July is a big deal for the Bradfields. Our wedding anniversary is on July 6. Our middle child’s birthday was earlier in the month, and our last two turn 18 and 20 in a few days.
They were born on the same day. Emma was born in 1997 just one day before her due date, in Watertown, New York. Jameson was born on his sister’s birthday two years later in Salt Lake City. But unlike his sister, Jamseon was born 15 weeks premature.
We lived in Elko, Nevada when I was pregnant with Jameson. The day before his birth, I went through a scary afternoon. After a big hemorrhage, my husband drove me to Elko Hospital where the staff tried to stop my contractions with magnesium sulfate. They also gave me a steroid injection to help my son’s lungs quickly mature.
Toward nightfall, my doctor summoned hospital transport. A couple of Salt Lake City area nurses boarded a plane for Elko and an ambulance to Elko Hospital where they would stabilize me for the flight.
Magnesium is not easy on the stomach. When the doctor and nurses had given me the maximum amount, it caused me to vomit repeatedly, which made me hemorrhage even more. The cycle was vicious.
The nurses also gave me an injection to stop the contractions and ease my nausea. Relief from the nausea and contractions was a godsend, as the worry alone was enough for me to bear on the flight, the landing, and ambulance transport to the hospital.
When the orderlies lifted me off of the gurney onto a labor and delivery bed, my contractions began again. Soon, I was in hard labor and a normal birth wasn’t an option. The doctor decided to do an emergency Cesarean section, and I agreed.
Being awake on a surgical table is surreal. It felt as though I was a piece of meat on a butcher’s block, ready for carving. The anesthesiologist was the best I ever had, though. He gave me an epidural in seconds.
The surgical curtain made it so I couldn’t see Jameson’s birth. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see my son and attach to him. A nurse handed him through a window into the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. The doctors told me my placenta was 75 percent unattached when they performed the C-section.
Both Jameson and I were lucky to be alive. But I would need two units of blood before I was moved to recovery.
Have you ever seen a 25-week old, 1-pound, 14-ounce baby? Think of two packages of butter. That is 2 pounds. Jameson was only 13 inches long.
Preemies that young look like aliens. Their skin is thin and transparent. Their eyes are closed, and they have no obvious nipples, eyebrows or fingernails. They are skin and bones, and when they cry, there is no sound. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming, at the same time.
The scenario behind his birth was a little different from my four previous kids. Each of them was progressively later. But, with this pregnancy, I had my first hemorrhage at 11 weeks. Seven weeks later, I had another bad one. The ultrasound showed I was carrying my first son. That day I went on bed rest.
Seven weeks of bed rest is a dreadfully long time. I felt like I had missed that summer — watching my kids play outside or at swim lessons, experiencing my normal summer projects like planting flowers and a vegetable garden.
And even as I repeatedly hemorrhaged, with what first was placentia previa, a condition where the placenta covers the cervix, and then with a placental abruption, or tearing away of the placenta from the uterus, my mantra was, “If he can hang in there, I can hang in there.”
My mother-in-law stepped in to help. At first, my four girls were with her in Tooele. Then we realized how important it was for me to have them nearby. Her employer held her job for her and she took over household duties. I needed her and we worked together to get our miracle boy here.
When Jameson was born, the first day he breathed on his own the majority of that day. The steroid shot had worked, even though I didn’t get the second dose. I saw him at three days old and I was released to go home and heal.
Fast forward: Jameson came home three weeks before his due date. He was still on oxygen and an apnea monitor. He thrived at home, amidst the love of his sisters and parents. He weighed 7 pounds by November.
The month before he came home, he was transported to Primary Children’s Hospital for surgery on a heart murmur called Patent Ductus Arteriosis. But with what we believe was the help of prayers, surgeons told us the hole in his heart closed. His only surgery would be for hernias that December.
One of the most touching experiences we had with Jameson and Emma was when his sister saw him for the first time at PCH. The family visitation policy was not as restrictive when he was there for his heart surgery as it was at LDS Hospital.
When two-year old Emma saw Jameson for the first time, she exclaimed, “Der’s my brudder, der’s my brudder, Jameson.”
So there they are, my two youngest — Jameson, the now 5-feet 11-inch, 132-pound, deep-voiced young man who will be an 18-year-old senior at Stansbury High this fall, and Emma, the 20-year-old, 5-feet 9-inch Associate of Science degree elementary education major.
Emma, the one who used to want her own birthday, but who loves her “brudder,” is preparing to teach English in China and attend a university to complete her bachelor’s degree. And Jameson, who loves his sister, her teasing, wrestling and mentoring, will graduate in a year and move on, too.
A chapter of parenting is ending for my husband and me. I look back at the difficulties with Jameson’s birth — the pain, the tears, the triumphs — and I realize they strengthened me and our little family. With that in mind, I know I would do it all again.