It was May 28, 2010 and I was 36 weeks pregnant. The alarm went off and Gus, my husband, turned it off and turned to me smiling. We had our OB appointment first thing that morning and we really should get out of bed and get going. Instead we laid there a bit longer joking with each other and talking about how excited we were for these next few weeks and our journey through labor and into parenthood. We had taken childbirth classes and saw ourselves working through my contractions as a team. It was very special to both of us; we talked about it all the time. The nursery was prepared and we were so ready to be parents. We were running late and so we decided that right after our appointment we would treat ourselves to a late breakfast and I threw on my purple maternity dress and waddled out the door with him by my side.
I expected a very boring appointment. I just knew this pregnancy was not over yet. I had what my OB called “mild toxemia” and was very swollen and but all in all I felt confident. Saying I was swollen was an understatement! Anything that touched me left a crater in my skin. I figured it was normal. I had recently gone to triage due to some dizziness and tunnel vision but they released me saying I was ok and to drink more water and rest. I had also been put on bed rest only to be taken off again. We went in and had the usual appointment until the very end when he brought up our triage. He took my blood pressure and told me that I had preeclampsia.
It was funny because the nurse practioner was the only one who had took my complaints of being swollen and dizzy seriously. When my OB was gone on vacation she had been the one who had assigned mild bed rest and helped me find the simplest ways to remedy it, she had also had me take the 24 hour urine test so we could catch everything early to avoid complications. My OB had come back and basically laughed at me and told me I was fine and nothing was wrong. It was two conflicting opinions. But now he was saying that the thing that he had scoffed at was getting worse? I braised myself for news that I would be back on bed rest.
He pulled out his tape recorder and said into it “patient has developed pre eclampsia and will have a C-section today” and smiled at me in this way that said I should be excited and went to walk out. He did not say a single word to me about it, he just talked into that tape recorder. I barely caught what he said. I started crying and called after him that I did not want a C-section. He turned around looking annoyed and looked over to my husband who looked terrified and asked him if he wanted me to die. My husband busted out crying and I just sat there looking shocked and sobbing. He went on to say that I could have a seizure and I asked him for more details on what was happening and he just responded that I should not be selfish and should be happy, that he would see us in a minute in his office. He walked out leaving us shocked.
Hours and hours of natural birth classes and planning no longer mattered. Did I really need the C-section? A week ago he told me that the issues were in my head and now he was saying I could die? We cried and my husband helped me get dressed between one of us breaking down again. I was scared. How sick was I? Why could I die? Is my baby ok? Why were my questions not being answered?
The nurse came in and took me to an office where they wanted me to sign some papers. My husband asked if we could talk to the doctor some more first. The lady just looked at me and told me to be excited, I would meet my baby today; she said a healthy baby is all a good mom cares about. I remember thinking in the back of my head that of course a healthy baby is what I wanted, but I wanted to know what was happening to. I signed that paper, what else could I do.
I asked to see my nurse practioner and she was out of town. I did not trust the doctor, I trusted her. I had seen her more than the OB through the pregnancy and she was always great at explaining things and helping me find more natural ways of going about things. I wanted to know what she thought. We went into the doctor’s office and he told me that he wanted me to walk to the hospital across the street and to check in. I asked him if he could let me know my options and he said that he could induce me but that it was pointless because why would I want to have a hard birth when I could just have a safe surgery. I told him we had a plan and I can accept change but I need details and he just looked at me and said I would be having the C-section. I gave up, maybe I needed it. I did not know. I felt defeated. I just wanted someone to explain to me and no one would.
We walked to the hospital and the next few hours were a blur. They started me on MAG and I was an emotional wreck. My husband sat by me and cried, begged me not to die. It was very scary and I looked in his eyes and told him we would have the baby soon. I knew he was more scared then he had ever been in his life. A doctor had just asked him if he wanted me to die, he was horrified and scared.
The MAG was horrible to be on and by the time 4:30 rolled around I felt so horrible and out of it that I could not think straight. They made my husband wait in the room and took me to the room where I was told they would perform my surgery. They sat me on a table and gave me the epidural. The needle entering my spine made me twitch and I started throwing up. I felt so odd. Was it the MAG, the epi, nerves, both? I wanted my husband.
Finally my husband came in. His face was covered with the mask and his long hair was in the cap. He sat down next to me with tears in his eyes and I tried to tell him that I loved him but I threw up instead. He did not even look grossed out, he just held my hand and told me he loved me.
My arms were strapped down. I could not remember when this happened. The cloth wall was so high I could not see anything. I want to see my baby come out. Will I get to see the baby? I kept asking. No one would tell me. My husband kissed my cheek and told me we could do this. Everything was a blur. The doctors were talking about weekend plans. I was like a game of operation, not a human. I remember thinking that this was supposed to be my beautiful birth and they were talking about weekend plans. My OB was going to go hunting this weekend. He was describing a deer kill in great detail. I felt sick. Were they cutting? No one told me a thing. I asked Gus if he could see and he said no. Suddenly I heard a sound and a group of nurses rushed in.
I could not hear anything it seemed. Why did those nurses rush in? Is he ok? Is he out. I did not know. It seemed like forever before a nurse came over and told me my son was beautiful. Then my ears seemed to open and I heard a cry. I started crying. PURE RELIEF. I want to see him I called out. Please don’t clean him just yet… just let me see him I begged. The nurse just said they had cleaned him awhile back and told Gus to follow her. Awhile back? How long had he been out? Why can I not see my baby?
Gus had the camera and took pictures for me. Looking back at them Raz looks so scared. But then Gus touched him and got to talk to him and suddenly the pictures are of a perfectly peaceful baby. I never got to see it but I got to see the pictures and I know our son was scared without us but became peaceful when he heard his Daddy’s voice. Those long conversations Gus had with my belly must have paid off, he knew who his Daddy was by his voice.
Gus rushed back over and said that he had my nose and cheeks. This was so special because in our wedding vows Gus told me he wanted to have babies with my nose and cheeks.
I don’t remember much at this point. I know I threw up again. I guess they moved me to the transport bed. I know Gus wanted me to see the baby but I could not yet. Finally they laid this bundle of blankets on my chest. I looked down and there was my baby! I started crying. I held him and could barely process it. I just stared at him and cried. He was beautiful. His big eyes stared into mine, he knew who I was.
Later that day my OB popped in and told me he had given me an inverted T incision on my uterus and that I would never have a natural birth and he would want my section done by 36 weeks if I choose to have more kids. He left me crying without another word.
The next few days were a blur. I was still on MAG and other medications that made me drowsy. I could not eat or get out of bed. They would not let me go to maternity and left me downstairs where the sick and pregnant patients were. The nurses were not used to having new moms in the ward and would come in and yell at me for everything I did. They wanted me to keep the baby in the nursery and I refused. We spent a day or two fighting with them and begging them to leave us alone with our baby. I was stuck in the bed and still throwing up.
My mom arrived a few days later just in time to see me taken off of MAG and get moved to the maternity ward. I was so ready to go home but I could not be released just yet. I was finally allowed to get out of bed and it was a lot easier to keep Raz near us. They said I could not eat just yet and I was so hungry. It still did not feel real.
I woke up with Raz early the next morning; the sun was not up yet. A nurse came in and looked at my chart and asked if I had eaten yet. I told her no and started crying. I told her I was so hungry and she held my hand and told me that they were going to allow me to eat later that day. She then smiled and told me if I could keep a secret she could find me something to eat. She was so sweet; I will never forget how a little kindness could go so far. She was the only nurse who I felt cared and she brought me a turkey sandwich. It was the first food I had ate in days. To this day I swear I have never had anything better.
I had Raz asleep in the boppy right in front of me. I just ate my sandwich and watched him sleep. Gus was asleep and I just started crying pure happy tears. It was like I was meeting Raz for the first time. I was so happy and I took off his t-shirt and diaper and counted his toes and just held him against me bare chest just like you are supposed to do after birth. I kissed him and told him I loved him more than I have ever loved anyone and that I was his mama and I would never stop loving him. I told him I was sorry that I had not been myself those first few days but I was now and I would never let anyone take him ever again. It was like I was meeting him for the first time. When I think about the happiest moment of my life that is what pops up. Not when he was born but those few days after where I think me (as a mom) was born and I really just GOT IT. No meds and no fighting, just me and him. In my heart that will be his birth story because that is when our relationship was born.
We watched the sun rise out of the hospital window until Gus woke up. He sat in the bed next to us and we started our road to being a family.