The last seven weeks have been amazing, beautiful, wonderful and very, very difficult. Everyone tells you its hard. You know it will be hard. You have no idea exactly what they need by hard though.
You have no idea that hard means you will hate your husband for awhile. He will not say the right things, he will not do the right things and he will get sleep. Basically, you will wonder why you married him and believe you will never want to have sex with him ever again because he is such a meanie.
On top of that there is guilt. Guilt because you cannot get your baby to stop crying. You have no idea what that baby wants and you believe you are already failing as a parent to make that baby happy. Guilt because you get upset with that baby for crying for 24 hours straight or because you believe this little person that you wanted so badly, hates you. If you are really unlucky, you will also have guilt over not being able to breastfeed, like me. Your supply will barely come in, you will have to take a pill that makes your pee smell like maple syrup, you will need to use a plastic nipple to get your baby to want to feed and then you will get mastitis, which will kill your already low supply and make you feel like you are dying with a temperature of 104. (Your husband also may not believe you are sick. Refer to paragraph two where I discuss hating your husband.)
There are other things too. There is anxiety. You will watch your baby when they sleep to make sure they are still breathing. If you are like me you may fall asleep doing this. You will really not want any old people with shaky hands/arms holding your baby because you are afraid they will drop them. Heck, you are afraid your husband will drop them. People will drive you nuts telling you what you “should” be doing and how you are doing it wrong, especially old people. (My baby does not like to be swaddled!!!!) People will be overbearing and you will have no idea how to handle that. You may even have someone who refuses to let you hold your baby when they are around and you will somehow have to resist the urge to smack them, catch your baby as it fall and run away screaming.
Lastly, if you have had a baby that you buried, there will be other feelings. There will be longing. It is different than the longing that was there before this child was born, but it is still there. You know it will always be there too. It will hurt when someone asks a grandma or great-grandma how many grandchildren, or great-grandchildren they have and they leave out the child you buried from the count. You will wonder if the baby you lost would have been easier than the screaming one in your arms, and because you never got to know that baby on the outside, you can idealize them and believe it would be easier. You will wonder if you should write this baby’s name on Christmas cards when sending them to people and wonder how you can move forward while still including this buried child in everything you do. You will worry that you will forget because some days go by and you don’t always actively remember now.
However, every time one of these feelings hit, you will remember this is the stuff you have been waiting for your entire life (except for the longing). Because on top of the husband hate and the guilt over various inadequacies, this new little person will love you. They will want to snuggle you. Even though they don’t recognize your face at first, they will know your voice (and this is a good thing if singing at the top of your lungs is the only thing you can do to get your kid to stop crying). Somehow, they will also know it is you when they lean their head against your chest. Then when they can recognize your face, they will love it and it will make them happy, even if you don’t always know how to get them to stop crying – still.
So knowing all that, this is the story I have been waiting to write my entire life. I’d like to think it was a story of strength, courage and preceverience, but it isn’t like I survived a war or something. I just beat the odds, somehow. Looking over at Keira sleeping now I still can’t really believe it, even though my exhaustion is telling me to believe it because it certainly isn’t the dogs keeping me up at night. At the end of the day, this story may just be a miracle within a miracle though. While every child should be considered a miracle because so many things have to go perfectly in order for them to get here, Keira’s life may be a little bit more of one because of everything she has already survived. She has also beat the odds even before she took her first breath.
Wednesday, July 25 I woke up nervous. It was amnio day and in less than 24 hours I could be going into labor to have my baby girl. The whole day didn’t seem real. I remembered my Aunt Karen saying something to me about possibly giving Alexander a little sister back in December when we first found out I was pregnant and somehow that day seemed like yesterday. I’m not sure where the 38ish weeks had gone. I know they had felt slow and had been filled with worry, anticipation and fear, but now that they passed it seemed like they flew by. December seemed like yesterday and yet here we were at the end of July. We passed all the big loss milestones of Alexander’s first year in heaven and had also overcame all the scares in this pregnancy, so far. But I was still waiting, waiting for the other shoe to drop and waiting for something to take my little girl from me too.
I had been resisting going on Dr. Google to look up complications for late amnios. I know Dr. P had said that the only risk was that my water would break, but for some reason I didn’t fully believe her. I needed to though so I kept myself busy that morning.
On the advice of Social Worker B, I finished packing the bags for the hospital. I put together a bag for me with some clothing, travel-sized shampoos and tooth paste, a pair of underwear and pajamas for Kevin, breast milk pad thingys and stuffed in some colored cheesecloths I bought for baby pictures at the hospital. Packing the cheesecloth I wondered if I was jinxing myself. I would need to actually get to have a baby to photograph in these, and I was 100% convinced that still wasn’t going to be a reality.
I also packed a diaper bag for me and Kevin. I bought him a Diaper Dude bag since I wanted something more girlie for me to carry the rest of the time. Buying these two bags was also a big thing for me. I bought them in June and was very careful not to buy Kevin his bag before Father’s Day. Again, I worried getting him anything for Father’s Day would jinx everything. My bag I bought in early June, I think, and it looks enough like a big purse that I felt even if something happened I could still use it. (I know this would never happen but it is what I told myself to make buying it OK) I threw some baby clothing in the diaper bags, inlcuding the take-home outfits, and a couple of blankets. I knew the hospital would provide most everything else at this point. I had already stocked them with some basics, so I left those in there but had no intentions of using the Buttpaste or anything else. As a late addition, I tossed in some baby nail files. With as much as Keira had her hands buy her face in all our ultrasound pictures, I figured I might need these to keep her from mauling her face.
I was trying to finish up somethings before I went in to have her and had two weddings I really wanted to get done. Because I had been procrastinating, I knew I would only get one of these done, if that. I had planned to work on it that morning, but talked myself out of it and decided to go put another coat of paint on the Keira’s bookshelf in the garage. The bookshelf had been my aunt’s a a child, then mine and then we gave it to my Aunt Vanessa. I swear we had painted it white in like 1992 when we painted the desk that goes with it white (still sitting in my office). Imagine my surprise when we picked it up from my aunt’s house and it was nasty yellow like it had been when it was originally purchased.
I huffed and puffed my way through painting another coat of white paint on the bookshelf. Kevin had laid it down on the ground for me because I thought that would help me reach the bottom shelves. It did help me reach the bottom shelves, but it turned everything into a bottom shelf and I was sort of squatted on the bottom step of a step stool trying to get to every little nook and cranny. It was sticky out already and it was still before 9 a.m. so after one coat I called it a day with the bookshelf.
The next few hours I spent organizing Keira’s room and putting up the finishing touches in it. I had found some pearly butterflies for the wall across from her crib and put those up, finished putting her name letters on her door and doing other little odds and ends. I wanted to feel like her room was done, even if the bookshelf wasn’t. My Aunt Lisa was planning on coming over that night to help me with it a little more, but I was at the point where I knew I had done all I could do. I suddenly had the same feeling I had the day before my wedding – the stuff that was done, was done and the stuff that wasn’t done, oh well.
I left the house around noon and headed to find some lunch. Just in case this was my last meal before the baby, I thought I should eat something that would keep me full for awhile. I was fully expecting my water to break while I was getting the amnio and wanted to be sure my tummy was full before I was starved throughout the labor process.
I had given up on my weight at this point with the pregnancy so lunch was not going to be the healthiest of choices. I wanted something closish to the hospital and I didn’t want to have to get out of my car to walk in downtown Naperville so it had to be something with its own parking lot. My vagina muscles had been hurting way to much to be walking anywhere at this point. Getting in and out of the car hurt so the fact that I was even thinking about going into a place verses a drive-thru surprised me.
I thought I would have Portilo’s and that would fill me up, but the line was too long and it was almost 12:30. The amnio was at 1:30 and I didn’t want to cut it that close. The parking garage at the hospital can take 10 minutes all on its own since people drive through there at a snails pace.
I landed at Arby’s. Not the healthiest choice but I knew a good helping of curly fries would keep me full and going through a labor. I ate the chicken salad sandwich just to make myself feel better about those curly fries. I know that sandwich isn’t healthy either, but it gives the impression it is and that’s all I needed for the moment. I had other things on my mind.
I sat there staring at a Hispanic couple. They were very young and they had a tiny baby girl with them. All I could think was how lucky they were and I wondered if they knew it. My mind drifted to another Hispanic woman, one that I didn’t even know, whose baby I photographed about two years earlier in the hospital after he had been stillborn. Her baby was a boy and they had him dressed in a blue outfit someone made. She never planned to be putting on a baby that she didn’t get to take home. We didn’t speak the same language, but I understood her loss even then. I had one miscarriage by that point and was waiting for my second one to start because of my poor betas. I wondered if she had more children. I wondered if she ever got to bring a baby home. I wondered if I ever would.
Alexander passed through my mind and I tired to push him away. I couldn’t think of him and the outcome of his pregnancy right now. I was too afraid of this amnio. I was imagining how I would get through it and still believe Keira was ok. I was wondering how I would make it to the next morning. I was never going to be able to sleep and I knew I would be up overanalyzing each movement or lack there of.
I tried to picture what I would do physically and mentally to make it through the amnio. I thought I would close my eyes before I even saw the needle. I would take deep breathes. I would think happy thoughts.
Why in the world didn’t I bring someone with to hold my hand during this? I knew Kevin couldn’t come because he was trying to tie things up at work before the induction, but why didn’t I ask my mom or one of my aunts or anyone?
When I looked at the time I noticed it was 12:50 and time to go. I ignored the slight panic that was setting in, carefully and slowly got in the car and made my way to the hospital.
The receptionist at MFM knows me too now. I wondered if they would all miss me if I actually had this baby. OK, maybe MFM won’t, but Dr. M, Dr. C, Tracy, Theresa…They had become a different sort of support system over the last year and a half and I knew I would think of them often. I wouldn’t miss them, but I know I would think of them fondly for helping me to have a child.
Right now, I felt like throwing up. I sort of wished it was morning sickness verses the fear about a giant needle going into my stomach.
They called me a few seconds after I sat down. I love that this office is always so prompt. They took my blood pressure, asked the usual questions and then said a tech would be in.
Less than two minutes later an ultrasound tech walked in. I had never had her do any of my BPPs with Keira and had no idea who she was. She was chatty though.
“This is it for you, right,” she asked. I nodded and she gelled up my stomach and set to work finding a spot to stick the needle.
She kept talking but I don’t remember what she was saying. At least she wasn’t the nervous tech. She made me feel better about everything, I do know that. She explained some things to me about the procedure and it helped, as much as it could anyways.
Then she told me Dr. Y would be doing the amnio. Ugh. He is the doctor who didn’t think I should talk to the neonatologist because didn’t think there would be a risk of Keira’s blood clotting. He was no longer my favorite doctor.
She found a couple spots she thought would be good and then Dr. Y came in and she presented them to him. There were a couple at the top of my uterus and two at the very bottom she was pushing for. They were trying to avoid the placenta and I got that, but the spots near the bottom of my stomach made me really nervous for some reason. Too close to my vagina? Maybe. I’m not sure what it was exactly. At the very least I decided it was a weird angle.
They brought in a table with all the stuff and Dr. Y decided on a spot up at the top of my uterus. Thank the Lord for that. It made me feel more comfortable, or at least as comfortable as I could be with this needle going near my baby. It wasn’t really about me in that moment after all, I had been poked enough that needles didn’t really scare me, but I was worried about the needle poking Keira or something going wrong with the procedure in general that would hurt her.
My breathing had changed and Dr. Y and the tech could tell I was nervous. I watched them clean the spot off and decided it was time to close my eyes.
“Deep breaths,” I told myself.
“Stay still,” I told Keira silently, like she could communicate with me telepathically. “I don’t want yo to get poked with the needle. Just stay still.”
I tried not to imagine the worst as I felt the needle piece my skin.
“Breathe! Breathe slowly!” I was shouting at myself in my head. The needle going into me didn’t hurt, but I did feel it as it went through my muscles and into my uterus. They really had to push it. Dr. Y even made a comment how touch it was and the uterus muscles as he tried to get it through.
Then he started drawing fluid. This felt like it took forever and in my head I did start panicking a little, especially when Keira started kicking near that area. I started praying.
“Please God don’t let this hurt my baby. Please God don’t let this hurt my baby.” I repeated this in my head over and over as I told myself to keep breathing too.
Why wasn’t it over yet? How much was he taking? How much did he really need and was he just draining my water? I stupidly pictured the water bag deflating like a balloon and then had to talk myself down.
“There,” Dr. Y finally said.
I opened my eyes and saw him standing there holding a siring that looked like it was filled with clear jelly.
“See,” he said, “no blood.”
I had no idea what that meant.
“Yes,” he said. “You don’t want to see blood in it.”
Ok, good, I thought. Now I can actually breathe. I felt weird though. The spot felt weird and it did ache a little. I imagined the sac trying to close that little hole back up. I imagined Keira wondering what the heck that was. I’ve invaded her world so much during this pregnancy and I started feeling bad about that. With all the ultrasounds and now this, I sort of feel like I put her through the ringer.
I slid off the table and was taken by Deb (one of the nurses) to a room for monitoring, basically an NST.
The room was so cheerful and so much better than the NSTs at Dr. M’s office. First of all, there were baby announcements all over the room. They made me happy. Second, there was a TV on the wall. Lastly I didn’t have to push a button each time she moved. The machine did it for me, which was nice.
I laid on the table looking with the two belts around my belly looking at the birth announcements and wondering if I would get to add a birth announcement to someone’s wall. I thought about Dr. C’s office and the party she wanted to throw once the baby was born. I thought about adding Keira’s birth announcement to her wall.
I turned on the TV, found HGTV and started watching a show about kitchen remodels. Deb popped in and out. Keira kept moving off the monitor, which I fully expected.
Then, Deb stopped leaving. She stood there next to me and held the heartbeat monitor on my belly. We chatted off and on and I was a little annoyed she was standing there. I sort of just wanted to relax. But then, I heard it. Something wasn’t right. The sound of Keira’s heartbeat slowed. At least I think it was Keira’s heartbeat. It sort of sounded as slow as a rhythmic breathing.
I watched my belly and the heartbeat/breathing sound matched my belly going up and down.
“What is that,” I asked Deb.
She didn’t really give me an answer. Instead, she left the room again. What was going on? By this time I had been there almost an hour and these things usually don’t take this long.
A few minutes later, Deb came back in and told me there were some decelerations in Keira’s heartbeat and they wanted to send me to L&D. Um, ok. I didn’t really get it. What did she mean by decelerations?
She proceeded to tell me that it happened a couple times while she was standing there and she already spoke to Dr. Y who agreed that he wanted to send me to be safe. She said he was talking to Dr. F, who is in the practice with Dr. M and was on call, and was briefing her on the situation.
Ok, so get me there, I thought. Just get me to L&D.
Before we started moving, I called Kevin.
“I’m going to L&D,” I said. “Get here.”
He didn’t need to know much more than that, but I quickly told him about her heartbeat and for once there was no argument about whether I needed to go to L&D or not. He just said ok and we hung up. I called my mom and told her what was going on. I told her not to bother coming at this point and I would call her when I knew what was going on.
Deb moved slower than I wanted her to. I could feel Keira moving so I knew she was doing ok for the moment, but I wanted to get to L&D as soon as possible. How soon could they get her out if there was a problem?
Deb walked through the building to the hospital with me. I’m not sure why I needed an escort, but whatever. MFM is in a building attached to the hospital and really just a short walk to L&D. However, instead of going the short way for some reason Deb took the long way and we walked all the way around the freaking hospital. The walk alone could have put me into labor. She had to slow her pace to wait for me. Walking was starting to hurt so badly from my lose ligaments in my pelvis. I had to go slow, much slower than I would have liked to have walked.
When we got to L&D Deb told them who I was and they were ready for me. I silently prayed that I would not be in my old room.
The nurses checked me in and I mentioned to them I was supposed to be back in the morning for an induction so they may as well just let me stay. They smiled at me. I wasn’t kidding though or trying to be cute. I was done. I was done being pregnant and I wanted my baby out safe and sound.
Instead of checking me into a holding room, or whatever they are called, they checked me into an actual room. I smiled a bit because I knew they must be considering keeping me.
My nurse (whose name I can’t remember) made me drink water, hooked me up to the monitoring machines and we found Keira’s heartbeat right away.
“I’m supposed to be induced tomorrow morning,” i told her. “Can I just stay as long as the amnio results are good?”
I had decided to not waste anytime or beat around the bush about this. I was going to tell everyone I saw because I felt if I was vocal about it they couldn’t ignore me.
“It’s a possibility,” she said and she smiled. “I’ll see what I can do.”
With those words, I relaxed a little.
A short time later, Kevin showed up.
“What’s going on?” It wasn’t really a question. It was more of his way of saying hello and asking for an update at the same time.
My mom didn’t listen and showed up at the hospital anyways. I tried not to be annoyed. I’m not sure if this happened before or after we got the news that Keira’s lungs were mature, they would be keeping me and starting the induction at 6 p.m.
The nurse said they were going to start me tonight but keep my dosage of pitocin low. They would start me at 2 and then increase it to 4 about an hour later and I would stay at 4 until about 6 a.m. That plan sounded ok to me. Anything sounded ok to me as long as it didn’t have me going home where I wouldn’t sleep and panic without hearing Keira’s heartbeat.
I sent Kevin home to go change and get a few more things. Luckily, I had listened to Brandi and packed my bags so we had almost everything, with the exception of the phone chargers and some other miscellaneous things.
While he was gone Social Worker B showed up. I had asked for her so it isn’t like it was a shock. She and I discussed some things and she reminded me that I needed to state what I really wanted and not let people bulldoze me when it comes to the baby. This came directly from some discussions in Share that I haven’t specifically written about here.
After Social Worker B left, Becky showed up! Becky had married Kevin and I, she baptized Alexander and was now the chaplain at the hospital where I was delivering. I had no idea she was working there now, but was so happy to see her. She said a prayer with me and my mom.
After this, I got the news that they wanted me to eat some dinner and would be starting the induction at 8 p.m. instead. I called Kevin and told him to get himself some food because I had to eat. I ordered something small because I remembered vomiting during labor with Alexander and didn’t want a repeat. Plus, I had that giant Arby’s lunch.
The next few hours seemed to move fast. Kevin came back, my mom left and just before 8, I was started on the low does of pitocin. Between bathroom breaks and trying to adjust myself in the bed (why are those things so uncomfortable?), we spent the night watching and listening to Keira’s heartbeat on the monitor. That sound made me feel secure, but it also scared me that it would stop and they wouldn’t get her out in time.
To be continued… :) There is only limited time to write now.