Simon was born September 13, 2012. My pregnancy with him was the easiest I’ve had (4 pregnancies, 3 kids, and 1 miscarriage). The gestational diabetes I had had with my daughter, Eleanor (born May 2010), that had landed me on insulin, was this time controlled with diet and medication. I gained just barely 10 pounds for the whole pregnancy and 9-1/2 of that was baby! So aside from mild morning sickness and a brief scare at 22 weeks when I thought I was contracting, the pregnancy was a breeze. It was going so great that I decided I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean section). An ill-advised, failed induction led to my first c-section with Eleanor and I was really wanting to avoid that this time around. My original OB was completely unsupportive of this plan and went so far to tell me that my child would end up “retarded” (his word, not mine) if I tried to VBAC. So, at around 30 weeks, we found a new doctor. Dr C. was wonderful and, strangely enough, was from my hometown in Indiana, we graduated high school the same year from different schools, and knew a lot of the same people.
Most doctors will let you go to 38 weeks when you’re trying to VBAC and then they start pushing for a repeat c-section. A few will let you cook until 40 weeks. Dr C was willing to let me go to 42 weeks as long as there were no problems. See, I told you he was awesome.
We did a few checks under the hood, but I never started to dilate. I had never dilated with Eleanor, either, and the working theory is that a cervical biopsy and cryotherapy that I had in the late-90s caused some scarring that prevented dilation. Whatever the cause, Simon was snuggled in for the long haul.
Finally, at 40 weeks, I was done. We were living in Vista, CA, just north of San Diego, at the time, and the area was in a heat wave. Temperatures were hitting triple-digits almost daily and we didn’t have air conditioning. I don’t handle heat very well under the best of circumstances, so I was absolutely miserable. And our bi-weekly ultrasounds started to show that the placenta was starting to degrade, so we made the decision to go in and forcibly evict Simon.
He was born by repeat c-section at 6:55 am on September 13, 2012. He weighed 9 lbs, 5 oz, and was 21.5 inches. It’s a little disconcerting to hear one of your surgeons say “Wow, he’s big” while they’re pulling him out of you.
He was absolutely perfect, except for a slight hypospadias, which is a very common urologic birth defect. You can google it if you want. We were told he would most likely need surgery for it and, because of that, we were told to not circumcise him in case they needed his foreskin for the repair. (I’m telling you this for a reason, which will be made clear in a later posting.) We had him checked for a tongue-tie (Eleanor had one that was clipped when she was a week old) and were told he was fine (I’ll touch on this again later).
He nursed like a rock star from the very beginning, so vigorous that he actually damaged my right breast and caused such bad edema that it was useless for nearly a week.
Simon was a very solemn, very stoic baby. Even as a newborn, he just wanted to sit and watch and take everything in. As long as he had his mommy to snuggle him, he was cool.
Even at such a young age, I knew there was something different about Simon. Nothing wrong, just different. Our bond was different and I’ve always been instinctively more protective of Simon for some reason.
He was always very advanced on his gross motor skills and was holding his head up at birth; no floppy neck for this child! He started rolling over at just a couple of weeks old and was smiling at around 5 weeks. He seemed happy and content most of the time, but, man, when he got pissed, it was off the charts! Everything was great until he was around 7 months old.
In April 2013, Simon started sleeping very poorly and was waking 6-7 times a night. He cried and screamed constantly and we couldn’t figure out why. A trip to the pediatrician (our insurance had changed and we were now with Kaiser Permanente; more on them later), and we had no answers. He checked out fine, no ear infection, no nothing.
Then, in May, just 3 days after Eleanor’s third birthday, we found out I was pregnant again. This was an unexpected, but happy, surprise, as I had needed medication to get pregnant with both Simon and Eleanor. As happens sometimes in early pregnancy, my milk supply had started to tank and Simon was just very, very hungry. I was still producing enough that I couldn’t tell there was a problem, but he obviously wasn’t getting enough, and the dude was hungry. Hangry. I still feel a tremendous amount of guilt over that.
Once we figured out the problem, we tried switching him over to formula. He had never taken a bottle before (we had tried) nor had he ever taken a pacifier. He was not happy about this change. He refused to take a bottle, so at the start, we were giving him formula with a medicine dropper to get him used to the taste. The we moved to a syringe. Then, finally, he started with a bottle. While we were making the transition, though, he lost a lot of weight and completely dropped off his growth curve.
The new pregnancy was rough. Kaiser was insisting on dating the pregnancy incorrectly (based on certain dates, it was evident that I ovulated more than a week late) and they kept telling me the pregnancy most likely was not viable. An episode of bleeding landed me in the ER one evening. I felt like shit most of the time and was under tremendous stress.
It was around this time that a friend, who had been helping us out by watching Eleanor and Simon during my doctor appointments, informed us that Simon was “too needy and clingy” and she wouldn’t watch him anymore. She’d watch Eleanor, but not Simon. I was blindsided. I had just come from a long doctor appointment and ultrasound, where I had been told that I was probably going to miscarry, and I was scared. Now I was losing my only reliable childcare and I was hurt and bewildered and, yes, pissed. She had a new baby herself, so perhaps I shouldn’t judge her too harshly. Yes, he was clingy, but he was also going through a tremendous upheaval in his young life, was hungry, and was being force-weaned through no fault of his own. He was also just 7 or 8 months old, so, yeah, he was needy. We were in a very tough place financially, so having to pay for a babysitter, even occasionally, was a strain. She also made some unkind remarks about the plans we had for our family (we had started talking about moving up to the Pacific NW shortly before we found out I was pregnant) and, shortly after we found out I was having another boy at around 11 weeks (thanks to a fancy-schmancy blood test), she stopped talking to me completely.
Once we were past the first trimester with the new baby, things started to calm down a bit, and the rest of the summer and the fall were pretty good. Simon was happy and active. He walked early, at 10 months, and was busy climbing everything and getting into trouble.
It wasn’t until he was 14 or 15 months old that I started to worry about him.