As Nolan’s second birthday approaches, I have been reflecting on the past 2 years with memories of the day he was born and of course looking at that gorgeous baby’s pictures. I am pretty sure anyone who knows me can attest that pictures are extremely important to me, especially when it comes to my children. So there are most likely thousands of pictures of my baby boy. However, there is one that I will always be attached to, that will always bring me back to those first moments of his life, and will always be a reminder of all of the events that have occurred since he came into our lives. A reminder that this little guy was my hero from the minute he was born.
That smile. At the time, I thought what a sweet picture and how did my sister ever get that shot? But not anymore. Now I see something so far beyond that. When I look at this picture, I see a little baby who is happy because he knows he just saved his mama. He is at peace knowing everything was now going to be okay. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that, but here’s why.
I have to say I was very blessed with both of my pregnancies. Very “textbook”, and although I was considered high risk due to my age with Nolan, I was not restricted and was able to work, coach, and run throughout my entire pregnancy. At around 35 weeks, I started to notice some leg pain but I chalked it up to me being on my feet a lot and assumed he was just on a nerve. It was bearable and I didn’t really give it too much thought. We had been very busy moving back into our home, I had a very energetic 3 year old, and I was determined to keep working until the little man arrived.
Nolan decided that he was going to enter this world 3 weeks early. I was out to lunch with my (also pregnant) sister and Ava when my water broke out of nowhere. It was fast and almost aggressive in a way, and I immediately knew that this baby was on a mission to be born. What a sight we must have been, 2 very pregnant ladies and a toddler trying to quickly buckle and head to the hospital! I honestly did not think we would make it. Somehow we got there, got me in a room and Jeff showed up just in time. Less than an hour later, our little guy was here. It was intense, fast and honestly a little scary, but he was healthy and our family was complete.
We left the hospital 3 days later, in a snow storm and started to settle into our new home as a family of four. I noticed my leg was still sore, but still wasn’t worried. In fact, I coached 2 swim meets and was starting to figure out when I could start running again!
That all changed when Nolan was a week old. That day my leg swelled, was red, and hot to the touch. My mom came to watch the kids and Jeff and I headed to the ER. In an ultrasound, they determined that I had a DVT blood clot in my left leg. I was immediately admitted and told that due to the risk to the baby, he would not be allowed to be there with me.
I no longer felt any pain in my leg. I felt nothing other than heartbreak. I have never been an emotional person and I consider myself to be strong and handle bad news pretty well. But this was new territory. I cried the entire week I laid in that hospital bed. I hardly told anyone that I was there. My sister and family stepped in and took incredible care of my children, but it was the absolute worst week of my entire life. I never felt sorry for myself, but my heart ached for that little guy who I now realized came into this world early to save me only to have his mom taken away. I was worried for my little girl whose life was completely rocked when a new baby came home and then her mommy and daddy disappeared. I felt guilty and blamed myself wondering if I had done something that had caused this to happen. All I wanted was to be with my babies.
Finally, a doctor was able to figure out medication I could take so I could go home. I didn’t even ask questions. After the longest week of my life, I was getting out! I still could not really walk, and the recovery was long, but I was able to hold my kids and that’s all I needed.
So now, 2 years later I am grateful for this experience. What I never knew until Nolan’s birth was that I am genetically predisposed to blood clots and will be on a blood thinner for the rest of my life. We also now know that our children are at risk and we can take proper measures to make sure we are able to prevent this from happening to them as much as possible. Thanks to my little man, we can all be a little more prepared and have a better understanding of what can happen and the signs to look for.
It took me almost 4 months to be able to walk and run again without any real pain. Even now, however, I still experience discomfort and soreness in that leg after I work out. But I embrace it. Nothing I feel will ever be worse than what I felt being away from my babies. They truly are my reason that I push through and the reason I try and be a better version of myself. I owe that to both of them, but especially my little hero who I will always be grateful for.
Here is a link to Nolan’s second birthday photo shoot: