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Monday, May 16, 2011

Hugh's Birth Story - Part Three

Once I was comfortably situated on the hospital bed, all the vitals were checked. The midwives came in (more as doulas than in their capacity as midwives since they aren't contracted with the hospital here) and helped me through the labor. I continued pushing through the contractions and it became clear that while Hugh would start to come down a bit during the pushes, he was slipping right back up as soon as the contraction and pushing were over. Basically I was going back and forth between being at 9cm and 10cm.

If time had been a blur at home, it was warped into something completely unrecognizable at the hospital. It might have been a few minutes after I arrived, but I think it was quite a bit longer, the doctor on call came in to check on my baby and me. Right away he suggested putting me on pitocin, but I convinced him to let me try pushing for a little bit longer on my own to see if we could get things to progress naturally.

Two hours of intense pushing later he came in again. I think by that point they had me hooked up to oxygen because I was nearly to the point of complete exhaustion. I didn't have two legs to stand on to refuse the pitocin that time around. I was running out of energy and I hoped it would help my muscles do what I struggling to do. And, just as I had heard, that darn pitocin made the contractions longer and closer together than they already had been. What I thought then was exhaustion was nothing compared to what I experienced with the pitocin.

But, I started to feel a new wave of energy come when they announced they could see the baby's head, along with his dark hair.

Okay, I thought to myself, one more push. Just one more push and then he'll be here.

That precise thought continued echoing through my head for nearly three hours more of pushing. Had I known it was going to be three more hours, I would have thrown in the towel right then. But, I really thought the very next push would be the one.

The doctor came back in around five in the morning. This time when he checked me, he immediately insisted on an emergency cesarean. I was still convinced I could push my baby out, but something about the doctor's urgency quieted any fight I had left in me. They took me off the pitocin and brought in more paperwork than I knew what to do with - agreements and releases and practically signing my life away. Honestly, I have no idea what all I signed. I was delirious and just wanted it to all be over.

All the while I was in that stage where the urge to push is so strong that trying not to push took more energy than just allowing my body to do its thing. For about an hour I fought the urge to push, while waiting for my turn in the OR. Just after 6am things got moving.

I remember the anesthesiologist explaining what he was going to do and it going in one ear and right out the other. Just as he was about to stick that foot-long needle in my back a contraction neared and I begged him to wait until it had passed before I jerked just enough to paralyze me for life.

The numbness spread quickly and pretty soon the muscles that had been working for twenty-two hours had a break. I was tired. I was disappointed to be laying on an operating table with my arms stretched out and a blanket covering my view of the arrival of my baby boy. But, mostly I was just anxious to finally meet my son. I just wanted him in my arms. I wanted to get to know him, to know his smell, to feel his skin, to kiss his soft cheeks and whisper in his ear how much I loved him and how long I had waited for his arrival.

Marc was standing above my head, dressed from head-to-toe in blue, holding the video camera. (I don't know if he got permission, but no one seemed to notice or care.) He had to tell me when they had Hugh out. There was no cry. I watched Marc walk about twenty feet away where there were two nurses hovering over a table, and I knew they had my baby. I didn't know what was going on. I was so anxious to hear his cry.

When I finally heard his raspy little cry, I felt relieved. But, since they were still working on him and since he still hadn't be introduced to me, I knew something was wrong. With all my worrisome questions swirling around my tired little head, one of the nurses hurried to my side with my little boy in her arms. She leaned his face down to mine, allowing me to kiss his little cheek, before whisking him out of that operating room. I had no idea that little kiss would be the closest I would be to him for three hellish days.

Later I would find out that the doctor's urgent decision to do a c-section was based on some of the darkest and thickest meconium that came out when he checked my progress at 5am. Hugh had inhaled so much meconium while in utero that an x-ray of his lungs showed big globs of it all over. He was immediately taken to the NICU and hooked up to a CPAP oxygen mask, heart monitors, lung monitors and who knows what else.

After getting me stitched back up, they took me back to my hospital room to recover and await news of Hugh's condition. Whenever my nurse would come in to check on me, I would beg her to let me see my baby. I was ready to make my way down to the NICU with a very unflattering army crawl if I had to. She kept saying that there was no way they could take me to see him, but that they were trying to figure out a way to bring him to me.

I don't know what strings she had to pull, but sometime around 10am she wheeled me, still laying in my bed, down to the NICU (something she said had never been done there). Seeing Hugh hooked up to all those machines made my heart hurt. I was scared, but trying so hard to be brave. I couldn't even consider the possibility of death. I couldn't go there. I had to believe that he would be okay.

With everything he was hooked up to, I wasn't able to hold him. And, I could only reach far enough to massage his not-so-little foot. I had never seen such large feet on a baby. And there was something about his healthy 8 pounds 11 ounces that reassured me that he was ready to fight.

My time with Hugh lasted less than thirty minutes. I shared that time with Marc, my Dad and Ben. In that brief time, Hugh was given a blessing of healing, which he received at the hands of his father and his grandfather. That simple, but sacred, moment allowed me to leave my baby's side with faith and courage, knowing that his life was in God's hands and so was mine, which would end up carrying me through the coming days.

Within a couple of hours, I would find out that Hugh would be transported down to the same hospital where I gave birth to my twin daughters, with its higher leveled NICU. When I got the phone call, informing me of the move, my heart sank.

No, not that place, I thought. Not the place that represents the deepest, darkest hole of hopelessness and heartache. Not the place where I lost my babies. I can't lose another baby to that dark hole of a place.

I was supposed to have gone back there for follow-ups after losing the twins. I never went. I couldn't muster the courage to go back to the same building, the same hallways, the same doctors. I avoided it all. And, now I would be forced back, this time under different circumstances, but still with a heaviness following me.

But, first I would spend three very long days recovering in a hospital nearly three hours away from my newborn son. Those three days would be spent watching the brief footage that Marc captured on video of Hugh's first moments of life. I memorized every facial feature, the sound of his raspy voice, the shape of his head, his lanky fingers and toes, the cute overbite of his little mouth, the cone-shaped bump on his head from the intense hours of pushing he endured with me. Those video clips would keep me company through our separation.

While there was relief that Hugh had finally arrived, I think I felt more anxiety than I had ever experienced at the unknowns of what awaited me in the following days. Not only at bonding with my son and doing everything to bring him back home, but how I would handle reliving the memories from the summer of 2008 that were still waiting for my return.


candice said...

Okay, scratch said earlier comment---I TOTALLY REMEMBER THIS!! Oh, I feel like i am reliving it with you. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that but so grateful it all turned out in the end and you had the Lord to comfort you through it.

Clark, Jolie and Avery said...

Megan, you've been through so much. My heart aches just reading your story and imagining all the raw emotions you must have felt at the time. I'm so happy to know that this story has a happy ending!