Family by Allie Barrera

At the age of thirteen, I was told that I would never have children. After a period of irregularities and hormonal issues, I was finally taken to a doctor and after a host of tests, I was told that I would never be a mother. I distinctly remember the doctor, who was a woman by the way, tell me very nonchalantly, “It’s just not in the cards for you honey.”

At the time, I didn’t really feel affected by it, probably because I was too young to grasp the gravity of my situation, and my alcoholic less-than-involved mother didn’t hint at any sort of devastation. So it wasn’t until I was in my late teens and into my college years that it began to mold my understanding of the future.

As I neared the end of my undergraduate degree at the tender age of 21, I decided that since children weren’t in my future, I would be a world traveler. Having European parents and a father who lived in Germany, I spent over half of my life traveling overseas. I decided that upon graduating with my degree in English Education, I would sell everything I owned and move to Italy to teach English as a second language, and that’s exactly what I did.

At the age of thirteen, I was told that I would never have children.

Allie Barrera

Upon returning to California from Italy after a Vespa accident that ended my stay early, I met my husband. At the age of 22, I had my first son, and 15 months later my second son was born. We always joked that I was the most fertile infertile woman either of us had ever met.

My third child who was born 6 years after my first, is even more of a miracle than the first two were, and that is where this story should truly begin.

July 7, 2017 Brady was born. 7-7-17. It was the same day the tractor arrived to begin digging our pool. My two older boys and I sat in the living room, and with my big belly hanging over my lap I sat watching the tractor dig deeper and deeper into the earth and anticipated all of the fun we would have when the pool was done. Suddenly I realized that I hadn’t felt the baby move that day. I am always overly analytical, so I went into the bathroom cabinet and grabbed the fetal Doppler that I kept on hand for moments like this. I held the wand against my belly and searched and searched for a heart beat. I found nothing. I took a moment to calm myself and decide what I was going to do, and it was in that moment that I received the direction that would change my life and save my baby’s. Many people have commented on my “mother’s intuition,” but the voice inside my head was so external that I can’t even explain it. It was as if I was being told “go in” by a force outside of myself.  It was so real that it felt like I could almost hear it out loud.

After being at the hospital for hours being observed on the monitor, the doctor decided that she wanted to get an ultrasound. I lay in bed as the ultrasound tech, a grandma-looking woman with a very kind face and sweet spirit about her, wheeled her machine in. As a nurse I know that these sorts of tests need to be interpreted by the doctor before any information is given to the patient, but I always ask too many questions anyways, in the hopes that they may tell me something. After telling me multiple times, “I’m sorry honey but I can’t tell you that,” she finally paused and very calmly asked, “Who is with you today honey?” I told her nobody, just as simply, and then said that mine was an appointment of precaution and that everything was fine. She looked at me and very affectionately said, “I would call someone.” At that moment my heart dropped.

I got up to go to the restroom, and by the time I was out several nurses sped into the room with the doctor. It was explained to me that I was to go in for an unplanned and very unwanted cesarean to take the baby out, because he wasn’t doing well. If we waited, they did not know what could happen. I had enough time to call my husband and have him rush over to the hospital, all the while they stood on either side of my bed prepping me for surgery. I had had my other two children naturally, so to say I was sitting in terror would not be an understatement. They wheeled me back to the emergency room and it began.

I remember the bright lights, nausea from the paralyzing drugs they give you, but most of all the fear. I was terrified for my unborn child. I simply knew too much. As the baby got closer to being removed, I heard the doctor call out, “We have a true knot.” At that, my heart sank. I knew what that meant. In saying true knot, she was notifying the medical staff in the room that his umbilical cord was tied in a knot, essentially warning the resuscitation team that they needed to be prepared to revive the baby once he was out. She said it again. “We have another true knot” and again “We have three true knots!” Suddenly, I could hear gasps and “Oh my Gods” as nurses and assistants moved closer to the operating table to get a look at what the doctor was talking about. I became hysterical. I could only move my upper body and even with craning my neck to try and look over the curtain, I couldn’t see him! I was desperately begging God to let him cry, just please let him make a noise to let me know he was OK. And then, he did it. He cried. He cried loud and strong and it was the most beautiful cry I had ever heard. I learned later that not only did he have three true knots in his cord, but he had it wrapped around his body, and around his neck twice, as well as absolutely no amniotic fluid. His life, especially the vibrant healthy one that it is, is a true miracle.

There are times in motherhood that you become overwhelmed. You become tired and sometimes irritable, and it can be easy to lose sight of the monumental blessing that molding another life is. I didn’t grow up with a traditional family, although I desperately yearned for one. I was raised by a single mother in a less than ideal situation, so family for me was always seen through a dysfunctional and often very sad lense. Some days I sit and watch my children. I watch them smile with each other and play, and belly laugh until they have tears in their eyes, and the joy in their faces truly fills my soul. I watch them play with their father, something I never got to do. I watch them live. The miracle of their existence is not lost on me, and I am thankful everyday for them. They are my love. They are my truth. They are my family.

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