March 3, 2015
Take what life hands you graciously. When I came up with this title for my BLOG site way back when, it was a no brainer. It exemplified how I have accepted life. I’m not saying I have been happy and ecstatic over a lot of events that have happened during my lifetime, but I realize that whatever hand you’ve been dealt, it helps if you just embrace it. Even if it’s prickly like a cactus.
No one ever said “life will be easy.” I’ve not had the pleasure of having these four words murmured in my ears. Ever. I do believe that there are lucky folks out there who are fortunate enough to have been blessed with good fortune. And good genes! Genetically, from birth, your immune system is what keeps you healthy and strong and living. Just like the luck of the draw or a flip of the coin, your fate is predestined.
I feel this way from experience. Having been a robust, healthy newborn at over nine pounds, I was quite a sickly baby and toddler. Having Scarlet fever at two, measles, chicken pox and mumps all before six, multiple bouts of strep throat and fevers, tonsilitis by age 12 and contracting mononucleosis at 13, I had my fill of sickness. This was just childhood. Overwhelming fatigue throughout my teen years and up until my current age, with diagnosis’ of MS (dx’d at 38 but more likely had it in my 20’s) and now RA, were just added obstacles.
Fate hadn’t been done with me yet, and when I met and married Dennis, things just kept on a roll. Take my pregnancies for instance. The ‘normal route’ of conception is “sperm meets egg, the cell division dance begins, the human embryo undergoes multiple cell divisions in these seven days since conception and then your fetus is on it’s way. But then there’s the Crap Shoot of life and you never know WHAT is going to happen. Never in a million years would I have expected to experience what I did in my first pregnancy. A monoamniotic pregnancy.
Monoamniotic twins are rare, with an occurrence of 1 in 35,000 to 1 in 60,000 pregnancies, corresponding to about 1% of twin pregnancies. Monoamniotic twins are identical twins that share the same amniotic sac within their mother’s uterus. Monoamniotic twins are always identical, always monochorionic and are usually termed Monoamniotic-Monochorionic (“MoMo”) twins. They also share the placenta, but have two separate umbilical cords. Monoamniotic twins develop when an embryo does not split until after formation of the amniotic sac, at about 9-13 days after fertilization. Most babies don’t survive- as I found out. Cord entanglement and cord compression are top on the list of complications- both of which happened with us. Kimmi is hands down a miracle, having survived birth. Call it fate, but I never knew I was carrying twins until I gave birth. We were told, had the doctors known ahead, they more than likely would have taken both babies, especially when ‘Baby A’ passed away, a month or so before the delivery, and Kimmi wouldn’t have had a chance. It sounds strange saying ‘how lucky to only have brain damage and cerebral palsy’, but I feel fortunate. It could have been worse. But we persevered and marched on.
Pregnancy number three at age 25 was another one of the moments in my life where I would never had imagined living through it all. In addition to having hyperemesis gravidarum, like the prior two pregnancies, we were in for another glitch on the conception roadway of life.
The ‘normal’ route of conception and cell division goes a little like this: In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Which means, instead of having 46 chromosomes that every person ‘should’ have, a baby with Down syndrome will have 47. 1 lousy extra chromosome which will completely change this person’s life. Jenni was born and she was always a baby first, the extra chromosome is an afterthought. It hasn’t been a cake walk by any means…… but that’s how the proverbial cookie crumbled for me- for us- and life goes on.
With all the health problems that have arisen in the past couple of years, I have caught myself looking up to the heavens at times and asking “WTH?” but I have accepted the path of my life. I attempt to dodge the bumps in the road, but only hope that I have done so ‘graciously.’