Yesterday, I was going through closets, organizing and purging. And I came across something that made me stop in my tracks for a full 5 minutes or so. I held it in my hand, turning it over and over. It looked horrible to me, like a device of torture. It was one of these:
An infusion kit for my Brethine infusion pump. They looked like huge thumbtacks, and I had to jab them into my thigh at least every 48 hours, but usually daily. I remember thinking I had it covered. I stick needles in people all of the time at work. It wasn’t the same. And after 3 months of it, it never got easier. The catheters were supposed to be subcutaneous, meaning under the skin. And I remember one time I felt this excrutiating pain after changing sites before my leg started throbbing and then went numb. I had hit a blood vessel and the subcutaneous drug was infusing into a vessel. And more times than I could count, someone (a doctor, a nurse, John, Evan…) would pat me on the thigh. In precisely the wrong spot.
Women wear the scars of pregnancy and childbirth like badges of honor. The c-section scar. The stretch mark. We all do it. And as we critique our flaws, we can find peace with these because they were behind our child’s presence in this world and our lives. I have more scars than that. My legs are peppered with them. As are my hips from the progesterone injections. I love these and I hate them, but I’ll get to that shortly.
My discovery today in the back corner of the closet showed me I am not completely healed from my pregnancy. I wanted to burn it. Yet I could not throw it away. Instead, I tucked it into the box of mementos I have kept for Zach. It mingles in there amidst his little cap and id band from the hospital, his footprints, his take-home outfit, and more ultrasound pictures than I can count. And there it is. The lone article that has anything to do with the struggle that occurred to bring the child here. One day I will have to explain it to him. What in the hell is it?
Well, it’s pain. It’s hope that we would get another hour/day/week/month. That he would have a better chance. It’s my love for him. It’s my darkest hour. It is every bit of my strength. It is 33 weeks and 4 days. It’s only 6 hours in the NICU. It’s terror. It’s heartbreak. It’s half a million dollars, yet priceless. It is everything I was for 14 weeks. It’s tangible proof of a miracle.
I loved and hated that stupid pump. The root of the hate is obvious. The pain, the nuisance, the side effects. But love? Really? Well, quite simply, we can hypothesize all we want about what kept Zach in there for as long as he was, but we will never know for sure. Only one thing is certain: if I would have delivered the first time I had over 30 contractions an hour, he wouldn’t have been stillborn or a preemie. He would have been called a miscarriage. It wouldn’t have even been ethical to try to help him that early. And so if there is the slimmest of chances that that needle daily was the reason….
So no, I couldn’t throw it away. I had to save it for him. Because mothers try to tell their children how much they love them at least daily. Lucky me. Because when it comes to Zach, I have the proof.
Incidentally, March of Dimes is having their annual March for Babies as spring arrives. Click the link and help out.