Wednesday, September 27, 2006
My daughter turns Nine on Saturday.
And amongst the chaos, of preparing for her party under the stars, with her twenty most intimate friends, I want to take the time to reflect on her miraculous birth. It is a time to be thankful for her. It is a time to think how I am blessed by the everyday joys of having her in my life and it is also time to remember how she splashed into my life. Her entry into the world was a cue for wonders and to believe in everyday miracles for they happen everyday sometimes you just need a reminder.
My pregnancy was unique as all pregnancies are. I had a menstrual cycle through the first trimester. I only went to the doctor because I thought I had mono. But while in the doctor's office, waiting to seen, I thought... Just maybe, I could be pregnant.
And pregnant I was. I kept my miraculous secret, a secret for two days as I wanted to tell my husband on Valentine's Day, with baby clothes.I wanted his first Valentine to be from our little Scooter. His first Valentine from his wee baby.
I named my wee zygote Scooter as she scooted past the radar of us. She just scooted into our lives and well into our hearts. When we first heard that beautiful cacophony over the monitor, that whhhhaahhhh whaahhhwhaaa whhaahhh heartbeat and saw her flicker on the monitor, our hearts could not contain our joy. The miracle of a life is something to behold. It certainly had my husband and I star struck as we watched the ultrasound. We could not breath as watched her dance on the monitor before our eyes and with the back drop of the heartbeat had the two of us were riveted to the screen.
We had minor and major hiccups with the pregnancy. At 29 weeks, we had a scare during a full moon when our wee little Scooter wanted to come out. Our midwife met us at the crowded hospital where she called in advance so that I may have a bed. I remember being whisked in and forced to lie in a bed, they attached me to a fetal monitor, and while there was panic all around, I was trying to sing a calming lullaby to my wee Scooter I was trying to coax her to stay in for just a few more weeks. A few more weeks and she would have lungs to help her breath and she would not be torn away from us.
And somehow, through no medical intervention, she decided to stay inside until the day she was due. No rhyme or reason, she opted to stay in.
On September 30th at 6a.m. I had my first contraction.
Actually, that's a lie.
My first contraction happened the day before when I was running to catch the bus in the middle of a downtown intersection. I was tying up loose ends at work as my baby was due on September 30th, I had back to back meetings. I was running late when I saw the offending bus.
Whoa!!!!!! THE PAIN !
I remember just stopping on the street.
I remember holding the side of a skyscraper with my right hand and my left hand was on my belly. Just one sharp hit and it had me breathless, and I was holding myself up.
It was such a shock that I am certain I howled. I am certain I must have grunted.
Somehow I was not heard or noticed, as I had my first contraction. People kept walking with purpose all around me and there I was motionless and for a brief moment without air.
This contraction that was so unexpected that it did feel like a kick through my spleen.
I breathed in, I breathed out. I breathed in and ooooooout.
And the pain past, just as the people around me did. They fluttered about their business, while I stayed for a brief moment in suspended animation. When oxygen came back to my head and I could find my legs, I continued on my way.
I gingerly walked to the bus stop and waited for the next bus and my composure to return so that I could finish my meetings for the day.
After, tidying all my loose ends at the office, you find me on September 30th at 6am feeling my second contraction while lying in bed. It is a mild taste of yesterday and I am able to function as a normal human being.
I go to use the loo and there is the bloody show. The time has come. My baby is coming. I go back and lie in bed and listen to the birds chirping and the warm autumn air drifting through my open bedroom window. I am going to meet my baby today. I am going to be able to smell her, to hold her, to see her eyes, feel her skin, I am going to be able to nurse her in my arms.
I am talking myself through the day. I am envisioning a bath, I am envisioning a back rub from my husband and while I am 'dreaming' of the activities the pain begins to mount.
At 7:30am the alarm clock goes off. My husband, Boy Wonder wakes up. I tell him I am in labor. He smiles, kisses my belly and goes downstairs to take a SHOWER????
He is whistling in the shower, he is listening to the news, he is having a normal day.
Meanwhile, I rise from our bed descend to our second floor and begin pacing the halls. Walking back and forth. Millions of thoughts of self doubt are swarming through my mind in a flurry of contractions.
Boy Wonder turns on the radio in the bathroom. Boy Wonder shaves. Boy Wonder brushes his teeth. Boy Wonder tests the water. Boy Wonder takes a shower. Boy Wonder combs his hair. Boy Wonder gets ready for WORK?
I have opted to lie in our prepared birthing bed on the second floor, I am in the fetal position, he walks in and plops himself down in the rocking chair in the corner of the room.I look up. He begins to rock himself, his eyes meet mine. He looks at what he is wearing and then cautiously says'I guuuuueeess,I'mmNNNOOOOOOTgoingtowooork?'
I drag myself up from the birthing bed and pass the smiling, the freshly showered, the humorous, the 'non working ',clean man, rocking contently in our rocking chair, in our birthing room.
I start to walk the hall again. I go to one end of the long narrow hall then when I reach the end I return. Back and forth, back and forth. And all the while thoughts are zooming through my head as the contractions build. I am transported to an open field in sixty five years ago to where my grandmother is giving birth alone, I am in the hospital wing where my mother is in her 24th hour of labor on the hottest day of the year with no ventalation. I am thinking of my paternal grandmother giving birth to my father who was her first and weighed in at twelve pounds thirteen ounces. I think of all the birth stories that I have been told to me. I wince through then all and I think I am so unworthy of THIS club. This club, this club of endurance. What made me think I could be a mother?
I then talk myself through the fact that I can not walk away from pain I have to walk through it.
I re-enter my birthing room. My Boy Wonder has now changed into his birthing clothes. He slides himself down on the rocking chair and asks if I have seen his book.
He finds his book and proudly shows me the cover triumphantly, 'The Birth Partner' says he... HE cracks it open and reads aloud 'Chapter One... '
Now, Dear Reader, do not hate him. Boy Wonder went to every appointment with me to see my midwife. He went to the birthing classes. Heck, he even took a parenting class. He just did not do the last bit of homework and now he is cramming.
It is around 9:50 am.
I haul myself up again and walk down the hall to reevaluate my inadequacies in the birthing department.
When, what do I hear from down the hall?
Yes, that is exactly what I heard POWER TOOLS!
I walk towards the noise, towards the birthing room and there, there, in the birthing room is my Boy Wonder installing a new light fixture. I scowl at him as I slink back in the bed.
He then proudly points to a chart that he has made while I was 'away'.
He then says 'Oh, you should be having a contraction!' he says with enthusiasm,
and with that it came...
he timed it... as well as a many others.
and then the phone rings...
He answers it????What tha???? Yes, Dear Reader, he answered the phone.
it is one of my clients... I had a contraction, while Boy Wonder was on the phone with my client. My client then informs him that it would be in his best interest NOT to pick up another call.
Anyway back to us...
Back to the ' uncommunicative wife' and the Birth Partner. The Birth Partner has decided that I am not communicating appropriately, so he calls our midwife at 10:30 am. She tells him, that I have a longway to go and that I have to remain focused. She will arrive at our house at 1pm to help. She then asks to speak to me.
One thing about me Dear Reader, I have a very high pain threshold. And Dear Reader, I was able to 'talk' during a contraction. Our midwife had no idea about how far along I could be. Apparently women should not be able to talk while in full labor and who would have thought that I could have defied what the norm was.
Now, as I mentioned our midwife gave my husband instructions. She told him that I had to remain 'focused'. But focused to a woman in labor and focused to a man that is freshly showered and with power tools mean entirely different things. He took this cue or me needing to remain 'focused' as a perfect time to install a baby mobile above the birthing bed. I took this as a 'cue' to take a walk down the hall and think of ways to distract me from killing him.
When I slunk back the room holding my belly, I saw him smiling in the rockingchair, the showered face, the brushed teeth, the power drill in his left hand, the chart on the table, the Winnie the Pooh baby mobile above the bed...I just said,quite calmly 'You turn that thing and you die!'
I lay there for about a half an hour and then I started pacing again.
And then Dear Reader it all unfolded.
I wanted to relieve the pressure. My water had not broken. I knew it was going to be a long arduous day. But if the sac would just break.
I am focused and think if I just go to the washroom.
At this point my husband has had all he could bare with me. He tries to call the midwife's pager again and this time he reaches a pizza delivery place. He hangs up and calls again. Again it goes not to our midwife's pager but to a corporate switchboard. I should mention, that he did call the proper numbers. But while he was calling, a satellite crashed to earth and took down all paging systems from around the world for ten minutes.
10 minutes of not reaching vital number.
Boy Wonder after one minute of not getting through begins to panic. He makes an executive decision to call the landline of the midwives. He gets a hold of the receptionist and informs her that he needs to talk to a midwife. He thinks that things are really beginning to happen as he says this, I push.
He comes running into our bathroom with our portable phone and places the phone on the counter as he yells 'Oh My Gawd,It's the Baby!'
And I yell back that ' IT IS NOT!!!!'
I stand up and everything goes back in.
My husband screams back 'If it is not the baby you are in BIG TROUBLE!!!!'
Now, in Celtic folklore, being born in the cull/sac is one of the luckiest thing that can happen to a person. There is a belief that very few are and it is very special. To be born in the cull is looked upon as a miracle. Well, that was certainly the case with us, as I sat on the loo and pushed to relieve the pressure. Three strong guttural pushes and the baby came out in the cull.
The sac broke my baby's fall as she hit the toilet.
The cull exploded.
The umbilical chord snapped.
The chord snapped, in the right place.
I get up. My legs are shaking and I am hemorrhaging.
I try to get my baby out of the toilet. I can not stand. My husband, pushes me aside and knows from years of experience to move the seat UP, and he picks up our beautiful daughter who has not cried at all. She is just looking all around her like a sage, ole creature.
One thing I have not mentioned through this story has been the fact that I had a dream months before giving birth. I had a dream about my daughter's birth. In my dream I was all alone upstairs in my bathroom and the windows were closed and I could not call for help. In my dream, there was 'a voice 'that kept saying everything was going to be okay. In my dream, it told me to go to the tub to deliver.
And so I followed my dream. And I trusted the voice. I went to the tub, our great Victorian tub which supported my back and my legs and helped me deliver the placenta. I would never have thought of that on my own. It was a perfect place for me to squat. A perfect place to sit and breath.In and out, in and out.
And then the world came hurdling back to us.
We could hear the midwives screaming from the portable phone on the counter'PICK UP PICK UP!PICK UP!'
My Boy Wonder, my hero, picks up the phone, the midwives tell him to give me the baby or I will go into shock if I am not physically responsible for the baby. They also tell them that they have called emergency services and he better get down stairs and open up or they will break down our door to get to us.
They also instruct him to give me the phone.
They start telling me to hold the where the umbilical chord broke, they tell me that Iam the strongest woman alive, they tell me that help is on its way and to stay with them...
And all they while I am holding the umbilical chord, and my daughter and I are just looking at each other.
The paramedics arrive in a matter of minutes.
They take my baby from me and give her to my husband, they also give him a list of things they need from him from our house and then they start ot work on me.
I know that the situation is not good because they will not look in my eyes. They are just focused on trying to stabiize me. I want them to notice me. I want them to hear the voice too.
I want them to stop panicking.
I read one of the guy's names from his badge. 'Jim.'
'Jim!' he stops 'Jim, do you have any kids?'
'How many, Jim?'
'Jim, after each one, everything was all right, right?'
'Well, Jim, everything is going to be okay.Everything is going to be okay' and with that he looked into my eyes and I had him repeat after me.' Everything is going to be okay.'
He nodded and he paused. He looked at me in my eyes. I knew he saw me then. I knew that he saw me as a human. I knew that I was there and he saw me, not just a body that was bleeding away.
I had an IV, I was on a heart monitor and then my 'back up' midwife arrived.
She flashes a badge and said that she is legally allowed to give me these drugs.
And with that she injects me in my left thigh.
She then injects my right thigh.
With the help of the paramedics I get out of the bathtub and I am walked to my birthing room.
The midwife goes to work on stopping the clotts from traveling to my brain.
This basically means that the midwife sits on my chest and beats my stomach for close to twenty minutes.
No one EVER told me about the beating!
The paramedics are not allowed to leave me with the IV. The midwife is not allowed to take it out. Nor is she allowed to touch the heart monitor. The paramedics can not touch the drugs, nor can they touch the baby's med pac.
Very strange as it is all legal mumbo jumbo... But the paramedics and the midwife have to work as a team as the hospitals were in a crisis mode and not taking on any new patients.So this emergency team must work together so they can stabilize me as there is nowhere to go. I will die if the bleeding does not stop.
The drugs start to take affect. I am stabilizing but will need a bit more medical attention from the midwife and I certainly need the IV for another hour or so.
As the midwife works on my body, the paramedics clean up my bathroom. There was blood through out the bathroom and being the compassionate, caring people that they were, they took it upon themselves to clean my bathroom ceilings, floors and walls. They believed that I should never see it.
Our main midwife arrived when all the chaos had passed and my Boy Wonder had to talk the midwife out of the shock of missing the birth of Scooter. She had been a midwife for 20 years and this thing just does not happen. She has never missed a birth. She cries about all that could have happened. Boy Wonder consoles her.
The rest seems so inconsequential as the midwives took an hour to knit me back together, how they ensured that I had enough fluids in my body, how the administered Vitamin K into my baby, how they took all the vitals of Scooter, how the midwives gave my husband some drugs for him to cope with the shock. (He claims that he was just fine, but I do not think that if he was complete control of his faculties as he would have given me the phone to talk to my father when the midwives were knitting me back together...)
This story has been told a great deal of times by us. It is a story of my daughter's birth and my near demise. It is a story that still causes my husband to be overwhelmed with emotion when he gets to the part with the paramedics. The paramedics were taking control when he realized how out of control it all became. The paramedics allowed him to take in the whole story.
It is the story of how we became a family and when my daughter splashed onto the scene at 11:45pm and when the midwives left us at 6pm.
I do not know if I can say with a certainty that fate helped my wee family. I do not know if I would think of us as special as aren't we all? I would say that I do think of most days as having some kind of miracle in them, and sometimes we need to take the time to find it.
I can say that within my heart I am so eternally thankful for having each day.I am so grateful that I am watching my beautiful, wonderful, daughter, flourish. I am beholden with her laughter, her sense of being and her love of song.I am grateful that I can witness her endless compassion. I am grateful that I have the strength to stand by her as she makes mistakes. I am grateful for when I am there to watch her succeed. I am grateful to be there for when she struggles. I am so fortunate that I have experienced nine years of her. I am so fortunate to be part of her cognitive memory. And that she has filled my soul with wonders as she has been growing up.
And while her birth is just part of her story. It was only her entry. I know that someday she will ask for the whole story. The story of her birth. The story that may have her envisioning me walking down the hall and her dad with power tools.
I rarely think of what could have been lost that day. I only think of what I have. And what I have is a great story for my daughter to envision. What I have is a most wonderful husband that could never bare to think of me in pain, much less dying and not spending the rest of his life with me and power tools. What I have is truly a wonderful life with endless moments of miracles in being. And on my daughter's birthday it is just nice to have the reminder.