Three years ago today my baby boy was born.
Kai should be turning 3 today. He should be starting preschool. He should be leanring and growing and celebrating his little life surrounded by family and friends as all three year olds get to do.
I can not begin to process how to feel about my baby not living to see age 3, so I am not even going to try.
Instead I would like to think about the day my little baby came into this world.
I started writing his birth story after he was born. Sadly in the midst of a move, a divorce and a broken laptop I can not find my original recollection of his birth. Re-writing his birth story now, after he is gone, will not be the same. There will be parts which I can now appreciate in whole new ways and parts to which I will now know better than I did then. I would give anything to have that original hormone driven, new mommy gleaming, idealistic account back. I would give anything to be blissfully naive to our life ahead. To hold that perfect little baby in my arms without a care in the world. I would give anything to relive those early days over again and again for the rest of my life. The days before cancer. The early days of mommyhood where you can do anything -no matte how little sleep or food or showering you get. The days when we would fall asleep in a chair in the living room instead of a hospital room. I would give anything for those first few weeks back, before I knew there was something wrong.
I woke up Saturday September 4th 2010 like any other day. It had been a beautiful summer, a great time to be pregnant, and this day was no different. The sun was shinning, the air was fresh with a hint of early Fall in the air. It was Labor day weekend and it was your due date but I had convinced myself that you would be late as many first born babies are. I was ready to meet you but not so anxious or exhausted or uncomfortable as to be wishing your birthday to come sooner. I was still very much enjoying my pregnancy.
The first few months of pregnancy were rough, unable to eat, nauseous and tired all the time but as the morning (all day) sickness started to subside, and my belly swelled to an obvious bump I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant. I loved eating well and going to yoga for the first time. I love preparing your room, making you a quilt, searching for the perfect name. I loved reasearching cloths diapers, interviewing pediatricians, and wondering if you would be a boy or a girl. I imagine there is nothing more magical than a woman’s first pregnancy. Nothing more life changing and hopeful. I felt comfortable, obvious, built right into who I am. Destiny. Instinct. Natural. So effortless and completely meaningful all at the same time.
For the past few years I had studied to be a doula and Lactation Consultant. The process of giving birth and becoming a mother has fascinated me long before I even considered becoming a mother myself. I trust in the biology of the process and am enthralled with the psychology and sociology of mommy culture around the world. Consumerism, survivalists, attachment parenting, vaccinations, education, home birth, placenta, breastmilk, baby-wearing, history, it all symbolizes the purest real life a person can experience – dedicating your life to birthing and raising another.
Although I certainly had lots of ideals of what I wanted MY labor and delivery to be like I tried hard to prepare myself to be open to anything.. My hope was to have an unmedicated, vaginal delivery, breastfeed you minutes after giving birth and be back home the next day. I had developed a strategy of how I was going to get through labor: stay calm, keep myself busy and distracted, stay home as long as possible and continue to tell myself ‘this is going to get so much worse’ trying to accept and adjust so I could handle what would come next.
Around 9:30 that morning I began wondering if my amazing midwife was right her her prediction of your birth-day. I started having a slight tightening in my belly and a bit of blood and mucus when I went to the bathroom. I knew the early signs of labor well and I knew this was it, but was afraid to say it out load. Not afraid of labor itself but afraid of being wrong, of getting myself too excited to see you just in case today was not the day.
In an effort to keep myself busy, and perhaps in a bit of denial, I got dresses and drove myself to the craft store (of course) to buy some yarn. I had been busy making you things for months, blankets, curtains, booties, but I had this one sweater pattern I had been saving for labor. I slowly walked the isles of shop touching the yarn debating which color I should choose. Green, brown, grey, teal, orange, these could all be gender neutral colors. As I gathered up a soft flecked brown, a bright teal, and some soft green buttons I realized this could be the last day I would have to wonder if you would be a boy or a girl. (The past few weeks I had really been thinking girl)
I will never forget standing in line waiting to check out, having contractions smiling to myself lost in my own little world.
I came home and started to crochet. I tried several times to eat something, telling myself that I needed to stay hydrated and strong, but nothing seemed appealing. I spent the day bouncing on a yoga ball, crocheting, pacing around the house continuing to convince myself this might not really be it.
Gigi came home from work around 1pm and I was still doing well. I told her I thought I might be in labor but that it was early so your dad was going in to work.
The first call in to the midwife was around 4:30pm. I had been counting contractions and they were getting stronger and closer together. We talked for a few minutes and she told me that it sounded as if I was in early labor. She told me to stop counting my contractions and to call her back when I was feeling 100 times worse. 100 TIMES WORSE! I had spent all day telling myself it was going to get worse and I was feeling good but after almost 8 hours of early labor preparing myself for 100 times worse set me back a little. I felt my nerves getting the better of me. I felt lost and scared for the first time. I knew I was doing well but I felt silly for calling the midwife so early along. I called our doula, Cynthia, to let her know what the midwife said. She offered to come over but I told her it would probably be a long night so she should stay home for now. I went back downstairs, sat back on the ball and continued to crochet your sweater, focused on counting stitched rather than contractions.
A few more hours past and I called the midwife again. It was around 8 pm and there was absolutely no more questioning that tonight would be the night. The midwife said I still sounded good. She told me I could come into the hospital if I wanted but she still felt I had a ways to go. I wanted to stay home as long as possible so I went back downstairs to put the finishing touches on your sweater. The next hour things progressed quickly. Gigi and I ‘watched’ a movie, really she watched me as I was getting more and more restless. I started secretly counting the contractions again. I wrote them on a small paper and Gigi took a peak when I got up to use the bathroom. When I came back she looked like she had seen a ghost. “Does that say 3 minutes?”
I had talked a lot about wanting a home birth and I think at that moment she was afraid she would be the one to deliver you! I told her it was fine, that I could walk and talk so I still have a ways to go. Of course with contractions 3-5 minutes apart, i could barely walk and talk through them but I just kept convincing myself it was going to get much worse and that I could handle this.
She urged me to get to the hospital. I called your dad home from work and she got busy making him two tuna fish sandwiches and some snacks for the night ahead. I called Cynthia back and asked her to meet us at the hopsital in half an hour. I told her my contractions were close and strong but that I was feeling good. I still wasn’t sure this was it. I told her we would probably get sent home.
10pm Dad and I got in the car and drove the long, dark, pothole ridden back roads to the hospital. It felt like the longest car ride of my life. It was impossible to sit. I was getting angry ebing strapped into this tiny car unable to move, practically standing on the front seat fearing every bump in the road. We parked the car and in the short walk to the hospital doors the contractions stopped in me in my tracks twice. Cynthia took one look at me and said ‘Oh there is no way you are being sent home. This baby is coming tonight!”
We walked up to the desk and told them I was Nina’s patient. They told me Nina wanted to have me checked before she came in. They asked if I wanted a wheelchair and I said there was no way I was going to sit back in a chair after that car ride. We laughed and joked and they brought me into a room. The nurse checked me and was shocked that I was 8 1/2 centimeters. She rushed out to call the midwife and Cynthia reassured me that I was doing great.
By the time Nina came I was 9 centimeters and my water had not broken yet. She told me there was no need to break it and that having the bag intact was likely keeping the pain more manageable. She said I was doing great and she was going to let me keep doing what I was doing. The pain was increasing and I decided to try to get in the shower. The idea of nice warm water on my lower back seemed heavenly but we could not get the water to warm and my shower left me shivering and tense. I was feeling some urge to push but was not at 10 centimeters yet so they told me I probably wasn’t ready so I continued walking around the room.
Just before midnight I stood at the foot of the bed during a contraction and couldn’t help myself from pushing. All of a sudden there was a huge gush on the floor! It scared me and I looked at Cynthia totally unsure of what had happened and she told me my water had broken. The nurses hurried over placing pads on the floor around me to soak up the fluid. The midwife was called over to inspect and they noticed meconium in the fluid.
They had me go up on the bed to check me and I was 10 centimeters and just about ready to start pushing! Because of the meconium a new team of doctors was called in and I was hooked up to some machines to check your heart rate. Up until this point I was having a pretty free range labor. It was very difficult for me to be laying back now hooked up to machines with a room full of people watching me.
Things got pretty foggy for me after this point. My memory of the next few hours is partly my own account and partly the account of the experience told to me by your dad and Cynthia and the nurses.
I pushed hard for just about three hours. About 2 hours in I ruptured a blood vessel and was loosing a lot of blood. Your heart rate was dropping in and out and the room was filling with more and more people. There were times when EVERYONE in the room seemed scared. Most of the time I was somewhat oblivious, allowing my mind to drifting off to an other world so my body could do what it was meant to do. The room was a blur. I looked right past the worried faces focused only on getting you out. After hours of pushing I just screamed ‘Baby please come out!”
I remember feeling the midwife pressing down tightly on the ruptured vessel with every contraction trying to spare me from loosing more blood. I remember the doula holding my left hand standing at the top of the bed praying out load for both of us to be safe. I remember looking across the room at my blurred reflection bounding off of the shiny chrome paper towel holder that I was sure was a mirror placed there so I could see what was going on. I felt like I was in a dream, watching from above. Still completely unmedicated my own bodies natural anesthetic was kicking in. Maybe it was because I had lost so much blood. Maybe I was in shock or maybe this is just natures was of getting us through birth. I was oblivious of the fear and chaos around me.
Dad later told me it was bad. There were bloody rags pilling up all around my bed. He saw a look of panic come over the midwifes face as she called for the doctor. He became even more worried when they left the room to talk.
I remember fighting with the nurses as they read me the consent form for a c-section. I was still still pushing, living half in this world and half in the world above looking down. I was so angry that they were shoving this paper in my face as I was fighting for our lives. I remember scribbling a line across the paper and throwing the pen across the room and then everyone disappeared.
The nurse stayed by the monitor and told me not to push. I looked around and screamed that there was no way I could stop my body from pushing. By this point I was scared. I didn’t want a c section but I knew I couldn’t do this much longer. I was worried that by pushing, or not pushing, I would somehow make things worse for you but I also knew it was out of my control my body was doing what it wanted. Nina came back and told me to do whatever I had to. She told me they were calling anesthesia and I had 15 minutes to get you out or we would have to go to surgery.
I remember trying to get off the bed. I remember my IV falling out. I remember the nurse begging me to stay laying back as I rolled and wiggled ever so slightly back and forth on the bed. I remember consciously blocking everything out, collecting all of the energy I had left and telling myself over and over that I could do this. I kept pushing.
I turned to the right and anesthesia was standing in the doorway, blue scrubs with a mask and gloves. I told them I couldn’t do it this way and they would have to knock me out completely. Nina came over to check me one last time. She grabbed my leg and said”Listen Kerri you can do this! The baby has moved down and you are almost there! I think we should use the vacuum. I am going to get the doctor.”
I screamed and pushed harder and harder one right after another. The doctor came in and told me you were right there and I could do this on my own. I screamed at her and said get this vacuum, that I couldn’t do it on my own. Nina grabbed my hand and had me touch your head. You were right there. I was doing it.
With a few more pushes you were born.
They grabbed you and whisked you to the other side of the room for examination and again I felt numb, like I was watching someone elses life. You began to cry and the doctors said you looked great.
Your dad was torn between me and you and you, not know which way to turn or what to do. Cynthia looked at him and said “well aren’t you going to tell her what it is?”
“It’s a boy!” He said.
It’s a boy!
You were born at 2:59 am Sunday September 5, 2010, healthy and happy.
Within minutes you were snuggled up in my arms and the pain of labor quickly faded away. You nursed and cried and we slept very little. I got lots of stitched and a cheeseburger at 5 am. The next day our family all filtered in to meet you for the first time and within a day we went home to start our adventure together.
You forever changed my life little one. I miss you every minute of the day. I would go through all the pain a million times over to have you here with me again.