A Baby Story: Part III

I think I’m one of those people that doesn’t process emotions well. What does the face of a mom whose baby has stopped growing and is going to have an emergency c-section look like? I just kept looking at Clark with nervous laughter. What’s going on right now? I was so thankful for our doctor in that moment. He laid his hands on us and prayed over us and Charlee Kate for a safe and fast delivery and a healthy baby. How many gynecologists do that?

When he left the room, I stopped trying to process and started making phone calls. I called my school first and explained that I was going to need a sub today. And many more days hereafter. Then, I called the other coaches so that one of them would go watch my 2nd period class until the sub showed up. I tried not to think about the fact that I had no lesson plans for a sub or that my classroom was a mess or that my 6th period class was horrible, terrible, horrible, awful, horrible for subs and that I hadn’t been able to threaten them beforehand. I can’t control it. Bigger fish to fry. Can’t worry about it. Get over it. I didn’t want to call my family yet. I thought I might cry, and I didn’t want to cry. This was going to be a happy day, not sad.

As we walked out of the office, Clark grabbed my hand and squeezed it. We stepped into the elevator, and I started to tear up. It was as if the elevator signified the beginning of a very long journey and I was saying to myself, “Alright. Here we go….” She’s fine. Her organs are good. Her heart rate is good. She’s good. She’s just little. I can do little.

So we just started talking logistics. Who do we need to call? What do we need to do? Did he need to go to the apartment and get anything? Shoot, I don’t know. What do good, prepared moms that pack a bag at 30 weeks take to the hospital? Um. Underwear? All I could think of was the camera. Get the camera.

We walked out of the elevator and sat on the benches in the lobby to call our families. I attempted to be calm as I called my mom, but I knew she could hear the fear in my voice. If she had any stress or anxiety, she hid it well. “Alright. Alright. Okay. Don’t worry. I will call everyone. I’ll be there in 10 minutes. Are you okay?” “I’m okay.” And I was. This was going to be okay. I was going to meet my daughter today.

After we checked in and got settled into the room, Clark left to pack a bag and my mom, Jenna, and Ellie arrived along with some sweet friends soon after. Matt was working and dropped by to ask if I’d like him to assist in the C-section. No thanks, bro. (He was joking.)

I actually began to get a little excited. Nervous, yes. Anxious, yes. But it was the weirdest thing to watch the clock, knowing that in 45 minutes…. 30 minutes…. 10 minutes… my baby is going to be outside of me.

The spinal tap was weird. The first time he tried to insert the needle I felt a sharp pain and my entire right leg jumped/convulsed. “Did you feel that?” he asked. Um, nope. My body usually spasms like that. Second time was more successful and then immediately my body went numb. Like NUMB NUMB. I felt like a floating head. Clark stayed at my head, wisely, and said later that he saw a lot of blood out of the corner of his eye at one point and decided that was as much as he was going to see.

It was so fast. My doctor said my incision was the smallest he’d ever made because he knew she wouldn’t need much of an exit door. I felt pressure and then… I heard her screams. That’s a good sign, right? He held her up over the curtain and tears filled my eyes. I tried to take a mental picture. She was tiny. But just as soon as I was starting to feel all those first-time-mom-feelings, she was gone. And then Clark left with her. I didn’t get to hold her. Or touch her. Or feed her.

You know all those stories you hear about the experience of childbirth and the feeling of pure joy and fulfillment once the baby is out and how they just immediately fell in love like they’ve never been in love before? It wasn’t that. It was so strange. I guess I’d use the analogy of a movie. You start to watch it and all of the sudden, 10 minutes into it, the climax hits. And it’s over. But you weren’t ready for the climax. You hadn’t been invested in the story enough. It had just begun to build up. I was left lying on a hospital bed, alone, except for a few doctors, unable to move with a strange pressure in my chest and a dizziness in my head. I felt like passing out. It was like I didn’t work for it. I didn’t labor at all, so I didn’t have that feeling of satisfaction, seeing the rewards of my labor. It wasn’t birth as much as it was extraction.

I know there’s a million women who have had a c-section, many of them emergency, many not expecting to have their baby when they did. So I’m not trying to dramatize something that millions have done. But there is definitely a part of me that is afraid I’ll never get to feel what it’s like the other way around.

I wouldn’t trade Charlee’s birth story for anything. What I experienced through her wild entrance into this world can’t be put into words. I cherish her and the way I met her. I am so thankful that I got those extra weeks with her and was the mother of a true infant for an even longer time than most. What I didn’t experience through childbirth, I think I made up for in all the weeks she was in the NICU learning to breathe on her own and gaining weight. I gained an appreciation for new life that I’m not sure you can acquire without having gone through something similar.

This post is so long.

I got on a tangent.

Back to the story…

Eh. I’ll just finish later. That’s enough for now.

A Baby Story: Part II

If you missed part one, scroll down. I’m too lazy to post a link. And you’re lazy if you can’t scroll down.

We have arrived at the 35 week appointment…

This is me three days before my 35 week appointment.

Now, I am not a fan of posting belly pics for all the world to see. If you are a belly pic poster, more power to you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t or that it’s gross or that prego bellies aren’t beautiful. That is just a personal preference for my own belly. However, I want to point out the size of my belly at 35 weeks along. I never felt like I was big enough or that SHE was big enough. Everyone would say, “Your tummy is tiny. You’re so lucky!” Which was totally meant to be a compliment. But I didn’t feel lucky. I always felt stressed that she wasn’t growing because of the SUA.

WELL.

My appointment was at 8 AM. Like I said before, all my prior appointments had confirmed that Charlee Kate was the most perfect baby ever, so I expected nothing less at this one. Clark met me there and we began the ultrasound. The doctor was quiet for a long time, which some might interpret as ominous; I ignorantly interpreted it as relaxing. I had come straight from early morning practice with some of the most precious, awesome, loudmouthed seventh graders on the planet. I was relishing the silence. Then he was done. I cleaned off my tummy and sat up.

And this is what he said:

We might want to start looking at getting this baby out. 

That was how he opened. I’m sure of that because I remember thinking, “That’s how you’re going to start?” He just said it. Very calmly. Like it wasn’t going to blow my mind. Like I was expecting that to come out of his mouth.

This is where the details start to get hazy. I wish I was the type of person that could remember conversations verbatim, but that’s very much not so. This, added to the fact that my brain shut down upon hearing that statement, means the following will be mostly made up. I’m going to take a stab at it though.

Me and/or Clark: Okay. What do you mean?

Dr. M: Well, she doesn’t seem to have grown in the last two weeks. I’ve double checked and triple checked my measurements and she is measuring several weeks smaller than she should be, about 4 lb. and 18 inches. I will call your doctor (he was just my ultrasound doctor, not my OBGYN) and we will discuss your options. If she’s not growing, it’s much better and safer to get her out now than to leave her where she’s not being nourished.

That was the cliftnotes version, because the conversation was longer than that. I know I said more than 5 words.

So we drove across the street to my OBGYN, whom we love, to have this conversation…

Dr. T: So I guess he explained what we were looking at…

Me: He said we might want to look at getting her out sooner rather than later.

Dr. T: Right. You are far enough along that this is not high risk. And I feel really good about it. You will both be fine. We could wait until you’re further along, but the longer we wait, the more stressed the baby will be and we don’t want a stressed baby.

This phrase “a stressed baby” was used several times. But I wasn’t sure what exactly he meant by stressed. I got stressed like before I took a test or when I was getting pulled over by a cop. The stress just made me eat a lot or my stomach hurt. What would a stressed baby be like? I began imagining Charlee Kate coming out screaming bloody murder for the first year of her life. Not interested.

Me: So, like… what do I need to do between now and then? Do I need to go on bed rest? Can I go back to school this week? 

Dr. T: Wellll… (with a smirky look on his face) what are y’all doing for lunch?

Me: Like, TODAY?

Dr. T: Like in a couple hours. I’m thinking the faster, the better. You can just walk across the street and check in right now.

Now? Now now? Right now? So, obviously, my stress level peaks at that moment. At no point had the word “emergency” popped into my head. Either the doctors were doing a great job of explaining everything calmly, or I was terrible at reading between the lines.

My mind begins to race. I don’t have a bag packed at home. I haven’t read all my baby books. My kids at school don’t have a teacher. My mom is gonna freak. Clark’s family won’t make it in time. Is Charlee going to be okay? Is she going to be okay? She’s going to be okay, right?

A Baby Story: Part 1

This is one of those posts just for me. And maybe eventually for Charlee to read. But feel free to join me in my reminiscing. Just keep in mind that it’s mostly words, not many pictures.

I know my memory and am pretty sure the following story will only be 90% true. Not because I’m lying or exaggerating, but because I can’t remember it well enough anymore since it didn’t happen 2 hours ago so I’ll write what I’m pretty sure happened.

THIS is the story of Charlee’s premature entrance into this world…

First off. Charlee was not supposed to happen. 🙂 I may or may not have said something that sounded a lot like “sheet” when I saw the pregnancy test (my mom is going to be really disappointed in me). I TOTALLY did NOT think I was pregnant when I took the test. My fellow life group girls convinced me I should take one, so as to appease them, I went ahead and did it. As I was just chatting with my friend Alyson on the phone, I casually walked into the bathroom to throw away the test. Upon picking it up, I screamed the aforementioned word, proceeded to melt against the bathroom wall and slid to the ground in a heaping mess. This was not supposed to happen. We are poor. We are young. We are unprepared. I wanted to go to EUROPE! I can’t take a baby to Europe! This was so not the plan. God is funny that way.

To my surprise, the idea of having a baby actually grew on me. And grew in me. At our 20 week appointment, we had our big sonogram to find out the sex of the baby and all the other important checks that the doctor has to do to make sure the baby is growing accordingly. When we walked in, the technician said, “Do y’all want to know the sex?” I said, “Well, my husband does, but I don’t want to know.” We were going to have a reveal party that weekend and I wanted to find out with my friends and family. She seemed to understand the statement, but after digging around for the baby parts (or lack thereof) she announced, “Well, it’s definitely a girl!” What the what? Seriously woman? I looked at Clark, and with some attempts at discretion, asked him with my eyes, “Did she not understand? What part of what I said was unclear? Can we start this appointment over?” But in my passive aggressiveness, smiled, laughed and said, “Yay!” Idiot. I really was excited it was a girl… but it was hard to be excited and frustrated at the same time.

Then the actual doctor walked in to do the rest of the tests, basically just to make sure that all the major organs look good. For about 15 minutes he rubbed ALL over my belly with the ultrasound wand thingy and typed things into his fancy computer. He’d zoom in and out and all around and would occasionally say reassuring things like, “Heart rate looks good…” or “Lungs are working fine.” But towards the end, he seemed to be silent for a while. Eventually, he wiped me down and helped me sit up, cleared his throat and informed us that something wasn’t quite right.

He called it a single umbilical artery (SUA) and assured us that it wasn’t that big of a deal, it just meant that we would get to have a lot more sonograms than we normally would “which is fun!” I could tell he’d done this before. Here’s the gist: in the umbilical cord, there should be two arteries and one vein. The blood goes in through the vein and out through the arteries between the placenta and the baby. He kept telling us that of all abnormalities, this is VERY common and the majority of the time there is ZERO effect on the baby. However, there is a small chance that it could cause problems with certain organs (liver, heart, intestines, kidneys) and that the baby could have low birthweight so we will just have to monitor the baby closely throughout pregnancy.

It seemed like a somewhat unsuccessful appointment altogether. Dumb technician. Dumb umbilical cord.

So we had countless appointments to get ultrasounds. Everything looked “perfect” every single time. He kept saying, “It doesn’t look like the single artery is affecting the baby at all.” I’m not really a stresser, and I see this as a blessing. I tend to ere on the side of “everything is going to be fine.” SO throughout the process, I was never really that worried about it and assumed that I would have a wonderful, blissful childbirth with an epidural and no pain and no screaming and a perfect baby and happy tears.

Then, at 35 weeks, we had our final appointment…

and I’ll write about what happens next soon. I’ve already written a novel and that little munchkin baby just woke up from a nap.