October 5, 1987, 8:57 am. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was hugely pregnant that month in the oppressive heat of a Miami summer. It was an exciting time. I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my first child, the Pope was visiting the city, and I was full of dreams and youthful naïveté.
Early on the morning of October 4, I was lying asleep in my waterbed. I was awakened by a sudden gush of warm water. I woke my husband and told him that the bed had sprung a leak. He took a look and smiled at me. “Why are you smiling? Do something before it gets all over the rug” I pleaded.
“There’s nothing wrong with the bed. Your water just broke.”
I looked down at my pajamas and realized that I was the source of the leak. I was in labor. Not knowing what to expect, I took a shower and waited anxiously for what would come next. In an hour or two, the contractions became uncomfortable and I timed them at five minutes apart. I thought that I was surely pretty far along in the process, so off we went to the hospital.
“One centimeter,” the nurse said matter-of-factly. “You’ve got a long way to go, honey.” The fun was just beginning. I was treated to enemas and botched IV’s, all while being starved and listening to my suite mate scream in agony. “She must be ready to deliver, huh?” I whispered to the nurse. “Nope. She’s only one centimeter dilated, just like you.”
My labor went on at a snail’s pace through the day and into the night. After my family and I had played poker, spades, monopoly and every other distraction we could think of, the decision was made to speed up the contractions with Pitocin. Or as I like to call it, Satanic torture serum.
My labor went from uncomfortable to unbearable in a matter of minutes. The anesthesia team came to top off my epidural, but the medicine wasn’t touching the pain. Every 90 seconds I was gripped by violent, mind-numbing contractions. I felt the urge to push after about 24 hours of labor, but the doctor told me not to. I was only 9 cm dilated, and they were afraid that there might not be room for the baby’s head.
At this point, the medical team was becoming concerned because the baby had been without amniotic fluid for 24 hours. The risk of infection and fetal distress was getting higher.
At hour 25, I finally lost it. I had been stoic to that point, but the pain combined with the stress and lack of sleep did me in. I let out several guttural screams and begged the doctor to make it stop. I had given it my all, but it couldn’t do it anymore. The decision was made to take the baby by C-section.
After 26 grueling hours, I held my baby boy in my arms. I was 20 years old and the reality set in that he was now my responsibility for the rest of my life. He was a beautiful, precious soul. We would have many rough patches and learning experiences along the way, but we grew up together, and we adored each other.
I never imagined that I would lose that beautiful soul one day. I believe that some people are just too special to live in the real world. It takes a toll on them, trying to fit in and do what is expected of them. In the end, they break under the strain, and it is truly our loss.
My beautiful boy would have been 27 today, and we would have had a grand celebration. He loved to have a good time and make people laugh. I wish that I could smile and laugh today, but it still hurts too much. One day I hope that this will be the happy occasion he would have wanted.
Happy Birthday, sweetheart.