The Heroism (and Terror) of My Motherhood

The Heroism (and Terror) of My Motherhood
I know how you feel, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). (Photo: Disney)
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In the final episode of WandaVision (spoilers!), we see Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) gently tuck her children into bed, knowing full well they’re about to fade from existence. By making them feel comfortable and safe, smiling through the pain, she does what a good parent has to do. I didn’t expect this moment to hit as hard as it did. But then again, it almost happened to me.

Some folks might have noticed I suddenly disappeared from Gizmodo back in January. No, it wasn’t the Blip — although it’s felt like that at times. I was eight months pregnant and my blood pressure had risen to dangerous levels. I was admitted into the hospital, where I was set to stay for a few weeks until my baby would be born. A few weeks ended up being…a few days. I’d developed a rare form of preeclampsia called HELLP Syndrome and if my baby wasn’t delivered immediately, both of us could die. I had only a few minutes to accept the unknown, consenting to be knocked unconscious for an emergency c-section with no way of knowing what news I’d wake up to…if I woke up at all. No matter what, I was bringing my baby into the world almost two months early.

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Modern medicine has made premature birth survival incredibly high, but it’s not foolproof. Plus, early birth can have a huge impact on a child’s life. It’s a decision no parent ever wants to make. But, like Wanda, I had to do whatever I could to keep my son comfortable, putting on a brave face as I made the best and worst decision of our lives.

Henry was born less than 10 minutes later. He was small and frail, and ended up staying in neonatal intensive care for over three weeks — another experience no parent should ever have to face, especially during a pandemic. Every day, I donned my mask and went into the NICU (Henry technically never saw a whole human’s face for almost a month), comforting my baby inside an incubator as he worked to survive. The first week was a blur of fear and dread, nervously tracking his progress, not knowing if I’d get that midnight phone call. Still, I was gentle and strong, even though inside I was tired of having to be brave.

But I wasn’t doing it alone. Henry was strong, fiery, and resilient. After a tough start, he began growing rapidly and hitting all his benchmarks like a champion. Honestly, his growth almost feels as fast as Billy and Tommy’s (something I’m sure I’ll be saying for years). Henry is now officially a full-term baby, and I’m happy to report he’s healthy, adorable, and thriving.

Right now, I have Henry wrapped to my chest, listening to his tiny breaths, afraid of what could happen if I let go. I’m still grappling with what happened to us, how close we came to the worst and how much work it took to make it to the other side. Honestly, at times everything we experienced as a family feels like it happened to someone else. Like I was watching a television show. Luckily it’s had a happy ending.

I won’t be returning to Gizmodo for a few more months, so I can have some much-needed bonding time with my Baby Yoda. I’m looking forward to enjoying the sun, my covid-19 vaccine, and this perfect tiny person. He hasn’t demonstrated Force powers yet. But knowing how strong he is, how strong we both are, I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke Skywalker comes knocking soon. No dice, Jedi. He’s mine.