For Noah, On your 11th Birthday Eve

My precious Noah,

Tonight as I watch you sleep (a favorite pastime of mine…  I do love watching my boys sleep….), I find myself remembering the afternoon you were born, 11 years ago tomorrow.

It was one of the best afternoons of my life, followed by one of (if not THE) scariest nights of my life.

Before we knew about your peanut allergy, or your Autism, there was almost something else – a complication that could have resulted in you having a major surgery just days after you were born.

Here’s your story.

Your birth was to be a planned C-section (because you were going to be a BIG baby, already weighing 9 lbs @ 38 weeks!), so Daddy & I were able to have a relaxing morning before heading to the hospital that day.  We dropped your big brother off at his preschool (he was only 4 years old then!) and then strolled over to Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi.  We even had time to snap a quick, last pic of you inside my tummy!

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Everything went well, and you were born at 3:40 PM (which is the EXACT same minute that Gabriel was born, by the way….) and I remember hearing you cry for the first time.  I was so happy to hear your voice that I started crying, to the point where I was shaking, and I remember the Anesthesiologist looking at me shocked & wide-eyed for a second (like he thought I was convulsing), until he realized I was just being super emotional.

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They brought you to my hospital room not long after, and I finally got to hold you and snuggle for awhile.  Daddy and Gabriel came to see you, we took some new family pictures, and then your brother and Daddy went home and the nurses took you away to the nursery.

A few hours went by, and I missed you, so I rang the nurses and asked them to bring you to me – and they said they would, but then they didn’t.

I tried to be patient, but you still didn’t come.  I started ringing the nurses almost every 10 minutes to ask where you were, and each time they would come in and say you were on your way, and then they would disappear and nothing would happen.

After a couple of hours of this, I was extremely (and visibly) angry and upset with them, and one of them finally said, “The doctor is coming back to the hospital and he will talk to you.”

By this time, it was about 2:00 AM, and for the doctor to be coming BACK to the hospital?  Meaning he was coming back because of, you?

What the HELL was happening?!?!  (er, or, What the heck?!?  –You won’t read this until you’re older anyways… )

I started ringing the nurses more and asking them what was wrong, and they wouldn’t tell me anything, but things weren’t adding up.  When I was holding you earlier, you were sleeping, breathing just fine (as far as I could tell), your color was good, and I didn’t detect that anything at ALL was wrong with you.

And now, I was all alone in this hospital room and I desperately wanted to call your Daddy, but – I didn’t want to wake him up in the middle of the night and scare him until I had something to tell him other than the feeling that all nurses at this hospital were mean, and incompetent, and were definitely hiding something from me…..

So I waited, and waited.  I’m pretty sure I started crying, and the saddest feeling of dread was washing over me.  And I was getting SO angry and frustrated.

WHY wouldn’t anyone tell me what was going on?!?!

After what truly seemed like an eternity, the doctor walked in.  He was wearing normal clothes, like he had just come from home, and he looked tired like he had just woken up.  He told me that you had a very swollen stomach (which I didn’t see because you were wrapped up in a blanket when I was holding you), but also that you had been throwing up bile all evening and you weren’t passing your meconium (your first baby poop).

So they did an x-ray on you, and when he showed me the screen, it showed your sweet, tiny little frame, and maybe 40-50 little air bubbles stacked on top of each other in your stomach.  Basically, you were blocked up and nothing (no milk) was getting through your little body.

The doctor was afraid that you might have a condition called Hirschsprung’s Disease; meaning, a part of your colon would’ve been diseased, and that might be what was preventing things from moving smoothly through your body.  It wasn’t life threatening, yet, but it could turn so very quickly if you weren’t able to, well, poop.  If you would poop, this would finally let all the air bubbles out of your stomach, and then you could drink some milk without throwing it up.

It was like a bad dream.  You may have some disease I’d never heard of before, and you might have to have surgery?!  I was so very sad, but I remember thinking that at least there was something we could do, and that it truly could’ve been worse.  The doctor also said that he wasn’t ready to call the surgeon just yet, because “all surgeons usually want to cut right away,” and he wanted to give you a little more time.

Over the next two days, you stayed in the NICU, in a little incubator, with IVs in your hand and tubes draped over your precious little body.  I came to see you and held you, and admired how beautiful you were.  I wanted nothing more on Earth than for you to be OK and to take you home with us.

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And then came the time for me to leave the hospital, but we couldn’t take you home with us.  You had to stay, and we had to go home, and that wasn’t right.  You were supposed to come home with us…  We had your crib ready.  We had plastered your room with Winnie the Pooh decorations.  We even had a mile-high stack of diapers awaiting you….  There was nothing but love, comfort, cuddles and kisses waiting for you at home – but we couldn’t take you with us.  Your little tummy was still bloated and filled with bubbles, and so you had to stay at the hospital until you were able to pass everything through.

I cried when we left the hospital, and I cried when we got home.  It was one of the saddest experiences of my life.  But some good news was that the doctor said you appeared to be doing better, but they still wanted to monitor you, and he would call us if you threw up again.  That night, I prayed so hard for the phone to remain silent – for it NOT to ring, and God answered my prayer.  It didn’t ring.

The next morning, your Daddy and I went to see you at the hospital, not knowing if we were going to be able to bring you home – but when we saw your doctor and he saw us, he started smiling.  He happily told us that you had your first “poop,” and the bubbles in your tummy were gone, and that we could take you home.   I was so happy I started crying and asked the doctor if I could give him a hug and he said, “Yes,” so I practically jumped on him and gave him a HUGE hug and then skipped through the maternity ward to where they were keeping you.  We gently wrapped you up in your brand new blue baby blanket (the one with the baseballs and footballs that your Grandma Karen sent you) and we brought you home.

I spent that afternoon feeding you, kissing you, snuggling with you, taking endless amounts of pictures of you, and watching you sleep (just as I am right now).

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And here you are, 11 years later.  You have grown into such a sweet little boy with the purest heart.  Daddy and I call you our family’s “Border Collie,” which means that you are always checking on everyone to make sure they are OK.  You are the first one to let us know if someone isn’t OK – like if someone is hurt, or sad, and you’re always asking if everything is all right.  You love Doritos and Chocolate Milk.  You love your iPad. And you are really GOOD at math! 🙂

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You have blessed our lives in countless ways, my love.  Thank you for being you.  Daddy and I are so lucky to have you as our son.

Happy 11th Birthday, Noah Christian.

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