It’s Just a Gas
Nineteen years ago, I was lying on the couch with my husband, Tim watching a movie. I had noticed for the few days prior that I had been having some stomach discomfort. This had been one of those stressful times during our life together, we had just moved, I had started a new job and a few months prior, had my third miscarriage. Life was stressful and no small wonder that I was having stomach issues, really.
I asked Tim, “Honey, have you ever had gas that just moves around and doesn’t go anywhere?” He kind of chuckled and said, “Uh, no…” I pressed further, “Well, have you ever had gas that makes your shirt move?” (I know you must be thinking that I’m about the daftest woman on the planet.)
“Sweetie, I think you need to have a pregnancy test.” I was doubtful, but I heeded his advice, went to the base hospital and took the test.
It was Cinco de Mayo when I got the news that our daughter, Sarah was, officially “not gas”. As you may already be thinking, I was farther along in my pregnancy than most women are when they find out. I was on the fast track to motherhood. But how fast? Every doctor’s appointment I would measure considerably more than the previous visit. They had a very hard time actually determining how far along I was. My abs of steel (ha) had kept my sweet little gas bubble from showing, but once things were official, all bets were off. As it turned out, I was seven months along by the time I found out.
Now, let me add that I have been in the position of learning that someone I knew just found out she was pregnant, very pregnant. I have been the person saying, “How can she be THAT far along and NOT know?” I’ve been there more than once. Let me tell ya, folks, now I understand how a woman can be several months along and not know. Primarily, for me the miscarriage seven months before Sarah was born was the key to not knowing. (Yes, that’s some fancy math and maybe another story… Miscarriage 27 weeks prior to a birth at 36 weeks gestation. But that’s how it happened).
Cinco de Mayo has been the day for celebrations. For us, not a celebration of independence, but of life. Not only was May 5th one of the best days of my life, it was also the worst.
Fast-forward sixteen years to May 5, 2011. That was the day I received the call at work that my daughter was contemplating suicide and I needed to come to the school right away.
As much as I had no idea I was pregnant fifteen years prior. I had no idea Sarah was struggling and floundering. We communicated openly, we were supremely supportive and encouraging, but that was almost not enough. As it turned out, a very troubled friend of hers had suggested they do it. She agreed before she realized the implications of the situation and when she realized what she had agreed to, she immediately sought out the guidance counselor and told her what was going on. Sarah was evaluated that night and deemed not to be a threat to herself or others and because she had come forward voluntarily, we were able to take her home with us.
It’s difficult to talk about all of this, it’s difficult remembering how broken my heart was that evening. But it was all really a blessing. The high school was not a good fit for Sarah, she had been sexually assaulted twice on school grounds and then faced bullying and ostracizing. The school principal was astonishingly unsupportive and suggested Sarah needed to “grow a thicker skin”, which is probably the thing that made me angriest. In the end, we transferred her to another school district where she celebrated a very happy senior year. While we wished we had transferred her sooner, we know that she did actually grow a thicker skin as a result of the things she experienced at that school. She learned valuable lessons that it took me decades longer to learn. Sarah is doing very well now.
Like every person, she has struggles but those darkest of times are behind her. She talks regularly with a counselor, while she knows she can talk to her dad and I about literally anything, (and does), there is just this real need for talking with an objective person who doesn’t love her unconditionally.
We talk and listen to each other, we have great days and awful days. Sarah is happy and healthy. We’ve kept those lines of communication open, that was key to us. We argue sometimes, but she always knows we are there for her and accept her for, and support her in everything she is or hopes to be. She is living proof that it DOES get better.
Sarah marches to the beat of her own drummer, she always has. She always will. Many people don’t “get” her. Many times she doesn’t “get” others. She’s kind and gentle, always on the side of the right thing to do. She is often misjudged and misunderstood. She misses social cues, gets confused and upset. She’s talented and smart. Funny and quiet. She is the best person I have ever known and I’m a much better person because of her. I am blessed to be her mother. She will always be my little gas bubble. Although today is not her birthday, today I celebrate her life. Happy Cinco de Mayo, my love.