Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Absolute Joy...

Friday evening turned out to be pretty amazing--on the heels of such a wonderful day that we had as a family on Thursday.

We shared a meal with our friends Jeff and Teresa on Friday night. It's awesome to visit with their family, to watch the kids play, to talk about everything and nothing, and just to have time with our friends. Even my Monkey talks about it--he loves to go play with their youngest, who is nearly the very same age as my Monkey. Watching the two of them play in their Twoness is often comical.

Well, as it turns out, it was my sweet friend Teresa whom God placed in my heart, with the command, "This dear lady is the one I have chosen as Godmother for your baby." And then, of course, as I said in my last post, He cemented my knowledge by reminding me of the words of His Mother, "Do whatever He tells you."

Asking Teresa if she would consent to be our child's Godmother was absolutely joyful--it was so right in our hearts the moment we knew, and she very graciously accepted. Of course, there were tears on both sides. How blessed we are to be surrounded by so many faithful, beautiful women that we needed to allow God to choose for us, and what an awesome thing to be so clear on what He wanted!


We will get to go see Chris next week!

It seems like an "all of a sudden" thing, but I find myself resting my hand on the comfortable swell of my babyish belly. I find that when I climb into bed or go to be adjusted, I can no longer comfortably lie on my stomach. I find that in my quiet moments, I feel the life within me sending me signals in secret. I find myself increasingly daydreaming of birth, bonding, the soft velvetyness of a newly revealed cheek, the sweet scent of freshly born skin, and the first fragile moments of fuzzy eye contact....and I find that I cannot wait.

Although it's partly been done already, I feel absolutely compelled to begin sharing the true birth stories of my babies.

I shared much of what happened with my Frog a couple of posts ago, though it was a bit out of context.

The Frog (who came to this nickname because my dad saw her snuggled on my chest, wearing a pair of bright pink sweatpants...he called her The Little Pink Frog. She's been Frog ever since.) was my first baby...and I began my parenting life as a single mom.

When I learned I was pregnant with this beautiful girl, I was at once terrified, mortified, and amazed. I found myself having to make decisions--should I end this pregnancy and stay with a boyfriend who was kind of....drippy? Should I search for a loving family and place this baby through adoption? Should I defy my family (which I had been doing for years anyway) and carry myself proudly and keep this child?

The first "choice" really wasn't a choice at all, I knew in my heart. Even though I didn't know through experience or education that life is a miracle, and is chosen by God Himself, I knew that abortion was something akin to evil incarnate.

The second choice became null and void in my heart after about 5 minutes; the thought of carrying a baby for nearly a year and then not being able to raise my own child was more than I could bear. I was already, knowingly, losing a relationship I wrongly thought would be The One...the last thing I wanted was to lose this relationship, too. So as loving and inspiring as adoption is, it just wasn't something I could bring myself to choose.

So I carried my baby through horrendous "morning sickness" (ach....what a crap name!), even finding at times that sips of water would send me into convulsive bouts of dry heaves. I was ordered to quit my jobs (I held 3 at the time), meaning that I also had to move back home to my parents' from the room I was renting. Although it was tense with my dad, it did eventually turn out to be a blessing.

As the weeks progressed, I asked a friend of mine to go through Lamaze classes with me and be my labor coach. She was happy to be included, and filled her role cheerfully.

My doctor, who tended to pounce on paper cuts as though they needed eighty-four stitches, insisted that I do literally nothing but eat, even forbidding me to expend the calories it took to climb the stairs more than once or twice a week. So there I was, stuck on the couch in my parents' living room. I ate Oreos with peanut butter (mmmmmmmmmm.......dangerous!), drank half & half with instant breakfast mixed in, mashed potatoes and gravy--anything fattening and yummy I could get my hands on. (This turned out to be anything my mom would get for me...)

I went to my appointments dutifully, was poked and prodded in The Normal, Clinical Way, and ended up in preterm labor in January. Since the Frog wasn't due until March, this was not The Way It Was Supposed To Happen. I was hospitalized for two weeks, put on intravenous medicine, and nearly ambulanced to a larger hospital...they squashed that because of a blizzard, thanks be to God, and I finally ended up at home with multiple prescriptions. I had terbutiline and nifedipine to stop contractions. I had prednisone to hasten the maturing of the Frog's lungs. I had Seconal (yes, you read that right) because the combination of the drugs I was on made me unable to sleep, even though I was as exhausted as a lumberjack, for Pete's sake. I had antibiotics, antifungals to counter the antibiotics, and could barely walk because the combination of it all made me so loopy they could have named a roller coaster after me.

I couldn't tell you the date of the first time I went in, thinking I was in Real Labor, only to be sent home. I think the total trips made was something like 7 or 8 though.

The night before the Frog was born, I Was Sure It Was The Real Thing, so I called my friend, and in we went. It was about 8:30. The nurses all knew me by this point, and it's quite possible that eye rolling occurred, though not in my presence. I laid on the bed and dutifully contracted, hooked up to the monitors and happily downing ice. At 11:30, I was checked for the fourteenth time, and the nurse said, "I'm sorry, dearie, but you are not showing any change. You're still just a little less than one. We're going to have to send you home."

My tears would not sway this woman's harsh words of judgement (!!), this declaration of Failure upon me, the Poor, Pitiful, Pregnant One, Destined To Be Pregnant For All Eternity. You who have gone this route, who have traveled this gestational trail with me, you know exactly what I'm talking about. There comes a point, no matter how desperate you were to conceive, no matter how much you loved being pregnant, that you are convinced that your case is going to make the Guinness Book of World Records: "Woman, 85 years old, still pregnant. Fetus estimated to be 64 years old, receiving medicare benefits and comfortable, with no plans to vacate the premises." We all think it. Admit it.

Well, I did cry. I sniffled. I honked into a Kleenex or 9. And my friend told me, "Look, you're just tired. Go home, take a shower. Go to bed. Sleep well. Wake up and have a baby."

So I did.

When I woke up the next morning, it was still dark. I think it was about 4:50 or so. I had to pee, but the floor was reeeeeeeeeally cold, so I waited. Again, you know what I mean. You wait and wait until you really have to go--what, to claim your bonus and make it worth the trip? So I laid there, wondering what the day would hold. I felt a light contraction go down my belly and around to my back, but I (ignorantly) ignored it, knowing that my body was as in to teasing me as that nurse had been.

Then it popped.

It was just the smallest feeling of a partially-deflated balloon popping, somewhere inside--maybe near a hip or something. But there it was. Since I had paid very close attention in the childbirth education class, I knew that there was no way this could be my water breaking, since it didn't trickle, and it didn't gush. So obviously, the baby just had hiccups....and was only going to hiccup once.

I got up to pee finally, at exactly 5:00 (because I remember actually looking at the kitchen clock--a habit I still have when I'm up in the middle of the night). I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, and I remember thinking, "Man, I haven't peed this much in months!" when I realized that there wasn't really the relieving sensation one gets when............Holy Smokes, This Might Really Be It!!!!

Sidebar: This was in the Dark Ages, before cell phones. We often used the house phone as an intercom, calling our own phone number, hanging up as soon as the busy signal started, letting it ring until someone somewhere else in the house answered, and then talking to them. Novelty stuff as a kid turned useful as adults.

Back to it: I called my mom, who was still sound asleep, and told her, "I think my water just broke. I should probably go in to the hospital and see what's going on." She asked me if she had time for a shower, and I said, "Of course! It just happened, and I'm totally fine. We have hours. Take your time."

Of course we had hours. "First labors," our Lamaze teacher told us confidently, "take ten to twelve hours on average. Your doctor will not let you labor for more than twenty-four hours from the time your water has broken." This translated to me as, "Your baby will come after suppertime tonight."

The problem was, now that I had told Mom to take her time, these contraction things were kind of coming quickly. Like, four minutes apart quickly. And they were strong. And they were lasting like 90 seconds.

For those of you unaware, that's heavy-duty labor stuff. For those of you aware, yes, they came on that suddenly, for Pete's sake.

By the time Mom came downstairs, I could no longer talk or walk through the contractions. I could barely stand--I had to lean on the back of a chair or on the kitchen table to support the weight of my belly and body. Walking out to the car was a trick--in the snow, on a narrow path, trying to lean on my mom and hold onto a bath towel. I had to sit on the towel in the car, see, to protect the leather seats. The leather seats of the Mustang convertible. They tend to ride a little low, being sporty-type cars. It's a special experience to lower a laboring body into a car in the first place, but sit it a mere 7 inches from the pavement, and it's something that could be shown at Cirque de Soleil for an added charge.

My parents' house is only 5 blocks from the local hospital, but my mother refuses to drive on the main street, which would have eliminated the five stop signs between her house and the hospital. Another special moment in time.

When we (finally) reached our destination, I was wheel chaired into L&D, breathing and panting the whole while, with the nurse rolling her eyes. I could practically hear them tossing around, like when you do the marbles-in-paint exercise in elementary school. But when said nurse examined me to see if any real progress was occurring, she prounced me a generous 5-6 centimeters.

I was elated, but too busy to think much about it. My mother was in shock. The nurse called my doctor. My mom called my friend. She ran a daycare in her home and had to call her parents to have them take their kids to their back-up sitters. This took a while--while we had arrived at 5:45, and my mom called her at about 6:00, my friend didn't make it to the hospital until about 7:30. This is all in the A.M.

I asked for something to help with pain. I was denied--"You're not in time for that. We can't give you anything at this point." WHAT?! Who wanted to do THIS with NOTHING??

I labored a lot in the bathroom, and after my friend had been with me for about 25 minutes, was brought back to the bed to be checked again, and was already complete. I threw up. It was 8:00.

I don't remember pushing. I was too tired. I remember sleeping between pushing contractions, but being surface-aware of the chatter going on around me. I remember that my dad came in after dropping my younger brother off at school, at about 8:15 or so, thinking he would have a nice visit with a heavily medicated daughter, and have lunch with me. Well, he was right about the lunch part--more like a champagne brunch though.

I am told that I made the profound observation, "It was much easier getting this baby in here than getting it out!" which made everyone laugh hysterically. I do remember thinking, "Why the heck is everyone laughing at me?"

I vaguely remember my doctor mentioning that he was going to give me an episiotomy (not that I needed one--he was big into cutting things that shouldn't be cut), but I was so sleepy he could have given me an appendectomy and I likely wouldn't have noticed.

My Frog was born on a Friday at 8:43 A.M., 3 hours and 43 minutes after my water broke. She measured 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and 18 1/2 inches tall. I was euphoric, and amazed at how good I felt (nevermind the stitches, please). No one had told me about the adrenaline rush that comes right after birth.

She was beautiful and healthy and pink and absolutely wonderful. Some of the lovely details of my dad being there with us are in the aforementioned post; do read it if you'd like.

I did go into shock briefly that afternoon--I was in the shower, and the nurse came to check on me when my mom said I'd been in there for 20 minutes. Since I have ridiculously low blood pressure, shock is a side effect of birth that is almost inescapable for me. I was stabilized quickly though, and it didn't seem to have too terrible of an effect on me bonding with the Frog.

We went home on Sunday afternoon, and when she was 3 months old, we moved into our own apartment....

I can't believe it's been more than 12 years that I've been a Mama. It gets better every day. I am so blessed.......

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