Sunday, December 18, 2005

For L. at 10 months old

Ten months ago today L., you and I nearly lost everything. I don't like to think about the could-have-beens, but occasionally, out of the blue, my breath catches on the memory of what did and what could have happened at your birth. Like tonight when I was holding you and rocking you to sleep, I looked down in your drowsy face and felt awed by our connection and then slammed with a could-have-been. I wondered how your father would have fared if one or both of us had been lost.

I guess I could put down what precisely happened, eh?

One week after your due date, I was admitted to the hospital for an induction. You had been flipping back and forth out of breech position. Once you had your head back down, we scheduled an induction pronto. My other choice was to wait to go into labor and probably wind up with a c-section since none of the doctors around here will deliver a breech baby vaginally. I thought an induced labor was a better choice than a c-section (and still do). After several hours of pitocin, it was time for you to be born. (This is where things get fuzzy for me.)

Apparently, you decided your umbilical cord made a good necklace. The doctor got that untangled, and you were born reasonably pink and squawking. As if that weren't alarming enough, it turned out the placenta that kept you alive had some undiagnosed problems. It came with a huge gush of blood even before the doctor finished cutting your cord. As if that weren't enough, my blood pressure fell through the floor (don't know how much was because of the epidural and how much was because I hemorrhaged like crazy). I have fuzzy memories of my blood pressure being read every 5 minutes and being nervous when it got down to something like 50/30. I do have vivid memories yelling at the medical staff that I wanted my baby right now and nobody was paying me any attention. I finally yelled at your dad (who was understandably freaked) that if I couldn't be with you, the very least he could do was go take a look and tell me that you were indeed a girl.

I wasn't the least bit frightened when all the craziness happened at your birth. I was too busy being mad that a) the epidural DID NOT WORK and b) nobody would give me my baby. My biggest fear was that I couldn't fake it well enough with our doctor to get out of having a blood transfusion. Now that we are ten months out from the experience, I've lost a lot of my anger. I'm very thankful that the only real repercussions were an extra night in a miserable hospital and the occasional moments that take my breath away when one of those 'what-ifs' pop into my head.

I know others who were not so lucky. Their undiagnosed placental problems and umbilical cord issues led to critical oxygen deprivation for their babies. Their hemorrhages led to emergency hysterectomies and massive blood transfusions. It is sobering to think of them.


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