Monday, November 19, 2007

And in the beginning....

Deciding my life path was not an easy task. My whole life, everyone always asked me what I wanted to be. Being a straight A student, open, and friendly, people would often tell me what I'd be good at; "You'd make a fine architect!" or "How about an oceanographer?" Each one sounded as good as the next, to me. As long as my mind was challenged, and I was helping people or animals, I was happy.
As I became older, I also became pickier. Now, being a veterinarian or a doctor just wasn't good enough. It "fit" me, but I didn't feel any passion for it. I had always thought that when you found your life path, you'd know it. But I wondered, when would I find what I was made to do?

At the age of 15, I was privileged enough to be an employee at a kids' horse camp. I loved kids, and I loved horses, so it was perfect for me. I was in heaven! I finally felt a passion for my work. Even though I was only 15, I worked as hard (some days, harder) than the other, older counselors. It wasn't long until I became "promoted" (most people wouldn't call it that, but I thought of it that way!) to being the "equestrian health care specialist". That meant, that I got to take care of things like "fistulous withers", "strangles", and "colic". It was a nasty job, but I sincerely loved it. I felt like I was truly making a difference in each of these horses lives, and I enjoyed the in-depth learning on horses I was doing. Even the vet was impressed with me. But I wasn't doing it to impress anyone; I was doing it because I loved it. It was the first time I'd felt challenged... the first time I felt I was doing something noble.

At the end of that summer, events took place that left that dream shattered. The man who owned the ranch had been dating my mom, and when they broke up, I was left with facing the fact that that particular dream was a long, long ways off. Shortly after the break-up, my mom found out she was with child. It came as quite a shock to her, but I don't remember feeling any certain way about it. I vaguely remember being happy, but confused at how this would turn out. All I knew was that I wanted to be there for my mom and my new sibling.

Months passed, and soon I could feel baby kicking. We were told the baby was a "she", and we named her Ryalee Anne. My mom, being in her late thirties, was pretty uncomfortable by the time the last few months rolled around. She was also suffering from depression issues, and we all learned to lean on each other for support. I remember lying on her belly at night, listening to the baby move around and feeling her kick my head. My brothers and I would talk to the baby, and cuddle around my moms growing tummy at night. I remember feeling so much love for this little one, without even really knowing her yet.

For months we badgered my mom with questions like "How are you feeling? Do you think it will be today? Soon? When??!" Needless to say, we were a bit impatient. I even remember thinking "Oh, the baby could be born in late February and still be ok...." (she wasn't due until April 20th). Obviously, I was a bit uneducated about the subject.

When the day finally came, my mom calmly told us she had been having contractions, and that the birth would be soon. She told us at about 7pm on the evening of April 15th. Being this was her 4th child, she wanted to stay at home as long as possible, but my brother and I finally talked her into going in at about 1:30am.
The next morning, nothing had happened. The nurses unhooked the fetal moniter, took all the machines out of the room, and told my mom to go home. I remember my mom looking at me and saying "If I go home, you'll be delivering this baby in the car". She decided to take a bath then, and I just hung out and watched T.V. This was at about 8:30am.
The next thing I really remember was looking at the clock, and it being about 10:30. Mom had went from peaceful and totally in control to a raving lunatic. I kept calling the nurses in, but no one would come, even after my mom started screaming. Soon, my brother was also hitting the call nurse button, and I finally yelled down the hallway for someone to get in there! An older, snotty nurse came in a haughty look on her face, checked my mom, and immediately went into action, yelling for more nurses and for someone to get the doctor. My mom was absolutely hysterical at this point (about 20 min to 11am). The nurse kept telling my mom not to push, and my mom... well, I'm not sure if she was trying to stop it because of the nurse, or because she was so scared at how fast things were moving. She told me later that there was no time to fall into a rhythm, no time to even think. Her body just went into overdrive and left her behind. Finally, the doctor came in. A nurse told me to grab my mom's leg, while she held back the other. In just two or three pushes.. I'm not really sure, because my mom wasn't really pushing the way I imagined her to push. She never held her breath, or crunched up into a ball... no one even had to chance to count.. Anyway, in just a few pushes, I saw my baby sister's head crown.. then the doc took out his knife and cut an episiotomy and out came this dark, pink, and bloody baby... boy. I saw... I saw that it was a boy, but I couldn't get out the words. But the doctor did; "Congratulations, it's a uh.. um, boy?!" And my mom went from screaming for her mommy, to a fit of giggles in an instant. It was very otherworldish, to say the least.

They then took my little brother over to a warming table. He never did cry, just opened his eyes and looked right at me.... and then he grabbed ahold of my pinky. He was so tiny.. especially compared to us older kids (8lbs 5oz- 9lbs 12oz). He only weighed 7lbs 4oz. It seemed to take them forever (and in fact, it was HOURS) to give him to my mom for the first time. At the time, I was very excited to be the first to touch him. Now I realise, my mom should have been the first.
And on the 4th day, my mom named her third boy, and last child, Jacob.
I was only 16 years old at the time, but that day's events stuck in my mind. I analyzed it over and over again. I blamed the whole chaos scene on the nurses, and their crabbiness that day. I also learned that a momma's instincts are much more accurate than any machine, or even another person's opinion even. I also remember being surprised that all the doctor did was come in at the last second, cut my mom up, and catch the baby. He only waited a bit for the placenta, and then was gone again. Surely, my mom's birth was the exception to the rule? Surely, it isn't common practice for things to go this way?.... right?

I also got to watch my mom breastfeed our new little brother, and experienced the life saving benefits of co-sleeping first-hand. I also started to understand the importance of carrying your baby, and not leaving them to cry. None of these lessons were "taught" per se, but I observed and saw how happy and healthy my baby brother was. Little did I know, the seeds of my passion were being planted in my heart and mind.

My life after this took many twists and turns. I moved out of state to Wyoming at the age of 17, met a guy there and decided to move out to New York with him for a while. We then moved back to my home state and have been here since. I was only 18, then.

The summer after I turned 19, I became very sick with pertussis, also known as whooping cough. At the time, I couldn't understand how my brothers and I could have caught this, being we were fully vaccinated. I came down with it the worst, though, and ended up in the hospital. I had severe pneumonia complicating the whooping cough, and also some concerning mass in my lungs. I was told it was possibly cancer, and that further testing was needed.

After being sick for 4 months or so, and being on round after round of antibiotics, I made an appointment with the doctor because I was afraid my cough was getting worse again. I felt so tired, and worn out... I couldn't even keep myself awake during the day. When asking me about routine things, the date of my last period came up. Somewhere in the stores of my memory, I remembered it was on the 22nd of September. But today was the 26th of October, and no period. So he ordered a urine pregnancy test to be taken before he put me on my next round of antibiotics. I figured it was just the stress my bodyhad been under that was delaying my period.. I mean, I was on the pill. What were the chances of getting pregnant??

"Well, good news. You're pregnant".