Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Just Another Birth Story; Only This One Is Mine

With my little overnight bag in hand and Erik beside me, I practically skipped up to the reception desk at the Women's Center and announced, "Hi! I'm here to have a baby".
After growing this little guy for what seemed like an eternity, I felt like I couldn't wait one more day to meet him. 

Had I known my stay was going to be longer than a simple over-nighter, I would have packed a few extra niceties. Like a roll of duct tape to quell the screaming. Or a cute little baggy of some sodium hydroxide pellets to absorb the never-ending tears.

Okay, it wasn't that bad. Mostly.

It's the evening of November 17th, one day before my original due date of the 18th. Because of my "advanced age" my doctor wanted to induce me a week early. Initially I was excited at the thought of being done with the misery that comes with the last trimester and even more so at getting to meet little Mister even sooner. However, it just didn't feel right. I really wanted him to come when he was ready so I decided to wait one more week. He steadfastly refused to make his debut on his own and I didn't want to possibly jeopardize his health by waiting any longer and risking antepartum stillbirth.

Apparently we'd had a GREAT Valentines Day.

After getting settled into my room and meeting my nurse, I was ready to get the show on the road. Pitocin was administered and Erik and I settled back to wait. And wait. Then wait some more. I was hooked up to a monitor that showed my contractions. I could see they were happening but I wasn't feeling much. We flipped on some cooking show and waited some more. Things were getting a little uncomfortable at this point but I wasn't dilating to anything worth mentioning. I eventually sent Erik home for the night feeling mildly disappointed things weren't progressing as quickly as I had hoped.

The very first time I got to see my little Peanut.

My nurse came in to check on me, every 30 minutes, ALL. NIGHT. LONG. She told me I should try to get some sleep but at this point, I was in enough pain to make sleep impossible.
After learning how to poach an egg and make edible fruitcake, among other  delights I'll never attempt, the sun finally came up and I anxiously awaited Erik's return.

Exhausted and hurting, I was sure things were finally happening down under. My doctor arrived and checked me out. Elbow deep she looks up at me and declares I'm at a 3. My heart sinks and I can't help but feel discouraged.
She states it's time to break my water in the hopes that will speed things up. I consent and she produces the crochet hook of destruction.

Now, I've peed my pants on more than one occasion as an adult. I have this tendency to hold it for too long and then laugh too hard. However, it is NOTHING like the gushing tsunami that erupted from my nethers. I had this odd vision of my little baby boy riding the amniotic waves on the teeniest surf board, Point Break style, while throwing the hang loose sign and high-fiving the nurse on his way by.

 That didn't happen. What did happen is I sat up and vomited all the liquid I had consumed throughout the night. So that was cool.

At this point I called Erik to ask if he could come back now. My voice had taken on this quivering, piteous quality that I didn't recognize and I could feel I was close to tears. He said he'd be there in 15 minutes.

The day dragged on in a never-ending blur of pain and monitoring. At one point my nurse came in and sweetly brushed my hair back away from my face commenting on the tears that had soaked my locks. She reminded me that it was okay to have an open mind about the medication and to let her know if I changed my mind. 

I changed my mind. 

With my head turned toward Erik, gripping the side of the bed and eyes squeezed tight in pain while enduring another contraction, I listened to Erik remind me to breathe and tell me I'm doing great.

I was not doing great. Drugs. I wanted the drugs. I wanted ALL the drugs.

They gave me the drugs and I smiled. I didn't even mind that my leg had to be lifted back up onto the bed for me when it managed to slip off.

Evening rolls around again and I send Erik home to check on my dog and eat some dinner. I haven't had anything to eat since the day before but food felt about as important as reading yet another inane and inappropriate Trump tweet. Hard pass thanks very much.

My parents and youngest Sister arrive despite the fact I'd told them nothing was happening. My Mom was incredulous that they'd given me an epidural, and I got mad. My Dad took pictures of me while I was having a contraction and I did not like it. Mom told him to knock it off. I threatened to have the nurse kick them both out even though I was monumentally glad they were there.

A few more hours go by, but time and I are no longer on speaking terms. It's lost all meaning and relevancy to me.

That is, until my Doctor came in to check on me again and gave me a deadline. She was giving Babykins until 3:00am to arrive and then he was out of time. She was worried he would become distressed and worried that too much time had gone by since breaking my water, leaving me susceptible to infection.

Around 1:00am, having been in labor for 31 hours, I gave up. My nurse brought the paperwork and I signed my consent to have the c-section. I felt like a complete failure and was so disappointed that after all this work, I would still have to be cut open.

My doctor came in and checked me one last time. She said she could feel his hair and although my body wasn't acting ready, asked if I wanted to give one last ditch effort and try pushing.

No. No I did not. I went into the hospital Wednesday and it was now early Friday morning. I was emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted and I didn't want to do it anymore.

I tried anyway. I pushed when I was told and said it felt like I was trying to poop out an aneurysm. My nurse told me I was using the wrong muscles and explained I needed to use the same muscles I use when doing kegels. That helped and there was some progress. Doc could feel him moving.
They brought a mirror in so I could see exactly what I was doing and that's when it started making sense for me. Doc would tell me when to push and I'd push.

I saw him crowning and it was madness.

She told me to push and out came his head. Insanity. Doc looks up at me from between my legs with a giant grin and says while gesturing over her shoulder to the mirror, "Looks like it should hurt, doesn't it?".

Drugs. So so thankful for drugs. 

One more big push I'm told, and then I finally get to meet my baby!

I push and he slides out. Doc immediately passes him off to the nurses who rush him to the corner of the room and it takes me a couple of seconds to realize I don't hear the cries of a new baby who has just entered the world.  He wasn't breathing.

Any second now.

Seconds go by. The seconds turn to minutes. More and more people in green scrubs come running into the room. I didn't know it at the time but while my Sister was waiting outside, an alarm was sounding and nurse after nurse ran past her into my room.

About a dozen people in green were surrounding my baby, who wasn't making a peep, while my doctor continued to work on getting me stitched up.

I alternated between craning my neck to try to see my silent baby, to staring at Erik with tears streaming down both sides of my face. I was squeezing my Mom's hand in desperation. Was my baby even alive?

Yet another nurse rolls in a portable monitor where an on-call doctor was contacted for emergency consultation via Skype.

Until this point in my life, I have never known what true hysteria felt like. I was breathing in choking gasps trying to contain the wails that were wrestling to escape my throat. I could not believe that this was happening. Erik was supposed to cut the cord. I was supposed to have immediate skin to skin contact. My baby boy was supposed to spend his first minutes of life in the arms of one of the people who will love him the most throughout his entire existence.

And now, his entire life consisted of a few minutes surrounded by strangers?

A strange mewling sound escapes from my mouth. My poor baby. My sweet little boy. The frenzied panic rises up and I'm losing the will to control it as I strain to catch a glimpse of my child in between the gaps of green scrubs.

Erik grabs my hand and says, "Dawn. Look at me. LOOK at me". I turn and face him through blurry eyes filled with tears and he says, "He's going to be okay. I can see him. He's moving. I can see his little arm moving. His eyes are open and he's just looking around at his new world."

He never did cry.

I finally got to hold my baby and I laughed with maniacal relief while the tears soaked my face. His big bright eyes scanned his surroundings while he quietly snuggled into my chest.


From the moment I saw him at my first ultrasound, I fell in love. All these months later, finally getting to meet him, I wonder how it is my heart hasn't imploded from the overwhelming feeling of love. It's unlike anything I've felt in my life and it scares the hell out of me. My heart and soul have been exposed and I'll never be the same. As a friend of mine put it, "At some point the story changes, the plot thickens and we eventually fall in love in ways we can't find words for."

Watery attempt at a smile.



My heart.



My Peanut. Rowan Ian Harrison











12 comments:

  1. Rowan?!? What a great name. That sounds like quite an ordeal. I completely empathize. My own lil' peanut came at a great cost. My wife had Placenta Accreta which wasn't diagnosed and almost cost both of my favorite people to die. My daughter spent her first few days of life in a cold hospital room attended to by strangers while my wife lost 1/3 of her blood and had to gather the will to walk again through sheer spite of some crappy nurses. It has taken me nearly a year to write about and wasn't nearly as funny as what you were able to communicate from your own story. Our daughter was three weeks premature but thriving now. Having a child is terrifying enough without all these complications. So glad Rowan is doing well, is adorable and has a strong hat game.

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    1. Oh my hell Pickleope. I can't even begin to imagine the terror your must have felt. I actually had to google placenta accreta before remembering I learned about that in birthing class and then immediately discarded it because really, who does that ACTUALLY happen to? I know giving birth happens all over the world every day and for most, no big deal. But it IS a big deal. It's a pretty massive trauma to the woman's body, not to mention the little babe trying it's damnedest to get out...or stay in. I'm relieved to hear the Von Pickleope family is well and I just scoured your site trying to find that post but no luck. Send it over would ya?

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  2. Wow. This is just such an awesome story, my friend. He is adorable, and I love his name almost as much as his face! You did such a great thing for him to record this in word, as well as picture. Great job, Mom...and Dad. Hugs.

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    1. Thank you Annie. It took me awhile to find the motivation to finally write about it but I'm glad it got recorded before I forgot any more details. Hugs to you!

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  3. He's so smooshy. I love him. My eyes might be a little watery too. Good job, Mama.

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    1. He really is smooshable. Sometimes I can't even stand it. Thanks Mandy.

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  4. Oh my goodness. This: "All these months later, finally getting to meet him, I wonder how it is my heart hasn't imploded from the overwhelming feeling of love. It's unlike anything I've felt in my life and it scares the hell out of me. My heart and soul have been exposed and I'll never be the same. As a friend of mine put it, "At some point the story changes, the plot thickens and we eventually fall in love in ways we can't find words for."

    All the tears.

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    1. All the tears indeed. Babies really jack you up, amiright?

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  5. Beautiful!
    No thanks for giving me a heart attack over someone I've never met - you? Your baby? both?
    You are consistently a riveting read, and I'm sorry I'm not here more often.

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    1. Aw Red. I'm sorry I'm not here more often as well. :)
      Thank you for reading and for the smile.

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  6. Welcome to planet earth! :) Congrats, Mom and Dad!

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  7. And now I'm crying.
    I remember when you posted on facebook. I can't imagine the terror you felt in those first few minutes, but such a relief that he is great, you are great, Erik is great, the dog is great! Everyone's GREAT!!

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