Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Baby Story

As I was writing on your sister’s blog about my OB appt, I realized I have never written about your birth story.  I guess there was so much else to focus on as soon as you were born.  But never you worry.  Those memories are fresh as can be.

Daddy and I went to the hospital the night of June 8th-- --a week after your due date--to start the induction process.  We were supposed to arrive at 7:00, but got there closer to 11:00.  The entire time I was pregnant with you I didn’t expect you to come on your own, so I never packed a hospital bag and was scrambling at the last minute.
By midnight I was checked in, had my IV for Pitosin and they applied the Cervidil. My progress at that point was exactly zero.  I mean ZERO.  No indication that a baby would be coming anytime. Ever. Daddy and I fell asleep fairly quickly after all was settled.
Contractions woke me up at 4:00am and I might have gotten small snippets of sleep until about 8:00 when Daddy woke up.  By 9:00 my contractions were getting intense and started asking for the epidural.  My bloodwork showed that my platelets were low, so I was told I had to wait about an hour and recheck them before I could get my epidural. I have no idea at what time I was which centimeter (ok, so maybe the memories aren’t fresh as can be), but I felt like I was progressing fairly quickly.  My contractions were two minutes apart and lasted about a minute.  An hour later my platelets were still borderline.  By 11:00 Dr. S came to check on us and was appalled I didn’t have an epidural yet.  She said that if I was borderline then that was all the more reason to get it as fast as possible, before they dropped too low.  The anesthesiologist arrived immediately after.
From then on I was sitting pretty.  Dr. S broke my water and we all just sat around visiting until it was time to push.  In the room was Grammy, Honey, Mema, Shelby, Grammi and of course Daddy.  About 1:30 it was time to push!

And push and push and push, push, push.  I pushed so long and so hard, that I began to lose consciousness for the minute between each contraction.  As the contraction started up, I would wake up and this is how the conversation would go:
Me: Is it time?
Nurse: Not yet.
Me: I need to push.
Nurse: Not yet.
Me: I’m pushing.
Nurse: Ok.
As each contraction faded, the lights and the sounds in the room dimmed to nothingness. A minute later I would wake up as the contraction intensified.
(I'm glad someone's having fun.)

About 5:00 Dr. S came to see why we weren’t progressing.  She asked the nurse how long I had been pushing, and the nurse said 2 and a half hours.  Dr. S was not ok with that and said we needed to get you out immediately.  But our family who nearly required stadium seating knew better—it had been three and a half hours.  (Let me digress here to say our nurse really was fabulous.  Super sweet, didn’t mind the crowd in the room, very gentle and caring. She was a traveling nurse, just coming back from a stint in St. Lucia where Daddy and I got married!) Dr. S called for the foreceps. I said “No, please, just tell me what to do.” So she tied a knot in a sheet and told me to hold onto one end.  She held the other, and leaned back so that I was supporting her weight.  At least that’s how it appeared from my bed; really, she was supported by her leg behind her.  But since I thought letting go would drop the doctor on her rear, I held on for dear life.  Several pushes with this method later, you were here! 5:33pm, 7 lbs and 3.5 oz, 18.5”.
I expected labor to be difficult, so I didn’t think the whole ordeal that terrible. I figured epidurals barely took the edge off and that it was normal to push for hours upon hours.  It wasn’t until later that I found out that you were sunny side up and a brow baby.  Meaning the widest part of your head came first instead of the narrowest.  This was a rough (and true to Audrey fashion, rare) way to deliver for you and me both—almost always done by c-section.  When you left the NICU at 9 weeks old, you still had the scabs from scraping your face on my pelvic bone the entire way down, and I was still recovering in my own ways also.  Sixteen months later I found out how a “normal” delivery goes.  What a breeze! After 20 minutes of pushing and almost no pain, your 9 lb, 4 oz brother made his entrance into the world.  I could do that every day!

There was meconium in the water, so we knew you would be taken out and suctioned immediately.  Still, when I saw your face for the briefest of seconds, I knew something wasn’t right. I had a supernatural peace while I was being cleaned up and waiting for you to come back.  That time is pretty fuzzy.  I remember people talking around me but being quiet myself, not sharing my suspicions.  About 30 minutes later Dr. S came back in with another Dr. S who would become your neonatologist.  She said you had some concerning features—cleft palate, extra finger, clubbed feet—and that they expected an underlying condition.  You were stable but needed to go to the NICU to run more tests. Grammy then said something to the effect of “But she is going to be ok, right? This isn’t anything fatal.”   New Dr. S just answered, “We don’t know.  We need to run more tests.” (He too is a very caring and compassionate man.)

They brought you in for me to hold for a quick minute before taking you to the NICU.  Daddy went with you and the time he was gone felt like an eternity. 
(You don't even look like the same baby now!)

Thus began the longest night of my life.  I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed until 6 hours postpartum, but at 11:30 was shift change.  So Daddy took me upstairs to see you for the first time around midnight.  He rolled me up in the wheelchair to a bed warmer, and I stood up, walking tenderly and lovingly towards it.   Then I heard Daddy: “Uhh baby? That’s not ours.  She’s over here.”  Oops. (But seriously. He parked me in front of the wrong bed! I let it slide knowing he was as tired and heartbroken as I was.) I held your hand and cried—I don’t know how long.  But I do remember wailing into Daddy’s chest at 3:30 in the morning while he squeezed into my bed with me. At some point sleep must have relieved me from my exhaustion and shredded emotions.

Those first couple days were really just a flood of tears and heartache.  But looking back it amazes me how quickly we were able to find joy in the small things, laugh easily, smile throughout the day.  A lot of that can be attributed to falling in love with you, but most was just a God thing.
People always tell me how strong we are.  That they wouldn’t have the strength to go through something like this.  Sweet sentiment, but absolutely ridiculous.  If someone was to have asked me the day before you were born if I could handle this, I would have said no way.  And that would have been true.  God gives us more than we can handle all the time…that way we have to turn to Him to handle it for us. So on the day you were born He held my heart to keep it from shattering, strengthened me so I could keep moving forward, gave me the ability to understand the information the doctors found, and created in me the organizational skills to keep up with all your paperwork.  God really is good, ALL the time.


Meagan said...

Amber, this sweet story brought tears to my eyes. And oh, those pictures. I'm so proud of the way you continue to point back to the Lord through this journey!

Emily Minich said...

Thank you for posting this. The difference in your face in the before and after pictures is what makes me cry, because I know our faces and pictures must be the same way. I haven't even managed to get our birth pictures yet because I just am not sure I can look at them. The Lord certainly takes care of us.