When I was pregnant with the Wolfe, my son’s father and I lived in a tiny apartment that was part of an old Victorian house. When I say tiny, I mean TINY. I could barely squeeze through the bathroom door with my belly, I was constantly stepping on my cats, and quite frankly I was miserable. I literally felt like Alice in Wonderland after eating a little magical cake, as my belly grew, I felt as if my arms and legs would burst through the windows. We spent a lot of time outside. I remember watching the Starlings. There was a 100 year old beautiful Catholic church across the street from us, I would watch them ebb and flow through the air above the church, and it would take my breath away. These were profound experiences with nature, the universe, my unborn son, and my own soul. These moments meant something, and in my heart, I knew. In those moments, although I didn’t understand how, I knew that there was something very special and important about the little life growing inside me.
Many women recount their pregnancies as delightful times, which to me is insanity. I have never been as miserable in my entire life as I was when I was pregnant. From start to finish I was in pain, sick, and unhappy. I was however elated at the idea of being mom, I was in love. I knew also that my son’s life would bring so much joy to my parents and siblings, and to my son’s father’s family, and that made me happy. He was to be the first grandchild on both sides of his family. I knew from the beginning he wasn’t just for me, he was for the world, and that his essence was big enough to handle that kind of weight. There were a lot of dreams and expectations on how his life would go. His dad imagined building custom cars with him, we all expected him to go to the best schools, I even remember hashtagging #futurepresident on one of his sonogram photos on social media. I am not implying that all of those things are still not possible, they are very possible, but what I wish to relay is that everyone that loved this kid wished the world for him. If this kid could have come out of the womb with a crown on his head, his grandmothers would have insisted on that happening. It was all for love. It was all for LOVE, and in those dreams we were all touched by love’s blessing in this little boy. All of the aches, and pain, and nausea, it was all worth it.
As life often goes, things do not always happen in an idealized fashion. Not to say those experiences are less, or not as good, but they can definitely be different than we anticipate. 33 weeks a 5 days into my pregnancy I went into labor. I was at the hospital pre-registering for the birth with my mom, and when the appointment was over I stood up to leave and my water broke. I was sent down the hallway to labor and delivery and was in labor for 3 days until I gave birth. I was given medication that left my body 90 percent paralyzed during my labor, this medication was to help protect Wolfe’s brain, and help develop his lungs. I could still feel every contraction. On the third day Wolfe’s heart rate was fluctuating enough to cause concern, I was given an epidural, and once my body relaxed, his did too. I was able to give birth to him naturally. He let out one small cry, and was passed through a little window in the wall to the NICU. I wasn’t allowed to have skin to skin time with him, or even see him until hours after he had arrived. I wasn’t informed that he was having a hard time breathing until I was able to go to the NICU to see him. As my nurse wheeled me into the NICU I saw my mom, and my son’s father’s mom standing by him, concerned. Later I had been told that until I had arrived he was not thriving, but when he heard my voice (when I saw him I said “Hi Wolfe!”) he turned his head and looked into my eyes, and his breathing regulated. He needed me, and I needed to be with him. We breathed life into each other. Although my son was born 6 weeks early, he only stayed 5 days in the NICU before we were able to go home. Within those 5 days I hardly left his side. I would sit with him for hours just looking at him, holding him, smelling him. Wow I made THIS. He is so handsome, he is like a baby Brad Pitt. He is perfect. He has an old soul, I can feel it. The universe had gifted me such a wonderful prize, and the responsibility was great. I had to keep him safe. His dad was so in love. I was so in love. It was a beautiful and good time in our lives. Wolfe had entered the building, and man we were so lucky.
Wolfe doesn’t remember our first lockdown, but the quarantine of 2020 hasn’t been our first rodeo. He was born during a bad flu season in late October 2014. We were given strict and clear orders by his NICU doctor to stay home until Spring. Any family that visited (and those visits were very limited) needed to be current with all vaccinations including flu shots, no stores, or public places, even when we went to doctors appointments we were instructed to wait in our car instead of the waiting room. He was delicate, and in the beginning I always felt as if I was walking around with a prociellian egg, and a ton of anxiety.
Wolfe was born with metatarsus adductus, in other words, one of his feet was turned in due to his position in the womb. He was so crammed up in my ribs, one of my ribs was permanently bent (I got a small heart tattoo there, that’s his spot, he claimed it). We never knew why Wolfe was born so early, but I think my body was in so much pain because of his position that I rejected him. Yes, I had weird guilt about that. Yes, I got over it. I was born with bilateral club feet, and since this is a genetic condition, they diagnosed him with club feet as well, so we were able to have him seen at a clinic at Valley Children’s Hospital. This was my first experience of questioning doctors. Since the treatment of metatarsus adductus is similar for club feet, I did not fight it much. While being seen for his foot, doctors there began questioning if there were other genetic conditions going on with him. Wolfe was growing at an alarming rate. We had not thought too much of it as his dad is a tall man, and he was our first child, so honestly we wouldn’t have known the difference of unusual growth rate and normal growth rate. Looking back I feel like we were just very happy that our 5.2 lb premature baby was growing like a weed in a garden.
My son was thought to have Sotos Syndrome, and we did the genetic testing. Sotos syndrome is a form of gigantism, and it scared the shit out of me. I remember crying in the elevator with my family. I was thinking about the dreams we all had for him, were they not possible anymore? Why my son? Could I not have one blessing that doesn’t come at a great cost? It wasn’t fair. I was angry. I felt guilty for having these feelings here. There were children with terminal cancer, serious life threatening illnesses of all types, tired and almost broken parents walking the halls aimlessly. I was absorbed in my own sadness, but then humbled by my own selfishness. No matter the diagnosis, we would be okay. Weeks later we got the call, and the tests came back negative, which surprised us. We were told (and it remains the general consensus among doctors still,) Wolfe is just a very big person, who is predicted to be at least 7 feet tall one day. 7 feet tall! WOW. They also did chromosome testing, everything came back normal as well. I accepted the relief, they had told me just what I so desperately wanted to hear; yet, in my heart I knew there was something unique about my child, and I had no answers and wouldn’t for years.