Monday, December 7, 2015

A Letter Of Thanks To Julie 22 Years Later


   To this day, I remember your face, though I only remember your first name. Julie. We were not close. Not close at all. Work acquaintances really. I had only been there a few months when I got pregnant. And got sick. It was simultaneous. But no one knew how bad it would get. Or what it would lead to; the reason that I have not forgotten you almost exactly 22 years later.
    I was an evening scheduler for Home Health Aides when I got pregnant for the first time. I scheduled the West Side and you scheduled the East. It was not an easy job. We couldn’t leave until all our open clients had an aide scheduled for that time slot. And that included openings that occurred while we were working, not just the list we were handed when we came on.
    I took this job because I had just gotten over surgery to reconstruct my ankle. An injury from my previous job. A job I had to leave due to it’s dangerous nature and the fact that the management wanted to put me back in the same situation upon my return. So I didn’t trust anyone. I didn’t open up easily. And when I got pregnant, I assumed it would be looked at as a bad thing. But then I got sick.
    The doctors called it ‘Hyperemesis’. To me, it was such extreme morning sickness that nothing I ate stayed down. If I could eat at all. I didn’t gain weight either. After two weeks of this, I was removed from work and put on bed rest for a week or two at a time. After only 5 months on the job I was on medical leave and I was convinced no one really cared. Not just because no one really knew me but because the supervisor didn’t believe my condition was real. (The fact that she herself later developed the same condition and apologized for her treatment of me was hollow at best.)
   After 18 weeks of hyperemesis, and several hospital visits, I was finally able to eat (enchiladas-??) and gained a bit of pregnancy weight. I even experienced the joy of being pregnant. At 20 weeks, I felt movement! (We skipped church that day!) I made an appointment to get clearance to return to work. But I never returned to that job. I blacked out on the way to that appointment and ran off the road. My blood pressure was high. I was never given clearance to return.
    At 26 weeks, I gained 27 pounds all at once. I knew it was bad. I was diagnosed with ‘Preeclampsia’ and hospitalized. Preeclampsia is Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) or Toxemia, and it is very dangerous. I lasted only 2 ½ more weeks before having an emergency C-Section. My first child, a son, was born extremely prematurely and weighing only 2 pound 2 ounces. Casey was born on December 28th at 12:31am. My leprechaun had become a Christmas Angel. And I was afraid.
    I was also alone. Of course I had family that came to visit. But friends didn’t. Not right away. After all, what do you say to someone who just had the smallest baby they had ever seen and who didn’t yet have an above average chance for survival? My son wasn’t dead, but there was no guarantee he would live. And if he did, there was a high probability he would be disabled. No one knew how to handle that so they stayed away. Except for you.
    You showed up with a bag full of baby items. Tiny wrap onesies, blankets. matching hats and booties. These weren’t from the office either. They were from you. You acknowledged my son and his size. And you treated me like any other new mom. You gave no thought to the fact that we didn’t truly know each other. And for that, I am ever thankful. You turned an awkward and lonely situation into the joyous situation that it should have been from the start.
    Now, 22 years later, I want to tell you “Thank You”, Julie. I may not ever remember your last name, but I remember you. And I remember that day. And I want to tell you that Casey is doing just fine. In my estimation, he is perfectly normal contrary to all predictions. He is a carpenter now. He loves baseball and hockey and has a steady girlfriend. He is 6’0” and 190 lbs. But every now and then, I still see the little 2 lb 2 oz baby boy trying to push off the sides of his isolette in the pale blue hat and booties you gave him.
    I want you to know that I still have one of those outfits in my son’s memory box. And that what may have been a small thing to you still brings tears to my eyes and will never be forgotten by me. You made my son’s birth normal. And I love you for that.

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