Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Life's Little Miracles

Do you ever stop to think about the little miracles that occur in our lives? The ones that can't quite be confirmed by medicine? The ones we aren't quite sure about? Sometimes I hesitate to even share these stories of small heartaches and frustrations - these are just little things and I know many families who have suffered through really big things with their children. This is not anything like that.

I meant to post this for Terri's birthday yesterday, but life happens and here I am, a day late. :) (Do I sense a trend here? I found out yesterday that I was nominated for a Catholic Blog Award - many thanks to the one kind soul who nominated me - but didn't make it into the voting because I wasn't nominated for a particular award - maybe they should make a special award for the hardest-to-fit-in-a-particular category blog, heehee).

Anyway, here's the story...

Nearly ten years ago we moved back to Wisconsin from San Diego. John had a decent job offer here and our prospects of buying a house in the San Diego area at the rate we were going were practically nil. We had been married almost five years and enjoyed the charming company of almost 4 year old Ria and 18 month old Gus.

Rockwell put us up at a Residence Inn for two months and we managed to squeak into our first house - a real fixer upper in the downtown of a village on the outskirts of the Milwaukee area.
While we were in this temporary housing we were thrilled to discover that we were expecting again - due date near the end of February 1998.

A couple of memorable things happened that fall of 1997, while I was expecting Terri:

September 5: Mother Teresa passed away
October 19: St. Therese of Lisieux was declared a Doctor of the Church
November 6: in a sad, but inspiring story, a young student from Thomas Aquinas College who was particularly devoted to unborn children, died in a hiking accident.

One day it came to me (during Mass) that these three would make wonderful patrons for my little one. I didn't know at the time that it would be a girl - it *almost* seemed like it would be a girl because the names were so perfect. (Though you never know!)

I've had ultrasounds taken during all of my pregnancies because of a serious heart defect that runs in John's side of the family. Being prepared can be very helpful! We had an ultrasound for Terri near the end of my second trimester. An initial low-level ultrasound brought up a possible problem - it looked like one of her kidneys was enlarged, but it was hard to know for sure - the doctor ordered a higher-level ultrasound. John and I went into the city to a large Catholic hospital with a renowned prenatal assessment center.

The perinatologist was very nice. It was wonderful to hear him talk about our baby (as a baby!)and he did a fine job explaining the different things that showed up on this more complex ultrasound. (He was obviously a professional who chose his words carefully, because he had to deal with such delicate situations!) Yes, something did seem amiss. One of her kidneys was significantly enlarged - most likely because of a blocked ureter. They connected us up with a pediatric urologist who explained the situation and the testing and likely treatment that would occur after she was born.

Terri was my only baby born early - about two weeks before her due date (which always seemed in retrospect to fit with her personality). A few moments after she was born, she was fussing in her little hospital bassinet while the doctor and nurses did their normal vital sign checks and all. John suggested that I talk to her. I said "Hi Angela" and she immediately stopped fussing, turned her head and looked right at me. Wow!

The doctors had her on antibiotics soon after she was born and we brought her to Children's Hospital for testing when she was about three weeks old.

The radiology waiting room in Children's Hospitals is an education in itself. There's more than a little perspective to be found floating around the place - especially when you're already in a reflective mood, contemplating what is in store for your little one.

I was rather anxious about the testing. Kind of yucky stuff where Terri couldn't nurse for several hours before the test, they would have to keep her quiet for a long period of time, we weren't sure if we could stay with her, etc. etc. It was very nice that they did allow us to stay with her and I'll never forget her arching her little neck to look at me during the long tests with the most patient look of trust.

The results were a little on the vague side. No surgery needed (at least yet), but we'd bring her back for further testing at regular intervals (until she was 4 or 5 years old, though the intervals got longer and longer) and keep a close eye on the possibility of infection. When she started to react negatively to the first antibiotic, the doctors decided to not risk losing another antibiotic for future needs and simply keep a close eye on any symptoms of trouble.

In the end (and over the years) she was all clear of problems. These things can clear up on their own, as we were told, but the perinatologist believed that it wouldn't because of how "generous" (remember how carefully he chose his words?) the enlarged kidney was. Was this a miracle? I'd like to think so, and I think it never hurts to give the benefit of the doubt where it is most deserving. :)


arlawless said...

I never knew this story, Alicia. How wonderful that Terri never developed any problems! Thanks for sharing.


Suzanne Temple said...

What a great story. And such a sweet picture of your beautiful family!