Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chapter 3: A Silent Delivery Room

I blame Hollywood for many things.  Not least of all, my misconception that the day that my first child was born would be the happiest day of my life.  I knew I’d scream and cry and probably threaten my husband but once that was over, the beautiful touching music would play, tears would flow, photos would be taken and pure joy would take over.  And really it is not even just Hollywood’s fault because I had lots of women tell me enthusiastically about how it was the best day of their lives.  Or at least second best only to their wedding or something to that effect.

So let me start by saying the day that Max and Addison were born was not the happiest day of my life. It was not the second happiest day of my life.  Were it to make it even on a top 10 list it would be in the top 10 worst days of my life.  Which is almost okay to admit because I never even saw them on their birthday.  I first met them the next morning after they were born.  So nothing about the night of their birth matched any sort of Hollywood scene I had anticipated.

The day they were born I was 31 weeks pregnant exactly and had no inclination they were on their way. Around 27 weeks I had been put on bed rest following some indications of pre term labor but two weeks later, those issues seemed to have gone away and I did not seem to be showing any signs that the babies were anything but snuggled in to stay.  I went to the doctor who felt very encouraged I would make it to at least 34 weeks.   I waddled along to go eat lunch with my family.  Then I went with them over to their brand new house.  Full of brand new furniture.

And I sat down on a beautiful red leather chair.  And my water broke.  Just like that.  Completely unexpected and unannounced.  On a brand spanking new expensive red leather chair.  So as a plus, even though there would be no sappy Hollywood ending, at least their birth would begin with a nice hilarious scene.

As we then drove to the hospital, I was just completely shocked and confused and upset.  I just kept saying ‘but it’s too early!’  There was no excitement, only intense fear.

More comedy would ensue at the hospital where they seemed convinced that I had instead merely peed my pants and decided to cover it up with a whole elaborate water breaking story.  So I had to wait for an hour while they ran tests on the fluid to prove that I had not merely wet my pants.  At some point in this hour, the pain came.  Which you would think I would realize were contractions but I was in far too much denial to acknowledge anything that real and was just annoyed by the pain and everyone who spoke to me.  On the top of my list of annoyances was that they would not let me drink or eat anything… just in case I ended up needing aneathesia.  Which seemed like the most ridiculous possibility I had ever heard so I proceeded to beg everyone who came into the room for Diet Coke.   I am pretty sure I spent more time on the night of their birth trying to sneak contraband beverages than I did preparing for what was about to happen.

Within a couple of hours of waiting for the world’s slowest ultrasound tech to come and look around, I stopped groveling for food because I was in far too much pain.  By the time they told me that there was nothing they could do to hold the babies off because they were coming that night, I was more relieved than surprised.  When they then came and told me I would need general anesthesia due to a low platelet number, my only question was ‘how soon?’ Had I been in less pain or known about this prior, I would have mourned not being awake at their birth.  I would have lamented missing those first put the baby on your chest moments.  

But some time during the contractions, fear and impossibly long ultrasound, I stopped caring that my babies were coming 9 weeks early.  That I was not going to be awake for their arrival.  That my husband would not be allowed in because I was under.  None of that mattered as much as stopping the pain.  At the time I just saw the anesthesia as an end to the agonizing cramping.  What I now realize was how much it protected me from a far greater pain.  

Max and Addison entered the world without a sound.  'No respiratory effort' is what is says on their medical charts.  What that means is that it was a silent delivery room.  Silent until the panic began and they got my pale limp babies hooked up to machines that would start to make them look like the cute pink squirmy things that I would see many hours later.

A silent delivery room, babies born not breathing- there is no room for scenes like that in sitcoms.  Those are not the images of the best day of your life.  Or second best. 

But thankfully I had no idea.  I was completely out.  No one even told me.  I would learn about the silent delivery room weeks later when I heard doctors giving their medical histories.  By the time I met them the next morning, they seemed little and perfect and I didn’t start my motherhood journey terrified. That would come later.  But I am grateful I didn't know in those precious first moments of motherhood about their delivery; I am so thankful that the anesthesia sheltered me from a fear and a pain I just was not ready for yet. 

Their unexpected and dramatic early entrance seemed so surprising at the time, although looking at it now it seems only completely fitting.  As if to foreshadow all that was to come, their arrival was as atypical and memorable as their lives are proving to be. 

1 comment:

Kristel in Amarillo said...

Stephanie you are quite the talented writer and blessed mommy. I love reading your blog...and your new book. I also sometimes only get on Facebook just for a max and Addie update. Your journey is to be celebrated. I don't even remember exactly how I found you on Facebook...through friends of friends... Thank you for sharing. You and your sweet babies brighten my day.