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Our Shooting Star

My husband and I have been together for 7 years. We got pregnant in October. Our baby was not planned, yet there is a huge difference between an accident and a surprise, and our baby was most certainly a joyous surprise.

We had been married for 4 months and I had been teaching second grade at a private, Christian based school for 3 months. I was the happiest I have ever been, and it was well overdue, as I had a terrible, traumatic childhood which finally resulted in me being raised by my grandparents (I was an only child), the two most wonderful people in the world. I had just spent the last year of my life watching my dear grandmother die of cancer. She was everything to me: my mother, my best friend, a saviour of sorts. She and I had watched Grandpa die of cancer just 4 years earlier. So I felt particularly blessed with our baby, because I had been praying for hope and renewal. My prayers were indeed answered with the prospect of our child.

I had no pregnancy symptoms until Thanksgiving day, 1996 (6 weeks) as I was busying myself with the annual preparation of horrid ambrosia. I thought if I smelled one more orange I would vomit. I guessed I had the flu, and my husbandąs grandmother joked that I was pregnant. She is in her eighties and becoming somewhat senile.

The flu was getting worse, the Peptobismal was not working and the day that I returned home my best friend called. I told her about the flu and she ended up on my doorstep, an hour from her home, with a pregnancy test. She had desperately been trying to have a baby with her new husband (they already had 3 from previous marriages) and related everything in the world to the making of babies, so I humored her KNOWING that I was not pregnant. The positive result came up immediately.

I was elated! What a wonderful, happy surprise! My life revolved around the care and nurturing of other peoplesą children and here I was finally going to have one of my own! It was incredible! Delicious!

My friend left and the immediate silence was divinity. I didnąt want to tell anyone for a while. I was being selfish; I knew that this would be the only time that my baby fully belonged to me - just me, the baby and God. I fell on my knees and quoted Samuel 1:27-28: "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord..." I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement and peace. I felt simple and holy.

My husband came home and I waited until he got out of the shower to tell him. He was wide eyed and smiling like a child at Christmas. He was amazed. He kissed my tummy, and we slept content. It was to be among the last of such satisfaction.

I told everyone the next day at work, and they were all excited for me. People are too close in a small town; news spreads like wildfire. Parents (of my students) were sending me gifts for the baby, and we held a special dinner for the grandparents and aunts-to-be. They were ecstatic!

My biological dad was not invited nor was my biological mother. Neither of them ever cared for me one way or the other, and, it seemed, reveled in their flagrant neglect.

I humored myself for a moment and thought that perhaps my baby would in some way touch my dadąs heart, so I attempted to call him and tell him. "Iąm going to have a baby, Daddy," I said. He replied, "Well... are you going to keep it?" Enough said. There was no reason for him to say such a despicable thing.

My Mother is wracked with mental illness and was arrested for attempting to break into my home the night of my grandmotherąs funeral, so I neglected to tell her at all, seeing as I wanted her to have no contact with our baby. Besides, it had been 10 years or so since Iąd last spoken to her.

You will understand that after all of the grief and pain in my life, this child was hope, a blessing. S/he was proof that I had broken the cycle of the dysfunctional family along with the help of my Parents (my grandparents). I had gone to college, courted the same boy for several years before marrying him, and landed the perfect job. This child was going to have the kind of life I never had. I was going to be a Mother, and a good one at that.

Everyone kept teasing me about morning sickness; had it come on yet? I felt mighty queasy 24 hours a day, but had not thrown up. We went to the doctors and had an ultrasound, because I didnąt know how many weeks I was. There on the screen was a kidney bean with a flashing heart. I was 6 weeks pregnant. INCREDIBLE. We "named" the baby Pinto.

I got up for work the next day, went to the fridge for breakfast, and opened it up. The light flooded over me and I fell into the sink retching. I died laughing after it was over, and went to work afterwards bragging to all my coworkers that I had had my first pregnancy puke and how utterly precious it all was.

A few days later it became apparent that the joke was definitely on me. I was vomiting 6 times a day and unable to keep anything down. Everything would start a vomiting cycle. I couldnąt watch t.v. because the content upset me (along with the moving pictures and light) and would make me throw up. I couldnąt walk for more than just a minute or I would throw up. It physically hurt so badly to walk or even sit up for long periods of time. I couldnąt read for more than a moment because the scent of the ink and paper would make me throw up. The smell of the water in the tap made me throw up. The smell of the coils heating up in the oven two rooms away made me throw up. Thermal changes made me throw up. What didn't make me throw up?

I begged the doctor to admit me to the hospital. I knew something was wrong. I couldnąt work or brush my teeth or even bathe; I was in such agony. I hadnąt eaten anything in days and was vomiting up all fluids and bile. My doctor phoned in phenergan and then reglan, so my husband picked it up from our pharmacist whose name was Mr. Pinto. The antiemetics didnąt work well. Still the doctor didnąt want to let me into the hospital. I thought she knew best and that I was probably just overreacting. I kept vomiting, however, and kept calling every day. Finally, on the weekend, a nurse took pity on me and admitted me.

My urine was flooded with keytones, I had electrolyte imbalance, was completely dehydrated and severely frightened and depressed. The nurses were appalled that I had not been admitted sooner, told me I had something called hyperemesis gravidarum, and assured me that I would never be delayed or denied admittance again, as I had been diagnosed with this.

I still vomited on the i.v.s, but I felt safer in the care of medical professionals. I was also jazzed about getting another sonogram (to check for twins or a molar pregnancy). There s/he was at 10 weeks... moving all around with a strong, beautiful heart beating the soundless music of love and life and miracles. Sadly, that precious, little heart was keeping time to a dirge. That tiny hand waving in the picture (which the tech captioned "Hi, mom!") was not waving precursing hellos to the life which would be but a piteous, goodbye. How could I have known that the precious life most certainly would not be? And more, how could I ever have imagined that I would be the one to end it?

I won't take up your time describing the insensitivity of the doctor that came to my room. I will tell you that of the two that did check in, one had had 8 children and never felt better than when she was pregnant and the other was infertile. The mother of 8 refused to get rid of her coffee on one of her visits which precipitated a vomiting spell. She laughed when I threw up because of her coffee and told a nurse who asked where I was, "She's in the bathroom puking."

Once, when I asked my own doctor about teratogenic effects of the medication she went ballistic yelling at me. She told me that she was the doctor and I was the patient and asked me if I chose her as my doctor by randomly sticking my finger on a name in the yellow pages - I'd been her patient for 7 years. I guess she didn't remember. I made excuses for her saying that she was probably just stressed from the long work hours. I wanted to trust her, because I was sick and scared and needed someone to put my faith in. Who better than my doctor? I barely ever saw her (no more than 3 times during the countless hospital visits) and was pawned off to her nurses or other colleagues who all told me extremely different things that contradicted one another greatly and alarmed me. The only thing they all agreed on was that I might be this way for 6 more months.

I got tired of the hospital and wanted to go home badly, as it was Christmas eve (I was 9-10 weeks). They let me out and I went home to start the cycle of hell and torment all over again.

My principal called and alluded to the fact that I was going to lose my job (in so many polite, reassuring words) and my bdad came over twice and told me that my baby was going to die or be born retarded if things kept along that course. He works in mental health and was very convincing. I certainly was losing faith in the medical profession. My bdad kept suggesting termination because I was going to lose everything - my job, my baby and possibly my life. I told him over and over that I had seen too much death and that I wanted no more of it. I wanted and loved my baby dearly. He suggested that my baby wasn1t even a baby. I didn't want to listen to him. I knew that his intentions were good - they were always good - but I also felt that he was such a stupid, unfeeling man that I could not listen to him respectfully.

I kept going to the E.R. and they kept prescribing two hour i.v.s and sending me home to start the cycle all over again. The doctors and nurses were getting a bit fed up with my inability to get well. The first trimester was over, and I was still puking my guts up, unable to eat much of anything. I could get the occasional Ensure pudding down and a piece of cheese toast every now and again ( I think I was able to eat 3 pieces of cheese toast in 8 weeks). I'm 517 and started the pregnancy at 126#, by the end of the 14th week I had lost 18#. My skin was flaky and yellow, I had scleral discoloration, and the house reeked of vomit and bile.

Our Shooting Star, Page two