The Corpsman tried to stick monitor leads on my swollen abdomen as I crawled on all fours on the table alleviating the agony of childbirth. “Ma’am,” he said in a southern drawl, “You have to lie on your back and hold still.”
“That’s precisely how I got into this mess in the first place!”
I acquiesced to the corpsman’s request and he attached the leads to my big belly and looked at the monitor. I panted like a dog failing at Lamaze. His expression dimmed.
“I’ll be right back. Stay here and don’t move!” Easy for him to say. A commander rushed in to the room with a nurse on his heels.
“How are you doing?” the commander asked me calmly.
“Not so good,” I said. “This baby wants out now.”
“That’s what we’re here to do.” The commander performed a hasty pelvic exam and his eyes bulged from behind his glasses. He barked orders, “Get an operating room ready! And find me a surgeon!” The nurse flew out of the room. The commander glared at the lieutenant. “Did you break her water?”
“Yes, sir,” said the lieutenant.
“You idiot!” barked the Commander. I screamed with the next contraction and my natural instinct said to push out that baby, but nothing happened except an eruption of more pain. “Your baby’s head is butted up against the umbilical cord.” My husband’s eyes were the size of silver half-dollar coins. Chaos erupted in the room and the nurse came buzzing at me with an electric razor and shaved my pubic hair. Then I was rushed down the hall and slammed through huge double doors into an operating room where a civilian nurse talked calmly to me and asked me to sign a paper attached to a clipboard. The bed was inverted, and I looked up at my feet as my wobbling hand signed the piece of paper.
“What is it? I squeaked.
“It’s a consent form,” said the nurse. I scribbled my name and the corpsman snatched the clipboard from my limp hand.
“She didn’t sign on the right line!” hollered the corpsman.
The nurse spoke in a controlled, but urgent voice. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “Hurry and find the doctor.” The room became quiet and I heard the nurse doing busy work. The pain nearly cracked my body in two and all the blood rushed to my head as I stared up at my feet.
After what seemed like a year, the commander, a lieutenant nurse, and the corpsman, returned to the OR, looking grave as they prepared for surgery.
I lie helpless on the table, biting back the painful, forbidden urge to push. Another man in a white overcoat walked in and I could tell he was the new authority. He introduced himself.
“Mrs. Bonawitz, I’m Captain Beuford,” he said. “We’re going to take this baby emergency Cesarean.” Then he paused. “We’re unable to locate the anesthesiologist on call, so we’re in the process of securing a replacement.” My eyes scrolled the room as I digested the information, and noticed my husband’s absence. “We’re going to start with a local anesthesia in the abdomen,” Captain Beuford concluded. He told me to hang in there and it would all be over soon. He lifted a big needled syringe and then stabbed me in the abdomen. Pain from the contractions and the stabbing needle burned through my body like tissue paper on fire. Thankfully, the human brain has a built-in anesthesia. It knew I could no longer stand the pain, and my brain said I didn’t have to. I passed out. No more pain.
When I woke up, a young man in scrubs and surgical mask told me he was the anesthesiologist and told me to breathe into the mask that smothered my face.
“It’s about time,” I mumbled. I had no idea if my baby had been born. Then I passed out again. When I woke up, the medical team and my husband stood around my bed and stared down at me. What’s everyone looking at? The surgeon stood at my bedside as the civilian nurse wheeled in the incubator that encased my baby and placed him next to my bed. I thought he was dead, but then saw his blue-gray body shivering and shaking. Tubes were taped to his nostrils and a long, fluted tube was taped over his mouth that attached to a respirator. A gauze sac covered his scrotum with more tubes attached to that. More tubes sprawled around his tiny, battle-worn body like spaghetti. It was so quiet at that moment all I could hear was the whirring respirator as it puffed air into my baby’s lungs. I couldn’t hear, or feel, the beating of my own heart.
Twenty three years later I continue to care for this amazing person who attends University, is non-verbal and uses assistive technology to communicate, uses a power chair for mobility and is dependent on me for all his Activities of Daily Living (ADL).
I’m blogging my book about seven strategies that I used – Grieving, Accepting, Learning, Loving, Laughing, Overcoming Obstacles, and Goal Setting – that have helped me for over two decades.
In this book you will learn to:
– Experience less stress and anxiety, obtain more clarity and enjoyment while parenting your special child, and taking care of yourself will be easier.
– Maintain sanity while raising a physically disabled child in a society that focuses on physical perfection.
– Realize goals you set for yourself.
– Set realistic goals for your disabled child.
In Chapter One you’ll learn the first strategy to raising your disabled child without going insane. That strategy is allowing yourself to grieve.