There's been a fair amount of talk around the blogosphere lately about how our babies came into the world and the feelings that invokes in us. Linda over at All & Sundry and Julie at A Little Pregnant both wrote wonderful eloquent posts about it.
Its a topic that is often on my mind. Every time a woman a work gives birth or announces that she's pregnant I can't help but look back on the experience that I had and mourn the way that I thought it would be. I wanted to try an all natural birth (please note the word "try") because I didn't like the idea of bringing my son into the world with my body full of drugs (Also, I know that I would feel like a total bad ass if I managed to do it drug free). I wasn't closed to the idea of medications, but I was firmly on the side of "Give it my best shot."
When I was told, in my 30th week, that my amniotic fluid was almost gone and that Alex wasn't growing I still held out hope that things would work out the way that I wanted. My doctor (who is wonderful by the way, if you live in Knoxville and want a recommendation for an OB/GYN shoot me an e-mail) put me on bedrest at home after my Thursday appointment, with another ultrasound scheduled for the following Monday to check on things. By Monday, thanks to the GALLONS of water that I had consumed, my fluid had come back up enough that I was allowed to return to work on light duty, sit-down tasks only.
A little less than 2 weeks later I was back for another appointment (I had a lot of appointments and ultrasounds because I was high risk). Another Thursday, June 26th. This time there was so little fluid that the ultrasound tech couldn't even measure it in most places that she tried. And worse news, my placenta was in full blown deterioration mode, failing to supply enough blood to my son. I was sent immediately to Labor & Delivery, hooked up to monitors and an IV and placed on bedrest. I was allowed to get up to use the bathroom and for 15 additional minutes each day (trailing an IV pole around... fun!). The neonatologist visited, my doctor consulted with a bunch of other doctors and I spent a lot of time crying in that hospital bed.
I was told that unless everything fixed itself by Monday morning that I would be having a C-section, that my son would need to spend weeks in the hospital. I hoped, against all hope, that things would get better. I was on IV fluids and drinking as much water as I could stomach in order to get my fluid levels back up. I urged my body to fix my placenta (it doesn't really listen to me, but I had to give it a try), I begged the universe to make Alex grow so that I could stay pregnant longer and give him a better chance of being born healthy. I received my steroid shots, but not happily, because once you get those you pretty much know that you're having a preemie.
By Saturday night I was starting to come to terms, in a very superficial way, that I was having a C-section. I hadn't even begun to process the emotions, but the realist in me was gearing up for action. I knew that a healthy baby was all that mattered and my head was ready to deal with that.
Sunday morning, very early, I woke up with a blinding headache. They gave me Demerol; it didn't work. They gave me more Demerol; it didn't work either. My blood pressure was spiking so they hooked me up to a magnesium sulfate drip; it didn't work. I was in too much pain to panic and the drugs made me stupid, so I didn't really process what was happening. At some point a nurse came in and gave me a bunch of consent forms. She read them to me because I was too far gone to comprehend the written word at that point and before she would let me sign them she asked me if I knew what was happening. In the only funny part of the morning I said "You're going to cut me open." In response to her horrified look I informed her, "To get the baby out, duh." In my mind she was obviously confused about what was happening and I had to set her straight. My mom, who was with me at the time, laughed her ass off.
Shortly after I was was wheeled in my bed to the OR, in my bed (Just like on TV, yay!). My spinal was put into place, they laid me back and I got a catheter (which is just as much fun as you can imagine). I remember that I kept asking for Jym, but not much else. Then Jym was there, with his hand on my arm. Finally the spinal had me numb and they began. I'm told that it was very fast, just a few minutes from the first incision to Alex's birth, but I couldn't swear to that in court because I kept going in and out of consciousness. I don't remember his first cry, I didn't get to hold him, I didn't get to nurse him. I didn't even get to see most of him. One quick glimpse after he was cleaned, weighed and swaddled and then they took him to the NICU and me to recovery.
The rest of the day is a blur. I know that Dana came and saw me because there are pictures. I know that I was taken in my wheelchair to see Alex (catheter, IV and all), because there are pictures. A picture of my hand cradling his tiny head, seeming to engulf it. A picture of his perfect face, dwarfed by the pacifier laying next to it. A pacifier that looks like it was made for a giant baby, it covered half of his face, but it was the smallest that the NICU had.
I spent many hours next to his isolette, staring at him, memorizing his features. And all the while, regret and grief coursed through my body. I knew that this was the one chance that I had to do this. My health is not conducive to making babies. My doctor didn't really expect me to make it out of my first trimester and when I did I really began to hope and dream about the experience I wanted to have.
I still grieve over the loss of what I wanted. I know, we all know, that the end result is what's important. The baby at the end of the process is what matters, not how he got here. But...
But I look at my beautiful, perfect, happy, healthy son and it just doesn't seem all that important.