The first time I saw her, she was laying on her stomach, with her face delicately resting on her two hands. It was like a rosy glow surrounded her. I thought she looked so feminine. Definitely a girl. I HAD A GIRL!!!!! But she was too big for her incubator. I knew she couldn't be, but wasn't she cold? She'd been without me for so many hours. I wanted to hold her.
HMG was 4 days late! At about 30 weeks of pregnancy I began to have strong contractions. My doctor was concerned I'd deliver early and quickly put me on bed rest. I was instructed to lay on my left side perpetually. I could stand to go to the bathroom and make myself a quick sandwich or set up prepared food for the baby--but that was all. I was advised to avoid the stairs as much as possible. My initial thought was, I'll finally get some rest!
Our son was 15 months old at the time, and I was truly exhausted chasing him around with my big belly and low energy. My husband was working 2 jobs! One to pay the bills, another for the experience which would enable him to shift his career in a new direction. One job was local, the other involved a two hour commute round trip. My relatives lived at least 6 hours away. Thank God for very good friends.
Our full bath was upstairs, so I continued to sleep in our bedroom. We set up a mattress on the floor in the living room of our small townhouse. Every morning after showering and getting dressed (the most exciting moments of my day for 6 long weeks), I lay on that mattress. We gated the stairs and doorways to the kitchen. We tried to keep the bathroom and basement doors closed. I had a stack of books, toys, magazines, videos, writing paper on one side, arranged snacks and beverages on the other while facing a tiny 13 inch TV. Occasionally I would turn my head to enjoy our common lawn and the pretty city view from our double doored balcony. Thank God our complex was on a lovely hill!
At first it was wonderful...though the baby ran about freely and dropped crumbs EVERYWHERE, and the piles grew like sand dunes in the desert because who could vacuum? His many toys were like an obstacle course all over the floor.
Though my husband was gone for long hours and when my friends visited I wondered what I was missing.
Though my mom was so far away and my sister called almost everyday until it felt like she was there but she wasn't.
Though I was eating so much processed food, it no longer tasted like real food.
Though I was watching so many movies, reading so many books/magazines and doing all the crafting I never had time for before.
I was getting so much sleep!
Then, I just couldn't take it anymore because....
The baby ran about freely and dropped crumbs EVERYWHERE and the piles grew like sand dunes in the desert because who could vacuum? His many toys were like an obstacle course all over the floor!
My husband was gone for long hours and when my friends visited I wondered what I was missing!
My mom was so far away and my sister called every day until it felt like she was there but she wasn't!
I was eating so much processed food, it no longer tasted like real food!
I was watching so many movies, reading so many books/magazines and doing all the crafting I never had time for before!
I was getting so much sleep!
I don't even think my doctor got the complete sentence out of his mouth at 36 weeks when I was able to resume normal activity and stop taking all of that medication. I thought for sure HMG would fall right out on our very first outing.
She didn't...though I chased her brother around and took him to all the places I felt guilty that he was missing for 6 long weeks.
Though I sat at another toddler birthday party, on another padded floor, too low to the ground for my girth, in a position I was too awkward to manage.
Though I walked the malls like someone was paying me.
Though I hoped and wished and prayed.
Though I was crabby, sore, exhausted and all the things that make our final days of pregnancy so special.
HMG was coming on time--just not my time.
Finally, I gave up. I would be pregnant forever.
What a joke! I had spent 6 weeks fearing I had taken too long to make a sandwich, because now I was contracting too much so we were at the doctor's office AGAIN being monitored to see if today was weeks too early for a baby.
Yet after doing all of that and more....no baby.
Four days after my due date, I was on my way home from a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. banquet when I had my first REAL....this is it....contraction! They were coming strong and hard. I knew we didn't have much time because I remembered those kind of contractions from my last delivery.
We dropped our son off with close friends and flew to the hospital.
My husband and I had trained hard and even taken classes to have an all natural, unmedicated birth. We had chosen the Bradley Method and were all set to deliver HMG at a birth center attached to one of the biggest teaching hospitals in town. We were doing everything we had learned and it was working.
Within 2 hours of arriving at the hospital, I was fully dilated and ready to push HMG into the world. My husband gave me a high five, we were soooooooo excited.
We were disappointed that my doctor wasn't there. His back up was on the way but wouldn't make it in time. I was at the mercy of the attending physician.
My scene wasn't any different from what you see on TV with the nurses shouting at you to push and your happy but anxious husband trying to help but knowing there's not much more he can do.
I thought I was doing a really good job, but suddenly, the monitors went crazy! The nurses stopped smiling and the doctor started barking orders.
Nobody told me anything.
The next thing I knew, they were flipping me over and ordering me to stay on all fours. The doctor used his hand to hold HMG in place. She wasn't far down enough to come out but she was moving down. My body was pushing her down, but the doctor was holding her up. The monitor was screaming and we were all running.
Well, they were running and pushing my bed out of the birth center and into the hospital.
I was screaming. The pain was horrific. I had asked for no pain medication. It would have been OK had things progressed naturally, but what the doctor was doing was NOT NATURAL!
The doctor barked, "Why are you screaming? Bet you won't do this again."
I remember gasping the brief prayer, I don't think I can take anymore.
I didn't have to because the moment we reached the operating room, they put me under.
I woke up to my husband's happy and excited face. He kept shoving a polaroid under my nose, covering my face with sloppy kisses, and yelling she knew my voice!
The drugs made me so groggy. I was in out. I was confused and scared. Where was the baby? Why was my husband showing me old pictures of our new born son? It hurt!
I finally had some clarity hours later, after a long night on a morphine drip I controlled by pressing a button if I was in pain.
It was terrible pain management. I don't know what was going on with that hospital. A couple of the Percocets they sent me home with, would have done the job much better. I know that now.
They had all these rules about what my body needed to be able to do before I could see the baby. I was frantic to pass all of their tests. I had an irrational fear that there was something wrong that no one was telling me, though my husband assured me repeatedly that HMG was doing well.
The attending visited me and apologized profusely about his inappropriate remarks and the scarring I'd have because of his hack job attempt at an emergency c-section. He also apologized for his attitude toward me.
"You look young," He said, "Like all those teens who keep coming back for more. I keep hoping the bad experience will keep them away."
Um...I was 27 years old...but either way I was having some serious problems with what he was saying. Seriously?
I forgave him, but maybe I should have sued.
When my doctor FINALLY showed up, he cut through all of the red tape and walked me through the hospital himself to see HMG for the first time.
She was in the Neonatal ICU in an incubator. They were monitoring her closely because her breathing was super fast from a small amount of fluid in her lungs. I couldn't nurse her until her breathing slowed to their satisfaction, but was free to hold her as much as I liked. HMG was huge compared to the others and perfectly formed.
I cried for the joy of seeing her, and shook all over at the evidence of our near miss.
I was so grateful.
I still am.
She was so beautiful.
At 13, she still is.