You would never know that this blanket is a wash cloth...

You would never know that this blanket is a wash cloth… 

I had my first child when I was 19.  I have never been so scared as the day I had to let my parents know they would be grandparents.  Now, almost 14 years later, I look back on the day I became a mother.  I was 26 weeks gestation and working 60 hours a week.  I remember thinking I didn’t feel good, but I had no idea what a contraction felt like.  I had turned 19 the week before and my boss had made me a belated birthday gift. My favorite, fresh chili and a chocolate cake.  After working all day, I finally decided that the pain I was feeling warranted going in to the ER to make sure everything was ok.  It turns out, I was in labor. That pain was contractions.  Since I was in the little, tiny hospital, I was immediately flown to a much larger hospital in Tennessee. I cannot sing the praises of Johnson City Medical Center enough.  They actually managed to stop my labor several times. I needed to keep her in for at least 48 hours for the steroids to work. They were to strengthen her young lungs. Then, on July 15th, she wouldn’t wait any longer.  The magnesium that I had been given wasn’t working and I was at my maximum amount.  At this point, quite frankly, I was a bit silly from the drugs.  Apparently I confessed to swiping Wild Turkey from the pantry as a 13 year old.  My father had no worries, it tasted awful and I had no urge to continue drinking.

I remember key parts of the labor. I remember my mother holding my hand. She was squeezing so hard and she was an emotional wreck. It was really annoying.  That was the last delivery room I ever let her in.  I remember not really feeling the pain of child birth. At that point, the medication had made me so swollen and out of it, I felt no pain.  Plus, she was much smaller than your average baby.  I remember that the room was filled with people. After all, this is a learning hospital we are talking about and I had a lot of equipment around the room to get this baby ventilated and warm as soon as she came out.

I didn’t get to hear my baby cry like mothers do when they are born.  I didn’t get to hold her.  I’m glad I was so young and naive.  It never even occurred to me that she may not make it.  My daughter was born weighing 1lb 12.4oz.  I named her Keely after a name that I saw in a trashy romance novel when I was probably 14…give or take a year.  I just loved the name. My kid, my choice.  I have lots of pictures of her through her 2 month stay in the NICU, but I don’t like to look at most of them. We went through a staph infection. There was the ventilator and the IVs.  I just don’t like to go down that memory lane.  It was really painful to watch.  The picture I posted above was actually when she was about a month old.  She was born small for her age. This could be an issue with my uterus and young age.  It could have just been a fluke.  Those were the only options since I didn’t smoke or drink during the pregnancy, and I have never done drugs.  In the picture above, that’s actually a wash cloth she was using as a blanket.  People look at this and just can’t believe it.

No one besides parents and grandparents got to see her until she was out of the hospital.  Hospital policy, due to germs and the danger to the babies.  I agreed with the policy 100%.  Now, my mother and father did not. My mother wanted to take her sister in. Uh…seriously, was never going to happen. I don’t even like her sister. She’s a hateful woman who thinks she knows everything.  My father wanted to bring his girlfriend in. No offense to my father, but his girlfriends really don’t seem to last. No girlfriend was going to put my baby in danger.  I don’t care how nice she was.

Finally, I got to bring my baby home.  Talk about a learning experience. I still wouldn’t let anyone see her for months except a few friends and family.  It was flu season and her life literally depended on it.  That was almost 14 years ago….

The medicines along with her premature birth caused Keely to have hearing loss in one ear. It also caused mild mental retardation. Basically, her short term memory is fried.  I will never understand how she can’t remember thing in short term, but her long term memory is amazing.  Uh, how do you remember it later if you don’t remember it to start with?  One of life’s mysteries.  I struggled with her disability for a long time. I look at it now, and I think, wow, I am so lucky, it could have been so much worse.  Like I said, it has been a learning process. I had to learn to be grateful for the things that didn’t happen.  I saw so many babies with surgeries and death. I look back now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She’s an intelligent, beautiful, young woman.

Almost grown now!

Almost grown now!

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