Monday, April 13, 2009
Two weeks ago today I was pushing my newborn son in a hospital bassinet down the hallway to the elevators which would take us to the NICU where he would spend the next 10 days. It's a memory that Richard has had to recreate for me because I have no recollection of it. One day I looked over and asked, how did we get here? I couldn't remember coming into the room or how we even got there from our room one floor down. But that's not the beginning or end of the story it's the middle.
I went into labor after celebrating a one year old. I had a feeling that something was going to happen that day. It could have been shear determination that brought my labor on since I was already past my due date and looking down the barrel of stress tests and possible 'intervention'. Intervention wasn't in my play book. We had a midwife, we read books, took classes and planned for a totally natural birth - it's the way our bodies are meant to work so I was going to let my body do the job. So when the contractions changed from 'tightening' to definite pain. I took it on.
Here we go, this is it. I stayed active and distracted myself with house work. As the night went on our midwife Sara suggested that we head in to the hospital just to see how the baby was doing. It was about 10 p.m. now and I had been laboring for about 6 hours. We arrived at the hospital ER, I was offered at wheelchair to labor and delivery but I insisted on walking. I had these little facts in my head - " walking and staying active can reduce your amount of labor by 30%". The monitors showed that the baby was doing just fine, I was only about 2cm dilated, we opted to go home. Through the night I contracted and rested, contracted and rested. my mind was clear my body relaxed my partner amazing. In the morning Sara called to see how things were going. 7 minutes apart and very regular. She advised us to come back to the hospital and I was ready to find out how well I had done over night. We arrived to find out that I had done nothing except experience pain. The baby was not engaged and I was not dilating.
Here is where things get fuzzy for me. I have written almost 20 pages in my journal about the next 24 hours and maybe one day I'll be able to share that here. I'm sure it's not the hardest birth story out there but for me it was and probably always will be the hardest thing I have ever and will ever do. So, I'm going to skip to the end and just tell you that were it not for the love of my husband, my mother and Sara I would probably be in a psych ward somewhere trying to work this out.
The day turned into night and the night into day. The plan, out the window. The baby and I were both beyond exhausted and begging for mercy. There was Meconium, fevers, infections, IVs, epidurals, oxygen, catheters, internal fetal monitors, blood pressure cuffs designed by sadomasochists, prepping for c-section, forceps and an episiotomy - oh and lots and lots of pain, the one thing I did plan for.
Miraculously, I did finally dilate fully and Sara told me to push. I must have looked like the guest of honor at a surprise party when she said that. Really? I was actually going to push? So I pushed and pushed - I remember a few people saying that pushing was their favorite part. I had high hopes for this pushing, hell I was actually going to take an active role in this birth again. I pushed but my body was empty, having been on track just a few hours ago for a c-section I had no fuel in my body. The juice I was allowed to consume came up almost as quickly as it went down. I stared intensely into Sara's eyes looking for optimism, she never broke my stare and just kept me going. Richard and my mom cheered with every push with looks of amazement. I pushed the baby down what felt like millimeters and it probably was. My brain and my body were working against me now. I accused everyone of lying to me. I gobbled ice and almost ripped out all my IVs discarding my hospital gown in fit. The MD was summoned and he determined that I needed to get the baby down further in order for him to be able to use the forceps. Ask me a month ago what I thought about forceps and I would have said something along the lines of barbaric. But it was my only hope at this point. I couldn't push anymore, I just couldn't do it. My only choice was to push so I pushed some more, I pushed just enough. The MD got the forceps in, I pushed again and nothing happened, I pushed a second time and in a split second he had his scissors out, cut me and delivered the baby in one fluid motion.
I saw the head and then the body. It was a boy!
Sara stayed with me but the rest of the room shifted to the baby. Only then did I notice that there was about 15 people in the room. Emmett was crying, I was straining to get a look at him but there were people in the way, Sara was stitching me up. Soon after Emmett was placed on my chest. He looked perfect and pink and warm. We snuggled like that for while. The room emptied.
All seemed to be good again. Calm had entered my shaking body and we made our way to the postpartum room. I was finally POSTPARTUM!
Richard fell fast asleep and I laid in bed starring at Emmett. The Sun was coming up again. We had nurse after nurse after nurse in our room. Sometimes for me sometimes for Emmett. One of the first visitors was his pediatrician. She checked him out and ordered some tests. Sara came by later that morning. While we were chatting the pediatrician called to say that Emmett's blood work showed signs of infection. He was going to the NICU, they were coming to get him right now.
Our time with Emmett in the NICU wasn't all bad and one certainly does gain a little of not a lot of appreciation and perspective being the parents of a full term baby who just had a little infection. But it was also hard. Richard and I stuck together, made what I think was the best of it. We cried every night we had to leave without him and rushed to greet him every morning.
We learned how to take his temp, change his diaper, feed and bathe him. In a way I guess it was like a mini newborn boot camp. The day we took him home I was so excited my heart was beating hard, I just couldn't wait to get him out of there.
It's almost been a week now since we've had Emmett home with us. Richard is back to work. Life seems to be finding its rhythm. Emmett has gained over a pound since he was born.
It was a rocky start but we did it. Last year at this time I was giving in to infertility and today I write this with my son sleeping peacefully beside me.
One thing I've learned from this is that you can't ever give up and you can't do it alone.
I'm sure this isn't the best version of the story as my brain keeps adding details and sleep isn't exactly in abundance right now. It's the best I can do right now and I hope you enjoy reading it.