Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Birthday

     Sorry this is going to be a very long post but it is for my memories as much as your reading pleasure. :) 

     The night before our big day, my husband and I decided to drive the hour and a half to where we would be delivering because of the huge snow storm that was heading our way. The last thing I wanted to have to worry about was trying to drive through a blizzard in the early morning hours. I knew it would he strange staying in a hotel my last night being pregnant, but I never imagined it would be as hard as it was. When we left, our son was in tears, begging to go with us. Trying to explain to him that it wasn't possible for him to go was a very emotional moment. Seeing him crying along with realizing that it was the last time I would hug my son as an only child was overwhelming. As my husband and I got in the car and started to pull out of the driveway, the flood gates opened and I cried the first twenty minutes of our drive. I was excited to finally meet our daughter, sad to leave my son and scared to death of the upcoming surgery. Pregnancy hormones on top of all that and the water works were inevitable.

     Anyway after finally checking into our hotel, Jeff and I decided to go on one last date night. We went out to dinner, hung out at the casino for a bit, did a little shopping and just enjoyed our time together. The night before her birth was like running a marathon with a gauntlet of emotions along the race track so once we got back to the hotel, I decided that I just wanted to soak in the tub. As I laid there in the hot water I could not help but to be sad to know that my time being pregnant would soon be over. Despite being sick the entire 39 weeks, having to deal with pelvic pain, ending up in the hospital and undergoing exploratory surgery, the Lovenox and Haprin injections, the needles from checking my blood sugar four times a day, along with everything else that accompanies pregnancy, I was still so sad to see it all end. I loved being pregnant. I loved my huge belly that would not fit behind most tables, I loved feeling her kick her feet into my ribs and I loved waking up to her rhythmic hiccups. I would miss knowing that she was safe and protected and I was sad to know that I would soon have to share her with the world.

     After my bath, I took some a few more belly pics then went to bed. I thought for sure that this being my second time around and knowing exactly what was going to happen, that I would somehow be more comforted and be able to fall right off to sleep, but I couldn't seem to shut off my brain long enough to get any real rest. .  

     Before I knew it, the phone rang. At first I was upset that someone would call this early in the morning, until I realized it was our wake up call. That seems so strange now, to get a wake up call from a complete stranger telling us that it was time to get up so that we could go to the hospital to have a baby. As I sat there filled with excitement that this was the day we would finally meet our precious baby girl, I found myself almost unable to move. I didn't want to make a single move without trying to remember what was happening around me. We had waited so very long to finally be at this moment again and I didn't want to forget a single second of it. 

     My husband realized that I was needing to take my time, as much as possible, so he took his shower first then went off to get himself breakfast. I was very appreciative that he decided to eat in the small dining room rather then bring his breakfast back to our room, knowing that I was unable to eat anything before surgery. While he was gone I took my time taking one last hot shower, trying to imprint the image of my big pregnant belly in my mind. It is strange to think of now, but at that moment I was so afraid I would forget what I looked like being pregnant, or that I would forget what it felt like to feel her move so close to my heart. 

     After Jeff got back, it was time to pack everything up and make the short drive over to the hospital. As soon as I stepped out of the hotel I was so thankful that we had decided to drive down the night before. The ground was covered in ice and a few inches of very slippery snow. The drive to the hospital would have normally taken about 15 minutes, but because of the weather it was closer to 45. Good thing we got up as early as we did. 

     Once there, Jeff dropped me off at the door so I could avoid walking in any of the mess outside. I went to registration and waited of him to join me with all of my bags and pillows. (Never again will I go into the hospital without my own pillows!) After getting all checked in, it was time to head up the the labor and delivery floor. This is when things really started to happen fast. 

     As soon as we walked through the L&D doors, we were taken right into a room where I was given a gown and asked to change and leave a urine sample. Thinking that we had plenty of time, putting on the gown really didn't invoke any major emotions. Had I realized just how fast it would all go, I think I would have been more nervous from the very start. 

     After putting on the gown, I was placed in the bed where I almost instantly had blood drawn, blood pressure and temperature taken and was asked what seemed like an endless list of questions. After that was finally done, the nurse got ready to place my IV. After giving ample warnings of my not so corporative
veins, she ensured me that she was very good and proceeded to completely miss her first and second attempts at even getting the needle in my hand.  After blowing any possible veins in my right hand, she finally called in  one of the anaesthesiologist and they were able to get my IV going. I thought the hard stuff was finally over, but I am not a very good judge of these things. Nope, instead the nurse asked me if she could see my "area" to make sure that it was trimmed well enough. I was going to omit this part of my experience, but heck, it's life. 

After hearing Jeff chuckle from the comfort of his chair, the nurse lifted my gown to inspect the "surgical site" and to my horror was told that it needed a little work. Come on lady, my belly is huge, I'm lucky that I can still see ANY of my "area" at all. I did my best to "prepare your surgical site," cut me some slack. Before I had a chance to really get embarrassed, she was right in there with the smallest electric razor I have every seen. While she was doing what she needed, I was making sure I was acting very adult about the situation. I was trying to turn my head and bury it into my pillow. I had no desire to watch her do anything to my surgical area,  but I was very thankful that she didn't ask Jeff to take care of it for me.

Soon after that, my doctor came in and went over the plans for the day. We talked about meeting the anaesthesiologist who would be doing my spinal, meeting the other nurses that would be in the OR, and finalizing our hopes at our birth plan. He also asked if Jeff and I were comfortable allowing a few student doctors in the room to watch our surgery. Knowing that I could help them learn something first hand and to witness their first live birth was very exciting so we both agreed. We ended up having three students in the room and I am happy to say that not one of them passed out or got sick. :) 

     Before he left to prep for our c-section, Jeff and I asked if it would be possible to video tape her actual birth. I hated feeling so disconnected with Tyson's birth and really hoped that being able to actually see her entrance into this world would help with that feeling. Luckily after asking the other members of the OR team, everyone agreed that we could record her birth. Not only did that go the way we had prayed, but we also found out that Jeff would be able to cut her cord (well more or less trim it once she was over in the warmer) and that I would also be able to nurse her in recovery. Already things were going 100% better than they had when I gave birth with my son. After that my doctor left the room to get ready while we waited to meet everyone else.

     Our anaesthesiologist was amazing and despite me breaking down in tears the moment he entered the room, he gave us plenty of time to ask questions and voice our concerns. My last 4 spinals had not gone well and during the last, I experienced a great deal of pain and a few complications. I tried so hard to focus on the fact that I would get to meet my daughter soon, but I was so engrossed in fear over the spinal that I couldn't even allow myself to be excited. The anaesthesiologist did his best to comfort me, but there wasn't much he could say at that point to make me feel any better. 

     Shortly after he left the room, it was go time. The nurse came in with the most disgusting drink that tasted almost like pure lemon juice with a hint of sour milk. I had it before with my son but forgot just how bad it was. Because I already suffer from acid reflux I knew there was no getting around it and got it down in one shot. Once that was done, I was on my feet for one last photo, a kiss from Jeff and out the door for the short walk across the hall to the OR.

     As soon as the cold from the OR hit me, so did the nerves. I once again started crying and this time I also started shaking uncontrollably. The nurses did their best to calm me, but the fears from my past experiences completely took over and the fear was the only thing I could concentrate on. 

     Once I was sitting on the table, the anaesthesiologist began to prepare my back. The iodine wash was very cold and made my back very sensitive to his every touch. The nurse in front of me asked me to tuck into as small of a ball as possible and allowed me to rest my head on her shoulder while another nurse held my hand. They were all so nice as they tried their best to distract me by asking questions about our baby. Was I having a girl or a boy? (Girl)  Did our baby have a name? (Not yet) Did our baby have any big brothers or sisters waiting at home to meet her? (A very excited big brother) As I tried to answer their questions, I heard the deep voice behind me telling me that he was about to start and no matter what, I had to do my very best not to move. Trying not to move when all you want to do is to jump off the table and run like hell isn't the easiest. At least not for me. 

     As I took as deep of a breath as I could, I could feel the cold needle slide into my back. Within seconds came the familiar burning feeling as the numbing medication flooded throughout my spine. I was so shocked  that he was able to get the first needle placed in one try that I didn't even notice that he had already placed the second larger one. As I was asking him if he got the first needle in where he needed, I felt the familiar tingling in my feet and legs. Not believing that it could have gone that perfectly, I almost yelled out to him, asking if it was all over. With a little laugh, he assured me that it was all over and that it couldn't have gone any better. Through relieved tears I told him that the first chance I got, I wanted to give him a hug! As they were laying me down, he came around to my head and shook my hand, saying that his wife wouldn't like him hugging another women. Everyone laughed and the mood in the room seemed to instantly lift. I was once again smiling and focusing on what mattered most, my daughter. 

     It didn't take long before the drapes were up, monitors placed around my chest and everyone taking their places. My doctor came into the room and told me that we would be starting any moment and that once they did, they would allow Jeff in to join me. It didn't seem like I had time to take a breath when he walked into the room. It was so strange, I still had the ability to move my feet, and yet I didn't feel the sharp knife sliding through my skin. Amazing things spinals are when they go right! 

     As Jeff sat beside me, holding my hand, we ran down our list of names one more time. Sill believing that I would be able to choose one as soon as I saw her, we waited for the doctor to give Jeff the OK to turn on the camera. I'm not sure if it was nerves, excitement or pure adrenalin, but I started to feel quite sick. At this point I could also feel the doctor and nurse pulling at my stomach getting ready to bring our daughter from the only home she has known and into a world of possibilities and love. Thankfully my new best friend. the anaesthesiologist, gave me something to calm my stomach and as soon as I started to feel better, the doctor called for Jeff to stand up and get the camera ready. Withing seconds I felt very strong pulling then heard the most amazing sound that I believe only a Mother can truly appreciate. Hearing your baby cry for the first time isn't a feeling that anyone could ever adequately put into words. It's a moment that you will never forget. It's a moment that your entire being is so filled with love, that I truly believe is the only moment the comes close enough on Earth for us to imagine how God feels about us all. It's a moment that I longed for and was finally here, she was here, she was crying and she was perfect!! As soon as she was out, the nurse brought her over for me to see before walking her over to the warmer. She was covered in vernix (vernix, is the waxy or cheese-like white substance found coating the skin of newborn human babies) and blood, but I hardly noticed any of it. I just saw this perfect little face and knew that I was instantly and irrevocably in love. 
Minutes old

      After they took her out of my view, Jeff was called over to be with her. I was so filled with emotion for him because he was denied these first precious moments with our son. Once by her side, he was able to take a few photos of our daughter before the nurse took the camera from him and captured the moment he was able to cut her cord. He always said that he never felt any strong emotions over not getting to do this with our son, but I believe that changed after he experienced it with her. I only wish I was able to actually see him, but because of the large blue drape, I could only hear his soft tears mixing with our daughters. I would share the photos from that moment along with the video of her birth, but it still feels too personal and I'm not quite ready to share that with the world just yet. 

     After a short time, I heard the nurse say "are you ready to go meet your Mommy?" and I knew she would soon be at my side. I wanted so much to be able to sit up on that table and hold her, but I knew that wasn't possible just yet. When Jeff finally walked her over, I once again felt warm tears flowing down my cheeks. This time they were tears of pure joy and overwhelming relief that she was alright. 

     I wasn't allowed to hold her, but Jeff held her close enough for me to touch her precious hands and kiss her sweet face. I could not believe how tiny she looked, so much smaller then her brother, so much smaller than any of us had expected. She was still covered in vernix and I was surprised to feel just how sticky it was, but it didn't stop me from kissing her as much as I could before she had to go to the nursery.
Meeting her for the first time.
     Soon it was time for Jeff to take her away and as much as I HATED having to see her go, I knew that it was too cold in the OR for her and that she needed a closer look over. Because c-section babies don't get that good squeeze, they often retain fluid in their lungs and this was the case with her. She was in no danger, but working a little harder then normal to breath.  

     After she left I remember someone asking me what I decided to name her and I honestly still had no idea. She looked so much like our son that it was almost like reliving his birth with the addition of so many positive aspects. I told them that I would try and decide when I got to really hold her and get to know her a little better. Until then I remember laying on the table with my arms out to the sides and staring at the monitors and that big blue sheet in front of me. It seemed to take hours for the doctor to close me up, I just wanted to be with my baby again. While I was laying there listening to the doctor talk to the nurse and others in the room I remember feeling like this immense heaviness that I didn't even know was there started to lift off of me. I began to feel lighter and lighter and at first I was afraid something was wrong, but after a quick reassurance from the doctor, I realized that it was the weight of the stress and fear that I had been holding onto the entire 39 weeks. I no longer had to worry about going in for an ultrasound and not seeing her precious little heart beating. I no longer had to worry about that gut wrenching pain when I didn't feel her move. I didn't have to beg God every day to allow me to keep this baby in my arms and not have to look up to the stars to feel close to her. I was able to finally thank God with my entire soul that she was hear and that she was alive and ours to keep. The realization that I could finally allow those fears to go was so mentally and physically strong that I felt as though the new tears flowing from my eyes would never stop. My doctor was wonderful and almost seemed to know what I was thinking and looked behind the drape to once again tell me that she was perfect and that I could finally stop worrying.

     Finally after what seemed like half a life time, the doctor said I was finished. They slid me from the OR table onto a bed and wheeled me into recovery. My recovery nurse was so amazing and I wish I could remember her name. She was exactly what I needed in those first few hours. She was kind, she was gentle and she honest. 

     After my doctor came in to tell me that everything went better than he had imagined (no extra bleeding due to the Heprin) he said he would be back after the weekend to check on me, if I was still there. He also explained that I would have to stay in recovery until I started regaining feeling and movement in my legs, but he would make sure that Jeff and my daughter could join me as soon as possible. After he left, my wonderful nurse set about her work. She checked my vitals and checked to make sure my uterus was contracting and not becoming "boggy" or soft. To do this she had to push hard on my uterus and I will not lie, it hurts, A LOT! Each time she would check the firmness of my uterus, she would also check on how much I was bleeding. Everything was looking great so she finally called the nursery and said it was OK for Jeff and our daughter to come down. 

     Again the moments passed way too slowly, but soon the door opened and there was Jeff. My heart jumped into my throat when I saw that he didn't have our daughter, but moments later a nurse brought her in. Jeff had told them in the nursery that I wanted to strictly breastfeed and she was there to help me get started. I was amazed because when I had my son, they handed him to me and left the room, leaving me to try to figure out how to nurse for the first time on my own. I honestly think if I had more or really any help during those first few days, I wouldn't have given up so quickly with my son. 

     Anyway, the nurse finally put her in my arms and helped me to latch her. She latched like a pro and started eating right away. I felt this amazing since of peace as I held her for the first time and fed her. It was an instant bond and one I didn't want to end. Unfortunately I was only able to nurse her and hold her for a short time. My recovery nurse suggested it was time for a few photos because she may need to go back to the nursery sooner then expected. Moments earlier she once again checked my fundus (uterus) but this time it was no longer nice and firm. As she slowly massaged my stomach to try to get it to firm back up, Jeff and I took our first photos as a family. After the second picture the nurse said it was time for the baby to go back. She then asked Jeff if he wanted to go with the baby or stay with me. She also stated that she wasn't panicking, but that she was getting very concerned. My uterus was getting boggy and I was bleeding heavily. I told Jeff that I was fine and that I wanted him to go back with the baby. I couldn't stand the idea of her being alone, even for a moment. Jeff didn't tell me until later, but he never realized there was a problem until after I was settled into my room. 

     After Jeff left, my nurse paged for my doctor to come back and asked another nurse to come into the room. The second nurse checked me and I was bleeding a lot more then normal and that things needed to happen fast. My recovery nurse then came so she could speak directly to me and said that what was going to happen next was going to be very painful, but had to be done. She said she would hold my hand and explained that the nurse that she called into the room was going to have to massage my uterus as hard as she could to try to stimulate it to contract. If this didn't work then I would have to go back into surgery right away. My recovery nurse then grabbed my hand and told me to cry if I needed. She also told me that we were still not to the point of panic, but we needed to do this now. I closed my eyes and prayed to God that everything was going to be alright. I begged him not to let anything happen to me. I didn't come this far and go through so much to be taken away from my babies. To be taken away from my son who for the past 7 years I lived and breathed for and away from my daughter that I loved with all my heart even though we barely met was not an option. This couldn't be happening. As she held my hand,and while I prayed with all my soul, the second nurse leaned into my stomach as hard as she could, massaging my uterus. The pain was intense and since the spinal was wearing off, I felt her pull at my incision with every push to my stomach. I couldn't stop the cries from escaping and even though I tried my best to keep it together, I was terrified. It was my recovery nurse who calmed me down and got me through it. She never stopped talking to me or explaining what was going on. Finally the doctor ran back into the room and after both he and the nurse worked on my stomach, my uterus finally started to contract on it's own. After the doctor checked the amount of blood loss, I was told that he didn't think it was necessary for me to have a transfusion, but I would have to be watched very closely. It was such a scary situation and I am so thankful for that nurse for being honest with me and never once feeling like I didn't know what was going on. 

     After another hour, I was finally taken down to my room where I stayed for the next three days. The room where I really got to bond with my daughter, the room where my son met his sister for the first time and the room where my parents finally met their 8th grandchild, but I'll save that for another post. 
Finally in my arms to stay.

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