Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Memories of Birth, Teale, part three
When the doctor got to the hospital, I was relieved to realize it was a high school friend's Dad. Another friend's Dad would be involved in this child's birth, how strange life can be. There was no rush to get me into surgery. He didn't show up in a panic, like he had been told we need to get this baby out. I often wonder about this and if my daughter was still doing well inside me at this point? Would she have been born without issues had there been a rush to get her out? The day and hours before her birthday every year are one of my toughest times still, I can't help but think she had been "normal" until the waiting began. There is much proof of my feelings. A monitor strip of her heartbeat in her hospital records was shown to me years after her birth. The strip had huge blanks where the heartbeat monitor had blanked out and there was no record of her being ok or being in distress. We don't know what she was experiencing as we waited, trusting the doctors knew what they were doing. There was much talk that an "emergency" cesarian section was unnecessary and would be much tougher on me. The things I wish I could take back, I would recover, as it turns out, my baby never would. When they finally went to take me into surgery, Mark was not allowed to come, my fear increased drastically without him next to me. As we said goodbye, I could see the fear in his eyes also. I still can see his face, trying so hard to be strong for me. Mark needed to get scrubbed and into scrubs before they let him into the room. They also would not allow him in until the spinal had been done on me. My friend's Dad lovingly held me as the spinal was injected, keeping me still and trying to calm my fears as tears rolled down my face. It wasn't pain that made me cry, it was a deep sense of dread. Just typing this makes the tears start again, I needed Mark with me and at this point I still wasn't sure where he was or if he was going to be allowed into the room. When they lay me down there was a curtain placed to shield me from seeing them cut into my belly. I am not a squeamish person and told them that was unnecessary, I wanted to see my baby born, but it was hospital policy and the curtain would stay. Mark finally came into the room, his eyes bigger than I have ever seen them, fear he had missed the birth, fear I was scared and alone, fear as to what was going on? He was told to sit, also behind the three foot curtain, so he could not see the incision made. He held my hand and prayed. He was my rock and I was relieved to have him near me, but still I was terrified to see my baby and finally know what the extent of her gastroschisis was. We knew her stomach was open and her intestine would need to be put back into her by surgery shortly after her birth. The many ultrasounds we had had could not tell us how extensive this surgery would be though. If the repair was minimal, her stay in the NICU would also be minimal, but if it was much of her intestine and colon, we would be looking at a much longer stay. We had been warned that the worst cases could be many, many months and several surgeries to repair. The moment of truth was upon us and that feeling was more than I could bare as I squeezed Mark's hand as hard as I could. I reminded the doctors that we did not know if this baby was a boy or a girl and I wanted my husband to tell me the sex. The tears are rolling down my face as I try to put this into words. The doctor talked to me as he began the surgery, explaining each step, then as he cut into the placenta and pulled out the baby, the room went silent. No one said a word as the baby was handed over to the team of specialists waiting in the room. Mark said nothing, my memories of Beau's birth at this point are running through my head. At our son's birth Mark repeated over and over "Come on buddy breath!" This time even he was silent, I looked him in the eyes and asked "Is it alive?" His response shocking, "I don't know." I finally conjured up the guts to ask out loud, "Can someone please tell me what I had, so I know who I am praying for?" I'm shaking as I write, reliving all this is tougher than I could ever imagine. I have told her birth story many, many times, but somehow writing it is very powerful and I'm grieving once again the "what if's." Grief comes in waves, it comes with milestones achieved and milestones not achieved, I am never done grieving Teale's birth, but I am often at peace with it. Finally the doctor told me I had had a girl and he sweetly asked, "What is her name? I responded "Teale Tatiana" and I prayed out loud. My baby girl was in trouble, the silence still piercing as the team worked on her for what seemed like forever. Mark had been unable to tell me her sex because her intestine hung so low as they placed her in a sterile bag up to her armpits and whisked her over to a table in the corner, far away from our view. My memories are sporadic at this point, I know what I have been told since those awful moments. She was unresponsive, no pulse and they worked on her for seven plus minutes trying to "get her back." Teale is a true miracle, dead for seven minutes, but the team finally got a pulse. I can picture the OBGYN's face as he took her out of me, the shock was apparent, he was devastated, how could this be? All these images go through my head, the doctor's look, Mark's face, the rush and the silence. Not hearing a baby cry in the delivery room for the second time (Beau had not cried either) was just more than I could bare. Remarkably I stayed calm, almost too calm. I had been scared to bond with this baby, I had been scared of not taking an infant home and now I wasn't sure I would be. They finally spoke to us, saying that they needed to get her to the NICU to stabilize her and whisked her by me. I got hardly a glance of my baby. Feeling completely numb emotionally and physically, the doctor finished sewing up my incision and we were taken to a room. There I told Mark I could not make the necessary phone calls with our news, I could not even speak to him.