Like many parents, particularly those with a complex kid, every once in a while my anxiety about keeping my kids safe and healthy threatens to overwhelm me. My guess is that most parents can relate to this feeling in some way or another. However one time when anxiety threatened to derail me I had an unusual experience.
Before telling today’s story I need to share two bits of information.
First, while I am a person of faith the jury is out about my thoughts on angels and other supernatural beings. I know many who believe in connections from the beyond and I envy their unshakeable faith and the comfort they derive. Me? For the most part I believe that angels live and breathe and walk among us. An angel is the friend who walks through the door with a steaming cup of coffee after I have been up all night at the hospital with Matthew. An angel is the person who shovelled my driveway when Matthew was ill and I was overwhelmed. An angel was the person who hand delivered a prayer shawl. Glowing angels from some otherworldly realm?? Probably not.
Second, you need a know a few tidbits about Matthew’s birth story. As a rule I don’t share too many details about Matthew’s birth. Simply put it was very traumatic and lots went wrong. Matthew is disabled because of what went wrong. I would need to have trigger warnings everywhere if I told the story. For this story I will share that bad stuff was discovered and I was whisked down the hall to a surgical suite by health professionals while other health professionals were madly paged. As a slightly humorous aside, a doctor was riding between my legs on the stretcher trying to hold Matthew’s (not yet delivered) head off a prolapsed umbilical cord while I was being whisked down the hall. I bet that would have been, well, something to see. In short order I was rendered unconscious and Matthew was delivered. The last thing I remember was barfing on the anesthetist. I awoke sometime later in a recovery room unaware that I had given birth. A nurse with no details went to get my husband who was incoherent and inconsolable. He had been afraid both the baby and I had died. Initially I had no idea whether I had a boy or girl or what was going on. I just knew things weren’t what they were supposed to be. The hospital admitted they were trying to get a helicopter to airlift my child to MUMC. I would eventually see him only for a few minutes before he was ambulanced to a NICU that could handle his care.
Fast forward two years and I am pregnant with our third child. After the events of Matthew’s birth I am being treated as a high-risk pregnancy. If I sneeze someone wants to run a test or schedule an ultrasound. During this time I have repeated, disturbing dreams. In every dream, like with Matthew, I am unconscious when I deliver my child. I awaken in a ward room with three other new mothers, and every other woman has a beautiful baby. I don’t have a baby and the hospital doesn’t know where my baby is. They can’t assure me things are okay. Night after night I jolt awake shaking with anxiety about my third child.
And then one night, about a month before David would be born via a very scheduled and highly planned c-section (nothing was left to chance!), I had one final dream. In this dream I once again awaken after having given birth. Once again I am in a hospital room with three other new mothers who have healthy babies. Once again my baby is not with me. But in this final dream as soon as I am awake a nurse walks in and hands me my baby boy. This nurse, who in my dream I know is a heaven-sent angel (don’t ask me why, I don’t believe in this stuff), tells me that my baby is healthy and will always be healthy and happy. She tells me that this time I have nothing to worry about. I do not have another nightmare and David is born healthy and squealing. He is 16 now and is one amazing kid!
To this day I still don’t know if I believe in angels. I only know that one visited me. Oh, and I arranged for a private hospital room when David was born. I didn’t want to take any chances I might wake up alone with three women who had just had babies.