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Was it fair when my father died a tragic death when I was five? NO! Was it fair when we were taken from Southern Italy, where all that was known to me was? NO! Was it fair that I was told I wouldn't make it as a doctor? NO! And was it fair that after leading a life of being good and always having to fight, I was told I couldn't have children? NO!
I remember being very angry. Everything I did in life was a struggle. I went against all odds in everything. I married an Orthodox Jew after being brought up as a devout Catholic. I went to medical school coming from a town where women are not supposed to see anyone naked until they married-not even a cadaver.
When it finally came to something, which was supposed to be easy-, no luck! Most people have children after a night of intimacy- not me! I had years of tests and sperm counts and shots which I learned to give myself. This was the most difficult thing I had to face. It was so painful that I could only talk about it with my husband. I remember one holiday party we attended and I had just found out that the in vitro did not work. All I wanted to do was hide in my husband's arms and not let the world see the pain. To this day, 8 years and five kids later, the thought of those days of shots, counting eggs and disappointments can bring me to tears.
So one day it finally happened! I became pregnant, another simple life milestone which most people go through uneventfully. Not for me! I got into not one, but two car accidents! The last one left me with a pelvic injury, which then led to premature labor and bed rest for six months. Daniela was born by c-section after 12 hours of labor. I looked and felt as if I had been beaten, but was ecstatic. She was truly a medical miracle.
My second pregnancy also came after several trials. Of course some people get pregnant the natural way after having one child with in vitro- but not me! I had a lot of embryos this time- so four of them were frozen. And so one would think that this time we could have an uneventful pregnancy, but wrong again! This time I ruptured my placenta and almost dies! My daughter Elisa was born at 31 weeks. She was a fighter. She stayed in the ICU for 3 weeks. We all thought she was doing great. The biggest fear my husband and I had was that we would have a preemie with the multiple preemie problems!
I received a call from the neonatologist on the day I was to pick up my daughter to take her home. It is all a blur now- he said something about PUL and that my daughter could have severe musculoskeletal problems- something about mental retardation and maybe something about the possibility of being completely normal. My world changed that day. I called everyone I knew for second opinions. I begged everyone to pray for her. I wanted to bury myself and my daughter! I finally became one of those mothers I felt sorry for in the NICU. The pain was so great I couldn't even pray anymore. What had G-d done? Didn't I have my share?
One may think I was looking for trouble when I thought of my frozen embryos. My second daughter was only 2 months and we were living in a small house- my sister (family of six), my another and my family (then only 4). This was not the best time to transfer these embryos! I still don't know why I did it. I convinced my infertility doctor to transfer the embryos. He did it so with the knowledge the 50% of frozen embryos do not make it through the thawing procedure and I had not gotten pregnant each trial!
You could imagine my surprise when we discovered 3 heartbeats. I was told to abort or at least have a selective abortion! Neither my husband nor I could have imagined the next 7 months. We went ahead with the pregnancy. I had preterm labor and was hospitalized for 2 months at the same time we realized that my daughter's condition was severe. These were dark days for all of us. We faced my daughter having severe deficits, a threat on my life with a triplet pregnancy and c-section less than one year prior to this pregnancy and the possibility of the triplets having many complications. For 2 months I lived with the fear of my death or the triplets health and vitality threatened. On June 5th I was brought to the PR for the last time. After a complicated c-section (what else could I have!) we had two healthy boys and one healthy girl. Another medical miracle! The triplets are exactly one year younger than Elisa is. So all my children were miracles! All wanted for, prayed for, wished for and begged for! The special gift that is Elisa is exactly from the fact that she has had many medical problems! Her life is a struggle-every day!
Elisa started having signs of spasticity from about six months. We had aggressive therapy (Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Special Ed). Whatever the therapists or doctors advised we did!
My daughter has the biggest brown eyes I have ever seen on anyone! She is absolutely beautiful. People gravitate to her. She makes people feel good about themselves! This is her greatest quality- she is endearing!
I found out about HBOT in a round about way! A very distant relative received treatment for a stroke. He called my mother to let her know that there were children like mine at the center where he went. We asked neurologists and other medical professionals. We decided that these centers had some quacks working there and decided not to treat! After all we were both pediatricians and had never heard of this treatment for CP!
One day I was talking to a mother whose daughter had CP and she told me about a study being conducted. I called the physicians doing the study and enrolled my daughter.
Elisa received her first 40 treatments when she was 3 ½ years old. At that time she was able to mumble about 35 words which were understood mostly by myself only. She could say two words together like bye-bye Mommy! She was able to say "meek" for "I'm thirsty" and would be hysterical when she was hungry. She never watched a program like Barney or Sesame Street- she could never focus on them. After 115 dives Elisa is now completely toilet trained. She can say over 1,000 words. She not only is able to watch a tape but asks for specific Barney tapes that she likes. She can count to six, knows her colors and can make herself understood. We do have a lot to accomplish still, but she is nothing short of a miracle.
My first daughter is right. If Elisa did not have a handicap I would have never taken a second mortgage on my house and bought a chamber. I would never be leaving to go to California! But look what we got! We have a child who is witty and happy and can brighten any room she enters! Last week she said "I ove you!" She adores her 2 sisters and 2 brothers and tries to imitate them! WE also have four other children who are sensitive and caring. They treat their sister with respect and love. Even the triplets who are three understand that when Elisa calls we have to respond to her and help her when she asks. They fight like all siblings do but they all stand united when threatened by even their parents. They tell on each other but are always willing to keep the child on "time out" company.
So last night I responded to Daniela, my first born- you know I would do the same for you. I would be just as fierce in protecting you and taking care of you. I would give my life up for you at a moments notice. My drive my energy and my determination and love come from being the mother to five miracle babies!
Dr. Feingold is affiliated with: Hudson Valley Hyperbarics, Jeffery C. Kopelson M.D., 221 Clock Tower Commons, Brewster, NY 10509 914-278-6800 914-278-6897 (fax) Email: email@example.com Web: www.HVHBOT.com