Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not a teen, not an adult.

So when I found out I was pregnant, I had had an idea for a while already, but was in total denial. I had a weird period cause I sucked at taking the pill, which according to me, was why I wasn't getting a period. But one day I got extremely angry at my dad because I claimed he never bought me the fruit I wanted. I yelled at him all the way to the store, my poor dad. You know what I made him buy me? Grapes and cucumbers. Cucumbers aren't even fruit. He asked me if I was ok because that was a stupid thing to get mad about. Sorry pa, my hormones were a little wild.
I think it was the end of April when I went to Walgreens to buy a pregnancy test just to have a solid answer. I bought it, drove to 7/11, peed on the stick and waited for five minutes. I texted my boyfriend, at the time, to let him know what was going on. It didn't take five minutes at all. I saw the life changing symbol in the little box within seconds. I took the second test; same result. I cried. I told him both were positive. He asked me what should we do? I knew I wanted to keep it, yes we were only 19, but I couldn't go threw with anything else. My dad found out through Facebook; sadly I did not have the courage to tell him myself. I told my mom and she told me to think very hard about what I was going to decide. My boyfriend took me to my first appointment and I was twelve weeks. I missed my whole first trimester. We both got jobs and he talked about me moving in with him. All guys, I think, have their little scares and that moment where they don't know if they can be dads. My baby dad's lasted a week, but by the end of the week I was moving in with him. My pregnancy was typical for that of a young mom. You get the weird stares, the baby dad questions, did I finish school, etc. In June, I had the option of taking some test to see if my son would be born with a genetic disability. My parents were very against because my mom had gotten a very high chance of my brother having Down syndrome and it caused her to be extremely depressed the rest of her pregnancy. My brother actually was born "normal." I took it because I wanted to be able to prepare myself for anything, of course nothing would change the love I had for my little blessing. I actually had one of the lower scores, which meant it was VERY unlikely, as the nurse kept emphasizing, that my son would have any issues. Ironic isn't it? To me those results now mean nothing. When I have another child I'll probably pass on those tests. God has the final say in what happens. My labor was long, approximately 22 hours. The nurses thought I was funny because I laughed after every contraction. I guess I just loved the fact that my baby boy was almost out. Once my water broke, I started dialating rapidly. At 8 or 9 pm I was at 9cm so they suggested I take the epidural. I didn't want it, but what they hadn't told me up until then was that during my recent contractions my son's heartbeat was close to a stop. I was too tense and he seemed to be stuck. So I took the epidural and I had to lay on my left side. I felt everything on my right side, but I still got to take a nap. Next thing I know, nurses are rushing into my room waking me up at 2am announcing "Its time to push." So my dad and my baby's dad are each on one side; my mom and his mom are each holding one foot. I push for about ten minutes and they flop my bloody child onto my belly at exactly 2:15 am on October 30. They tell me to rub him hard on his back because he's having a hard time catching his breath. He's frantically searching for my boob, I put him on and he feeds like he had been doing it forever. The nurses and doctor were very impressed. His dad gave him his first bath and changed his first diaper. I ate a sandwich and I don't remember a lot after, but I was told I was rushed into another room because I started loosing a lot of blood. I think I passed out because the next time I woke up, it was to the cry of my beautiful 18 in., 6lb baby, named Roberto Giovahnii. My dad was very proud of me, he said I delivered better than any of my relatives including my mom, as though this was what I was meant to do. But at 19, I was still terrified at how disgusting my body was and all that was to come my way. As terrified as I was, I think it was good I didn't know about my son's disability just yet.

Learning all over.

I think I'll start with when all the crazy doctor's appointments started. When my son turned a year old we had to switch him to milk as you do with all one year olds. The doctor I had been taking him to at the time suggested I withdraw the whole milk completely from his diet, because the first few times I had given him whole milk he had to be taken to the emergency room. He had had a very bloody diaper and I panicked. The nurse said it was normal for that to happen since his body was getting use to the heaviness of the whole milk. She referred me to a doctor. I didn't like this doctor at all. She weighed him only in his first visit and every visit after that she tried giving him antibiotics for illnesses he did not have. My son had large tonsils making him sound like he had a cold all the time, which is what she was misdiagnosing. A friend then recommended the pediatrics she takes her son to. I took him in as soon as I could. They said he was very underweight; by this time he was already a year and a half. He was also behind mentally compared to most kids his age. He still wasn't walking at 18 months which was a little bit of a concern to the doctors. My theory was that he was lazy because we all held him all day at home. So they referred me to Child Find, an organization that helps children under 3 who are struggling with different areas of development. In my son's case they suggested a physical and speech therapist would help him get back on track. This whole time I felt like a horrible mother. I had been so stuck on working that I wasn't teaching my son anything and now he was behind. I did all I could to help him "catch up." I started reading to him, I only let him watch shows I thought were educational, I repeated animal sounds and body parts so much I dreamed about it. I had no life, I felt, because I was only 21 and did nothing, but work on my child's development. We had our first session with the physical therapist in June of 2012. She would stand him up and help him take some steps and let go. He wasn't having it at all. He was 20 months and displayed no sign of trying to walk. The therapist decided to see him every two weeks. To our surprise, though, he started walking before his third session! We all laughed at her expression when we answered the door and he ran to see who it was. She stayed maybe 15 minutes to fill out paperwork that she felt he no longer needed her services and congratulated us on whatever it was we were doing. Now, his speech therapist didn't see such quick improvement from him. In fact, he still receives speech therapy to this day. During all of these crazy therapies that were happening every other week, he was getting weekly weight checks, because of how small he was. I had to keep journals on his diet and was sent packets on high calorie meals he should be eating. He had blood work done, I think, once a month for the three months before he was sent to an endocrinologist. None of the doctors could figure out why he wouldn't gain weight. I'm surprised they didn't call social services on me, the nurses gave me the weirdest looks as if I didn't feed my child or something. I went to this specialist who looked at my son and asked if I had ever had him tested for Down Syndrome or any other genetic disability. Of course I hadn't! My son couldn't have Down Syndrome. He had a slightly bigger forehead, but so did his father. He stuck his tongue out on occassion, but that was a habit he got from when he was teething. He was small because I was small. I had all my theories and explanations about everything anyone ever pointed out. His first visit was short, a simple introduction to what was going to happen with in the next year. This was in November of 2012. My son had just turned two, was walking, talked a tiny bit and loved cars and guns like any other little boy. I had just started a new job that had a 9-5 schedule so I could spend more time with him, while making a little more money. Things were looking good. Come February of this year, he had his second visit with the endocrinologist. He commented on how mature my son looked and that the Down Syndrome he had seen before was not quite as noticeable, but he still wasn't growing. He said he wanted a genetics test done to rule anything else out, before starting hormones. The thought of giving my son hormones scared me, but I figured it could be worse and this would help him out a lot. I also felt it would be a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. The past year had been so crazy and stressful. I knew being a first time mom and being so young was hard enough, but I couldn't have messed up that bad during his first couple years of life. A couple weeks after that relieving appointment in February, I get a phone call at my job. The doctor had the results to my son's genetic test and needed to give them to me immediately. My heart dropped because I know when things are good they just leave a message and leave you alone. He said my son had Down Syndrome just as he had suspected. The odd part was that it wasn't in all of his genetic makeup, it was only parts of him that he could see. He explained that he has never seen anyone with it, but only heard of it. The name of it is Mosaic Down Syndrome. I pretty much couldn't hear the rest of whatever he was saying. I was so sad and hurt and I felt disappointed in myself for being so ignorant and in denial. I could have caught this sooner, although I did hear him say at the end that I was lucky to have caught it this early. I cried and I was at work and I felt so pathetic. I called my mom to tell her what happened and I could hear her crying on the other end. She asked if I was ok and I said yes. I also sent a text to my baby's father and my best friend, they were just as shocked, but said they always suspected something.  I was working in the back room so I had a moment to get myself together. Soon my mom came to my job and just looked at me her eyes red and swollen, full of tears. She just hugged me very tight. The type of hug that you know are more for them than for you. She felt the pain as a grandmother and as a mother. She just stared at me with her round, sad eyes. She told me to let her know when I was home; she wanted to see the baby. Right after she had left, my boss came and looked at me and asked what happened. I told him nothing that it was just my son's doctor and I was ok. He kept asking if I was sure like trying to get it all out of me. I said yes I'm fine, my son has Down Syndrome, but it's ok. He just looked at me and said, "it's ok to cry Karla."
"No, no I'm fine. I don't need to cry."
"I know you're strong, but you can let it out. I know it's hard."
"I know it's ok to let it out, but I don't have anything to let out. My son has Down Syndrome it's going to be ok. Hes still my son." But by this I'm already tearing up with a big, ole frog in my throat ready to just burst out in tears. Which I do. Only for about 10 seconds, because I'm not use to crying in front of people so when it happens it's very sudden and very quick; I don't know why. I always thought I would know a little bit about being a mom, since I helped my mom with my sister when I was 16 years old. I tried telling myself it wouldn't be much different when I found out I was pregnant. Little did I know I would be facing a different type of motherhood. A more special type of motherhood.