April is National Donate Life Month and Bunny, Pip, and I want you to be very aware because without organ donation and transplant, Pip wouldn't be with us today.
More than 115,000 men, women, and children need life-saving organ transplants right now and every 10 minutes, another name is added to the list. An average of 18 people die each day waiting for organs.
This month, I'm gonna tell Pip's story - a little bit every day. We need to improve these statistics. Learning more and talking more and sharing more is the first step.
A Pip is Born
When the ObGyn called with the results of my CVS Test about 5 years ago, she asked if I wanted to know the gender of the baby. I said “yes” but was so dumbfounded by the answer, I had to ask her to repeat it twice.
“I’m sorry…the baby is WHAT?”
“Male.” She said. “The baby is male.”
That seemed impossible.
I was one of two daughters born to my parents. There were no little boys. We spent all our holidays with my aunt, uncle and female cousin. The three of us girls were raised together. As adults, I was the only one of the three of us to procreate and I had a little girl. And I knew she’d be a little girl. And after I had miscarried two babies in six months and had finally made it past the 12-week mark with the 3rd and figured this one was here for keeps, I just assumed the doctor would tell me our second little girl was coming.
What in the world does one do with a little boy?
My sister had the same reaction. She said something to the tune of “Oh….wow….well, that’ll be interesting.” We ended up coming to the conclusion that this would be for the best because there was no way a second little girl could be as beautiful or as intelligent as Bunny and this way, there wouldn’t be competition or hurt feelings.
That’s not to say that we didn’t want a boy – just that the concept felt foreign at first. But it did nicely fit into my life goal of trying everything once. (Except ostrich eggs, apparently. My brother-in-law tried to get me to eat scrambled ostrich egg a few days ago and it grossed me out.) We didn’t find out the sex of the first one, we did find out with the second one. Now I was going to experience a girl and a boy. Once we wrapped our minds around it, we felt extra-lucky.
Pip’s arrival was a little sudden. I mean, he was four days late so maybe sudden isn’t the right word. It had been a naggingly difficult pregnancy that involved placenta previa for a while and constant Braxton Hicks contractions from month 6 on and a whole lot of general discomfort. The baby was perfectly fine but I felt like crap all the time. I carried him so low he was practically at my knees. I felt like I had to lift him up to walk up a flight of stairs. And I was swollen and felt awful. So I was certainly ready. But he didn’t seem like he was interested in coming out. And then, suddenly, he decided it was time and came so quickly we barely made it to the hospital.
We got to the waiting room at around 10:45pm on June 25th of 2008 panting and panicked. We hadn’t had the time or wherewithal to call ahead. The very calm receptionist seemed to find us a combination of tiresome and amusing. Clearly we were overreacting. She let us wait around for 10 minutes. During that time, I had three really strong contractions and the third one ended with a strong urge to push. I burst into tears and asked my husband to ask her if she intended for our son to be born in the waiting room. He said something nicer than that to the lady and she sighed audibly and called someone behind the door (the blue door to the promised land where epidurals flow free) and explained to her that I was out here and I “seemed to be in some pain.”
They came and got me and very casually asked me to sit in triage. From there it’s all a blur. I don’t remember the exact moment when they realized what I already knew but they suddenly sprang into action and threw me into a wheelchair because there was “no time to wait for transport,” threw a monitor at me and asked me to hold it on my stomach as best I could because there was “no time to strap it on” and, as the nurse ran with me through hallways and onto elevators, she called labor and delivery on her personal cell phone to give them my information so that we could avoid having to wait around to get paperwork figured out.
We barely made the window to get the epidural. Not getting it was my biggest fear. I like the drugs. Don’t judge. I told the anesthesiologist I might name the baby after him. But Anesthesiologist would be a tough name to get through elementary school with. I think I also told him he had the best job in the world because he made people feel so much better. He laughed. I still kinda love him. I think he had dark hair and a mustache. Do you know him? Tell him to call me.
Once I had the epidural, things slowed down and we had the ability to wait a half hour which was good because when you don’t call ahead, no one calls the doctor and it was the middle of the night. We had to wait for the on-call doctor, whom I had never met, to be called away from Jimmy Kimmel Live or whatever she was up to and come deliver Pip. She was totally nice about it.
During that half hour of calm, I remember looking over at my husband. We just looked at each other in disbelief. I don’t know why we had not been expecting a baby that night, it doesn’t make sense, but it was fast and furious and a little scary and painful and both of us looked a little shell-shocked. As it would happen, we would look at each other with those same disbelieving, shell-shocked expressions many times in the coming months.
Once the doctor was there, it took four pushes to bring Pip into the world. He was a little smaller than Bunny had been and his head was little and pointy so that was quite helpful. What a sweet boy – so kind to his mama. He sailed through the Apgar test with a nearly perfect score. His cry was nice and strong.
Beautiful, perfect boy…with a little bit of jaundice.
Tomorrow - Pip's Diagnosis: Part I
To learn more about organ donation and to make sure you're on the registry for your state, visit www.donatelife.net
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