This is what I looked like on June 9, 2007. Daniel wasn't due until June 19, and I wasn't having any symptoms of going into labor, but we decided to take a picture anyway, and I am so glad that we did!
If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you might remember that Daniel's father was an alcoholic. He battled it for many years, but it didn't work. He continued to drink. And when he drank, he could be very mean and at times was even physically abusive. I had told him numerous times throughout my pregnancy that if he was drunk when I went into labor, I would go to the hospital myself - hoping that the threat would keep him from drinking. But, it didn't work.
That night, he was drunk. He went upstairs to bed and passed out fairly early in the night. I sat up to watch a movie - "Deep Impact" - until it was over around 2:00am on Sunday morning, June 10. During the movie, I started to feel....funky. I had a bizarre pain that kept coming and going every 5 minutes, but it wasn't a contraction so I wasn't too concerned. But, it continued. Finally, at the end of the movie I decided that I would just go ahead and go to the hospital - even if I wasn't in labor, I thought that if he woke up and I was gone, it might make him think twice before he took the next drink.
I got up off of the couch and walked into the kitchen to get the charger for my phone to put in my bag, and then went around the corner to go up the steps to get a receiving blanket. As I lifted my leg to go up the first step, my water broke - and when I say "broke" I really mean that it exploded. Everywhere. This had never happened with the previous 4 pregnancies, so I started to panic. I stood there thinking to myself "this is my 5th kid, my water just exploded, and this kid is going to come NOW!" So I started yelling for him to wake up. Every time I took a breath to yell, more fluid gushed out, making me panic even more. Finally, he woke up and realized what was happening - I told him to grab a towel from the upstairs bathroom and get moving. He brought me the towel and I basically diapered myself with it and told him to meet me in the van - and don't forget the carseat.
I walked out the back door, calling the hospital to let them know that I was on my way. As I stepped out of the door, I felt my hair stand up on end and realized that there was lightning in the sky - everywhere around me. I waddled as fast as I could to the van and waited for him. Finally, he came out, with his cigarettes in his hand, but no carseat. I yelled at him, asking him where the carseat was, and he started to turn around to go back and get it, and a contraction hit. I told him to forget about it, get into the van, and DRIVE!
It was the scariest drive ever. Here he was, drunk, driving me to the hospital. I should have driven, but I wasn't sure that I could in the condition that I was in at the time. When we got to the hospital, he dropped me off at the ER entrance and went to park the van. I
We got to my room and I got the epidural almost immediately. He passed out on the recliner in the room and I was able to doze off and on for a few hours. By the time I was in active labor, he was sober. I have to admit that he was fantastic while I labored and throughout the delivery. We were both happy and it was a great moment. He stayed throughout the day, and went home that night.
The next morning I was scheduled to get my tubes tied. He got there before I left for surgery and waited until I was done. Then he said that he was going to go back to the house to check the mail. I was suspicious, but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. He came back a few hours later carrying a travel mug, and one look at his face told me that my suspicions were correct. He was wasted. He walked back out of the room to get something from the cafeteria, and the nurses immediately descended on my room, and they informed me that he had walked into the wrong room before he got to mine, and they were ready to call for security. Instead, we came up with a code - if when he came back to the room, either the nurses or I felt that he needed to be removed from the premises, we would say something about calling "Dr. Smith" (the pediatrician).
He came back in minus the travel mug, and Dr. Smith was right behind him. The nurse and I looked at each other like "oh crap, what about our code?" He immediately started getting mouthy with the doctor, telling her that she needed to go get HIM something to eat. She looked at the nurse and said "I think you need to make that phone called that we discussed" and the nurse walked out of the room.
Within minutes, there were 4 city police officers in my room surrounding me. Two of them pulled my husband out of the room while 2 stayed with me, questioning me. Sadly, they were all-too-familiar with our situation, as they had all been to our house before due to the history of violence during his drinking binges. He was escorted off of the hospital property and told not to return - ever. I was quickly moved to a different room in the off-chance that he managed to sneak back in unnoticed. I was devastated.
I spent the rest of the day on Monday talking to a social worker about the situation, crying most of the time. What was supposed to be such a joyous event turned into something that was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Daniel and I were dismissed on Tuesday, and for the second time I left the hospital with a newborn alone and drove myself home. I hoped that he would greet us at the door, happy to see us, taking pictures of Daniel's homecoming. Instead, I walked into the house with our newborn son and found him passed out on the floor of the living room. Here I was, 2 days after delivering our son, walking back and forth across the back yard, bring load after load of stuff in from the van - including everything that I had picked up from WalMart on the way home. And he was passed out drunk.
And so continued our life together. He eventually went through rehab, and stayed sober for 99 days - and life was good. But on the 100th day he made the choice to drink again. He continued to drink until well after I asked him to leave our home permanently on May 6, 2009.
So why am I telling this story in detail now? It's certainly not to badmouth Daniel's father. He was a good man but he had demons that were too strong for him to defeat. I have no doubt that he loved Daniel until the day that he died.
I am telling this now because there are so many details of those few days that people don't know about. I have kept a lot of this to myself for 5 years because I was scared and embarrassed to tell the truth about what happened. But, as we celebrate Daniel's 5th birthday this weekend, it brings so many emotions to the surface for me. For him to have come into this world in the middle of such a messed up set of circumstances, he is an amazing little boy. He is smart and funny and happy and healthy - and he shows me that no matter how horrible the situation is, something wonderful can come out of it. He has taught me more about love and strength than anyone else that I know. I knew that even in the darkest days following his father's death that we would get through it, and that we would get through it together.
He doesn't really remember his father. He recognizes him in pictures, and he tells me that his "daddy died and went to Heaven" but he is still too young to really comprehend what that means. Right now, he knows that his father was sick - and as he gets older he will ask more questions, and I know that those questions will become harder to answer, but we will get through it - just as we have been doing.
We had a little party for him today since the older 3 kids are leaving in the morning. We had cake and ice cream and presents, and The Dude and his mother were here to share in it. He walked around all day today proclaiming that although he is 4 years old today, tomorrow he will be 5!
Tomorrow, he celebrates. And I will continue to reflect on the circumstances that brought him into this world while we celebrate with him - and I won't be scared or embarrassed about it any longer.