On the night of my birthday, June 22, 1981, I went to the movies with my husband, Jim, and my mom and dad. The movie we chose to attend was the very first of the new Superman movies, starring Christopher Reeve as the “man of steel”. I was 9 months pregnant with Jason. We were in the midst of watching the movie, when I felt a trickle of liquid that I knew had to be my water starting to break. As it never broke and was just an occasional trickle, I didn’t want to ruin the movie for everyone by insisting on leaving, so we finished watching it, and then went home. (Whenever I see Christopher Reeve in that role, or Superman, I think of Jason.)
My water was not breaking, and the trickle had stopped, so we went about our business at home. I went to bed, but woke up in the middle of the night with what I was sure must be labor pains. I tried to go back to sleep, but I could not. I was confused by the pains, because they were constant, not intermittent, as we were taught in Lamaze class. I tried all sorts of tricks we were taught to either get the pain to subside, or be able to ignore it, but nothing was working.At about 4am, I woke Jim up and told him that I was in labor, but because there was no break in the pain, I could not be for sure how soon the baby would come, so I thought it best that we went to the hospital.
At the hospital, time dragged on and on. The pain never subsided, nor did my water fully break. The next morning, the doctor broke my water. After that, the labor pains intensified, and I finally started to dilate, but I never progressed past five on the scale. I was becoming rather weary from lack of sleep and the continual pain. I did not understand why I did not have labor pains like everyone else with breaks in the pain. No one else understood either. At some point, they finally gave me a pain reliever, but it was not strong enough. By the afternoon of the 23rd, there was growing concern about the situation, as I now had a fever, and I did not dilate past five. They took an x-ray of my pelvis to see if they could determine the reasons behind what was happening. They did not come to any conclusions from the x-ray results. They also were concerned because of air reaching the baby, since my water was broke, and my fever continued. Sometime late that day, it was decided that I would have a c-section in the early morning, because they could not wait any longer.
I don’t think I slept at all, as I had been in pain for 36 hours with no relief, and I was very concerned about what was happening to me and our baby. In the morning, they asked if I wanted to be awake during the c-section. I was so tired, that I told them to put me to sleep. I was also nervous about the surgery, as I had never had to stay in a hospital or have surgery in my entire life. I figured it was better, for those reasons, to not be awake. (I did choose to be awake for the birth of my second son, Michael, but that was a planned c-section.)
When I awoke, I was in recovery. I was told that Jason had been taken to another hospital, because they had a special neo-natal section, and the one I went to did not. They told me they were giving him anti-biotics as a precaution. As I had just gone through a traumatic labor and then surgery, I had a harder recovery. I was not allowed to go and see him, and they did not release him to come back to the hospital I was in. That first night, I remember lying awake, listening to the sounds of the hospital, longing to see my son. A hot tear rolled down my cheek, as I listened to the sounds of other babies and their mothers cooing softly to them in the night.
It was five days before they allowed me to go and see Jason in the other hospital. I slowly made my way to him. He was lying in the incubator with several tubes extending from him for the antibiotics and liquids. His eyes were closed, but I could still see that he was beautiful. They did not allow me to hold him. I could only try to stroke his little body with my hands. I wondered if he could sense that his mother had finally come to see him, and that it was her hands that tried to find a way to let him feel love.
It would never be fully understood or known why the labor happened as it did. As Jason grew, it was clear something was wrong. It was thought that he has slight brain damage from the labor and the fever. This resulted in his having learning disabilities in the areas of speech and language, plus some fine motor coordination issues.I wrote this in regards to his learning disabilities. It appears on his featured profile on the National Center for Missing Adults site at http://www.theyaremissed.org/ncma/content.php?webid=profile_jjolkowski
“Jason has learning disabilities in the areas of speech and language. His brain does not process things the way most do. People who didn’t know him would often make fun of him. School bullies would pick on him. Some thought he is mildly mentally retarded, but the truth is, he is of above average intelligence. What was truly amazing to me was that he chose a career that flew right into the face of the very thing that was hardest for him. He decided to be a radio D.J.. Sure, he had some glitches along the way, but people grew to respect him and to love him. Who wouldn’t? I am so proud of him.”
A day later I was released from the hospital, and then a couple of days later, Jason was finally allowed to come home. We were now all together, a family unit whose bond could never be broken regardless of distance or time. Little did we know that this bond would be altered almost 20 years later, as Jason disappeared 11 days before his 20th birthday.Just as I hoped nearly 24 years ago that my touch could be felt by him, and that he knew I was his mother, I now reach out to him and hope that he knows how much I love him. Somehow, I think he does.
Written on 6/24/05