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.

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