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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Best Five

Five years ago I weighed 50 pounds more than I do now. My feet were so fat and round and swollen that I couldn't wear shoes. I had to add Velcro to my Tevas in order to make something large enough to wear on my feet. I was still working full time. I expected approximately nine more days before my world turned upside down. Boy, was I wrong!

The next morning I headed out early to stop by Labor and Delivery Triage for my routine 72- hour fetal monitoring. I hadn't been feeling Zoe move enough for the past few weeks, and so my doc had put me on routine fetal monitoring every 72 hours. This particular morning the doc seemed to agree that she wasn't moving enough and she said it was time to have a baby.


I was on my way to work. I had a 9:00 am meeting. My lunch was packed and sitting in the car, but my hospital bags were not packed, and most definitely were not sitting in the car. It wasn't time, as far as I was concerned. This isn't how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to wake up in the middle of the night when my water broke. I was supposed to have contractions at home for a long while before they came close enough to finally go to the hospital. It wasn't supposed to be this way.

They let me walk to my room. It was the last time I would walk for a couple days. The nurse tried to start an IV. She missed the vein. I was already hyperventilating. I hate needles. I actually dreaded this part more than the entire birthing process. I had no idea....(!)

Next was the pill thingy that had to be placed next to my cervix. I was only dilated to a one (and only maybe that far). The Pitocin was simultaneously started in the IV. I had called Dear Husband just prior to all this hub-bub to inform him that we were about to have a baby. I gave him instructions over the phone as to what to go home and pack. I even sent him for some videos to watch, as I was prepared for a long go at the labor process. It was approximately 10 am.

I was wired up, and Zoe's heartbeat pumped rhythmically in the background. But then I noticed it was slowing. My Dear Mother was present. She is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital where I delivered. She wasn't working that day but had been on site for a staff meeting that morning and came to check on me in triage. She had been at my side ever since. My actual nurse was off somewhere else on the floor, but my mom was by my side and had already tuned into the slowing heartbeat before I noticed it. I finally said, "The heartbeat sounds like it's slowing down!" My mom called for my nurse and then decided she couldn't wait. In a flash she had retrieved the medicine that had been placed by my cervix to stop whatever was going on. The heartbeat steadied. The nurse finally came. The Pitocin was stopped (not sure if my mom stopped the Pitocin before the nurse came or if the nurse did this). I was given Tributilin to stop the contractions. I wasn't feeling them, but Zoe clearly was, and she didn't like it.

Much much later (like two years later) Mom and I spoke only briefly about "what if" Mom hadn't been there that day. I didn't even realize how serious it could have been until I heard my mom say, "I can't even let myself think about it." That was sobering to hear. My mom has been a labor and delivery nurse for as long as I can remember. She knows her stuff.

My doc entered the room, and very sensitively she informed me that I needed to birth this baby via C-section as Zoe was not tolerating Plan A. My eyes teared up, and hers did too. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. She held my hand and reassured me and validated my feelings, saying that both her children were born via C-section and it wasn't what she had planned either. Some papers were pushed in front of me, and I had to sign a line following some description of what horrendous things could happen next, including my own death. I had already called Dear Husband again and told him that I was going under the knife and that he needed to come. I told him not to hurry too fast as I didn't think it was an emergency, but in hindsight, it was a bit of an emergency. No one wanted to scare me, though, so they didn't tell me so.

My doc suggested my mom suit up for the O.R. in case Dear Husband didn't make it as they were about to take me back (don't know why the doc didn't let her in anyway--she let her in along with my husband when my son was born via C-section two and a half years later). Dear Husband walked in just as they were about to wheel me out. Next thing I knew, I was watching the ceiling tiles above my head and getting motion sick as they wheeled me through the hallway, into a room with big bright lights. I was already shaking from anxiety and the Tributlin. I was shifted and lifted onto a table that must have been barely 14 inches across. I was sure I was going to fall off. Then Dear Husband showed up in his scrubs and O.R. hat and booties. He took a seat by my head. They threw up a sheet so that I couldn't see them slice and dice my belly open.

The anesthesiologist began his work. I was trembling so hard that I couldn't hardly stand it. I kept reaching up to adjust my oxygen mask. The anesthesiologist barked at me to stop fidgeting so much and be still. I was already horrified without his scolding. I was numb from the waist down, and I was freaked out. My brain was telling my toes to wiggle, and I couldn't feel my toes doing anything. I was miserable. The doc told me I would feel tugging and pressure. I heard a squeal and then the doc said, "She's a cute one!" and they held Zoe up to my head to see her. I couldn't hardly focus; I was shaking too much. It was somewhere around 2 pm. It seemed a long long time as they sewed me up. They lifted me onto a different gurney bed, and I was horrified that I had no control as they turned me and flipped me and moved me. I was thinking that they could have just dropped me right on my face there in the blood splattered Operating Room and there wasn't a darn thing I could have done about it.

I was in recovery. I was shaking so bad. My heart monitor kept going off. I was miserable. Dear Husband was there, asking me when I wanted to invite my parents back. I wasn't ready. I couldn't even speak, I was shaking so badly. My mom later told me it was the Tributilin and it often gave people the shakes, especially when combined with the anesthetic. It was over an hour before the shaking stopped. The nurse kept coming back and pushing on my belly, and I ached with pain, but the worst of all was that I couldn't move my legs. I was so weirded out that I couldn't move my lower body.

Then Zoe was lying in the bassinet next to me. Dear Husband was talking about her, holding her. I felt like I didn't care. I was miserable. I couldn't hold her; I was shaking too much.

The next few days were a blur. Dear Husband roomed in with us and got up every time Zoe cried for anything. Every couple hours. He changed ALL the diapers for the first few days. He got up to change her and hand her to me to nurse her. He then put her back in the crib when we were done nursing. This routine went on for days, even after we went home from the hospital. It was a luxury I didn't know just how much I'd miss when I repeated this in another two and a half years without Dear Husband rooming in to help me.

And Zoe... She was beyond cute. I bonded with her almost immediately, despite being in shock and mumbling over and over again, "What an ordeal!" Dear Husband finally informed me that I had been repeating this over and over again for days.

We got in a groove, Zoe and I. Her daddy eventually had to return to work. Zoe and I bonded. We became absolutely enmeshed with one another, and it was glorious. Before this, I had worked full time for as long as I could remember. Now I had twelve solid weeks off from work to simply adjust to being a mommy. The days turned into a blur of nursing, napping, cuddling, going for lazy summer walks, baths, pictures, and kisses. It was a fabulous three months of bonding between Zoe and I.

And in the middle of it I made a career change. I would work a day and a half each week now. Despite the limited time committed to my career, that first day that I returned to the career world, I had a forty minute commute. Within two blocks of driving away from my daughter, I began to cry, and I cried for the rest of the commute. I couldn't wait to get home at the end of the day and hold my baby again. I remember dropping my stuff at the door that evening and running to her, scooping her up and holding her and feeling okay again once she was in my arms.

Five years later, the scenery hasn't changed all that much. I still work a day and half a week, and while I enjoy the break from motherhood, I also hate the moment of leaving my babies even with Grandma for one entire day each week. I know Grandma will be good for them and enjoy having them. I know my babies will love spending some time with Grandma. I need a break from them. But I miss them almost as soon as I drive out of sight from them. I can't wait to get back to them and scoop them up in my arms again at the end of the day.

Zoe has grown into an amazing young girl. No longer a baby. The roundness in her cheeks is disappearing, and it makes my heart ache. She is getting so tall. It's difficult to cuddle her in my lap anymore, though she still loves to do so. She's all arms and legs. She is so smart. It's not just me being a proud mom saying that.

I remember when Zoe was 18 months old and we left her in the arms of the nursery worker at our church. I hated to leave her. She would cry and cry when we left her. But Denise held her, and I stood around the corner listening to see if she would stop crying. She did. I heard her answering Denise's questions about what colors things were. Later Denise exclaimed that Zoe was the smartest baby she'd ever met. Zoe knew ALL the colors, including orange, black, brown, peach, etc. That was my girl. She spoke in full philosophical paragraphs when she was barely two years old. She knew the alphabet at 2o months. She could complete her alphabet puzzle in 5 minutes or less (we have the proof on video). She could count to 10 by 20 months, and she was potty trained at 22 months.

Now, just turning five years of age on August 4th, she can read. She is finishing the last in the series of Bob Books. She is doing double digit addition and beginning subtraction. She can find China and the United States and Africa on the globe. She can explain the science behind rainbows, and she can explain the difference between warm blooded and cold blooded animals.

When she was barely two years old, Grandma thought she was teaching something to my girl when they found a caterpillar and Grandma told Zoe that it would turn into a butterfly one day. Zoe informed Grandma that first it would have to make a chrysalis. I think Grandma learned more than Zoe that day.

She teaches me stuff all the time. Every day she teaches me stuff when she asks me questions like, "What are eyebrows for?" and "How do bugs drink?"

She is amazing, my little girl.

I cannot even begin to express my gratefulness that God brought her to me. That her life was spared in the hospital even before she was born. She has a powerful call on her life. I have no question about that. Words fall short in expressing my gratitude and amazement that this child was given to me, and my constant prayer is that I will somehow be empowered to parent and mentor her into the call on her life.

Five years has gone way too fast, and I have no doubt that the next five will go just as fast. Happy Birthday, my little girl! It's been the best five yet!


raymond pert said...

I love the power, drama, love, devotion, quick thinking, tears, joy, fear, confusion, courage, amazement, wonder . . . of this piece.

I enjoy your writing immensely and this piece is one of my very favorites.

It's a great tribute for Zoe's birthday. Who's it a tribute to? Your family. I'm deeply impressed with how your mother and husband came to your aid and help you and Zoe survive this difficult birth.

I'm rambling. I'm too impressed to be orderly!

Maternal Mirth said...

Great post, friend ... and Happy, Happy Birthday to Zoe. Happy, happy, joy, joy :)

CaraBee said...

Such a moving post. I can't imagine how hard her birth was on you.
She sounds like such an amazing girl. Happy birthday to Zoe!!

Anonymous said...

From Dear Husband's Mom: What a wonderful retelling of the wonder of our sweet granddaughter's arrival! She certainly thrives under the love and care she continually receives. Because of that love and the guidance of her parents, may she always sense God's love and seek His purpose for her life!

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

It sounds like we have a lot in common! I stumbled on your post and related to so much!