and play and thrive.

She continued to amaze me as she grew into a womanhood. She always fought for what she believed in. She never gave up on anything. Today she is married, has her own business and two children of her own.

Someday I may pass this stocking on to her but for now it is mine. It once held the most precious Christmas gift I ever received.




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6 comments:

Janice said...

What a lovely Christmas gift! My son was born on December 22nd quite a few years ago.

Did you ever have issues with celebrating your daughter's birthday and Christmas so close together?

Janice

Jasia said...

I thought I had the most unique Christmas stocking but you've got me beat!

In spite of all your trials and tribulations you persevered and so did your daughter. Kudos to you both!

Merry Christmas!

Miriam said...

Apple, your story was absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. How lovely!

Apple said...

Janice,
We have six birthdays in December and so we usually just have one big birthday party around the 15th so Bean has always received her presents early. I think she has finally forgiven me for the year that I called her and wished her a Merry Christmas but forgot to say Happy Birthday!

Jasia,
I thought your boot was neat! That six month period I learned that I could handle whatever life would throw at me.

Miriam,
Thank-you! My son's daughters were here when I was writing this and I teared up a bit as I was typing. Nikki was a bit concerned because she had never seen me cry.

Jewelgirl said...

A wonderful story, my eyes teared
up as I read it. I am glad you and
your daughter went on to have good
lives. Definitely a Christmas stocking that contained many blessings for you that year.

Lee said...

A bittersweet story that left me with a sad tear in one eye and a happy tear in the other.

Churches may have let you down, dear Apple, but your daughter is all the evidence you need that God has not.

Thank you for sharing a true Christmas story with us.