Friday, May 6, 2016

It's Hard Out Here for a Mom

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. 
~Jewish Proverb
On Aug. 3, 2015, I woke up, in the hospital. The story of my life.  I'd spent most of the day before that vomiting up everything that I ate. Ben was my witness.  We both figured it was morning sickness, since I was 11 weeks pregnant at the time.  But when the vomiting turned to blood, I ended up going to the nearest Inova ER center.

I was eventually transferred from that center to an actual hospital because the attending physician suspected that I had appendicitis. He suggested I have additional testing done.

After a night of exams I woke up around 11 AM on Aug. 3I figured it was a little late to schedule a surgery. Then I saw the doctor.  He told me that my appendix was quite inflamed and that I was going to have emergency surgery...while pregnant. I felt the hot sting of tears and forced myself not to cry but here I was, about to go under for my third surgery. And my family wasn't with me.

Everything moved so fast after that.  The nurse gave me a phone to call my people Ben and my Mom.  They both started making their way to Alexandria hospital, I assumed..
- - -

In pre-op, the bevy of nurses and doctors assigned to my operation came in one-by-one. Eventually, the surgeon, usually one of the last physicians to check in, would come in and give me the spiel about all the risks of having an appendectomy while pregnant. I signed the consent forms, and continued to wait for at least ONE of my family members to poke their heads through the pre-op curtain.This wasn't my first surgery rodeo. But in that moment, I realized that I didn't want the last face I saw to be my very wonderful surgical nurse.

The medical staff checked and double checked, but none of my family members were in the pre-surgery area. I steeled myself to go it alone.

And then, like a scene out of rom-com, my mom rushed in and I could feel the dam breaking. She came in like she always does, before and after every surgery I've ever had. Smiling a huge smile.  Saying "Haaay Jewel!"  Rubbing my [wet with tears] face and my hands. Kissing my cheeks.  She's been doing this for a long time now, and I'm almost 30 years old.  She assured me that everything was going to be OK. Then she hugged the doctors and nurses, and asked that they take good care of me. Everyone in almost every pre-op room I've ever been in, seems to love my mom and the bursts of optimism, energy and fun she seems to bring to every situation.  The medical staff returned her smiles and hugs.

Before my mom ran back to the waiting room, I asked her where Ben was.  She smiled big, and whispered: "Ben went to the wrong hospital."  My tears started to dry up, I rolled my eyes, and we both shared a chuckle.  

We laugh, but I'm sure it can't be easy for my mom.  I doubt that when we were both dressed in our matching blue leggings and leotards, preparing to exercise together when I was just a toddler and she was about my age, that she ever thought of the moments when I would be prepping for surgery. Or even the other scary events that proceeded them.  Like my diagnosis with kidney disease as a teenager, and the nearly two years of treatment that we both endured. Manic episodes following steroid treatments.  Long slow prayers for healing with my Aunt Sallie, that weren't quickly answered.  My kidneys ultimately failing. My mom was the first to volunteer to donate...and the first to be eliminated from consideration...if only because she is the lone A-positive blood type in our immediate family. 

She endured my transplant, watching as both her husband and her first born donned hospital gowns and disappeared down a hallway with about 20 doctors and nurses for about eight hours.  I saw Ben and her hard-to-miss smiling face looking down on me as I came out of anesthesia.

My mom also smiled over me and rubbed my face and rubbed my hands, even as I let big fat tears soak my pillow while I miscarried in one of the hospital delivery rooms last fall.  In that moment, as my chance of being a mother slowly and painfully slipped away, I needed my mother so much. I think everyone there needed her.   

A lot of people tell me what a strong woman I am. They don't know how I do it, some say.  And I agree with everyone. I am a strong bitch. But you know what? Some women got their asses from their mommas. Or their brown eyes.  

My mom gave me her smile and quirky sense of humor.  She's one of the reasons that y'all are able to read some of these blog posts containing some pretty devastating themes and you still find yourself giggling (I hope).

And when it comes to all that strength that people like to comment on, my mom is the OG of mettle. Every molecule of fortitude that's in my DNA comes from her.