Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Maybe Pull Up A Couch?

Part One of Mia's Birth Story is here. Part Two is here.


Now, time slowed down again. We turned on Good Morning America at 7 AM shortly after my pain had been managed. The first footage shown, the morning's major news story, was of the massive nor'easter parked over Philadelphia. Justin was near Scranton, but still in the middle of all that. News reporters were on site at PHL, filming the lack of visibility while snow-plows blinked their ineffective lights all over the runways. My hospital room was silent as we watched the weatherman describe the flight delays and dangerous conditions. I dramatically pictured Justin as a frontiersman, marching, shoulder first, head bowed, into blowing snow to make it home to his wife and child. His flight was taking off literally as we watched the coverage of this terrible snowstorm. We prayed...for what seemed like the millionth time that day...and waited to hear from him at his Cincinnati layover.

Each time the nurses checked me now, I crossed my fingers (and mentally, my toes) that progress would have stalled. I knew we had to have a c-section anyway because the baby was still breech, so I didn't mind one bit if my labor took it's sweet time. It didn't. But neither did it speed up. A nurse checked me sometime mid-morning and noted that I was still at 4 centimeters, but she could stretch me to 5. The doctor barked through the phone, "Don't stretch her!" He knew Justin's flight had just taken off: he wanted to wait as long as he could.

When Justin's plane landed in Cincinnati, he had 10 minutes to make the connection: an impossible dream in many airports. He ran through the terminal, sweating and hoping he'd make it on time. Luck was on his side as he rushed to his seat just minutes before takeoff, and began the last leg of his journey home. This was around 10 AM, at which point I was nearing 6 centimeters. We didn't have much more time.

Justin made it to Missouri just before 11 AM, and didn't even stop to pick up his baggage. He left it there, jumped into Eduardo's waiting car, and drove (faster than I'd like to imagine) to the hospital. At the exact same time, I had reached 7 centimeters -- the beginning of transition -- and my doctor felt it was no longer safe to postpone the surgery. We began preparations knowing that Justin was racing along the highway, moments from arrival, but without any time left with which to gamble.

My doctor apologized repeatedly, knowing how badly I'd wanted Justin to be there for the birth, and he made a concession for us: my brother would be allowed to videotape in the operating room so Justin could watch it later. I was wheeled into the operating room with my mom and brother by my side, so nervous and excited for what was about to happen. I was so close to meeting my daughter...but so far from Justin.

In the sterile, brightly lit room, my medication was increased for the surgery and tents were draped over my naked body. I'd never felt so bare and vulnerable. The table seemed like it was not only flat, but hyper flat -- I felt overextended with my big belly up in the air. When the doctor made the incision, I felt...something. Something like a crayon being lightly drawn across my skin. My doctor narrated as he went: Suctioning ... parting the abdominal muscles ... opening the uterus ... there's her bottom! Right in the wrong place! Then, the tugging began. I was strapped down, but still, the tugging bumped me around on the table. My daughter's head was wedged tightly up under my ribcage, not in an easy position to free. I'd never heard of forceps being used during a cesarean, but nevertheless, they were used in mine. The doctor reached inside with forceps -- oh, the pressure of this -- and pulled the baby's head out from under my rib cage, entirely releasing her from my body. 11:22 AM -- less than 20 minutes after entering the operating room, I was looking into the eyes of my daughter.

The doctor held her up over the edge of the tent: my perfect, tiny child. She was a purplish reddish white, squalling with outrage at the force of being taken from her coccoon. Flat on my back, with tears streaming from the corners of my eyes, I could see that she looked exactly like my baby pictures. But better. Quickly, she was wrapped in a soft blanket and placed closer to me while the doctor began repairing my body. I asked for the oxygen mask to be removed and I nuzzled her temple with my cheek and lips, allowing her warmth and tangibility to draw me out of my anxious haze.

Quickly -- too quickly -- she was dashed away down the hall to the nursery while my after-surgery cleanup was finished. If the moments after her birth were perfect and ethereal, the moments she was away from me were lonely and bleak. All the excitement left the room with her. My mom and brother -- with video camera in tow -- followed my baby to the nursery to get their fill of her. I was never so lonely and impatient to be in a different place and circumstance.

While I got put back together, which was accomplished within another 20 minutes, I heard that Justin had arrived. Eduardo had dropped him at the hospital doors moments earlier and he'd raced up to the 9th floor to reach the birthing unit. As soon as he pushed through the main doors, our family was waiting to lead him into the nursery to meet his daughter. He was afraid to touch her, after being penned up in planes and airports with germy strangers, and just stood by, soaking her up with new-dad eyes. He'd only missed the birth by about 20 minutes. The doctor later said that if he'd known Justin was able to make the 1 hour drive in under 30 minutes, he might have waited. It still terrifies me to think of how fast Eduardo drove him home.

Soon after, I was wheeled down the hallway past the nursery and Justin came out to walk beside me into our room. We hugged and held each other's faces, talking over one another in our excitement and apologies. He was sorry he didn't make it home in time; I was sorry my water broke too soon and I couldn't slow things down: unnecessary apologies for circumstances which were out of our control.

Our daughter followed moments later, while I was still entirely numb from the chest down. My body had begun shaking uncontrollably during my trip from the operating room to my private room, but as soon as the nurse handed me my swaddled baby, I calmed.

The shivering stopped.

My world shifted focus.

My life as a mother had begun.




Happy Birthday, Amelia Marie. You are a spectacular, extraordinary, beautiful little girl, and we love you so.

28 comments:

  1. Oh, she's so beautiful! Congratulations!

    I'm sorry your birth experience was so far outside of your control--and so different from what you had imagined--but, oh my goodness, she's beautiful.

    Lucky Justin. Lucky you.

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  2. Oh, you made me cry. My first birth was a c-section because my daughter was breech, too. I remember the tugging and the shaking and I can't imagine going through it without my husband there. But the reward was undoubtedly worth it. Happy birthday to Mia and happy birth day to you!

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  3. I literally gasped when I saw her picture. She is so so beautiful! Her lips! Oh!

    Sarah, thank you for sharing that! It was a perfect story!

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  4. Wow. What an incredible birth story! She was (and is still} beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  5. Worth the wait! Even though I knew it turned out well, it was still good to hear it. :)

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  6. I don't remember her being so small. I guess my image of her just grows with her. Looking at her newborn picture with grown up fingers next to her...it's hard to even think that this beautiful girl I hugged happy
    4th birthday earlier today began as that tiny bundle. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  7. Such an incredible story. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Great birth story! I can't imagine how disappointing it was for you to have to do it all without Justin. My husband was with me through my entire 36 hour labor. Though at times he was not much help, it was still wonderful knowing I was not alone.
    Don't feel bad about the long story-I took three enstallments to blog mine and it's not nearly as well written as yours. Mia was a beautiful baby, and so so tiny!

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  9. thanks for sharing...my epidural the last time also was misplaced and I felt the pain everywhere but one leg

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  10. Wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing! Beautiful picture and testiment to the idea that everything can go wrong and still turn out right.
    Happy Birthday Mia!!

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  11. What a Great Dramatic AND Beautiful Birth Story!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Mia is SO beautiful, that newborn pic made me just want to nuzzle those sweet sweet lips! Both of your girls are so pretty.

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  12. I kept holding my breath, will Justin make it?
    If this was the movies, he would've made it.
    What a great series. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Oh, Sarah, this made me tear up too. What a crazy set of circumstances! Can I just say, there was so much love in these installments. I could just feel the emotions... It reminds of what John Steinbeck called "The Song of the Family" in his novel, "The Pearl". Beautiful story, beautiful photo of Mia.

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  14. Such a sweet story! I love the way you told it.. she loves to hear it too I bet :)

    Happy Birthday! (aren't birthday's really for the mtoher's of the children anyway? They should be.)

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  15. What a beautiful story. I had no idea.

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  16. what an amazing story! she is so beautiful!

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  17. Well now that I have had my morning cry, I feel better :)

    Seriously, usually I'm fantasizing about having babies, but with your story I'm daydreaming about the actual birth!

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  18. oh my gosh, what a story and what a picture! How precious, that was wonderful to read!

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  19. An amazing and beautiful birth story. I could feel the loneliness along with you...and the joy at seeing her bundled up as you held her and your new life had begun. I am so glad Justin made it safely, yet so sorry for time you spent without him.

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  20. What a beautiful ending to an exciting story!! I loved reading this!

    And that picture at the end is absolutely PRECIOUS! Mia was as beautiful then as she is now!

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  21. What a great birth story, even if your husband didn't quite make it. And what a beautiful baby (and still beautiful!). :)

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  22. What a great story - I love birth stories! And oh that little picture - too sweet!

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  23. Even though I pretty much knew the story, I was still on the edge of my seat and was brought to tears. Even though it wasn't the way you'd imagined it is a beautiful story none the less! And I don't remember her being that tiny either, can't believe she is 4-Happy Birthday Mia!!!

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  24. Such a sweet picture! How much did she weigh...she looks so tiny? Happy Birthday to Mia!

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  25. So your brother gets a hero medal for staying strong through all of this. I don't know if my brother would be able to watch my surgeries. Your little girl is beautiful. And what a doctor!

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  26. Cortney - She was 6-3 at birth, but by the time this picture was taken a few days later, she'd gotten down to 5-11 or so.

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  27. Bella was breech too and I had to have a c-section. But I can't imagine having gone through it without my husband.

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?