I have been a wife for many wonderful years, and a mother to three great boys. But for years, I thought that having a third child would never be a possibility for me. But sometimes, life surprises us.
After the birth of my second son, I was told I could no longer conceive, because I had developed a severe case of endometriosis.
The protocol medicines were not working, and at times, the pain was horribly debilitating. I spent years trying prescribed medications, natural remedies, and simply trying to live with the condition. Eventually, my doctor recommended a total hysterectomy.
I kept putting off the decision, because I didn’t want to spend the usual four to six weeks recovering — I had children and a home to take care of, and that amount of time spent recovering just didn’t fit into my life. My husband and I were actually fine with not having more children; we were already blessed with two great guys, and we knew that in a few short years, they would both be adults, and we would be free to go for that midnight cup of coffee we had talked about for years.
Could it be?
Then, in June of 2005, I wasn’t feeling well, but couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. I had a stomach virus or some form of the flu that was making me feel run down and sick to my stomach all the time. A good friend of mine told me that I looked radiant — almost glowing — and urged me to take a home pregnancy test. I brushed it off and told her I had just bought age-defying make-up.
Regardless, she showed up at my house for coffee — and to insist I take the home pregnancy test she brought with her. I knew the test would be negative, but I took it to humor her.
I took the test and left it in the bathroom while we had our coffee, and then got lost in conversation, not knowing that 20 minutes had passed.
Once she realized how much time had gone by, though, she ran to retrieve the test from the bathroom, and I could hear her shouting, “I knew it!” She was practically shoving the test in my face and at the same time hugging it with joy. I grabbed the test from her and stared at the positive sign. I admitted that I was more than two weeks late, but had assumed that it was because of my endometriosis. I wasn’t due to see my doctor for another two weeks.
For days, there was something urging me to take another test. I stopped at the drug store and bought a kit that came with two tests. The instructions stated that in order for the test to be accurate, I had to take it first thing in the morning. Instead, I ignored it and took it as soon as I got to work — and got an immediate positive sign.
Since I ignored the instructions, I again naturally assumed that it was a false positive, and kept the information to myself.
I didn’t want my husband to know what I was doing, because I figured that, after 12 years of knowing we couldn’t conceive, he would think I was crazy. So, the next morning, I secretly took the second test. Another positive!
I had to get to the bottom of this, so I looked for information online. I read and read and concluded that this was a tubal pregnancy — one in which the fetus develops outside of the uterus.
At that point, I just had to know. So, having no appointment, I sat in my gynecologist’s office until she could see me. She also thought it was a tubal pregnancy, and performed an internal sonogram. Then, she was silent for what felt like an eternity. I looked at the screen, but had no idea of what I was looking at.
“This is your uterus,” she said, pointing at the screen. “Inside your uterus, not on, or around, but in, there is a baby. You are pregnant!”
I can’t remember exactly how I got to my husband’s work in my excitement, but I found myself showing him the home pregnancy test and the sonogram picture. He stared at them blankly and asked me who was pregnant. In an emotional outburst I told him it was me, as tears flowed down my face and I tried to repeat myself. But, by the look of his face, I knew he had heard me. Against better judgement, and family tradition, we proceeded to tell everyone and anyone who would listen that we were actually pregnant.
The next few doctor appointments were extremely scary. It wasn’t until we heard the baby’s heartbeat that we were finally able to take a deep breath and enjoy the pregnancy.
A difficult pregnancy
However, my enjoyment was short lived. Around Thanksgiving I started labor — yes, labor — pains. I was sure of it, because, though it may have been many years since my last son’s birth, labor is a pain one never forgets. Of course, both my husband and my doctor thought I was overreacting, and my doctor told me, over the phone, to relax, that the pain was just my uterus stretching. Oh, yeah? I ended up in the emergency room with contractions five minutes apart!
I was admitted and observed for three days, during which the contractions slowed down and proved to be unproductive, and I was sent home with a diagnosis of dehydration.
However, the contractions never subsided, and I would suffer — at times — almost every hour when they again became five minutes apart. I was readmitted and given medicine to keep the cervix from opening. Then, I was released and told to have complete bed rest.
Just before Christmas, I was admitted again. My doctor and several specialists spoke with my husband and I about what could, and probably would, happen to our unborn baby. They administered steroid shots over a three-day period to help form the baby’s lungs. Because of the pain, I slept most of the time, and I was becoming depressed. I wanted to be home with my sons, and was missing valuable time with my family.
A happy ending
Then, once again, the contractions began and were, again, five minutes apart. This time, however, I began to dilate, and it seemed that this new baby was arriving almost six weeks early! My room was set up with oxygen, an incubator, and a team of nurses and pediatric specialists. My doctor moved quickly while assuring my husband and I that every measure would be taken to care for the baby. Together, they even talked me out of the hysterectomy I was still considering, because, if this medical miracle could happen, so could another!
On Feb. 4, 2006, my youngest son was born. He was 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and 21 inches long. The doctors told me he was the healthiest preemie they ever saw.
My oldest son is now 22; my middle guy, 18; and my little one, who was a wonderful surprise for me, is now 5. Against all odds, I was able to have a third baby. I went from believing that my family would never expand, to believing that medical miracles really do happen. I could not be happier that my family has been completed — and that I finally have my three sons.
Sue, a reader of this magazine, is a mother and wife who lives on Staten Island.