Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Ben-Ben. Now you are 21

Twenty-one years was a foggy morning. I had scheduled the C-section on an easy day to remember, 10-27-87. Say it out loud. A fun number. Having had our middle son 14 months earlier, in an emergency C-section, I knew what to expect, in fact, I was recommending C-sections to all my friends.

Bob and I walked to the hospital. It is only three miles from our house. And it was fun walking in the fog. My folks had come up from Houston to babysit the middle baby and make sure our firstborn made it to kindergarten.

An emergency C-section means they put you out fast, and deep, with gas. They were in a hurry, as James' heart rate had dropped.

But,a planned C-section means they take their time, and put you on a drip to put you out. And they don't want to give you too much or the baby will be groggy, so they put you out just deep enough...but, remember, I had just been on a three mile hike. My metabolism was up, and somehow my liver metabolized the anaesthesia and I felt like I was down in a well. I could hear everything, and feel everything, and wondered to myself why the monitors were not letting them know that I was awake and aware. I felt them cut me open, and pull Ben out. I knew it was a boy. Our third son. I heard the doctor and nurses talking, and thought to myself as pain washed over me like waves, that something was not right. And yet, I remember claiming that promise that God does not put more on us than we can bear. This C-section was different than last years. It was a nightmare I would re-live every year for 21 years. At first, I questioned, why? What happened? When I questioned the doctor and nurses, they brushed it off with something about how the anaesthesiologist gave me a "forget" drug that obviously did not work. Once the baby was out, I think they put me out deeper, because they cut my tubes, as planned, but I don't remember whether that was before or after they sewed me up. Bob got to watch them clean Ben up, and take him to the nursery. When he joined me in recovery, he told me we had had another baby boy, and I said, "I know. I was awake for most of it." I don't know if he believed me or not. But, I was distraught. On the one hand, I was thankful Ben was okay, but on the other hand, I knew that what I experienced was not right. And I wanted to figure it out. Later, I would research it, and find out I was not alone. But, that would take a few years, and newspaper articles about it, and research on the computer would help explain it, but I think the practice of giving people a "forget" drug is still practiced, and we don't forget. Stuff just gets pushed down into our subconscious, but that does not mean we are not having to deal with it on other levels. Doctors and nurses probably like the drug because it means they don't have to watch their language in the operating room. And I guess helping them concentrate is more important than the patient's mental health.

So, Ben's birthday has always been a mixed blessing for me. Bittersweet. I figured I went through what I did so that I would shut up about C-sections. They are not the best thing ever. Sure, they prevent the tearing and stitching necessary from a vaginal birth like I experienced with my firstborn nine pounder. And it probably saved James' life, as he was in some kind of distress. But, I have to make a conscious effort process the memories, and then set them aside to turn and celebrate with Ben. It helped to journal. And talk about it. And try to warn others. But, then I hallucinate whenever I use Advil, so I know that I process drugs differently.

Ben doesn't read my blog, so I am safe here. Adult children. Sounds like an oxymoron. How does one parent adult children??? They don't think they need it, and parenting becomes more of a cheerleader slot. Homebase. We are here if we are needed, but a drag on their time and energy. We worked our way out of a job. As it should be. I hope we raised independent men. I hope we raised warriors.

But, I am still a mom. Always will be. I remember when the boys were in grade school, I felt like I lost my first name. I became a mom. Andy and James and Ben's mom. Teachers would greet me with, "oh, you must be Ben's mom."

Ben was the clingiest baby of them all. He felt secure hanging onto mom, and the world was a scary place. How come the clingiest makes up for it by becoming the most independent?? And wildest? And the one who drives you to your knees petitioning heaven to protect the rest of the world from your son?? And the one I'd love to sell to the Marines if they'd only take him.

Ben was gifted with spacial talents, and the ability to put things together by sight. Since some things came easy, he learned to avoid the hard reading. He fooled his kindergarten teacher, and overcompensated throughout grade school, but the teachers started making ADD noises in first grade, and started the rounds of testing and diagnostics. We learned that Ben learned differently, and under the huge umbrella that is dyslexia, he was labeled early as "learning disabled." Small ld. We fought against drugs, and thankfully, had a pediatrician who did not think Ben was learning disabled, because, as he explained it, Ben could concentrate for long periods of time on things that that interested him. Ben was easily distracted in a classroom situation, but put him in the science place at the hands-on museum, and he would swear up and down that we had only been there ten minutes when I had been happily reading a book in the corner for two hours.

We were assured that Ben would do fine in college with modifications---and we were promised that if we took the reams of diagnostics with us that he would have no trouble getting in. By then, we were used to special ed, and textbooks on tape, and ARD meetings. But, curiously, when Ben turned 18, WITHOUT our permission and WITHOUT prior notification, they pressured Ben to sign something stating he was no longer learning disabled, in fact, miraculously, did not need their services. The bastards no longer needed funding, in that sink hole that is public education.

Ben made good grades at the local community college. But, the second semester of classes he picked was not so fun, and Ben planned on moving out. Ben made good money as a pizza deliverer, and jumped at the chance to climb on roofs and install solar panels when he got that job. We would have preferred he stay at home, and finish college. We had helped his older brothers through college, and wanted him to get a degree, too. But, he wanted to move out and planned it for months. He chaffed at our rules, and did not like his Dad's random checks on his laptop.

It broke my heart to see him move out of our home, and move into an apartment with a drunk. It is sad to see your son learn things the hard way. And even though we had taught him about friends and associations, and how they affect you, Ben decided to check things out himself. He decided he had been sheltered long enough, and he was tired of a worse-case-scenario mom and strict dad.

My prayer these last few years has been thankfulness that Ben has supported himself, but I hope and pray God sour that friendship with a drunk. And I am thankful that God has answered the prayer that my sons get caught whenever they do something wrong so that they suffer the consequences and learn from it before it becomes and ingrained bad habit.

note to Bob: how come, when I check words on spell checker, and click on the correct one, and it appears to change it, that when I "publish" the misspelled word still appears?? Yikes. Here I thought I was correcting my spelling all these years.


ShalomSeeker said...

Aunt J,
I didn't know that story about the anesthesia not working during your surgery. That is one of my greatest fears. When I had my gallbladder removed two years ago, I spoke to the anesthetician (?!!?) personally before the surgery, explaining my fear and how my body processes things like anesthesia quickly. I was really nervous, but that surgery ended up being okay. But I am still nervous about it. When I had a (large-needle) biopsy this past spring, the anesthesia didn't kick in or didn't go far enough, and I was in agony. I found myself begging them to stop. But at least I could speak...

I am SO sorry about your experience. Really, really sorry. I don't think I can express that strongly enough.

My stomach hurts now.

Much love,

joyce said...

Thank you J. Here I started to write something funny, and Uncle Bob counseled, write it as if to J. but it turned into still bringing up the past. You'd think after 21 years I would not freak out around Ben's birthday.

One of the military moms is having a hard time because her son did a no-no in basic, and his parent weekend privileges got yanked. I read her blog, and my heart goes out to her. Why are getting to see parents a privilege or a punishment? Anyway, I had commented to her that maybe it is best to write that letter to God instead of her son's drill instructor. And told her I had had to write one of those letters to God this weekend, too. I don't know if it was comforting, but I encouraged her to read the experiences of a mom with a son in the Israeli army. We have it so easy compared to what they are doing.

I am sorry aneasthesia does not work for you, either. Do you have to be careful taking advil, too?

ShalomSeeker said...

I don't know about not freaking out; it was pretty traumatic. But what you have been able to do--commendably so, I think--is separate your trauma from your son. Even your deep concern over his lifestyle/future reflect how very much you love him.

On the military mom: I'm guessing that they--like parents do, too--take away what a person wants most. Makes the dicipline all the more 'memorable.' I think your suggestion to write her letter to God was a good one.

No, I'm fine with over-the-counter drugs. My body just does weird things with anesthesia, but only sometimes. Sometimes I'm fine at the dentist; sometimes I need extra meds. My body's weird on other things too. For example, after the gallbladder surgery, I hurt badly for MONTHS. Finally, my doctor and I figured out that my body was attacking the incision sites/internal sutures (the kind that are just supposed to dissolve over time). Once we treated that, I was on the road to recovery. Isn't that crazy? Between these two things, I'll pretty much do anything to avoid surgery. Eat cow dung or have surgery? I won't ponder long... ;-)
P.S. I felt honored that Uncle Bob suggested that I should be your audience! Thanks! :-D