It’s interesting how something can go from this:
in just three short days.
Forgive me, Amelia, for I underestimated how deeply you would touch my heart.
I’ve heard there are many, many people anxiously awaiting updates from our family. I’m going to do my best, but please understand that while this is therapeutic it is also very, very difficult to write out. There are so many thoughts and emotions that try as hard as I might, I just can’t express in words right now.
Last Sunday night at 9pm, we checked into the labor and delivery floor at Good Samaritan hospital in Los Gatos. Our room was all ready to go, complete with a teardrop & leaf card taped to the door reminding others to be gentle, for a loss was happening. It’s an interesting feeling, going to the hospital to deliver your baby when you know she’s going to die. It’s like no other emotion I’ve ever experienced, and frankly I felt a little selfish. I knew it was a necessity she would have to be born, yet by birthing her I was also ending her life. Couldn’t I just keep her inside of my belly forever, where I could nourish her and keep her warm and safe?
We met with our nurse, and nervously chatted away while she checked us in. I changed into a beautiful teal hospital gown my sister-in-law had made me during my previous pregnancy with Jack. (I got many, many compliments on that gown. Thank you, Mindy! I felt beautiful before and after labor.)
Our doctor showed up right on time at 10pm, smiling, with one leg drenched from the sprinkler at her house. We chatted and tried to keep the mood light while she inserted a balloon to slowly dilate my cervix. My nerves were surprisingly calm. We planned on a birth sometime the next day, depending on how well the pitocin drip the nurses would administer around 3am took. I was also hooked up to an IV early and given antibiotics for group-b strep, just in case. We wanted every opportunity to be able to donate her organs, and if she did have group-b strep it wouldn’t be possible.
And thus we began walking the halls with Tyler and our good friend the IV pole, just like we did when I was in labor with Jack. The pain from the balloon was different – the cramps were consistent with no breaks. It took several hours of walking and watching How I Met Your Mother until my balloon fell out, signaling I was dilated to a 4 or 5. Then the cramps turned into contractions, and they started me on pitocin. I could handle the contractions, but was still running on just a few hours of sleep I had gotten Saturday night. The mere dose of 2mls/hour wasn’t enough and my labor slowed to a near stop for several more hours. Instead of fighting sleep, Tyler and I gave in and slept (miserably) on and off until 6am, at which point the drip was slowly accelerated. But even with walking, my labor still wasn’t progressing much.
I decided to get a light epidural around 8 or 9am so I could relax before Amelia was born. Due to anxiety, I hadn’t slept well since Friday night and thus was exhausted. I also changed back to a normal hospital gown, since I wouldn’t be walking the halls anyway. (I am my mother’s daughter – I wanted to save my teal one to look cute in pictures for later.) I probably got an hour or so of the best sleep you can get in a hospital labor bed due to that blessed epidural. My water broke shortly after I woke (noon?) when a nurse came to check on me and I laughed at something she said. And then labor really began.
My doctor had an afternoon conference to attend 20 minutes away, and was heading out (oblivious to the situation) when she got a strong feeling she should stay. We hadn’t meant for my water to break so soon, as I was only dilated to a 6 or so. There is a much higher rate of stillborn anencephalic babies when the water is artificially broken or breaks early on in labor, so naturally we wanted to do everything we could to prevent that. I started feeling sharp pains, like someone was stabbing a knife up my lady parts. (This is how my body dilates, even long before my due date, and if you couldn’t already tell it’s not exactly my favorite feeling in the world.) I knew something was up because I was numbed and shouldn’t have felt much of that, so we called the nurses in. I was at a 10, and ready to push!
Dr. Neacsu came in, and just a couple of minutes after discovering I was at a 10 we started to deliver Amelia. Nurses were abuzz and Tyler quickly called our photographer, Gail, and my parents so they could bring Jack. We had meant to give both of them at least an hour’s notice but as we soon discovered, Amelia ran very much on her own schedule, not ours!
As we prepared to push, she had a strong heartbeat. When I poked on my tummy she kicked back, so I wasn’t too concerned about her not making it through the labor. I gave two quick pushes, one to deliver her tiny head and one to deliver her strong, wide shoulders, and she was laid on top of me. It was 1:14pm, a Monday afternoon, on August 27, 2012. Tyler cut the cord, and I while I couldn’t see her face I could see lots of angelic, white blonde hair covering the back of her head. Her head was bruised and purple, but the rest of her body was vibrantly pink and healthy-looking.
The hard part came when they whisked her immediately away to the Panda machine, which among other important life-saving gadgets kept her warm under a heat lamp. I learned she was 4lbs 14oz. She was then taken to another room in the NICU, and after a quick kiss goodbye Tyler followed our daughter.
Here’s the part of the story I wasn’t there for. My life then consisted of delivering a placenta that turned out to be much larger than my baby, and keeping my lady parts exposed while a few stitches were sewn where I tore. My tummy was pressed on a lot, and my left leg slowly regained mobility. I think they even helped me to the bathroom and cleaned me up a little. I changed back into my teal hospital gown, and put on a little lipstick while my dad rolled his eyes. (Again, I am my mother’s daughter.) The nurses kept me distracted, as did my mom, dad, and Jack. Amelia was gone for over an hour and a half, but the excitement and shock of just delivering a baby somehow kept me from bursting into tears.
Tyler sent me text-message updates while he was in the NICU with Amelia. I got updates about how hot it was in there, how they intubated her, and how they really struggled to get an IV into her tiny almost-5-lb body. And after what seemed like eternity, they brought her back and I was able to meet my angel face-to-face.