I’ve always loved this quote, somehow I thought, despite never having had children that it fit.
Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.
Kale’s birth is something I doubt I will forget anytime soon. The weeks leading up to it as also embedded very strongly in my memory as they were difficult and very draining. I lost a significant amount of weight before we had to induce Kale. For a while they thought my inability to keep food and liquids down was due to nausea that they attributed to the pregnancy. However, I kept telling people it felt like there was a rock in my stomach preventing things from going down. But, since I hadn’t had any previous problems, no one really thought it was a GI issue. For three weeks I got shuffled around and they tried a variety of anti-nausea medication on me & told me to stick to liquids. They even gave me suppositories.
I think in total I had 4 rounds of iv re hydration until we finally went to John C Lincoln & they admitted us. It was a strange day, I felt particularly happy and calm. This is after I had lost around 14 pounds and was worried about the baby, I think my body ran out of juice and the anxiety abetted. Every step along the way they drew my blood looking for infections and telling me that my body would take care of the baby.
It was difficult and scary, but I trusted they knew what they were doing and that things would work themselves out. Normally I’m someone who likes answers. I like to know what to expect and how things will go. It was difficult for me to stop working 2 weeks earlier than I had planned. It was even harder each day to try to force anything down and measure how much I thought I was getting. I was worried that the baby wasn’t getting enough. It was so bad the midwives were telling me to eat anything and everything I could tolerate regardless of nutritional value. I kept telling them it wasn’t a matter of motivation, it was a matter of ability. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t drink. My body keep throwing everything back up.
Finally, they admitted us and saw that I was vommitting more than I was holding down. After 7-8 bags of fluid and some mild contractions my ob called for a couple of consults and stopped my fluids. There was some concern because my body stopped producing a normal amount of urine.
After some serious talk, we decided to have an amnio to see if the baby’s lungs were developed enough to deliver him. I had two options-deliver early or get a pik line put in and wait another two weeks; but there my ob was cautious and mentioned that I might have had some internal bleeding (from an ulcer) and that was enough to propose induction. Clearly, we favored induction.
Now, through this pregnancy I didn’t have any complications. It progressed normally. We were on track for a larger baby. I had planned my maternity leave and scheduled things (including financially) accordingly. None of this was something I was prepared for. However, when presented with it, I tried really hard not to resent it or dwell on the possibilities. I knew keeping things in prospective would equal better outcomes not only for me, but for the baby. There’s too much data suggesting a mind body connection not only with the mother, but the baby. I didn’t want a distressed baby and I didn’t want his temperment challenged by what was happening with me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t freak out and have moments of doubt, fortunately for me, Michael was there to encourage me and lend support.
I decided to try the amnio. It didn’t work. Our doc found a pocket of fluid, but the baby kept getting in the way. He felt confident our son was healthy and developed enough to be born early.
Side note: I used to have a needle phobia, it’s been addressed. I was a human pin cushion and after that many sticks, it doesn’t bother me much to give blood to the plastic vampires.
We were moved into the delivery room. What I thought was a routine exam to check my cervix was more-the doc broke my water and almost immediately, contractions were in full swing. I wasn’t prepared for their intensity. I had read a lot about labor and had considered natural delivery. I knew narcotics were out of the question for me as I’m pretty sensitive to drugs and wanted to be present. After trying a few rounds of contractions I decided that I didn’t need to be a hero and asked for an epidural. I had been stuck so many times in the weeks leading up the delivery that being stuck in the back wasn’t something I feared.
I have 5 hours of contractions. I can tell you that they were the smoothest 5 hours of the whole month of January. I was semi-drunk from the epidural and happy that we were going to meet our son and that they could try to figure out what was wrong with me.
The only snuffu was a major case of heartburn and a desire to drink. Of course, at that point I was cut off from eating/drinking as they wanted to do tests as soon as they could.
Michael & my mother were in the room. We spent the time talking and laughing. It was very lighthearted and calm. The room felt right. Oddly, the time felt right.
Earlier than predicted, our nurse (who was absolutely awesome) checked me and found my cervix was dilated and thinned enough to start delivery. She called our doc and get us prepped. We did some practice pushing and when the doc came I pushed for about 15 minutes. Though the intense pain was blocked by the epidural, I could still feel the energy of the contractions and pushing felt good as it provided an outlet to cope with the strong waves that shook my body.
Kale was born without issue. He did have his umbilical cord wrapped around his head (twice), but otherwise he’s completely healthy. He immediately began to cry and we all sighed with joy.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to meet your child for the first time. All the anticipation and preparation wells inside of your chest and the euphoria floods your body and your brain and you can’t believe there existed a time when you didn’t have your child. I joke with Michael that Kale was made for me, that the universe created him for me as every body part, every sigh, every cry, every thing about him appeals to me.
Kale is such a blessing. He’s particular about things in a way that I can relate to. Yet, he’s very mellow and adapts well to things. He likes sleeping in his pack and play and he likes to cuddle. He makes faces in his sleep and has a high pitched cry that he uses when he’s stressed or is in pain. He’s patient and he’s calm when I suspect I’d be anxious. I’m excited to continue getting to know him and am grateful that he’s my son.
A point of sadness for me is that I can’t breast feed. I tried the first couple of days, but my doctors told me to stop because of the tests and medications they had to put me on/through. I considered pumping, but we didn’t know how long I’d need to be on medications and I felt my body was stressed enough and needed to recover. His pediatrician ensures us he’ll be fine as he has two children who are doctors who was raised on formula, so formula is just fine. Turns out, I was also raised on formula. A fact I didn’t learn until my mother told me after some tears about not being able to breast feed.
After birth, we stayed on the postpartum floor. The nurses there took good care of us and shared their hopes that I would be able to eat soon. (I lived off an iv bag for another couple of days.) Fortunately, the hospital had the capability to run several tests and determined I had a GI issue. It turns out, I have a condition called achalasia. According to the GI doc, I probably already had it, but it didn’t progress until recently. Multiple people have remarked on how “lucky” the baby and I are, in some sense I agree.
We stayed in the hospital for a few days before Kale was discharged. They had to do more tests to confirm my diagnosis and try to get me eating some soft foods before they’d let me go. The day they told me Kale was going home was one of the hardest days for me. I was so upset about him going home without me. I tried not to cry, but every time I thought about it, it felt like my insides were tied around my heart. Fortunately, our nurse empathized with us and delayed my room transfer so Kale and Michael could spend another night with me.
He went home the next day. I stayed for two more days. They confirmed my diagnosis and the team of doctors agreed it was a good plan for me to go home and be with Kale and recovery before getting surgery.
It’s been about a week. I’m happy to be home. I miss eating solid foods. It’s been about 6 weeks since I’ve been able to eat a normal meal. I have to process all my food through a blender, but it’s worth it to see Michael and Kale and be in our space.
I’ve developed a hatred for insurance companies. However, we see the surgeon on Friday and I’m hopeful that I’ll have the surgery and recovery quickly and be back on solids soon.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in this process, it’s to savor the moment. So, I try to appreciate my pureed foods, because a week ago I was living off an iv and throwing up. Today, I’m home with my son and my fiance. There’s no place I’d rather be.