Something was wrong. She knew it. She could feel it. Almost six weeks early and she had suddenly grown huge.
The rapid change in her distended abdomen was visible to all, but not everybody could see it. “Everything will be alright,” they consoled. She knew better. So, she went to the hospital.
Tests revealed her son alive and apparently well although his abdomen, too, was distended. Ascites, they called it. An accumulation of fluid, but it would be alright.
She was waiting for the doctor to sign her discharge when her water broke.
Maybe love really is forever. Maybe it doesn’t necessarily have beginning or end. Maybe it just is…until we notice.
She was still in the labor room when she felt the need to push. No nurse was there, but her step-mom called them. She pushed.
Her son was born like a little bird with a great big belly, not breathing, and stained with meconium. His stool was an undeniable sign that something really was wrong.
She had chosen her hospital well. A team of doctors and nurses swooped in to take her son into one of the best NICUs in the world. He breathed.
She was stitched and stitched, for she had pushed too early. Her son had been in trouble, and she brought him to the NICU. Now, a team of professionals tended to him.
Three days later, surgeons repaired her son’s ruptured bowel, the cause of his and her ascites. Meconium ileus, they called it, an extremely rare condition in which a blockage in the baby’s bowel causes a rupture in utero. Genetic tests revealed the reason to be cystic fibrosis.
There is a saying, which I paraphrase because I believe it, that a father falls in love the first time he holds his child, but a mother falls in love at conception. I think a mother doesn’t fall in love—she just is. That’s just what I think. That’s one thing I learned from this young mother.
My mother was ninety-six years old when I said one of my many goodbyes as I left her at the assisted living facility in Wisconsin on my way home to Arizona. She didn’t always recognize everybody, and she saw things that were not visible to me, but she recognized me when she looked at me and said, “I just love you so much.”
I miss my mom and I love my children and grandchildren. I believe I always will. Maybe I always have.