Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago, at this very moment, Patrick and I were on our way to the hospital.

We had been the night before - had been there all night. Labor had started, but wouldn't progress. So, they sent me home. We slept, had dinner, then came home to watch television.

It wasn't long before my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. But, I didn't want to rush in again. I walked. I took a bath. I used every trick they had given me. And the contractions kept coming, stronger and stronger, closer and closer together.

So, once again, we threw everything in the car, and headed to the hospital.

One year ago, at this very moment, I was trying to breathe through a contraction as Patrick talked to the nurse at the desk, explaining that we were back, and that we were pretty sure this was the real thing.

We were taken to a room. I was hooked up to a monitor for contractions. They did the prep work for the epidural - which I was needing more and more by the moment. After an eternity (probably only a few minutes, but I don't deal well with pain), the anesthesiologist came in, explained the process, and did the procedure.

Within a couple of moments, the pain was gone. Along with all feeling below my waist. It was a little scary, but at that moment, I was more scared of giving birth than being paralyzed.

One year ago, at a little after 11:00pm, the decision was made to break my water. Phone calls were made, and family and friends began the trek back to the hospital after the false alarm of the night before. My mother had only been home for a short while when we called.

The doctor came in, explained that they were going to break the water, because they couldn't get a strong read on the baby's heartbeat. Nothing to worry about, she explained calmly, as I quietly panicked. They would simply put a probe on the baby's head to monitor his heartbeat. More a precaution than anything else. Once that was done, I'd probably be allowed to sleep for a few hours until the contractions got closer together and I dilated more. A few more minutes, she promised, and you can sleep. Sleep at that moment sounded marvelous. With the pain gone, I was exhausted.

One year ago, at a few minutes before midnight, the nurse came in and broke my water, then went to place the probe. I watched as a look of shock came over her face.

"Umm. That doesn't feel like a head . . ." she said, looking to the nurse by my bedside, monitoring the machines. She rushed out of the room.

Within moments, the doctor was back (when did she leave? I don't remember, honestly). She was apologizing, and for a long moment, I couldn't understand why. And then, she said the magic words:

"He's breech. We're going to prep you for a c-section."

It's my understanding that this phrase usually strikes fear and anger into the heart of an expectant mother. All I felt was a warm rush of relief. No long hours of labor. No chance for the horror stories of the delivery room. And best of all, my baby was coming soon. Very soon. I was finally going to see the face of the child I had carried so long.

Suddenly, everything began happening very quickly. Medical preparations of all varieties were being made to me and around me, while Patrick held my hand, and we repeated over and over that our son would be here soon. Before I knew it, the nurses had leaned my bed all the way back, and had put a cap over my hair. Patrick was rushed to one side to cover himself in the ridiculous-looking clean-room wear.

For a moment, I was alone with the medical team, being transferred onto a stainless steel table, scared out of my mind as my arms were spread to either side. Ridiculously, I couldn't stop thinking that I felt like a fish laid out for the cook. Then, Patrick was back by my side, whispering in my ear, stroking my face, and my fear was gone. The anesthesiologist was hovering, explaining the procedures to numb me all the way to my armpits. I was in a fog, though, and for all I knew, he could have been doing a puppet show. All that existed in my world was me and Patrick, and the knowledge that soon, our son would appear from behind that blue sheet that was the limit of my vision.

I felt the pressure of the doctor's scalpel, but no pain. I felt the pressure of several hands pushing and prodding at my belly. And then, I felt a release of the pressure, and I knew he was here.

Seconds and eons later, I caught my first sight of my son, red, and shivery, and screeching. Not a full-fledged scream, at first, just a pathetic and angry growling sound in the back of his throat. And then, he found his lungs, and wailed. And wailed.

One year ago, at 1:34 am - just three and a half hours from the time I write this - my life changed forever. Miles Alexander entered the world and stole my heart. From the moment I saw him over that blue sheet, I knew that nothing would ever top this. Nothing will ever be better than the moment I first saw my son. And that I would never love another human being in exactly the same way.

Happy Birthday, Stink.

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