Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Silas's Birth Story

My pregnancy was not even close to being that glowing and miraculous event that many women describe.  I was sick, very sick from about the second that I got pregnant.  Of course, I didn't at first know that I was pregnant because it had only been weeks before that my doctor had told me that it would be "impossible" to get pregnant.  I was not trying to get pregnant but also didn't feel the need to not not try and it lead to where we sit today.  Anyway, that whole being sick thing was the stuff of nightmares.  What began as morning sickness, lead to be called hyperemesis which is just really bad morning sickness.  I was losing weight rapidly and was in and out of the ER for fluids and a random smattering of anti-nausea meds that did not help at all. 

On Thanksgiving Day (heh, thanks a lot, baby I don't know yet) I awoke with the worst pain that I had ever felt in my abdomen and called my mother-in-law at about 3 AM to ask her if this was normal.  She said probably not.  Off to the ER we went, where they reluctantly drugged me up and gave me a diagnosis of having a bum gallbladder.  Anyway, the next several months went on this way with lots of pain and vomiting and spending days at a time without getting out of bed.  Once I hit about 7 1/2 months the nausea eased up and I feasted in ways that only someone growing another person can imagine.  Things were going pretty well until I was about 34 weeks pregnant.
This is a story I have told to others at least a dozen times and to myself at least a thousand but I still fear forgetting each painful and joy-filled moment and crave writing it down so that I can release myself from the need to keep reliving it.  I write this story with tears, even after the knowing the outcome, it conjures up pain that I can't ever describe to even those who know me best.
On Wednesday morning I woke up and my bottom lip was puffy, and I knew that I had laid off the bar fights during the pregnancy so I had no explanation.  I had also been experiencing some other weird things like seeing sparkly lights and getting dizzy.  I was feeling a tugging in my mind that something was wrong so I finally broke down and called the OB and they wanted to see me.
Wade left his work at the writing center to take me in.  From here, everything moved very fast and it gets a little harder to remember all of the details.  I went in and they checked my blood pressure which was high and there was protein in my urine.  I had read enough to know that this was adding up to preeclampsia.  They monitored me and sent home to stay on bed rest.  I was back the next day with worsening symptoms and at this point they said that there was a good chance I would have my baby that weekend. 

We went home scared but excited, calling our friends and family 600 miles away to tell them the news.  I was reeling and felt the strong need to prepare the house for the baby we would be bringing home in just a few days.  Wade went out in search of preemie clothes and all of my little tools that I wanted on hand for my labor and delivery, none of which ever got taken out of the suitcase.

On Saturday morning, we went in at 8:30 AM so that I could be put on the monitors.  I was feeling awful and was starting to shows signs of the neurological symptoms of the preeclampsia, with my jerking muscles.  They quickly got me into a gown and into a labor room.  Through all of this, I managed to stay calm, imagining holding my sweet boy that I had seen only in ultrasound images.  My amazing doctor, who I had first met on that Thanksgiving trip to the hospital and who I will always be thankful for, came in and discussed our next steps.  I agreed with her that a long labor and delivery process would be impossible in the condition that I was in.  She also discussed the fact that our hospital did not have a NICU so if things went wrong our little newborn would be taken to one of two hospitals, both of which were roughly an hour away.

Wade and I had an ignorant confidence that our baby would be just fine and would stay put with us.  In what seemed like minutes, they had called a team of doctors in for my c-section and for the care of my coming newborn.  They wheeled me in to the OR and before the epidural gave me a sedative.  I remember rambling about feeling weird but saying that it was okay because Wade was also weird and then prophesying that our baby would also be weird.  I don't remember the procedure or the fact that they brought my sweet boy to me to see for the first time. 

The first thing that I remember is being wheeled to the recovery room and someone placing my baby's first picture in the palm of my hand.  I have vague memories of excitedly telling the nurses in recovery about my 4 lbs. 2 ozs., baby.  I am not sure how much later it was but I was taken back to the maternity ward, fully expecting to finally get to see my baby.  Wade was there armed with the digital camera which he had used to document the beginning of my son's life without me.  He was so tiny that the picture of his hand gripping daddy's finger shows that his fingers could not fully encircle the very tip of his appendage. I was in awe of his scattering of blonde hair and his bright red skin, all of which I was seeing on a one inch screen on the rear of the camera.  He was so beautiful but I longed to touch his skin and breathe in his baby scent and feel the weight of him in my arms.  I couldn't wait to nurse him and give him the nutrition he needed to start growing right away.  I finally saw my sweet baby about 8 hours after his birth and that was only through the case surrounding him in his little isolette, equipped to ride safely in the ambulance to another hospital.  I knew that he would only be one hour away but it felt like a million.  As they rolled him out, the emotions only served to further exhaust my already broken body.  I was very out of it for the couple days after that because of the medications, sadness and exhaustion that turned out to be exacerbated by a huge blood loss.

Once I was given transfusions and was getting energy, I was desperate to get out so that I could see my Silas and hold him for the first time.  Wade was driving to see him each day, taking to him the tiny drops of milk that I had managed to pump and bringing back to me new pictures and burp cloths that held the scent of my baby.  The nurses encourage me to look at his picture and take in his scent to aid in my milk production.  They probably thought they knew how painful that was but there is no way they could understand the emotions coursing through me when I dwelled on the beauty of my distant baby.  Only on the fourth day was I released and able to see my precious son and hold him for the first time.  That is another story and one that I am now too exhausted think about at the moment. 

Tonight, I will hold my boy a little tighter and complain a little less about waking in the night to care for him because all of this has made those wounds new again but the touch of his tiny hand and his smile that starts in his eyebrows, spreads to his ears and then finishes on his lips only help to ease the pain of the loss of those first hours with him.

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