For some people, birthdays are a big deal. Another year usually means another milestone. At age thirteen you're an official teen... sixteen: driving... eighteen: an official adult... fifty: officially an old timer. Nintey. 100. You get the picture.
But for me and my mom, none of my birthdays are as big a deal as my very first one.
This year, to commemorate that special day so long ago, I asked my mom to write my story... my birthday story. (Thanks mom, love you, you're the best!) It's a personal story (obviously since it involves me) but it's a pretty cool story. Uncut, uncensored, and unrated. (And seeing as how my mom wrote it, that means it's probably rated PG.)
Bart Nathan Gadbury - born November 28, 1983
This is one of those stories that is full of joy, sadness, anxiousness, worry and fear. But most of all, it’s a story of love.
Our second child, wasn’t due until March 7, 1984. We were so excited to be expecting our second child. We wanted another child, and he was on the way! However, unknown to us, this child was one of those kids who wanted to be first, be great, and make an entrance!
In November of 1983, things with my pregnancy were progressing well. I was getting sufficiently plump and sassy. But, for some unknown reason, my water broke and I was only at 27 weeks. Normal delivery is at 40-42 weeks. Once your water breaks, you are pretty much committed to having the baby, but being young, I really did not comprehend the seriousness of it all. I just figured, “oh well, we’ll go to the hospital, and they’ll just stop the contractions and I’ll go home and everything will progress as usual.” I was so wrong.
Arriving at the hospital in Moore, I was told I would be staying. I was to remain bedfast. They thought I had a condition called, “Placenta Previa”.
Since my water had broken, they were afraid of an infection that would affect me and the baby. So, I was to be in bed. Period. End of discussion.
The whole point of me staying in bed was to try to keep the baby inside of me for as long as possible, so that his lungs could develop more. (I say ‘he’. We did not know if we were having a boy or girl at this point.)
It was very difficult to be away from Lyle and Bret. Bret himself was still just a baby. I also had fear that they would forget about me and not need me anymore. I cried a lot.
I made it for 8 days. Long days. Soap opera days. (There was absolutely nothing else on TV!) Bret was being taken care of by my Mom and also by Kelly Bittle. I knew he was in good hands. But I just wanted to be home!
I missed Thanksgiving that year. Everyone was at my Mom’s. Dave and his little family, Mom, Dad, Aunt Mary, Grandma Hogg, Grandma Stroud, Lyle and Bret. I felt a little lonely, but grateful that our baby was still staying put. I still had no idea what really lie ahead for the both of us.
The morning of the 8th day, Monday November 28th, things began to change and to change fast. I went into labor. I was scared. I had a fever, and the chance for infection was not good for me or the baby. But no one was really telling me anything. At about noon, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart. The next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance headed for Mercy Medical Center in Oklahoma City. This baby was coming! Ready or not. I heard the phrase, “They have a great NIC Unit. That will be the best place for this baby to be born.” My thought was, “What does that mean? Surely I’m not going to have this baby?!”
The ambulance ride was extremely bumpy. I remember distinctly that I was very uncomfortable, and I wanted it to stop! I’m pretty sure I conveyed that to them once or twice! I was in total misery and somewhat delirious because of the fever and infection.
Arriving at the hospital, I was taken and monitored very quickly. “Get her to X-Ray and Ultrasound, let’s verify placenta privea.”
In the meantime, they are trying to find Lyle. He’s at work on some remote site many many miles away! There were no cell phones back then. He would have to be physically found!
I became more and more alarmed, and as they started giving choices and options, I can really only remember that I just wanted it to be over.
And where was Lyle???? Because of the infection, I was becoming more and more ‘out of it.’ My temperature was 105 degrees!
They finally found Lyle. Thank Heavens. I was really really scared now and I needed him to be there! I prayed he would make it to the hospital in time.
The ultrasound showed no placenta privea, but the baby was breech, (feet first). This is not a good thing. This would mean I could not have him normal delivery and would have to have a C-section. Major surgery. This is not something I had planned! And I was tired and so exhausted and so frightened for my baby. Would he live? I had never considered that we were both in jeopardy. I was only worried about my baby.
Lyle made it to the hospital in time. He had to come from a long way away, but I really don’t remember much more from this point on.
My baby boy was born 4:53 p.m. that day. 2 lbs 2 oz. And 14 inches long.
I did not get to hold him, cuddle him, whisper, “I love you”. I remember nothing.
Meanwhile, while they are trying to get my infection under control, and to get our baby boy to the Neonatal unit, family were waiting in the waiting room.
My Mother told me she was so upset when they wheeled our baby boy past them in the waiting room, announcing, “Mr. Gadbury, you have a baby boy!”. Mom’s thinking was that here we have a premature baby, and you’re announcing the birth like it’s Christmas! Is he going to make it? What are his chances? He only weighs 2 lbs!
All were amazed.
I was very ill. I had to have a blood transfusion and be on powerful anti-biotics plus pain shots, I was in a fog for the next few days. I really didn’t even know I had had my baby!
Meanwhile, our son was doing well. The Doctor later explained to me that my “infection had actually been beneficial to the baby. It had helped him to be more strong. He was breathing on his own…he’d be in the hospital at least 10 weeks. He has a good chance to make it”.
Really! How grateful I was. I still did not really realize what lie ahead for us both.
I actually didn’t see Bart the day he was born. I don’t even know if it was the next day! But, When I saw him, I went into shock. I felt a loss, I cannot explain it. Is this really my son? Is he going to make it? He is so small, so helpless. And all these nurses and doctors are taking care of him! Not me! The weight of it all hit like a ton of bricks.
The Doctors came to see me. They asked, “are you going to nurse your baby?” I had no idea how to reply to this question. He could not nurse. He was too weak and too small, but I could supply the milk and they would feed him through a tube that would go straight to his tummy. (Gavauge)
Was I strong enough? Mentally, physically, emotionally to supply milk? I didn’t think so, and so I told them ‘no.’
I started on a medication that stops milk production. But after I became aware of ALL the details regarding Bart, I knew I NEEDED to do this for him. It was truly the only thing I COULD do for him. I couldn’t hold him, love him, or protect him. He was ill. His lungs had not developed enough, he had apnea ( he would suddenly stop breathing) and his heart duct had not closed at birth, which meant he would have to have surgery. (PDAL, Dec 7, 1983. note from journal: “Bart, your father and I have just come home from the hospital. You had heart surgery this morning at 7:00 a.m. and you’ve done well. It’s been hard for us to see you so little, to go through all of this. You are quite the fella. We love you.” ) I was absolutely helpless! I could not even hold him. That is a cruel and hard thing to bear when you’ve just had a baby. He needed ME, his MOM and they wouldn’t let me even hold him.
I had already started on the medication to stop milk production, but I decided I wanted to try to provide milk for him anyway. And this story is truly a miracle. I was not only able to provide milk for Bart, but I had AMPLE milk. Tons of it, and it was Good quality milk. Very rich. It was the only thing I could do for Bart and I was truly blessed to be able to do this ONE SOLITARY thing.
Every ounce of my being willed him to make it, to be strong. I loved him so. He needed me, and I wanted him to feel my love and my concern. How I wished I could care for him instead of the nurses and doctors! He needed them. He needed me. He could not have both.
Providing the milk was not fun, but I found it to be easy. This will embarrass Bart, but oh well. I had to rent an electric breast pump. I felt like Bessy the cow! I never had ANY trouble. It was truly a miracle. In fact, I had frozen so much of the milk, that when Bart finally did come home, I had milk for him for a very long time. I know in my heart that this is what made him strong, and able to grow and overcome his obstacles.
Bart dropped in weight to 1 lb 15 oz for a brief time. That was scary. He had to stay in the hospital for 3 months, the rest of his gestation period.
The nursery smelled funny. I hated that smell. There were lots of sick babies there. I remember a baby in an incubator next to Bart and that his mother could not provide milk for him. I asked if I could since I had so much, but for unclear reasons, they told me no. The baby died. I was very sad and it has affected me to this very day.
I have a picture of that moment. Not only in my scrapbook, but in my heart. He was so small. He had to have oxygen held up to his face. But he was finally mine!
• Lyle’s business was not doing well because of the economy crunch in Oklahoma.
• My brother David’s wife, left him alone with 2 children to take care of.
• My brother Jay had had some severe trials on his mission
• We were in the middle of building a house we would never live in
• My parents were having severe marital and financial problems
• And Bart was 50 miles away in Oklahoma City. Traveling daily was difficult.
I often wonder how in the world I did it. But I know how I did it. I relied on the Lord. He indeed carried me, and blessed our little son.
Early on, when I knew that this baby boy of ours was very ill, and had so much to overcome, I experienced a great peace. I knew that Bart would make it. I knew he would be whole. (So many preemies suffer their whole lives with blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, etc.)
But I knew he would come home to us. I thank God for that peace. It carried me through a most difficult time.
Journal entry: 10 weeks old: “ you were transferred to Norman Hospital so you could be closer to us. I can now come see you 2 or 3 times a day. It’s wonderful! Your apnea problem has not gone away, but I know of a surety that when your father gave you a blessing today, that it would be the end of this problem. The Holy Ghost witnessed it to me, as I knew it when I requested the blessing. You need to be home with us. And you will be soon!”
And he did make it! Bart came home to us February 27th. No more apnea. He did not even need a monitor when he came home. What a relief, what a blessing. We both had to adjust. Being away from each other had taken a toll, but he was home. It was where he belonged. He had won the fight, and what a fight it was. It was indeed the fight of his life.
Journal entry: “You are home! What a blessing it is! And I know it’s through your fathers righteous living and bearing of his Priesthood, not to mention our faith, and the faith of many many others!”
A few notes about Bart’s first few months at home:
He slept a lot. I guess not much has changed . :)
When he was blessed as an infant at church, by his father, these are a few things that were said:
• That Bart would have the strength and will power to pull through this delicate situation that he was in
• That he has 2 parents who love him and will raise you in the church
• That he will be a binding force for his family
His first words were da-da (traitor!)
His favorite toy – measuring spoons
His favorite playmate was Bret. He would just giggle and belly laugh when he was with Bret.
Journal entry at 7 months: You are getting cuter and more alert everyday. You suck your thumb or index finger whenever you sleep or need some extra comfort. You eat well. You love fruits and vegetables, cereal and fruit juice. You reach for objects, you roll over and hold your head up really well. You love to be talked to. You have a smile that lights up your whole face. You are so cute!”
You loved peek a boo and to dance with mom.
Journal entry at 10 months: “ Bart, you’re such a cutie! You entertain yourself quite a bit, and you love it when Bret plays with you. You just belly laugh!”
You loved any kind of hat!
At one year old you had more than doubled your height to 29.75 inches and you weighed 17 lb 4 oz.
Journal entry at 1 year: “If you can survive Bret, you’ll survive anything. He sits on you, pokes, pushes, lays and any other torture he can think of. You don’t fuss too much about it, but occasionally you get fed up with him, and then you do let us know about it. You show no mercy to the dog or cat, you get a hand full of hair and pull! When you smile, your wrinkle your nose and squint your eyes and snort! You’re a total mess when you eat, but you sure have fun.”
Journal entry at 18 months: “You’re a mad-man on legs. You are anywhere and everywhere. You’re a flirt and you love hats! If you go outside we really have to watch you cos’ you move fast!”
Journal entry at age 2 ½ “ You aren’t real sure what to think of baby Blake. You don’t like it when he cries, and don’t like it when Mom feeds him. I suppose its because you’re not the ‘baby’ anymore.
But you really aren’t. You’ve gotten to be such a big boy now. You’re getting more and more independent. You have the nicest smile.”
Journal entry at age 3: “You haven’t quite figured out how to outsmart Bret yet. He gets the best of you, but I have a feeling that he better watch out in a few years, cos’ you’re going to ‘repay’ him in full! You still have a great smile and fun laugh!”
Journal entry at age 4: “You absolutely love “JOY SCHOOL”. 8 of your friends from church all go too! It’s been good for you to have your ‘own’ school. You’re getting so big. Hard to believe you were ever so tiny. You ride your 2 wheeler with training wheels – you keep up with the bigger kids pretty well. You an Alisa have become inseparable. You like to play at each others’ house. You’ve fallen off the top bunk several times now, so we had to put you back on the bottom. You would hit with such a ‘thud’ that it would sound like the house was falling in! It’s a good thing you have a hard head!”
Journal entry at age 5: ‘You are excited about kindergarten. I think it helps you feel ‘older’ like Bret. Your best friend is Tommy Davidson and if you had it your way you’d live at his house. He has a trampoline and you like to jump on it. You both learned to ride 2 wheelers on the same day. You have a great smile with twinkly eyes. You are a good helper.”
Journal entry at age 6: “ What a boy you’ve grown to be. You’re go go go. No time for mom and dad. You love to ride your bike. And you have a great imagination. You’ve done well in school and you sleep well at night. You’re exhausted! You love jigsaw puzzles. You are good at them.”
Journal entry at age 8: “You are a great student. Not only that, you are a sweet guy. You care about others, and their feelings. That is a wonderful quality. You are terrific at the piano and you enjoy cub scouts. You and your 2 brothers have your share of arguments but you like to be with them. Someday you’ll really wamp on Bret, so he better watch out~”