Thursday, January 29, 2015

Memories, part 2

My mom sat me back down on the couch and wrapped a blanket around me, then went to get her own shoes.  She was not sure Devin would make it home in time and she was going to drive me to the hospital if he didn't show up.

He made it just in time and helped me out to the car.  I remember wishing he would drive faster, I remember I couldn't understand why he didn't understand that he needed to go faster.  I remember there was a white van in front of us, and I was so angry at that white van for not understanding that it should not be in my way.

I remember looking at the clock, and out the window, back to the clock, and just breathing.  At one point Devin made a comment about how it didn't seem like I was really having contractions anymore, or that they weren't too bad.  I remember my head exploded because I didn't know if I wanted to laugh, or cry, or scream, or hit him, or hug him, or throw myself out of the car and just start running to the hospital.  I remember I didn't do any of those things though because the only thing keeping me on the safe side of sanity was breathing.  Just breathing.  In between contractions I remember risking loosening my lips enough to say something about how the contractions were strong enough thank you and could he go any faster at all and why did that white van hate me so much?

He parked at the emergency room and helped me walk in and grab a wheelchair.  The nurse saw me and immediately began pushing me to labor and delivery, and when I explained that this was my fourth baby and I felt a strong sense of urgency inside, she began to run.

We got to my room and the nurse named Jill took one look at my face and began helping me undress.  My clothes were soaked through with sweat, all layers wet from my horribly shaking body.  I could barely stand even in between contractions.  If pain were a color, this would have been a dark angry blue, the kind of color that cares about nothing, so cold and deep it rips and rips and rips without pause.  She didn't pause to get me a blanket or hook me up to any machines or do any of the things they usually do when checking you in.  I had only been in the hospital about ten minutes before I knew that I would not be getting my quiet, peaceful water birth that I had been hoping for.

I remember she tried to explain to me what was wrong with my baby, and I remember nodding my head but not really understanding.  I remember people flooding the room, suddenly people were everywhere, one nurse talking to me at one shoulder while another nurse did something to me on the other side.  "We'll take care of you and your baby, we'll do our best to make sure you're both ok." I looked at the face saying that and didn't even feel the iv going in my opposite arm.

Another face, another voice on the other side explaining more, words rushing past my ears to quickly for them to settle in, and then a poke on my other side and fire spreading down my arm.  I remember a moment of panic, asking what they had done and why would they do that, wasn't I in enough pain already?  Their calm and patient explanation was that it was to suppress the contractions, and then of course I was grateful for it for the next few minutes, until it stopped working and the contractions returned.

I remember looking up and seeing Devin dressed all in scrubs, blue from his head to his feet and finally understanding the full weight of what was going on around me.  This was my nightmare.  My very worst nightmare come to life.  I remember tears filling my eyes as another nurse stopped to explain something to me, I remember watching her eyes fill up with tears as well.

The anesthesiologist on my other side was next, with question after question that I did my best to answer.  And then suddenly I was in the hallway, the nurse named Jill holding my baby inside me, keeping her alive for me.  I remember trying again to just breathe, this time not because I was worried about the pain rising up and taking over, but the fear.  I couldn't risk letting it take hold of me, because I wasn't sure it would ever let me go again.

I remember getting to the operating room and the nurse named Jill looked almost like she was in as much pain as I was.  She told me later that her hand was sore and bruised for days, and I cried again with gratitude that there were, are people willing to do that for my baby.

I remember my body being scrubbed and marked and a horrible mask being put over my face and told to stay calm and just breathe.  Breathing in was no problem, I inhaled great gulps of air, but for some reason the mask made me choke and I could not breathe the air back out.  I felt like I was reverse suffocating, that I was going to die not because I couldn't get air in to my body but because I could not get it out.

And then suddenly the world went dark.  And when I opened my eyes again I was in a different room, with no control over my neck, it swung violently back and forth on the pillow.  I tried to stop it, or slow it down, and I couldn't.

The nurses scurried around me, explaining that I couldn't see my baby, couldn't leave that room until they got my blood pressure to go down.  My midwife was there, smiling at me, telling me that she had been at my side the whole time and that my baby was healthy and beautiful.  I wanted to stop my neck from moving so I could listen to her but I couldn't.  I really, really wanted to see my baby.  My midwife stepped out and took a picture of her and brought it back in so I could at least see a picture.

Eventually they let me go to my recovery room, and Devin brought Hazel over to me.  I could hardly understand that that was my baby, and that she was fine, and that everything was fine.

A few last memories, I remember being angry that the morphine made me feel so confused and stupid, but didn't take away the pain.  I remember being shocked at how much pain I was in, and wondering what it could have been like with no medication at all.  How did people survive it?

I remember them trying to explain to me what had happened while I was asleep, how my baby had the cord around her neck and was breach, in addition to the prolapsed cord which had so endangered her.  I remember the doctor explaining that because her head had gotten stuck during a contraction he had been forced to cut me in a few extra places, and I would never be able to have a natural delivery again.  I remember they brought me dinner, and it was delicious but I was so tired.

Sometimes I think I'm still recovering from how tired I was.  But maybe now at least the memories will torment me no longer.

More immediate memories, here. This was written while I was still in the hospital, so these details are probably more accurate if there are any deviations from what I have said here.

And a poem I wrote when I was trying to reconcile what had happened, about a month after she was born.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Memories of That Day

Can I talk about this again?  Every month this past year as the 28th has come around again the memories would resurface.  I would let them in, almost embracing them, soaking in as many of the little details from that day as I could.  As the months ticked by I looked toward the year mark with some trepidation, some anticipation.  I wondered what the memories would do to me on that day.  And each month as I let the memories in I thought that maybe, on one of them I would be able to let them out again.  But month after month I never did, just tucking them back in to my heart and keeping them safe for the next month.

I think it's time now, though.  I have held on to them long enough and I am ready to be free of them.  I am ready to release myself from all the tiny moments that added up and became the whole day, a day that has haunted me this past year.

I had been in the hospital about a week and a half prior because there were some "things" they were "concerned" about.  After sitting in the hospital for three hours I was told I could go home because everything looked great after all and everything was fine.

I had an ultrasound about a week earlier because my midwife was worried that "things" didn't "feel" right and maybe the baby wasn't in the right position.  An ultrasound showed that while baby was slightly lopsided at an angle, she looked good and everything was fine.

So they told me. So they kept telling me.

We had a lot of plans for that day, two days before my official due date.  My mom was in town visiting, waiting to help me after the baby came.  My grandpa had come with her and he had kept himself busy knitting warm socks for all of us.

My mom had discovered that we hadn't seen Frozen yet, and so we hatched a plan.  It was Hallie's early release day from school, and a few hours after that I had an appointment with the midwife.  We were going to get Hallie from school, go to the movie, get ice cream, go to my appointment, and then come home.  A really great afternoon with my girls, one that I was looking forward to because I knew that afternoons like that wouldn't be happening again for a while after the baby came.

I showered that morning, and dressed in my favorite outfit.  I wore a grey maternity sweater that I have since given to my now pregnant sister, and it makes me happy and wistful and sad when I see her wear it.  I love that sweater.

And then Hanna began throwing up.  I remember the morning dragged on, one of those slow quiet mornings where all the workings of the world seems to whisper so as not to disturb.  I think I've mentioned this part before, Grandpa knitting little socks on the couch, Hanna curled up sleeping, sick next to him.  Heather asleep in her crib upstairs not knowing or understanding that her tenure as the baby of the family was swiftly drawing to a close.  My mom sat on the couch by me, as I rested uncomfortably on the couch dreaming about how great it would feel when my body was my own again.  My mom and I discussed what our new plans should be, surely we shouldn't go to the movie with Hanna so sick, but how to best rearrange the plans?

With no clear new plan in sight my mom got up to get Hallie from school for me, and I continue laying on the couch drifting in and out of sleep.  I remember a contraction that startled me because it was so sudden and strong.  Then another one.

My mom came back from getting Hallie and I remember she stood in the kitchen looking at all of us collected in the living room.  I lifted my head up and said, "Hi Hallie! How was school today?" and we chatted for a minute before I dropped my head back down and wandered back into oblivion.

Another contraction, and I mentioned it to my mom and that things were starting to feel a little fierce.  I asked her if I should call my midwife or just wait until my appointment.  It had only been about twenty minutes but I remember telling her they were quite intense.  Normally it would have been harder for my mom to talk me into calling Devin home from work and calling the midwife, but I guess deep down I knew it wasn't the time to fuss.  As we began to collect my hospital bag and shoes I remember realizing that I was transitioning.  It was happening, and it was happening fast.

This is long, so maybe I'll make a part two.  I guess most of these memories are ones that I have already shared, but it feels good to me to let them go, one final time.