I thought that November 25th 2008 was just going to be another day at the hospital, where I’ve been secluded since the Saturday weekend when Max and I checked in with my OB for routine check — but it turned out to be the most special day of the year for me.
I’ve already spent four days of solace and frustration from a monster complication called preeclampsia (my OB told me not to research in full on this so that I do not get dejected, which, of course, I will later on) before then. My condition was so severe that the swelling reached my face and the balls of my eyes, my back, my legs, and my face, literally got squared! And yet, I accepted visitors, which, of course aggravated my blood pressure. By the end of the day, I wasn’t going down 200 over 120. And protein was dangerously spilling over my urine – a verification of a bigger problem that the condition may be damaging my liver and whatever else inside (these are things I remember my OB tells me at pre op).
At 4pm, they wheeled me out of my room on to the delivery room for the nth stress test on the baby. I had a feeling time was up for me and Zak. My good doctor was going to open me up right there and then.
When I saw her, she was in scrubs (another indication that, yes, this is it!). She did the test on me herself, trying to get Zak to react to noise and outside movement. But none came. So the agonizing 6-hour pre-operation wait began for me. In between gasps for air through an oxygen tube in my nose and tiredness beckoning me to sleep, I fervently prayed like I’ve never prayed before.
Nearing ten in the evening, they pried me from Max in the DR and wheeled me into one of the operating chambers. Three doctors were explaining things to me one after the other and obviously I said “yes” to all of them like we’d stumbled upon the perfect, least painful option. What broke through my reverie was something they said Zak should do (which normal newborns do anyways) – cry like there’s no tomorrow because then he’ll have better chances for survival. And with a silent message to Zak, I begged them to tune me out.
“Zak, baby, just like the deal kuya and I had before, walang iwanan din tayo. I’ll be waiting for you at the end of this all so stay strong and stay with Mommy!”
I was in and out of sleep, but at 10:31pm, Zak let out a yelp and with him, a longer one from my OB and everyone else cheered. I couldn’t be any happier.
But as they had explained, Zak was still two months short of his lodging in my tummy and as such, he went straight into an incubator that should simulate Mommy’s tummy. His first 24 hours were great – good scores for the initial tests. I envisioned Zak getting stronger by the minute for it was the first 24 hours after my operation that I could not move from my bed.
The next day was an altogether different picture – Zak needed reinforcements – blood, more medicines…and more prayers. It was this time I decided it was time to see him whether I was ready or not.
I wept the moment I saw him. He was so small and fragile…and so much in pain it seemed. I wanted to take him back into my womb again. I touched him ever so lightly through the glass that encased him, and I would pull out my hand whenever I sobbed (which was often in the beginning). I see and feel his pain when I run my fingers through his entire body.I half wish I can take it all back because somewhere in the back of my mind, there is remorse that won’t go away.
Zak was just like Kai when he was born, though Kai was snug in the yellow receiving blankets we bought excitedly then – but a small bundle he was…like the bigger kind of rat that got drenched, he was covered in tiny hairs all over his head and body. Only, Zak was much smaller (barely over a kilo when he came out – para kong bumili ng pang nilaga!), but equally covered with tiny hairs, his little frame already charting the bumps and muscles that are supposed to grow on his arms and legs. From the side, I can see his lashes creeping from under his closed lids. He is such a beautiful little boy.
The next time I visited, I was more ready with positive thoughts. One time, I caressed the length of his shoulders, traced the length of his arms and legs, memorizing each and every contour of his little body and he let out a hint of a smile. Max saw it too and we were both amazed by the connection.
Right now, my hand (Shrek-y as it may seem at the moment), can cover the entire chest of Zak, and I gave him warmth and reassurance several times yesterday, urging him to fight not only for his life but for us to be a family.
“Little Zak, remember me? Mommy is here with Daddy. I wish I can watch you sleep and wake up and grow in our own little house, but for the moment, I can only see glimpses of these because you are not well…Remember our pact? Nobody gets left behind and I’m not about to so I’m here, and Kuya also wants to be here with Daddy and me to cheer you on. …Please fight with all you have – I know you have so much more to give because you are my son…I wish I could wrap you up in a pretty box right now and give you as a gift to Kuya…or better yet, can you just be my Christmas present?