Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ten Candles for Sean

Sean at around 5:00 pm June 30, 1997

When the doctors found out I was carrying Sean (I knew, I didn't need a test to tell me), they went into a bit of a tizzy.

I'd had four miscarriages, and then there was Steven, who was born with a cleft palate, malformed ears, no hearing on the right side, a mild form of spina bifida, his stomach was upside down, and too many other things to mention here.

I didn't have amniocentesis with Steven. I decided that I wouldn't even consider it unless the other prenatal tests they do came up positive, and they didn't, everything was better than normal for my age.

In retrospect, I feel even more strongly now than before that even if they'd been able to peer into my womb and tell me everything about Steven's medical condition, and even if they could have told me that he'd develop a malignant brain tumor when he was 9, I wouldn't want to have known. The picture I would have painted in my mind would have been far worse than the reality.

So here was Sean, growing inside me. I had an entire different feeling with Sean, like I knew he would be fine, the entire pregnancy was different than it was with Steven.

His birth was relatively easy. He was a big baby, I said 9 lbs or more, the doctor said 8 lbs as she felt him during my labor, Sean was 9 lbs 9 ox. Big and healthy, and he came out hungry.

I lay on the table where I'd birthed him and held his slippery warm body against me. It is always so weird when you look at the face of the creature that's been growing inside you for the first time, Steven and Sean never looked like I imagined they would.

He was born hungry, he started shoving his fists in his mouth and turning his head back and forth the way newborns do when it's time to eat. I didn't have any milk yet, and I was slimy myself and ready for a shower, so I called the nurses to get him so I could take a shower.

Afterward I got him from the nursery and brought him to our private room. I stood and held him and Doug and I talked and he turned his head back and forth in response to our voices. I looked at him and I told Doug I could tell he was going to be healthy and smart and advanced for his age.

At around midnight we wanted to sleep, so I sent him back to the nursery and Doug and I got in bed. Half an hour later the nurse came back with him and said, "He's hungry". I said, "You're a nurse, you know I don't have milk yet, I can't do anything for him, and for tonight I want to sleep." She asked me what to do and I told her, "Feed him, he's hungry".

So she did. We supplemented with formula for two days while I waited for my milk, the La Leche folks who kept telling me he wasn't really hungry, that newborns don't need to eat for four days didn't have a clue.

When my milk came in, he nursed. He ate so well, he was gaining 2 ounces per day. When I took him for his 6-month visit, he weighed 20 lbs. 3 oz, more than Steven weighed at a year. He was roly poly and had dimples all over his fat little body.

He only gained 7 oz over the next 6 months, at a year he ws 20 lbs 10 oz, a more normal size.

My predictions came true. He's healthy, smart, athletic, brave and strong. I worry all the time that I focus so much on Steven and his health issues that I don't give him proper attention, that I won't notice something I should. I have had more than one dream that something terrible happens with him and I've been too distracted to notice.

At least for me, guilt is part of parenting no matter what I do.

Sean with our puppy Buddy (r) and his brother Jack (l)

Happy 10th birthday, sweetie. I am so very proud of you.

- Kathleen


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