After two years of marriage, a heart-wrenching miscarriage, and a delightful year of “trying”, my husband and I found ourselves on the squealing end of the at-home pregnancy test.
I work full-time in business. Demanding, but whose career isn’t? Determined to work as hard as I did prior to being nauseous and tired, I found myself a bit stressed and hurried but somehow hopeful that things would settle down. For a few weeks, they didn’t quite and I was actually kind of okay with it. That’s how I rolled.
Then I fell. The baby was fine. But the non-alcoholic beer I was holding at the time fell as well and my knee somehow found its way to a shard of glass that cut the Patellar tendon. I didn’t know it at the time but a nurse at the party (of course it had to happen at a party) insisted not only that I go to the emergency room, but that I allow the slight but strong elite runner hosting the party, and another friend carry my 5 1/2 month pregnant arse to the car. Humiliated, I let them.
By the way, non-alcoholic beer smells the same as regular beer when you’re pregnant, soaking in it and sitting in the emergency room.
The tendon was cut almost all the way I soon learned. This was lucky moment number 1 as I realized that if it had been cut all the way, it would have been a completely different story. One that may have involved me screaming in pain. Instead, I was informed that I would be undergoing emergency knee surgery that evening. Awake with an epidural of sorts, the procedure was interesting in that it was non-interesting. I couldn’t believe the surgeon talked about the baseball game as he stitched up my knee. I tried not to look down at the blood on the floor and laughed nervously at the jokes the anesthesiologist shared (he was kidding when he asked what time we started right? He really was keeping track wasn’t he?)
Again I was very lucky. The baby growing inside me knew nothing of this fall and was continuing to thrive and grow.
However, my slip rendered me completely dependent on my (lucky for me) patient and doting husband for about 8 – 10 weeks. My knee had to be immobilized and I wore a Bledsoe brace on it. I rode in the back seat of the car as my husband drove me to work. You see, my 5’10” frame could not fit in the front seat with a fully – extended and Bledsoe-brace-clad leg. Driving Miss Sharon.
The stress of the daily life slowed down dramatically as I physically slowed down. I couldn’t rush around the office looking for things. I had to really take time to plan to get to meetings and found myself more on time than ever. As for home, evenings were spent sitting on the small but not too small porch of our 100+year old home while I read the New Yorker – every issue and almost every page – and my doting husband enjoyed the Cincinnati Reds on the radio, lawn mowing and fetching me an occasional iced tea. I felt so loved and so informed. It was routine. Comforting. Relaxing. I look back on these moments with fondness. This knee surgery gave me pause and the baby was fine. I learned to appreciate the days and nights and just relax. This continued for a few months more while I endured physical therapy with a delicious Indian restaurant conveniently located on the walk home, more mobility in my knee and the inevitable removal of that darn brace.
Another moment of luck (Lucky moment #2) that doesn’t sound so lucky then occurred.
At about 7 ½ months, almost fully recovered from knee surgery, I took my last business trip to Colorado for a retreat of sorts. I wasn’t sure I should travel, being so close to the due date, but I did want to go for some unknown reason. Someone looking out for me, you could say. Lucky.
On the second evening of that trip, my husband was at home, with a front door open (screen door locked) as an early evening breeze wafted its way in. He heard something, someone? on the steps and at the door. Three kids. Adults in the driveway. The kids assembled on our porch and eventually burst into our house all with guns.
Our neighborhood is safe. It was random. They knew he was home. He was watching a baseball game.
They pulled the door open (breaking the 105 year old latch) and made their way in. They pushed him to the floor, one holding a gun to his head and yelled asking if anyone else was home. Luckily, no one else was. They ransacked just the downstairs, pulling Morningstar Farms crumbles, and frozen soups and stock out of the freezer, they opened every box and every drawer. The fancy poker set in its metal suitcase was a source of almost giddy excitement until they realized that it was just a set of cards and chips, and not some high powered rifle they had hoped it to be.
They were 13, 13 and 17 years old.
They took turns holding my husband down, these boys. The three of them each wanted a turn to look for whatever it is they thought they should be looking for. They each held a gun to his head and after what he said was a very short time, the last boy softly said “we’re almost done. We’re leaving soon.” My husband, I like to think, took comfort in this that they would not hurt him.
They did not physically hurt him.
They took his keys, his wallet, his iPod, ripped the phone out of the wall and ran out the door. He waited.
Outside, unbeknownst to my husband, 3 adults that accompanied these kids stood waiting. How no one noticed what I assume was a motley crew I’ll never quite know. I like to think it was because our neighborhood is safe and our neighbors are fair and non-judgmental.
Our new Honda Accord pulled out of the driveway with a 17 year old at the wheel and somehow these 5 others squeezed in with him. They took off down the short street and were gone.
My husband lay there for a moment until he was sure they had left. He is very rational and he knew what to do. He went to the door, closed and locked it securely and went upstairs to call the police. They came quickly and questioned him, took pictures and interviewed neighbors, none of whom realized what had occurred. They told him to call someone and he called his sister, who luckily lives in town, and he stayed at her house that night. She had to come over and pick him up.
I was on my business trip. I was at a fun and delicious dinner high in the mountains of Colorado. In crisp mountain air and with the secure and wistful sense that often accompanies the feeling of being somewhere new that feels like vacation, I made my way back to my lodge. It was too late to call home, so I went online as a distraction. I was bored and not yet sleepy.
I made my way to the local news page. An in-home invasion and car-jacking in my neighborhood. I clicked. I made my way to another page. A car with my license plate was part of this. I clicked refresh and a picture came up. My house. My husband.
Of course my calls went unanswered to a broken phone. A call to the police station told me that no one was hurt, no shots were fired. Somehow I thought to call his sister at midnight and was greeted by my husband saying “how did you know to call me?” Luckily I was able to reach him that night. I needed to hear his voice.
We cried. We tried to comfort each other from a distance. The next morning with terrifically compassionate co-workers in tow, I received calls as my friends heard the news. I endured a flight home that seemed to take forever. I came home to a freshly cleaned house. My husband’s secretary had thoughtfully come over and cleaned the mess.
Our friends are another reason to feel so lucky.
Oh how lucky we realize we were. Another person in the mix and things could have turned out different. How would they have handled things if there was a woman there, what would the baby have done?, the list goes on. For something like this to have happened, we had the absolute best possible outcome.
My husband went to counseling those last few weeks before our baby was born. He talked it through. I tried to help but I know he kept a bit from me. Remember that relaxing thing I had learned? We worked hard to restore that sense.
It was hard. I was so mad at those kids. The police found the boys and our car, when the older boy was taking the younger ones to school the very next day. The younger boys were twins. The police followed the car and the kids realized they were being followed, ditched the car and ran. A backpack was left behind, which led to an arrest at school. The boy then confessed and is currently in jail.
The other boys are not. One was brought in and released and then took off. He’s at large somewhere. The other died not too long ago in a gun-related incident.
It’s all so sad but again, I do feel that our family was lucky.
Nothing happened to physically harm my husband and take him away from what was going to be the greatest day in his life. (and mine, of course).
So that baby in my belly. One month later and two weeks early, our son Declan arrived into this world. His appearance was so welcomed. There you are, we said. Any anxiety was offset by the joy we had in being together. Wholly and completely together. Me, Him and Him. Today Declan has a sister, Maeve, to love and my husband and I are enjoying each and every day.
We live each day in such happy and non-dramatic bliss. Healthy and happy. It’s lovely.
A co-worker told me that my pregnancy wasn’t real and wasn’t normal. Knee surgery and recovery. An in-home invasion with guns. Maybe it wasn’t. But how lucky I was. I learned to relax, put my feet up and I learned to be grateful for every body in my life and each day we have together.
What a lucky lucky lucky lucky lucky lucky thing to learn so early in the start of a life as a family. It comforts us in so many ways. Occasionally there are frustrations. Sometimes I am frustrated that my knee hurts if I wear flip flops all day. The new alarm system we’ve installed goes off at night over nothing but a spider crossing over its path. Those moments are so infrequent. Today we celebrate and embrace each lovely day and are just be grateful for the health and happiness of each other and the luck we’ve shared together. We really do.
From Sharon McCafferty.
P.S. — Here’s a happy hypnobirthing story from Annie.
Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. My baby has now arrived — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.