Photo credit John Norling
I spent many hours of my disability-ridden pregnancy watching TLC's A Baby Story. I was fascinated with the various ways babies are birthed, and I just wanted to prepare myself for what to expect when my time came. I was usually moved to tears each time the precious baby made his or her grand appearance and was placed in the mother's arms. An everyday miracle, for sure.
So, this is my baby story.
If you've known me for a while, then you know that Michael and I met many years ago, but that we had just recently married in late 2007. It was a happy marriage, but we had our challenges when it came to getting pregnant. Several attempts with IUI and then an IVF in March 2009 were unsuccessful. Then Michael was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2009, and all attempts to get pregnant were put on hold. Once he passed, I took up the quest again, and became pregnant in late summer of 2010 via IVF.
After a difficult pregnancy riddled with morning sickness (and other digestive upsets), migraines, sciatica and other back problems, and edema, I opted for a c-section on May 18th. I was so ready to have my baby in my arms at last!
I could not sleep at all the night before Michaela's birth. Yes, I was excited, but more than that I was too uncomfortable to relax and fall asleep. So, when it was time to get up before the sun rose and get ready to go to the hospital, I was eager to do so!
My sister had spent the night with me, and she drove us to the hospital where our parents met us for a moment of prayer. Once we were in the pre-op room, we were met by two nurses, one of whom is a friend of Julie's from church. The nurses monitored the baby for a while, got my IV started, and then walked me to the operating room. Once there, my OB held me (isn't that sweet?) while the anesthesiologist gave me a spinal block. What a weird sensation that was - my legs became numb very quickly, and then they lost all sensation.
There were so many people in the OR - several nurses, three or four doctors, a nursing student and her advisor (who was also a friend of my sister's from church or Bible study). Finally, my sister arrived and surgery began. I wasn't nervous, just curious about everything that was going on, and so eager to see my baby. My sister prayed with me as we waited.
Then we heard Michaela's first cry, and a nurse came around the curtain to give us our first look at her. The first thing that I noticed was her full head of hair! I knew she was going to have hair on her head, but it was so long and thick! Then they whisked my baby away for a quick check up, and Julie went to observe.
That's when things got a little crazy!
The doctors began to finish up the surgery by having the surgical nurses count the equipment that was used. They counted several times (each time their voices became a little more distressed), and it seemed that a piece of equipment was unaccounted for. There was talk of getting an x-ray machine into the OR to find the missing piece, and I began to worry. I felt very helpless in that position, and my sister wasn't there with me any longer because she was with the baby. Fortunately, the anesthesiologist was right behind me and he was a really nice guy. He kept talking to me and asking me how I was doing. I told him I didn't feel right. In retrospect, I think I was starting to have an anxiety attack. He said he could give me some medicine that would make me feel a bit drowsy, and that it would take the edge off of my fear. I told him to give it to me! Minutes later, the missing piece (a sponge) was found. It was just inside me, and they had not stitched me up just yet. Crisis averted. Whew!
But, another crisis was taking place with Michaela.
Prior to the c-section, she had aspirated meconium into her lungs. So, her pulse oxygen wasn't normal. She was allowed to go with me into recovery, and we began breastfeeding right away, but when she didn't improve, she was taken to the nursery for monitoring. We were separated for eight hours while the doctors and nurses made sure that she didn't need to be taken to the NICU. Finally, her pulse ox became normal, and by about eight o'clock that evening we were reunited. In the meantime, my sister had taken family visitors one-by-one to the nursery to meet Michaela, and she took my Flip camera and made little videos of her for me. I was so tuckered out from all the excitement, and my sister kept me so well-informed, that although I missed Michaela, I did not stress about her condition. When we saw the pediatrician a couple days ago, he told me that the timing of my c-section was fortuitous because she could have been much worse off if she had been born later.
From that point on we were allowed to room-in together. I studied every aspect of her sweet self, and I could see Michael all over her - her hairline, her eyebrows, her nose, her eyes, her left ear because of the way the top of it "folds down" just like his did, her upper lip. She is a beautiful reminder of her daddy.
I put her to the breast on a regular basis, and she nursed like a champ. But, after a couple of days, the nurses advised that we begin supplementing with formula. I don't remember why exactly. Perhaps it was because of the amount of weight she'd lost since birth. We used a plastic syringe to give her a small amount of formula with each breastfeeding. It was a pain in the butt, and just the beginning of our feeding challenges.
Our stay at "Hotel Hoag" was very nice. Julie and Michael's mom took turns staying with me overnight. The nursing staff was wonderful, with one exception (and I simply asked that she not be assigned to us again the next night - problem solved). We had a view through a huge window looking up the coast toward Huntington Beach, the food was pretty good, my recovery was normal, etc.
Come Saturday, I was discharged and we headed home to start our new life together. Every day I learn something new about baby care, or what she likes or doesn't like. I've also learned that everyone has an opinion about the way things should be, but the one that really matters is mine. I'm her mommy, and she's ultimately my responsibility.
She's an easy baby, now that we've got her feeding routine figured out. She loves the bottle, loves to cuddle, and each day she becomes more aware of her surroundings. She is a miracle, a delight, a blessing from the Lord, and the answer to my prayers. I couldn't be happier.
And that's my baby story!