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February 12, 2012 / Mettā Reiki Center

The Birthday.



Preface:  These posts are getting more and more difficult to write.  I’m not sure if the grammar/syntax is perfect here…between the writing and proofreading, it’s pretty emotional, but it a good way, I guess.  I don’t know.  But for what it’s worth, I’m sure there are tons of errors that would make my high school and college English instructors lay at least a dozen eggs.  Oh, well.  OK, back to the post…


After the visit with the NICU doctor, we hunkered down for another long night of every 2 hour blood pressure checks, praying for lower numbers but watching in horror as they climbed higher and higher.  First thing the next morning, we had a visit from the obstetrician.  I don’t remember the entire conversation, other than it was getting “close to time”.  I remember a lot of reassurances that everything would be “fine”, that 29 week babies do “just fine”, that we may be at a point where it would be better for her to be outside of the womb instead of inside.  My husband was making phone calls to family members while I stared at the ceiling. 


The obstetrician asked if we had talked about “how” we wanted to have the baby.  I had to bite my tongue hard to not snap a reply of, “Not this way, that’s for damn sure.”  The question was more related to whether or not we wanted to try to deliver the baby vaginally or opt for a c-section.  I was puzzled by the question, knowing that the labor and delivery nurse had told me I had several contractions through the night, some combined with heart rate drops in the baby.  I asked the doctor, “If the baby is already having drops in her heart rate with contractions I can barely feel, is it really safe to try to induce labor?”  “No.  But some moms are very passionate about their birth plans and I wasn’t sure if it was something we needed to discuss.”  No, my husband and I answered.  Our only birth “plan” was to bring our baby into the world as safely as possible to give her the best chance she could have at survival.  I joked with the doctor, “I guess if I have a c-section, I’m not in the “perfect mommy sorority”, am I?”  The doctor gave me a worried look – I don’t remember that she ever really answered.  She introduced me to another obstetrician, a handsome younger male doctor, who would be performing the c-section.  My nurse told me after he left that they had nicknamed him “McDreamy”. 


The labor and delivery nurse returned after my husband and I spoke with the doctor to start a medication called magnesium sulfate.  “It is neuroprotective,” she explained, “to prevent any neurological complications with the baby.”  After she started the IV, the neonatologist came in to do another ultrasound.  He quietly explained that the amount of blood flow going to the baby from me had decreased significantly. 


It was time. 


The magnesium sulfate was pouring into my vein.  I’ll be quite honest – my nickname for this stuff is “The Devil’s Elixir”.  It’s like getting an injection of the flu, vertigo, and the world’s worst headache – all at the same time and in massive quantities.  I felt like shit.  It took two labor and delivery nurses to help me up to get to a bedside commode because of the combination of vertigo and the fact that by this time, I had very little feeling in my hands or feet and wasn’t sure why that was happening…


My husband was suited up for the operating room – he looked adorable.  My family was there, all looking very excited.  I should be excited too, right?  Right.  And then I remembered…we never did get that tour of the NICU.  I wonder what it was going to be like?…my mind kept wandering in hundreds of different directions.  But I wasn’t excited.  I couldn’t get excited, no matter how much I tried to convince myself everything would be just fine.


I was wheeled to the operating room, and my husband kissed me at the door, promising to be back soon.  The labor and delivery nurse explained that I would be sitting up on a table while the nurse anesthetist started my spinal anesthesia.  No problem.  We entered the operating room and I heard Christmas carols playing on a radio.  It suddenly occurred to me that tomorrow was Thanksgiving, and I commented to my labor and delivery nurse how cool it was that there were Christmas carols playing.  The nurse anesthetist behind me called out from the door, “Would someone please turn that radio off so I can communicate with my patient?  Yes, thank you.” 


That was the last Christmas carol I would be able to hear, to this day, without battling tears.


I sat up on the operating table and heard my obstetrician come in, cracking jokes with the nurses.  He asked me, “do you have something you prefer to use for pain control?”  “Yes,” I answered, “Wine.  I like the sweet reds.”  The doctor chuckled, followed by a gruff remark from the nurse anesthetist asking us to be quiet while she worked.  My arms were draped around my labor and delivery nurses’ shoulders while the anesthetist worked on my back and I whispered to the nurse, “Does the anesthetist need to get laid or something?”  The labor and delivery nurse started giggling uncontrollably and whispered back, “You are going to SO get me fired!”


I looked to my right, through a window to see several people standing around a small table with a bright light above it, tiny breathing bags and tables of equipment everywhere.  One young woman with long dark hair was barking orders to other women in light blue scrubs that scurried about like worker bees.  “That’s the NICU team,” my labor and delivery nurse explained.  “God, there’s so many of them,” I whispered.  “That’s a good thing,” the nurse replied.  I felt a huge, hot lump in my throat and felt one more kick in my belly before my legs and stomach went completely numb.


I felt the anesthesia start to work and the nurse look down at my legs, asking, “Did you feel that?”  “Feel what?” I answered.  “Your legs moving?”  “No, I didn’t know they were doing that…” I answered.  “Pressure?” I heard the doctor bark out.  “200/118, still climbing,” someone replied.  The doctor’s mood changed and he snapped in a louder voice, “Get the Dad in here. Now.  Hurry the hell up, people.”  My legs were shifted up onto the operating room table like a sack of potatoes – I saw them twitching but couldn’t feel it, and randomly thought that was quite curious.  The doctor barked out an order to the anesthetist who quickly injected medicine into my IV, and the hot lump in my throat disappeared while oxygen was put on my nose.  Once my husband sat down next to me and took my hand, I was finally able to relax.


Time started to fly.  I looked at the clock when I came into the room; it was shortly after 11am.  The doctor gave us progress reports as he worked.  At one point, I could feel something moving around near my ribcage and I joked, “Hey, leave my tonsils, OK?”  The doctor laughed quickly, and said, “We’re almost there…”


I heard a suction machine and heard the doctor call out, “Meconium!”


I wasn’t a labor and delivery nurse, but I knew what “meconium” meant. I whispered to Ken, “Oh, God, why do they have to say that out loud?…”


…and we heard a cry.  “Here she is!” called the doctor.  I felt a surge of relief, and my arms immediately ached to hold her.  “Where did she go?  Aren’t they going to put her on my chest or something?”  My husband looked toward the room behind the glass door.  “They’ve already taken her away.” 


The labor and delivery nurse showed my husband into the room where they were working on our baby girl.  I laid on the operating room table while the doctor sewed me up, hot tears pouring down my face.  I wouldn’t get to see her.  No baby on my chest.  No bonding moment.  She was already gone.  But it was okay, because she was going to be fine, right?  She would be just fine.


Ken came back in with a huge smile, and held his phone as close to me as he could so I could see the tiny picture of the tiny baby.  “She’s two pounds, seven ounces…she is beautiful!”





Leave a Comment
  1. Jax Mully / Nov 26 2012 12:26 am

    Thank you for sharing your story! You are a wonderful writer. Your words brought back memories for me.

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