Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

It’s been 10 months since A. was born on February 9th 2008, and it is still hard to sit and write out his birth story. But here I go. I don’t expect that this will be especially well written.

On Saturday the 9th, my mom and uncle came down to Seattle to visit me and W. in the hospital. We had had a scary night the night before, which involved radiology staff coming in for a midnight ultrasound. As she and my uncle were leaving, my mom said, “Well tonight will be quiet and you two can rest.”   Within 30 minutes after they left at 7pm, the on-call OB in my OB’s practice came in and said that my recent bloodwork showed that my liver function test was elevated to 500. Normal levels are 0-40.  He calmly, nervously told me I was developing HELLP Syndrome and that he would need to deliver the baby within an hour in order to save my life. This OB is a paisley moustached large-stomached bow-tie wearing balding straight man who is apparently rude to nurses yet kind to patients, the only man in a practice of pretty cool, with-it women. He is not the person I imagined delivering my baby.  W. called my mom’s cell and in a shaky, urgent voice that made what was happening seem more real, told her and my uncle to turn around and come back to be with us– the baby was going to be delivered.  Not really the “labor announcement” I had dreamed about. But then, this didn’t feel like labor; it felt like an emergency surgery to save my life that may or may not result in a baby. Our birthing classes hadn’t even started yet. I was given gross stuff to drink that would keep me from choking on my own vomit during surgery, and Magnesium Sulfate to prevent seizures due to possible liver failure.  Everything started happening very fast. My uncle crying at the sink. My mom oddly calm. I was terrified, yet focused on the pressing dilemma of my unprepared ipod. I had been compiling music for my Birth Playlist, loading it with stuff I loved and stuff I didn’t really know yet, because I thought I had three more months to narrow the selection.  I told the OB and anesthesiologist that I would remain much more calm and sane during the surgery if I could listen to music, they said it was ok as long as I could still hear them.  Nurses talking, stressed, the surgery room better open up soon before my platelets go.  I was rolled into surgery with W. and my mom, they got caps and gowns. The anesthesiologist was rather chatty, drinking coffee, just doing his job. Epidural, metal table, bright lights. My body being lifted.  A curtain between me and the delivery. W. sobbing hysterically telling me You’re so calm, you’re so brave, I love you so much, oh my god you’re just laying there you’re so calm. I wasn’t calm, I was still with fear.  All of the music I didn’t know was coming on, I kept telling W. to skip to the next song. I was baffled by my mom’s calmness and even excitement (?) that this was a Birth (?).  She even took pictures. I am so so grateful she did take pictures because they are proof that I gave birth.  Proof to myself that this took place in real-life; not in a nightmare.  The perinatologist and the OB were doing the C-Section together. My mom said they were both sweating the whole time, concentrating.  There was a lot of tugging. It felt like something bigger than me was being tugged from my insides. I felt my numb body shake weakly like jello under the forceful tugging. He cried. I knew you would cry. February 9th at 9:09pm.  1lb 9oz, 12.5″ long. Nurses and a neonatologist were ready for him. I didn’t see him. There was more to the surgery after he came out, the placenta, tugging, sewing. Gagging. My body lifted to another table. Drugged. Laying down to meet my son. I was told where I was going, in the elevator, laying down, rolling down halls. I was scared to look at him. It felt like he wasn’t mine anymore. But that is him, that’s the baby my body made, somehow.  I got to touch him. I grabbed onto his foot. The nurse said that preemies respond better to gentle, firm cupping than stroking. But I got to hold and rub his foot before I knew better, and I carried that feeling of his foot in my hand for three months. I had called him Butterfly during the pregnancy. His movements had felt like butterfly wings.  So here we are. I didn’t think I would meet you this way, but this is it. You are here. “Hi, Butterfly Boy. I love you.”

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I wish I had started a while ago, when A was in the hospital. Or even earlier, when my pregnancy started to get all scary.  Or while we were trying to conceive…. I suppose I could keep going back.  Blogging communities are such a unique place for support and story-sharing. A blog writer can be semi-anonymous; that is, anonymous enough to feel free to talk about personal things without taking many risks.

I suppose many, or even most, contemporary American babymakers get a lot of comfort and support from our mainstream contemporary American babymaking culture– the effect of which is so much stronger than I ever thought. I didn’t think I cared about it. It turns out it had infiltrated my subconscious, probably before I could even say “Barbie.” I have deviated from the norm: by being gay, by having a miscarriage, by having a difficult pregnancy, by having a preemie, by nearly dying in childbirth, and by having postpartum depression (along with a host of other postpartum acronyms; ah the bouquet: PPPTSD anyone? How about PPOCD? PPAD?)  As I interact with other moms who had babies around the same time I did, I feel like there stands between us many layers of my otherness. I still enjoy their company, as probably one day my baby will enjoy their babies’. But I am frequently reminded of my differentness, and the different circumstances that got us all our babies. At least I am white (like they all are) and speak English as a first language (as they all do); otherwise, it might be too much to bear. So, maybe by having some virtual/blogging friends who are gay, some who have preemies, some who have dealt with depression or a miscarriage, or difficulty getting pregnant– maybe I’ll have all my bases covered, with the cumulative effect of feeling less strange. That is my hope.

I started reading Alexa’s Flotsam blog first, at the suggestion of a dear friend. As someone who had never read a blog before, I found the similarities between my and Alexa’s stories totally incredible, as though stars had aligned to make this amazing connection. It turns out she has hundreds of readers all over the world who share a similar connection. She is an amazing writer, with the uncanny ability to describe the big and the small in the same paragraph, without either losing any sincerity. I would read her posts with mouth gaping, “Oh my god, that is exactly what A is doing this week!”  And I would read the comments her readers wrote– so caring and encouraging.  I clicked around, and soon came up with several blogs I was interested in enough to check on regularly. I’ve been doing all this online stuff while pumping, so every night I’d see how people were doing.

I started to see a trend among the women whose stories I’d learned:  When it came to babymaking, they didn’t have it easy, one way or another. They didn’t have it normal. Sometimes it seems like the world could be divided into two groups: those who had babymaking easy-peasy, and those that had it world-crashingly difficult. I know that there’s a vast gray area between the two, even amongst the blogs I read. But still, the difference is there.

My sister-in-law didn’t have to miss a single day of work her entire pregnancy, “might have been a little queasy one day,” carried past-term, was in labor for 2 hours, and pushed for 20 minutes.  Whatever.

I’m glad you all are out there. And I’m glad I finally got the gumption to add my story to the mix.

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