My Birthstory | Giftie Etcetera: My Birthstory

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Birthstory

Pregnancy and childbirth are wretched and unjust. Let's just consider the pregnancies that make it to live birth and pretend devastating miscarriages never happen.

Some mommies never vomit. Some do. Violently and often, especially that first trimester. Some mommies enjoy the second trimester as a gentle if strong breeze. Some have weirdo eye infections that leave them temporarily blind and swollen in both eyes for months. Third trimester comes too quickly for some to get the shopping finished. The rest of us lie on the couch, unable to work, make money, or care for ourselves or our other children.

Then there's the childbirth. Labor pains six days since 30 weeks, usually for twelve hours or more. On my precious Loki's birthday, labor from 1:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. plus hard, desperate pushing from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. A heartbreaking c-section, not for the pain of the section that will come later, but because you will be seperated from your baby - a part of yourself - for an hour. A mere hour. An eternity.

When that hour turns into four, it becomes unbearable. At hour number five, you can no longer tolerate it. Your epidural is long since gone, the urge to vomit is only from your mental state and no longer because of the drugs you have been given, and you know you will walk - now - staples and pain and all. You drag yourself up and head down the hall, because your very heart is in the NICU. Birth: 9:18 p.m. Arrival at NICU: 2:19 a.m. Sweet agony.

Recovery cannot happen while in the hospital bed. The food is bland and scary. The drugs only mask the physical pain. Your older child cannot visit enough. His chest cold is raging, so he is a risk to the family, especially mommy and baby. Your husband is falling down from exhaustion. He hears you cry at night and jumps to hold you and wipe away your tears, but there's no room for him to share your bed. Your tender abdomen blocks the space. The bathroom means chills during your hot showers, bloody pain, and mind-numbing fear that your bladder will fail and put an abrupt stop to your precious NICU time.

Visitors are both too many and too few. You cannot be alone with your thoughts. You count every second of distraction as a blessing. Then you mourn every second. Could you have spent that fifteen minutes of football gossip on your NICU visit, your sleep, your toddler? The joy of showing off your precious baby is tempered with the guilt of denying daddy that visit, since only two people can be in the NICU at once. Grandma wants to - nay, will - hold the baby. Her flesh and blood, but twice removed. You struggle to share and not share at all. Time is too precious, too limited, too much like the droplet of breastmilk you barely produce after 20 minutes of hard work and then spill onto your bedsheet at the last moment.

Pumping is the ultimate injustice. You smile at your nurse, your lactation consultant, your mother. You grimace at feeling exactly like a diary cow as the machine makes your nipples look abused. You get that bit of milk and feel proud. You get that phonecall - he's on pure IV fluids and we'll freeze your precious antibodies and destroy them with the cold - and you plan your revenge. Your smile becomes your razor, cutting across the room at whoever says to keep pumping. But you dare not stop. Someday, someday soon, he'll need you to feed him. Someday soon, when he turns toward you, you'll be his best defense against the infections that are right now, with blood tests to confirm it, wracking his body. Nothing serious, they say. He be fine in a week, maybe two, they say. He's strong and will be okay, they say. So you hook your body to the torture device, every three hours. You thank God for the formula he does get and for the fluids when the formula is ripped away from him. You hope that the massive amount you produced tonight, probably a hundred drops instead of the usual four, means it will all be worth it. You learn that if you are crying with the heartbreak of missing your baby, you produce more. The injustice grows.

The doctors and nurse practioners call. You understand that you are, coldly and ironically, blessed to have nurse practioners call. It is the healthy sick babies that merit the NP. Really sick babies get the neonatalogists. You know, for real, that one day, this month or early next, your baby is coming home. You know, because you merit the almost-a-doctor-doctor. They report fast breathing, so no bottles. The goal - respiration under 70 per minute and three bottles and then the breast. The second xray rules out pneumonia. It's just fluid. Nasty, choking, if he had only turned face down and vertical if would disappear, fluid. The bowels aren't gassy enough. No bottle yet, because his tummy is rejecting them. No explanation, as the bowels appear healthy enough but not gassy enough. IV only - not a drop of the precious breastmilk or the live-saving formula - until the xrays are gassy enough.

The older child understands brother is out. Where is brother? No visits until the older child can not cough. No truly explaining it. Older brother cuddles with mommy. Mommy cuddles back, then rips away from him with claims of staples, the baby that isn't there, and hunger.

The NICU nightmare. Baby cries if mommy enters room. Mommy holds baby until her arms are falling asleep. But placing baby on the open-air crib leaves him screaming. All he wants is mommy. Mommy needs to rest, to eat, to tend her broken heart. Mommy needs to hold baby and never rest, never eat, to mend her broken heart.

He's not coming home at least until a week after birth. Tomorrow, on Tuesday, the hospital kicks mommy out. Mommy will no longer share the same roof with her own flesh and blood. Older brother will suffer 5 a.m. wake-up calls to avoid traffic on the way to the hospital. He'll play in the hallways and earn bitter looks from the weary patients and staff at his audacity to be the two year old he happens to be. Tuesday is the real nightmare scenerio. Tuesday, I go home without my baby.

Every person tells the truth. He is well-taken care of by the nurses. Pumping is so good for him. You get to rest.

Every person tells the lies. He is not loved by the nurses. Pumping is useless when everything sits, broking apart in the freezer. No mommy rests without her heart.

I miss Ander. I miss Loki. I miss lying in bed next to my husband. I miss chit-chatting with friends and walking by a lake and solving a difficult court case. I miss owning my own body with dignity. I miss french fries. I miss living a life. There is only one solution - my dream, my future even, but not my today. Sometime, next Friday? Next Saturday? Three weeks from now? Sometime, my toddler will sleep in his big boy bed, my baby will cuddle in his crib, and my husband will sleep by my side. Finally, my dreams will return to dreams and the nightmare will end.



Stac Cole said...

Oh Kristy. That made me cry. I cannot imagine what you are going through...I really can't. Just know that you have a big huge family (which undoubtedly are sometimes, ok most of the time, clueless) and a great set of friends (some of us act as both) to support you, Alan, Ander and Loki. Please please please let me know if you need ANYTHING. I'll even scrub your toilets if you need me to.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about all the problems. Wish you could take your boy home with you when you go tomorrow. When not at work, I am not far from Woman's Hospital so give me a buzz if you need anything.


Frog said...

Ahh, that made me cry too! I can only pray that things get better soon for all of you!! If you need anything, let me know. I'll take off work to help!! I'm off on Friday if you need someone to watch Ander, drive you to the hospital or just sit and talk. I wish I could make it all better for you. Lots of love!!

Mamaebeth said...

That was beautifully written

Misty said...

my heart is breaking right there with's true that IT'S JUST NOT FAIR. my love to you, to Alan, to Ander and sweet Loki.

Unknown said...

Kristy, I have tears for you and your family. I am thinking of you and praying for you all. It is my wish for you that this time that you are separated from your precious new son passes quickly and that you will begin making wonderful family memories soon!

pacatrue said...

Our thoughts are with you as well. As a slight cheer up, notes from the amazing quiz message board!

McKoala: Congratulations Giftie!
McKoala: McKoala is a lovely name.
blogless_troll: Congrats Giftie!
sarah: Congratulations, Giftie!
Precipice: Yay, Giftie!!!!! Congrats!!! And I hope you recover quick!

Anonymous said...

Im so sorry to hear what you and your family is going through. My just broke reading your story it and I sit in tears, wishing I lived closer so I could offer help.
You are in my thoughts I hope Loki is will be able to come home very soon.

Anonymous said...

Kristy, Oh how my heart hurts for you right now. Reading this, tears streaming down my face...I cannot imagine the tortured pain and conflicted emotions you are all dealing with right now. You are all certainly in our prayers. Hold on, hold on, just hold on a little longer. You and Alan and Ander can do this, I know you can. It doesn't feel like you can, but I know you can, and you will. Give yourself a big hug for me and know I am praying for you all. Leah

Janelle smells said...

I wish I could print this... I wish that all the nurses on my floor could read this Kristy...