Sunday, December 2, 2012

Heidi, Part One

There are some events in our lives that embed themselves into our memories almost like they happened yesterday--details and smells and tastes and sounds that remain fresh and unpolluted for decades.  Our memories use these events as a marker--a marker of "life before" and "life after."  These occurrences take on legendary proportions, stories that are told and retold at family gatherings, punctuated by everyone's recollections from those days and accompanied often with deep emotion.

December 3, 1990--Heidi's birth--was such an event.

Brad and I were married June 23, 1989, in the Salt Lake City LDS temple.

One year later, on June 23, 1990, we announced to our families that I was expecting our first baby.  I remember the day vividly because we were in Idaho staying with my parents as we prepared to attend Brad's extended family reunion north of where my parents lived.  I received roses, and we excitedly shared our news. This would be the first grandchild on both sides of the family, and everyone from first-time grandmas to first-time aunts and uncles was thrilled with the prospect of the next generation joining our lives.  It was a memorable day, full of joy and naivete of what the next months would bring to our lives.
Heidi's birthday 1993

Brad graduated from BYU in August that year and began working full-time for his friend, Bruce, as a technical writer.  It was far from his dream job, but it was work, and I still had one semester plus a few classes left before I graduated with a degree in History and a minor in Humanities, with emphasis on the Middle Ages (ah, Charlemagne and flying buttresses--the secret joys of my soul!).

Baby's due date was February 2nd, over six weeks after I would complete my seventeen-credit semester and finish working as a teaching assistant for a history professor.  I was busy, but it was a good busy, and I took comfort in the fact that the worst would be over way before Baby arrived.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans, right?

My pregnancy was textbook from the beginning, aside from the fact that I never threw up--never even felt nauseated.  I felt great.  I kept my doctor's appointments religiously, even though I was a patient in an overcrowded Provo, Utah, obstetrics office. In my day, Utah County had the highest birthrate of any county in the country, and many of those babies were first or second babies of BYU students--students who were inexperienced and poor but excited to be making the leap from couple to family.  Often I would be in the waiting room 70-90 minutes before my ten minutes with one of the three doctors in an exam room.  The doctors were overworked and overscheduled for certain, but what could I do?

Days with a working husband and a student wife became our norm. I would drop him off at work on my way to campus, where I would spend my days correcting history papers or writing humanities papers of my own.  My class load that semester, although credit-heavy, wasn't too bad--a religion class, a beginning interior design class, a history class. I loved my Humanities 200 class, a class taught by a teeny, dark-haired, bespectacled lady who loved music and literature and art and where they all fit into the history of the world even more than I did, and I remember sitting in the second row of her class, listening to music and feeling my baby kick to the rhythm of the music she played.  I was so astounded by the ability of my unborn baby to hear and respond to the music that I couldn't keep the news to myself, and I ran up to her lectern as soon as class was over to share my secret with her.  It's no secret that I love being pregnant--love feeling the baby move, love massaging my expanding belly, love knowing that a new life is growing inside me, a private little corner of the world shared by only me, my baby, and my God.

I was happy.
Lincoln Park Zoo, 1994

Unexpectedly one day in mid-November, my perfect world began to unravel.

As perfect and textbook as my pregnancy had been up to this point, something was different.  I had diarrhea for a day or two, which was a little strange for me.  Then, over the next few days I developed a very strange pain that, 22 years later, is still excruciating even in memory.  It felt like a combination of the worst heartburn I'd ever experienced and something stuck and burning in my esophagus just above my stomach.  Although I had never really experienced heartburn, I knew it to be common during pregnancy, so I didn't think much about it. I consulted my trusty pregnancy and childbirth book (ah, the days before Dr. Google and self-diagnosis!) and decided first to try TUMS then liquid Mylanta in an attempt to extinguish the fire just above my growing baby.

After trying everything I could think of for three days with nothing smothering the burning in my gut, I made an appointment with my doctor.  Squeezing an unexpected appointment into their already bursting schedule was virtually impossible, and I knew my time with the doctor would be limited even more than usual. Without performing the customary blood pressure check and urine sample from all of my previous visits, the nurse quickly escorted me into an exam room where the doctor asked me what had brought me in that day.  I began with, "A few days ago I had diarrhea, but it's gone. Now I just have this horrible pain right here," as I touched the area just below my sternum and just above my expanding belly. Ignoring the comment about my pain, the doctor quickly jotted out a prescription, saying, "This will take care of the diarrhea."  My protests that diarrhea wasn't my concern--it was this near-constant fire that plagued me day and night--fell on deaf ears as he stood up, walked out of the room with a quick comment over his shoulder--"It will be fine. Let the office know if you have any further problems."

Further problems?  He hadn't answered the current problem.  Looking back, I now realize that I should have said something more, done something more, insisted that he listen to me.  But I was a young girl/woman--just 21 years old--and what did I know?  He was the doctor, I was the patient, and if he said this would take care of it, surely he was right.


Wrong.  Very, very wrong.


  1. Oh oh - this is not giving me a very good feeling. It's a good thing I know your Heidi to be a grown woman with babes of her own, or I'd be afraid to tune in for more.

  2. I love the pictures!! They are so awesome!

    Hope you are having fun in Rexburg. Kiss that baby for me!

  3. more....

    but yes when i look back when i had grayson (my first) i look at how diff i am today...the woman then would have sat patiently by...the woman today would shout and stomp till she was heard...i laugh at the old me...why on earth was i so soft spoken!??!