April 30, 2012

Hope realized

As part of the series I have been running over at The Mom Pledge Blog called Giving Birth: A Defining Moment, I am sharing my own birth experience today. I've never really written much about the day SB was born. I didn't begin blogging until after she was a year old. This is as close as I have comeI have also written about the stigma attached to a cesarean delivery.

I figure any time is a good time to relive a joyful moment...

My OB's frustration was palpable as we sat in his office. It was my 37 week check up. And this was not where we expected to be.

"I don't like delivering babies early," he declared.

But the simple fact was my uterus was no longer a safe place for my baby. My amniotic fluid levels were so low, we could feel her entire body through my skin. It was as if my uterus was a deflated water balloon. The ultrasound technician had been unable to measure even a two on the Amniotic Fluid Index. Anything under five is considered critically low.

My daughter was not in distress at that moment. But the risk that she could be was high. With such low fluid, it would be easy for the umbilical cord to become pinched or clamped. She was not active. At all. Which had my doctor concerned.

He explained the risks involved with an early birth, especially a cesarean one. He was clearly conflicted.

"I'd feel terrible if I sent you home and something happened..." his voice trailed off.

He wasn't telling me what to do. I'm not sure he knew himself what the best direction was. He was in a place he didn't want to be, and we were working together to come to a decision.

I ended the tension and put him at ease with a cheery, "Let's do it. Let's go have this baby!"

I calmly phoned my hubby as I was wheeled next door to the hospital, and said basically the same thing to him. Next was my mom. I warned the nurse checking me into my room that she would be able to hear the screaming on the other end of the line. She did, and it made her chuckle.

I was ready. I felt no nervousness. No fear. Only joy.

We had known it would be a c-section birth. My amniotic fluid had been low the whole third trimester and our daughter was breech. We'd done research, asked tons of questions and had grown comfortable with the idea. It wasn't what we had hoped for, but in the end all we wanted was for our daughter to be born healthy.

Still, there were some things I wasn't prepared for. Like walking into the operating room on my own. That was weird. No wheelchair or gurney. Just me draped in a heated blanket. Which I very much needed. Brrrr!

I remember seeing my OB through a window, washing his hands and prepping for the surgery. He looked up, caught my eye and gave me a huge smile and a wave. I smiled back. I was so excited to finally meet my daughter.

I didn't realize the spinal tap would hurt. A lot. And that even with it I would feel so much during the surgery. There was no pain, but I was very aware of the pulling and tugging going on. And that there were other people's hands inside my body. Ew!

I remember the OB remarking on how little fluid there really was, but that it was clear, a good sign. And at one point he remarked, "Yep, it's going to be a butt first delivery!" I thought he might give us a heads up before her arrival, but all was quiet until we heard that first cry.

It's strength told us we did not need to worry about her lungs. My husband reached for my hand under the blue drape and squeezed it. My OB was visibly relieved.

Once they'd wrapped her up they brought her around for me to see. Trouble is, they put her so close to my face I couldn't focus on her. I guess that's what happens when you become a first time mom at 40 and deliver via c-section:

She was literally on top of my face, and I could not see her clearly. I kept asking hubby to move her farther away, but he couldn't because of the surgical draping.

Hubby and I had a deal. No one was to hold SB before I did except for him and her nurse. I felt very strongly about this. The one thing I really disliked about having a c-section was that I was not the first one to hold my baby.

The grandparents were all in the waiting room. I knew they would be eager to get their hands on her. But they would have their time. My moment needed to come first.

It took longer to come than I wanted. Not expecting to have surgery that day, I had eaten breakfast. And that caused me to be sick to my stomach from the spinal tap. A nurse stood at the foot of my hospital bed holding SB, watching as I vomited into a bucket every time I tried to sit up.

I remember crying and yelling, "Please, give me my baby!" But she would not until I stopped throwing up.

Finally, I was well enough. Everyone left the room except hubby and my nurse, who helped me get SB to latch for the first time. (And I thought I'd been manhandled during surgery...)

Afterwards, I sat with her on my chest and soaked her in. Her fingers. Her toes. Her little "Spock ear" that had been folded over in the womb. She was perfect.

It was a moment worth waiting for.

Becoming a mom is one of the most ordinary things you can do. It is part of the human experience; it is not unique. But it is the most amazing thing that will ever happen in your life.

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