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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Middle age: Crisis or celebration? For me, a celebration!

I'll be turning 45 this month. Yes, not often do women give away their age, but I'm okay with it. :)

What exactly is the "mid-life crisis" that people so often speak of? Is it where people ask themselves "Am I where I hoped I would be?", "Well damn it, I should be at *this* goal but I'm not, now what?". Is it a realization that we're not as nimble as when we were 20?

Whatever it is, I don't see middle age as a crisis. I see it as a celebration, for me at least. Each year is a celebration, because I wasn't even supposed to be here, actually.....

I was born prematurely, at 6 months. Being that technology for premature baby care in hospitals was still very new at the time, I had to be airlifted from the small hospital in the outskirts of Seattle where I was born, to University Hospital in greater Seattle, where their new wing for premature births had just opened, with all the latest medical technology of mid 1960's. The doctors whisked me away from my mother after I was born, trying to keep my tiny lungs from collapsing and to keep my heart beating. According to Mom, I started to come out breech, then the doctor tried to turn me around, then my foot kicked out (hmmm, sign to be a martial artist?), but they finally turned me around. I did not cry at birth, and my appearance made the doctors realize they'd better do something quick. My Mom says that I fit in the palm of the doctor's hand. Wow, hard for me to imagine!

After being airlifted to University Hospital, I was kept in intensive care for 3 months in an incubator, hooked up to breathing tubes and lines stuck into my arms. According to my Mom, several other preemies were in the same room in other incubators...another 6 month old, and a couple 7 month olds. They passed away a few days later. My parents started to freak out....they didn't even name me yet, because they weren't sure if I was going to make it either. My Mom remembers... "When I would see you with all those tubes sticking out, I would always feel faint!" A small hole in my heart was something that the doctors debated about operating on, being cautious as they didn't know if I'd survive the operation. But apparently, the hole closed up on its own and I started to breathe on my own.

After staying in the hospital till "full term", Mom and Dad finally got to take me home. There's a picture my Mom has of my homecoming, and I still ask my Mom to this day "Wow, that was me? I was soooo tiny!" I definitely wasn't the same size as most newborns when they come home.

What's funny, is that I was told by friends that I "change" as the days come nearer to each birthday. Sometimes this "change" might be "spaciness", sometimes incredible changes in temperament, sometimes even changes in "energy". I used to scoff at it, convinced it was all in their heads. But, oddly, as I think back, I remember many occasions *after* my birthday where out of the blue I'd "hear" odd noises like muffled voices, doors opening and closing..."feel" odd sensations like being picked up, hands on me, being cold (even in the middle of summer!), the feeling of being short of breath....and sometimes, I'll pick up the distictive odors of iodine, alcohol, and "new carpet" out of the blue (I still don't understand the new carpet smell!) ! Some have theorized that somehow I "remember" some parts of my months in the hospital, but I honestly don't remember anything specific! Would these changes in temperament and odd sensations be a result of my body "remembering" the trauma?

My Mom has always said "There's a reason why you lived through that, even though those other older babies-bless their souls-did not". To this day I still wonder what the reason is, but I'm guessing the path I've chosen to take has led to me several things: Sharing with others, following my passions, experiencing the many lessons of Love, Happiness, even Anger (and other less than savory emotions), and feeling joy for even the littlest of things. If this is what being "alive" is, and if this is the reason I'm here, then I hope for at least another 45 years.


Alex Wren said...

Thanks SiFu that was awesome! It helped me remember the amazing story of my beginning..we are very alike you and I, and I am honored to know you! ;-)
Love & Peace

Debbie said...

I also spent the beginning of my life in the University Hospital NICU not expected to make it. We have strong hearts and souls! Happy Birthday Restita! ~Debbie Stern