Appreciation is one thing this mother has for her son. We often appreciate the things that we may also take for granted. But Megan shares how her son, who was born three months earlier, inspires her each and every day to appreciate everything and to leave nothing behind without gratitude.
“Inspire — to stimulate somebody to do something; to encourage somebody to great effort or enthusiasm.”
By Megan Lubin
I nervously wrung my hands together, as a moment of hesitation came over me. The what-ifs were beginning to creep in, voicing their questions and doubts. But then a familiar sound — the cooing and laughter of my son – suddenly snapped me back to reality and the sterile doctor’s office I was in. I looked over at my husband and son, and knew instantly what I had to do. On that day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I signed my name and elected to have a surgery that would not only change my life, but our life as a family forever.
A year earlier, my son Sutton Matthew was born three months early, weighing a mere two pounds and five ounces. After a complicated pregnancy marred with constant episodes of bleeding, my son could no longer share the womb with a gigantic fibroid tumor that had grown triple its size during my pregnancy. I remember waking up from my emergency c-section and feeling this void where my growing belly had been. In its place: a five inch swollen and red scar that ran from my pubic bone to my navel. I sat up in pain, but I desperately wanted to see my son.
As I was strolled towards the NICU, I remember getting butterflies in my stomach at the thought of finally getting to meet this precious boy that had arrived 14 weeks early. Once I laid eyes on him, I knew he was mine. His thin red skin, thick lips and tiny toes were all I could see, as his preemie diaper swallowed him up and wires and probes tangled all around him. But he was mine and he was fighting. I was so proud that he was my son – a tiny preemie with a huge will to survive and appreciate his life.
After two and a half months in the NICU, Sutton was able to come home right before Christmas 2010. It was one of the most blessed holidays I have ever had. My husband Brad and I were overjoyed at our son’s progress and his sweet disposition. As the months wore on, Sutton grew bigger and stronger, and with each developmental appointment was amazing his doctors with how well he was doing. He was slowly gaining weight and meeting all of his milestones, and after all we had been through, it was encouraging to have such a healthy son. But for me, it wasn’t enough to just enjoy Sutton’s progress. Months of searching for resources yielded little helpful information, and the desire to do more had planted its seed. I knew I wanted to document my experience and share it with others somehow, but didn’t know where to begin. Sutton was such an inspiration to me — everyday teaching me about endless love, grace and the will to survive. It was then that the brain child that would become His Middle Name was born, and within weeks I had started a website without knowing the response it would receive or what it would become.
At the same time I was starting His Middle Name, I was also dealing with the physical ramifications of the fibroid tumor that was left behind in my battered uterus. I had lost so much blood the night Sutton was born that to remove it then would have caused even more blood loss. Not to mention, the primary focus of my emergency c-section was to save the life of the baby inside of me, not to perform a complicated gynecologic surgery. As I shopped around like Goldilocks, looking for the perfect doctor to perform the surgery, my son was growing up beautifully and the innate desire to have another baby was eating away at me. Being one of six, I had always dreamed of having a house teeming with children, so if there was any way I could save my fertility, I wanted to pursue it.
The summer soon turned into fall, and I still hadn’t made a decision. To be honest, I was stalling. I was doing my best to go on as if I wasn’t facing such a huge decision and that I wasn’t in any pain. But I was in pain. My abdomen had swollen to the size of a 20 week pregnancy, but I wasn’t pregnant. The cramps could be felt radiating down my legs and the unexpected bleeding spells continued. Then something happened: simple and divine inspiration. It was subtle, but it came from such a personal place that I couldn’t deny it. The celebration of my son’s first birthday was the culmination of year of miracles for us, and it brought back such strong feelings and sentiments as my husband and I honored Sutton’s first year of life. Remembering how my son had fought through every trial he faced in the NICU to come home healthy and strong was enough to motivate me about my own health.
Then I finally realized that one of the best things I could do for my son was to take care of myself so I could take care of him. To me, Sutton is all things pure and innocent and lovely in this world, and that was worth fighting for. I love him more than anything, and he deserves to have his mommy there. A healthy mommy that is capable of running after him when he’s on the go, and the energy to keep up. By Thanksgiving I had finally chosen a doctor that had the expertise and the gentle bedside manner I so desperately needed. He said he would try his very best to preserve my fertility, but not knowing what he would be facing would make that a game time decision.
I Appreciate the Hard Decision
April 5th marked four months since my surgery. Although I had to have a hysterectomy to remove my tumor and some pelvic reconstruction to repair my bladder, I feel amazing and my energy is soaring through the roof. I can’t believe that such a hard decision, one that forced me to face some hard truths, would enable me to feel so healthy. Because I am feeling healthier than I have in years and am able to do more physically, my confidence as a woman has grown too.
Appreciate and Acceptance
Acceptance has been my lesson and the experience behind it has been humbling. For me, inspiration to fight for my health didn’t come from a larger than life character or an untouchable celebrity. It came from a little boy, one that entered the world three months early, and whose toys I trip over almost daily. In my own search for clarity and health, His Middle Name has expanded its mission from preemie advocacy and parent support to include more education initiatives to help women lead healthier lives and have healthy pregnancies.
I have even created a Facebook page that has fans from all over the world and has become an online repository of information, featured articles, my blog posts and shared family stories. Without my son as the inspiration, and all that he teaches me and my husband about love and life, none of it would have been possible!
1. What have you accepted in your life that took time physically or mentally?
I have accepted that home, truly, is where the heart is. I always had this dream of raising my family in Arkansas, and I still may some day, but for now the big city is the place we call home and we have created a beautiful life here for ourselves. I now know home is what you make it, not where you are.
2. What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I am a full time working mother. I love my job as a Regulatory Administrator in Gynecologic Oncology, and that I am able to do such important work. I believe it’s so important to give of yourself – to do something bigger than you are as a person. At the end of the day, I am able to come home and feel good about myself as a woman, mother and provider. I appreciate that about myself.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Besides having my precious son, starting His Middle Name is probably the one thing I am most proud of myself for having the courage to do. Sharing a life experience that is so deeply personal and the self reflection it requires can be difficult at times, but I made a promise to all who follow the site that I would be as candid as possible. Not putting a filter on my writing has been very healing and cathartic for me. I especially feel validated in my choice to share my experience when I receive emails of thanks, or when others share their stories with me. But I still have goals in regards to my personal life though: I want to travel more, learn another language, craft and sew more and have another baby someday. But for now, I am enjoying my husband and son more than ever.
4. What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I can be very hard on myself sometimes, which probably means I can be hard on others as well. As difficult as that is to admit, I am teaching myself every day how to be gentle with myself, forgive myself and others and how to relax and enjoy life. I try not to complicate my life with excess, but that seems to be my challenge in life: distinguishing the difference between needs and wants, and when to give in to the latter.
5. How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?
… morning coffee with my husband. It’s such a simple pleasure, but it gives us time to chat, play with our son and plan our day. It a great way to get up and go!
Megan Lubin is the founder of His Middle Name, an online resource that provides support, advocacy and education initiatives to parents of preemies and those who have experienced pregnancy complications. She was a collegiate honor student and is a Regulatory Affairs Administrator in Gynecologic Oncology. Megan lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and one year old son.