Our daughter was born on September 24th, 2013. I know that this is old news; therefore, I’m posting this not as an announcement for the public’s sake, but as a way of documenting the events and my thoughts about them.
I won’t go into details that I deem too personal (read: gross, anatomical/physiological details), but I’ll share the biggies of her birth story. I hadn’t ever experienced false labor (or, if I had, I hadn’t realized it) so when I started having contractions late at night on the 23rd, I didn’t let myself think “this is it!” even though she was due on the 27th. Thankfully, I found a free contraction timer app, because my contractions were so bearable that I know I would have dismissed them if I hadn’t had the app to tell me that I had seventeen contractions the first hour! Needless to say, after a phone call to the doctor, we were admitted to the hospital around 4am. I had an epidural just before 5am.
Side topic: the epidural. I had planned from the beginning to allow myself to have one if I felt like I needed one. As a nurse, I’m of the mindset that if an effective intervention exists and the pros outweigh the cons, why not go for it? Just my opinion and I certainly would never judge others for theirs. By the time I was admitted, I was in enough pain that I was arching my back, which was significantly more bothersome to me than the actual labor. I have had back problems before and had to lie still for days in order to make them “go away” (for the time being), so the reason I opted for the epidural was not the contraction pain, but the back pain I was causing myself by reacting to the contractions. Make sense? Anyway, getting the epidural was the single weirdest sensation I have ever experienced. I had to tell myself that it wasn’t painful, because it wasn’t, but I was registering it as pain because it was just such a foreign, unsettling sensation. (Side note within a side note: if you have a needle in your hand, NEVER tell your patient, “I’m just iiiiinching my way in….just iiiiinching my way in…” No. Just don’t. Nope.)
Labor progressed normally for the most part, but I did “have” to be put on Pitocin for about an hour. (I question whether this actually had to happen or whether my doctor was simply growing impatient, but it happened either way and I will be switching doctors for multiple reasons.) MC’s heart began to react, so they stopped it and everything was fine again. Toward the end, I was threatened with a C-section and a vacuum-assisted delivery, but thankfully, neither had to happen. My doctor told me that she thought the baby’s cord might be wrapped around her neck, so I knew to expect to be on extra alert when she was born.
She entered the world at 12:01 pm. No one said, “She’s here!” “It’s a girl!” “Congratulations!” “You did it!” or anything like that. She was immediately taken by some NICU nurses. I heard no cries, but after a few seconds I heard a pitiful little whimper. I’m sure a lot of you know this, but babies are ideally born red and angry. MC was bluish and lethargic. After awhile, the nurses thought they had solved the problem, and I got to hold my daughter for a few seconds.
The first thing I noticed was a set of wide, beautiful blue eyes. Then I noticed sweet little puffy cheeks going from pink to purple and lips turning blue. The nurse took her back and, long story short, I didn’t get to hold her again until 9:00 that night.
This part of the story remains incredibly difficult for me to deal with. As a woman, and especially as one who has wanted with all her heart to be a mother, I had pictured the moment my child was born as a pinnacle – a flood of happiness that would be near the top of the highlight reel of my life. Instead, it was shocking in the apparent nonchalance of my doctor, the lack of communication/updates from the nurses on her condition, and my feelings of overwhelming concern, confusion, and loneliness. I theorize that this has deeply affected my self concept and how things like bonding, feeding, etc have gone, but that’s all I’ll say about that here.
For hours that seemed to slug much more slowly than my labor, I ached for my daughter. Ryan went back and forth between my side and the unit in which she was being kept, giving me whatever updates he’d been given (which, for my taste, were far too few). I couldn’t go to see her for a long time because my legs were still numb from the epidural that I was now kicking myself for getting. Friends and my mother arrived in the afternoon and sat with me, which I believe was the only thing that kept me sane. Just a couple of weeks ago, my mom shared with me that it was all she could do to not break down when she walked into my room and saw me holding a stuffed animal instead of my baby. Finally, I lied and said I had regained the feeling in my legs so that they would let me get into a wheelchair to go see my daughter. I did my best to hide the complete numbness of my left leg. I was taken down the hall, introduced to her nurse (who barely acknowledged us or even smiled), and allowed to see her. I don’t really want to say much about that except that it was really hard to return to my room without her. Once she came to us that night, she was perfect.
Once in awhile, we are asked if she has any remaining trouble breathing – it was an event during her birth that gave her that trouble; it’s not a congenital, ongoing thing, thankfully. We know how very much worse it could have been and we are so thankful that, now, it’s like nothing ever happened. At least, to her.
Mary Clementine (yes, that is what she goes by – if you call her Mary I probably won’t say anything because I’m too nice but on the inside I will be sad) is a happy, healthy, beautiful little girl. We are blessed beyond measure and I am constantly in awe of her, and of how well things have gone overall. She is a wonderful baby who eats (mostly formula – another story that I may or may not ever post) well, sleeps well, smiles, laughs, and obviously enjoys looking around at this world in wonder. Well-meaning people have told us, “It goes by so fast” since the day she was born, but I am very blessed that, for us, it hasn’t flown so far. I try my best to take in every moment as much as I can and ENJOY her instead of focusing on mourning how things used to be when she was smaller.
Thanks for reading! Typing this out has been surprisingly healing for me.