Both of My Sons Had the Exact Same Mother, Only Different
Their birthdays are 10 days apart. Two years, and 10 days. They have the same father. 2 boys. Somehow we expect our children to be similar. There are usually some similarities, and often drastic differences. Due to very unforeseen circumstances my sons each had a very different mother. And of course, their personalities and dispositions diverge quite a bit.
When I had my first son, Travis, in 1997, I was 32 years old. I was a fit and trim athlete before I became pregnant. I had protracted fertility struggles and lost 3 pregnancies prior to having my first full term pregnancy. I was over the moon when I gave birth.
I decided to be a stay at home mom for Travis and enjoy every minute of it. I breastfed him for 15 months. I took him for swimming lessons when he was 7 months old. I put him in a backpack and went hiking. I made friends with a woman at Gymboree when he was 6 months old and we did everything together. Her daughter was a day older than Travis. We also went to music classes together. I remember that first year as one of the best of my life.
My husband and I both wanted 2 children. After our fertility struggles we decided it would be wise to not wait too long before trying for another. Ben was conceived the old fashioned way within 6 months. I was thrilled to think I was going to be able to do it all again with a new human. This time I had to have more tests during pregnancy due to my “advanced maternal age”. Everything was fine.
That winter, my husband planned a ski weekend over Valentine’s Day. I didn’t think it was that important that we do something together because I never cared much about Valentine’s Day one way or the other. As the day approached, he started to feel guilty about leaving me home alone and cancelled his plans.
My husband is a terrible snorer so I often slept in the guest bedroom that we were going to convert to the baby’s room.
On the morning of Valentine’s Day, my husband remembers waking up and thinking his biggest problem was going to be where to get me flowers.
I woke up alone in the guestroom. I don’t remember much until days later but my husband told me I was complaining of a splitting headache and called for help. I couldn’t get up but I was awake. I peed the bed. It was the first day Travis climbed out of his crib. He was 22 months old. It wasn’t long before my husband figured out it was a medical emergency and called 911.
The ambulance arrived quickly very early on an extremely cold February morning in New Jersey. The EMT’s asked my husband if it would be ok for them to carry me down the stairs in a body bag because a stretcher might be dangerous with my pregnant size. They didn’t zipper the bag up over my face. I had a seizure and passed out.
A CAT scan at the hospital revealed an extremely large cerebral hemhorhage. My pupils were fixed and dilated which indicated my brain stem functions such as respiration were shutting down. I was 26 weeks pregnant.
An emergency craniotomy saved our lives. The obstetrician scrubbed in for the surgery in case an emergency C-section became necessary. The neurosurgeon opened my skull and cleaned up the bleeding mess in my brain. It went well.
I was put in a medically induced coma for recovery so my head would be as still as possible for 2 weeks. The entire left side of my body was completely paralyzed. My left arm was bent and locked in position pressing on my pregnant belly from spasticity. They monitored the baby several times per day.
When I woke up, I was confused about why my body wasn’t working. I was aware of bandages on my head and drainage tubes coming out either side. I didn’t know what happened. I seemed oddly unconcerned about being pregnant. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I had had a stroke. They told me I had a tangled mass of blood vessels in my brain that had ruptured. I didn’t realize that when your brain bleeds it’s a stroke.
I had limited physical therapy in the hospital. Rehab facilities are not equipped to handle a pregnancy so they wouldn’t admit me until after I gave birth. So with a team of very nervous physical therapists I got out of bed and started walking around the halls of the hospital.
The plan was to leave the baby as long as possible so the lungs could fully develop. We assumed they would do a C section. I went into labor a few times but it was arrested with drugs. I was throwing up all the time and couldn’t move.
On April 3rd, labor started again. This time, the drugs didn’t stop its progression. I was still hemiplegic, but I delivered a healthy, 5 lb. 6 oz. boy in the usual way with a lot of help from nurses.
I was moved to a rehab hospital a few days later. I had lain in the acute care hospital, pregnant and paralyzed, for 53 days. My parents took the baby home with them so my husband could focus on taking care of Travis. We hired a baby nurse to help my parents with the late night feedings.
Our families rallied around to help. I learned how to walk again and take care of myself in rehab. I stayed there for six weeks all the while thinking everything would be fine when I went home. My arm was painfully spastic and nearly impossible to use. I became depressed from a combination of being postpartum, brain injured and living through horrible circumstances.
I went home in May in a wheelchair. We hired nannies to take care of my 6 week old and 2 year old babies.
It was a long, slow painful imcomplete recovery.
My sons had the same father. Travis had a very different mother than Ben. I won’t know how Ben was affected by never knowing his mother as an able bodied person. Travis was definitely traumatized by the whole ordeal before he was verbal and able to talk about it. They have grown up to be very different individuals which I suppose happens under any circumstances.
Thank you for reading :)