The Story of My Birth


Well, my to do list didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I forgot about Wednesday night church, so that screwed things up. Then there were the poopy diapers [oh come on, it was just a matter of time before this came up!] My youngest loves fruit, but it does strange things to her digestive tract. There were four, possibly five poopy diapers today.

She’s two, so technically I could start potty training, but with the other two, I’ve waited until they were old enough to discuss what needs to be done and how. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but I just feel like if they understand what’s going on, they’re more likely to get with the program. The older two were completely potty trained by four, which to some seems old, but it’s what worked for me.

Hubby had the audacity to suggest that ‘we’ begin potty training the youngest soon. I admit I was somewhat rude, but I laughed hysterically and said, “When you get ready to do it, you knock your bad self out. If I’m the one who’s gonna have to do all the work like with the other two, you can just keep your comments to yourself!” There are just some places a man shouldn’t tread, and he tromped all over one of ’em that day! But he’s cute, so I forgave him.

Some quick estimates: I’ve been a mom for almost eight years now. If I did my math right, that’s 2,920 days. A rough estimate of diaper changes per day is five, although I’ve had two kids in diapers at a time for part of that, we’re just going ‘general picture’ here. That’s 14,600 diapers, most of which, I’ve changed myself.

Oh, speaking of cute husbands who need forgiving! My wonderful husband of ten and a half years FORGOT MY BIRTHDAY!!! Unbelievable. Actually, I think it’s kind of funny. In all the years we’ve been together, this is the first time he’s forgotten it. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten his more than once [I was pregnant though, which causes brain rot anyway, and I was horribly sick, so I had.. ahem.. reasons!] He really did feel bad, and he’s cute, so I forgave him [gave him a hard time about it, though. *evil chuckle*]

But I digress, we were going to talk about my first birthday.

I was my mother’s third child. The first was born in 1967 when she was just six months pregnant. The doctor made the decision not to send him to a larger hospital, and he died at three days old. My brother’s name was Jeffrey. I’ve seen pictures of him in his coffin and I cannot imagine what it was like for my parents to lose a child. The thought of losing one of my own is so horrible, even writing about the possibility makes me want to cry.

Mom is one of my favorite people in the world, but the way she deals with difficulties in life is to get angry. She told me that after Jeff died, she wanted to get pregnant as quickly as possible. Thirteen months later, my brother Jeremi was born. During the last couple weeks of her pregnancy, Mom gained a LOT of weight [something like twenty pounds].

It never occurred to the doctor that she might have pregnancy induced hypertension [then called pre-eclampsia]. I’m not clear on all the details here, but mom went into labor and after a long night of contractions, and after finding out that Jeremi was breech, the doctor gave her a spinal block. Spinal blocks are different than epidurals. Spinal blocks can affect the mother’s breathing, which can affect the baby’s heart rate.

Which is what happened to my mom. It isn’t clear if the doctor gave her too much medicine, or if he put it in too high, or if Mom just had a bad reaction, but she almost died, and Jeremi ended up with severe cerebral palsy. His body is the size of an adult’s, but with the physical capabilities of a newborn. He still has the grasping, rooting, and startle reflexes of an infant. He can’t speak, is quadriplegic, and has the mind of a thirty-seven year old man.

I read somewhere that Stephen King said that the worst thing he could imagine was to be a healthy mind in a body that was helpless. The two examples he gave were ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and cerebral palsy. I’d say that’s about right.

After my first daughter was born, Jeremi asked me, “When will it be my turn?” All I could say was, “I don’t know, J. I don’t know.”

I was born on January 4, 1974, not long after Roe v Wade made abortion legal [the case was decided on Jan 22, 1973]. Mom told me [after I was an adult] that she considered having an abortion because she didn’t think she could handle another pregnancy ending in a dead or disabled child. I don’t know what stopped her, but I’m glad she did.

So anyway, mom went to the hospital [which later closed down, and was re-opened as a psychiatric hospital… I like to tell people I was born in a nut-house. Not PC, I know, but the looks on their faces is priceless.] My brother was at my paternal grandma’s house [he was four and a half by that point] and my maternal grandma was at the hospital with my mom and dad.

Legend has it that a conversation happened between my dad and grandma at my mother’s bedside that went something like this.

“You think we’ll be here all night again?”

“Yeah, Jane… I reckon so. I guess we better get some rest while we can, huh.”

Mom handled it the way she always did, [and the way a lot of women in labor would] She gave them a few choice words, rolled over, and didn’t speak again until a few hours later when she yelled, “I gotta push!” To this day, she swears she was so mad at them she didn’t feel any pain.

The hospital I was born in was so small that I ended up being the New Year’s baby that year. Got my picture in the paper and everything. Everything seemed normal, so she took me home.

When I was a week old, Mom says that I turned bright neon orange, and they took me to the doctor for jaundice. The doctor took one look at me and sent me to a much bigger teaching hospital several hours away. When I got there, they took my bilirubin to check for hyperbilirubinemia [big word for high bilirubin]. My level was 27, which if untreated can cause something called kernicterus [symptoms include cerebral palsy and deafness].

Luckily for me, the hospital I went to had a wonderful doctor who knew how to treat it. They did the phototherapy thing and a complete blood transfusion from a live donor. I still have the scars on my neck and ankle. They told me that my donor was a college student, and I sometimes wonder if he or she knows that she saved a baby’s life that day.

When the doctors sent me home, they warned my mother that I very likely would end up with brain damage. I can’t imagine what that did to her psychologically for the next few months until I started developing like a normal child.

So there you have it, folks.

“The Story of My Birth,”
“How I Got Borned.”
by Shelbi

About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

2 responses »

  1. So, what happened after you started developing like a normal child? I mean, when did it stop, because I definitely get the abnormal vibe from you!!!!

    But really, cool story, your mother is a rock. I would’ve gone crazy long ago.

    My birth story is not so interesting, my grandpa drove my mom to the hospital in an ice storm. He almost killed us all, but they made it. Uneventful after that (easy for me to say, I don’t remember all the screaming).

  2. You’re right, Lindsay, my mom is incredibly strong. She amazes me when I think about all she’s been through in her life, and still held it together.

    I probably don’t tell her enough how very proud I am of her.

    As for my.. ahem… ‘abnormal vibe,’ that didn’t start until I went to public school. It almost fried my brain completely [and not because I was on drugs!]

    But that’s another story, my ‘How I Almost Lost My Mind,’ story.

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