Monday, May 23, 2011
Motherhood Monday: Baby Claires Birth Story
Claire's birth story didn't exactly pan out the way I had planned, but then again when does anything go according to plan with kids? I had dreamed of blissful post birth days blogging about my all natural midwife led birth...and then reality slapped me in the face. HARD. Nothing about Claire's birth went as planned, nothing. I wasn't even sure I would be able to type this out, but this blog is also a personal record for myself to look back on and one day share with the Bug. The story as painful as it is is part of Claire and I's journey together.
So as you all know I was scheduled for a C-Section at 37 weeks due to a low lying placenta and some vaginal bleeding. So along come may 17th, Claires birthday. Ryan and I are jittery, excited and full of wonder about what is going to take place. As we walk (I waddled) through the hospital doors and up to the maternity floor Ryan looks at me and asks how I am feeling, I told him I felt like it was Christmas morning.
We check in, get our pre-surgical room and I get into an oh so fashionable hospital gown, Still full of excitement the nurse comes in and tells me she is going to administer my IV for fluids and antibiotics. No problem I say, I have had lots of IV's as I get regular vitamin IV treatments....a walk in the park I am thinking. WRONG. Here is a little tip for you all: do not look at the size of the needle the are about to put into you. It will scare the shit out of you. It was SO BIG. I am really not exaggerating, it was huge and hurt like a mo fo! Problem is I have tiiiiiiiiiny veins, minuscule, itsy bitsy, chicken veins. So she the first one didn't work, she had to try again....she was so rough I nearly blacked out. Once it was all said and done I looked at Ryan who has had two major surgeries and said "Please tell me I am not being a baby! That really hurt!" He assured me that pre-surgical IV's are a total bitch and I felt a bit better...but my anxiety was reving now and I was fully aware of the reality of the situation. I was NOT getting my natural birth, and things were only going to get more medical.
My surgery had to be performed down in the formal OR area, not on the Labour and Delivery floor because my risk of bleeding out was too great. Walking down the hall and into that OR room was like living someone elses life. This isn't happening to me, this is a movie, or a dream, any minute now I am going to wake up. Nope. Bright lights, huge machines, beeping sounds...full on, this is real, this is happening. I am now scared shitless and at this point Ryan is asked to leave the OR room until my spinal has been administered. As I watch him leave I realize just how scared I am, as does one of the nurses who actually advocates for me to the anesthesiologist to let him stay (BLESS HER HEART!) but nope, he has to wait. Well at that moment in walks my one of my midwives and my heart just soared with gratitude. She took my hands, looked me right in the eye and told me it was ok to be scared, to go to my happy place. She took me through some guided imagery as the spinal was administered and once I was lying down and numb she never once let go of my hand. Ryan was allowed back in the room and he took my face in his hands, told me he loved me, and never looked away from me once. Although I was still scared I felt empowered having them by my side and I was ready to meet my baby! The surgery was about to start!
C-sections are horrible. I am not going to lie. Some of you reading this may have had one and had a different experience, and I am glad you did....but in my opinion...C-Sections are horrible. You are totally numb from the chest down but you can feel every tug, yank and pull as they move your organs around, separate your stomach muscles and pull out your baby. The feeling of pressure is unbelievable, and you have no idea what is happening behind that blue screen. Every time the blue screen so much as twitched I was staring at it, trying to get some sort of grasp on what was happening, but I only got more and more panicky. Ryan gently turned my head, stared me hard in the eyes, told me not to look away and sang my song. It the "I love you Kami song" and he has sung it to me whenever I was sad or blue our entire relationship....I immediately felt grounded and calm and PREASSURE...the baby was coming now. I could feel it. Suddenly there she was, my baby. Being carried over to the pediatricians exam table and all i could see was a tiny foot. Ryan went to go and be with the baby as they did the exam and exclaimed "Its a Claire!" I did it, I got my wish, I got my little girl!
But she wasn't crying, and looked really grey, and I still couldn't see her.....my excitement was turning to worry and I just wanted my baby now! When she finally did cry it triggered the BIGGEST emotional response of my entire life, and Ryanswas the most beautiful moment of my life. My Claire. She was with me at last and I stared at her in wonder. Claire needed some extra care and was sent up to the neonatal intensive care unit and I was left behind to be sewn up and to recover. Ryan went with Claire to comfort her and my midwife stayed with me....thank God I had the two of them.
Once I was all sewn up I had to go to surgical recovery to wait for the spinal to wear off. That was the most torturous hours of my life! My baby was in the same building as me but so far away! I kept asking if I could go yet, and they kept testing my legs with ice for sensation "A little while yet Kami, don't worry Claire is safe" So I waited. And waited. I stared at my legs willing them to feel and chanted "Claire" over and over and over and over again in my head. It was my mantra. Her name got me through it, kept me calm and focused. Finally once the freezing was below my ribs, and I could wiggle my toes I was allowed to go see my baby!
Now this part of the story is the most painful for me. It had been 4 hours since Claire was born. 4 HOURS that I missed of my babies first moments of life. I barely even remember being wheeled in to the care unit, but I do remember seeing her for the first time. SO TINY AND PERFECT. Perfect but in shock, and needing some tests done so I was wheeled out and to my room, our first moment was short but sweet. Turns out that our poor Claire was born in shock, had lost a fair amount of blood, and her blood sugar levels had crashed. My placenta was not only low but in the front so they had to cut away the corner of it to be able to pull her out. Once the placenta was cut it began to detach meaning blood loss for both Claire and I, manageable because we were in good hands but still blood loss is hard on such tiny babe.
22 hours I finally got to hold my baby for the very first time. There was of course visits to the nursery, but until that point she simply wasn't stable enough to come out , and it was until nearly 9 hours later that I could even stand to get into a wheelchair. Those first few moments were so bitter sweet as it pained us to see her hooked up to an IV but we were SO grateful for the help of the special care nurses...they were taking care of my baby and making her strong! Ryan and I gazed at her through the incubator and suddenly broke out into song, singing her the "I love you Kami song" but of course making it just for her...I love you Claire. The first time we held her without any tubes, cords, or beeping machines in the way was a beautiful moment for both Ryan and I.
The recovery from surgery was, for me at least, BRUTAL. I have never experienced such pain in my life, despite the medication I was on. The break through burning nerve pain was enough to make me loose my breath, and I walked liked the hunch back of Notre Dame for days. I know that vaginal birth has its share of pains too of course, but having your stomach cut open and sewn back together? I felt as weak as a kitten. I could not do ANYTHING for days. I was so dependant on Ryan, I honestly don't know what I would have done without him. He was by my side the whole time I was in hospital, sleeping in the room with me, helping me hook up the breast pump to get my milk flowing, bringing me healthy meals and snacks, helping me get up to use the washroom, wheeling me down to see Claire, and loving me. just loving me. Non-stop selfless adoring love just poured out of him and made me feel safe. I AM A LUCKY WOMAN TO HAVE SUCH A MAN. And my Claire is lucky to have such a Daddy.
So here we are, at home, with our bug. I am recovering and moving around better, Claire is getting stronger, and Ryan and I are both a lil zombie like but madly in love. In love with Claire, in love with each other and in love with parenthood. It hasn't been easy. I am not going to sugar coat it. There has been lots of sleep deprived crying fits, some communication breakdowns, and concerns over Claire's weight/energy levels (her hemoglobin levels are still low). Frankly i spent most of Saturday holding Claire, staring off into space in a complete daze, crying on and off. HORMONES! But it gets better each day. I am learning to sleep when baby sleeps (SO IMPORTANT), to eat regular meals, to take shifts with Ryan so that he can rest too, and together we are learning what works for our bug and she is learning all about us. It is a delicate but beautiful dance, the dance of parenthood.
Peace, love and pickles