Walk With Me
By Carol Englehaupt (C. L. Roth)
I’m often asked how Josh, being disabled and non-verbal, does what he does or how he lets me know what he wants.
I don’t often think about the how and why of life. The journey wasn’t, and still isn’t, an easy one. I call the 1980’s the Dark Years for a reason but we survived them, as a family and as individuals. They shaped who and what we are. I think the lessons we learned have value for others and I’m willing to go back and remember. I’m inviting you to walk with me through the memories. As I write and post, it’s my hope that you will see how Josh developed. See how he grew, and most of all, how he reaches out to touch so many lives.
I lost my first child to toxemia. My second son was induced two weeks before my due date so both of those deliveries involved me being drugged. I have very few memories of their births.
Baby #3, Josh, was very different. I was allowed to go two weeks past my due date. I didn’t realize I was in labor until 1a.m. in the morning. My husband, older son, and I, loaded into the pickup to head for the hospital. Believe me when I say the distance seemed 3 times as far as it actually was, and there are no policemen around when you want one.
Fifteen minutes after arriving at the hospital, I was in delivery. I don’t remember very much about the room except I heard the doctor murmur to the nurse, followed by a shot in my shoulder. That fast, I was out with no warning, no discussion, and no choice. It was four years before I found out what really happened that night.
The next few days were some of the hardest I’ve ever gone through. Josh was born the same day my father-in-law had open heart surgery at Mayo Clinic. That meant my husband’s mother and sister were in Rochester, Minnesota, and unavailable to help us. My family lived out of state.
Hank, my husband, needed to take care of our older son so that meant I was alone. The first time I held Josh I felt the first stirrings of worry. His eyes were dull and his hands trembled. He had a huge blood-filled swelling on his head. When they took him back to the nursery I prayed harder than I ever have in my life. I knew, gut deep, that something wasn’t right.
The next time they brought him to me he was as bright-eyed as a baby could be and I felt better. But his hands still trembled and I started asking questions. They told me he was having seizures and they had put him on phenobarbital. I was told he needed to be transported to the high risk center at St. Francis in Peoria IL.
I told them I wanted him where he needed to be. I handed him over to a registered nurse and trusted that he would be cared for. But believe me, sending my baby away with strangers was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. When my brother called to tell me his son had been born I rejoiced with him but before he hung up he passed on a message from our mother. She wanted to come and I told him to tell her I needed her.
I’m starting at the beginning because I think my story, and Josh’s, may speak to somebody who may need to hear what I have to say. I feel a need to share this journey. I don’t know why but I’ve learned to follow the urges that guide me. If even one person can take away something positive, be uplifted, or inspired then I’m glad to share this walk with me.