Sometimes it doesn’t seem real. There is a tiny little man in a crib in the nursery and still sometimes I question – did this really happen? I have a feeling, every once in a while, that “they” are going to come and take him away. “They” will know that I do not deserve this tiny miracle, that I am unworthy, that I will definitely completely fuck this kid up and “they” will come correct this situation.
Less than three weeks ago Dork Dad and I were at Dr. Bridget’s office for my weekly checkup. I was reviewing my list of things that we needed to get done before the baby came and silently panicking because I felt so crappy and I knew there was no way that everything would get finished in two weeks. There was no way we would be ready.
My blood pressure was elevated and there was protein in my urine. They put me on bedrest and sent me home to do a 24 hour urine test. I tried not to panic. I tried not to let Dork Dad see how panicked I was. What if something was wrong with the baby. Had I been sleeping on my back too much? We both knew I hadn’t been exercising. Shit! I was already a horrible mother and he wasn’t even born. That was Tuesday.
On Wednesday I left the couch only to pee and to get food. I tried to ignore how messy the house was. I tried to ignore the list of things left undone. I tried to ignore the massive fatigue and the feeling of being swollen to bursting all over my body.
Thursday morning there was blood work and more bad news. We were going straight to the hospital for ‘observation’. We shouldn’t worry. Dr. Bridget just wanted to make sure that everything was ok. If everything had been even close to ok we wouldn’t have been heading to the hospital, but I tried to let that go.
Now all I could think about was when to let my family and DD’s family know. I focused on that and on the paperwork, not on all the things that could be going wrong with my baby and my body. There was no fear because I refused to acknowledge it. For someone who has let fear rule her life in far too many instances to count this was a revelation.
I don’t remember much of the two days before I gave birth. I don’t remember when the decision was made to try and induce instead of continuing to “observe”. I do remember that getting the vaginal suppository that was supposed to soften my cervix was absolute hell. It scraped and burned going in and continued to burn for the two hours that I lay in bed crying and having to pee more urgently than I ever had in my life. Eventually the nurse removed it. She said she’d let me rest before putting in another and that was when the fear came rushing back over me. There was no way that I could do this. If I couldn’t even handle the medicine that was supposed to start my labor – how was I supposed to handle actual labor? Then the first miracle – I was having contractions. I didn’t feel them, but they were happening regularly and so I couldn’t get the suppository. I thanked God.
My memory skips over to getting the epidural. Fear again, of the huge needle I had seen in birth class, of the fact that something was going into my spine, of the fact that this made it all real. I was having this baby. A slight prick and burn, then numbness. I didn’t notice the numbness spread from just above my waist down to my toes until my nurse came in to insert the catheter. By this point there was pitocin, the epidural, the saline IV and something else to keep my BP down – I can’t remember what that was. It was early Friday morning and I was pretty out of it.
At some point my mom showed up. She brought DD food and they stepped outside to eat. He had been looking more and more drawn and scared and I wanted him to get a break. I wasn’t scared – that’s the great thing about being out of your mind on a drug combo. Dr. Bridget came in and told me that in 12 hours I had dialated only 1.5 cm. My body was working too hard and nothing was happening. I could either have a C-Section or try to tough it out for another hour or two. I decided to try and tough it out – but there was a part of me that heard C-Section and just gave in. No labor pain, no labor scariness, no screaming and no fear. Just a numbness continuation and then a baby. All I remember thinking clearly was. “I just want my baby”.
Trying to explain to mom and DD when they got back that I’d probably have a C-Section soon was hard through my fuzzy brain. Test results came back and then we weren’t going to get to wait the full 2 hours. Another doctor was going to perform the surgery, my mom left to get DD’s mom from the airport and I stayed in fuzz-land. My main worry was that I would feel the doctors cutting into me. It was an irrational and MAJOR fear. I focused on it. Held tight to it and thought of nothing else.
In the OR I was pumped full of more drugs and transferred onto the operating table. Everything was surreal and felt like being on a TV show. DD’s face over the mask was calm, but his eyes looked scared. I asked him to stroke my hair like he always used to when I was upset – it gave us both something to do. The pulling feelings that I had been warned about only added to the surreality of the moment and to my feeling of being disconnected.
And then there he was. I heard his cry and they brought this tiny, tiny little man up to see me. In my mind I reached for him, but my arms didn’t move. I told DD to go with him. Someone had to give my baby hugs since I couldn’t.
Back in the hospital room my mom and DD’s mom came in. At some point I was told that Andrew wasn’t breathing well and that he might have an infection. He was only 5 lbs, 12 oz – smaller than he had been a week ago. I asked how much I should worry and was told not to worry at all, so I didn’t. I didn’t have the energy or brain power to process what was happening. I pumped formula for DD to feed our baby, I slept and in some part of my brain I wondered why I couldn’t be with him but I couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on.
Finally on Saturday they brought him to me. This tiny, squirmy man was all mine. I laid him on my heart and looked down at him and introduced myself. The fog had cleared enough by then that I could feel the weight of that moment and I cried.
“Hi Andrew, I’m your Mama.”