I’m submitting this because I kept myself busy when I was pregnant by reading these stories. They helped me look forward to holding my son.
This story is of my third birth. My first birth (1989) was a natural, with a fourth degree tear, back labor, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and severe weight gain. My second birth was an emergency c-section at 3:00 a.m.
Both babies were born on the 19th of two different months: Ashleigh in December and Mackenzie in August. So for fun, I wanted to have this baby on the 19th too, but was due the 31st of June.
I’ve had several miscarriages: one between the girls, four after. Each was a heartbreaking time for me, and by the time I found out I was pregnant again, my divorce was already final. I had tried and tried to give my husband a son and they’d all died; we divorced and there I was, pregnant again!
My OB was the pick of the city. She had the best bedside manner and dealt with all my insecurities as if she knew exactly what I was feeling. She knew I was divorced and alone and that it was going to be a roller coaster to get this baby here safely. She took my calls – no matter when or what they were about, she listened to me sob. She rushed me in for ultrasounds when I’d start to panic, just to show me my baby’s beating heart so I could relax. I digress…
The OB decided we needed a fleet of doctors and a lot of help to bring this pregnancy to term. The ultrasound showed calcium in my son’s brain, an indicator for Downs Syndrome. I FREAKED! It also showed that I had placenta previa. This was bad. That was the first of six ultrasounds and an amnio (which wasn’t that bad ladies!). The baby was perfect! I couldn’t believe it. No Downs – nothing. I was ecstactic. I had to take Progesterone, blood thinners, two vitamins a day, and lots of Phenergen but I stayed pregnant.
Because of the placenta problem, we decided on an elective c-section. At times, my doctor was deferring to three other high-risk specialists. I started seeing one or two of these other doctors each week for the entire nine months. The delivering OB and I discussed the birth and he decided that if we were to take my baby out early, it would be better. He was big enough to survive, and waiting wasn’t worth running the risk of a still birth. So I proposed my June 19th date again… and found out it was a Saturday! This OB was on call and said he didn’t mind coming in for my birth. Yay!
I spent the rest of the time resting, eating, gaining weight, and working a lot. I work at a TV station so the Friday night before the birth, there was a big story and I had to stay until 10:30 p.m. I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 6:00 the next morning and I hadn’t even packed since he was three weeks early. That’s devotion.
I wasn’t afraid of c-sections, I’d had one before with an epidural and thought it was easier than natural. But the minute I walked throught that door, things started going wrong. First the nurses were prissy because I was a scheduled Saturday birth. Then the technician missed my very large veins repeatedly and spilled blood everywhere. It looked like someone had been slaughtered. Then my delivering OB was at an emergency birth at another hospital, and my ex-husband didn’t show up, although he called in to work. I had my 15-year-old daughter, my 11-year-old daughter, Mom, my best friend and an extra OB.
Finally they said it was time and wheeled me away. Everyone stood by the OR doors – where they aren’t supposed to be – waiting with cameras poised. I remember very little from this point. I remember the IV in my spine for the spinal block. I remember telling them that it smelled funny in the room and asking if they had sprayed something. Then – through all the morphine they apparently knocked me out with – I heard a baby crying and asked, “Is that my baby crying?” They said yes and that’s all I know until I came to in recovery.
I started to come around and got absolutely hysterical because I had no idea what had happened. I was supposed to be AWAKE! Where was my baby? Apparently something went very wrong in that delivery room. I was knocked out before the incision was made, thus sending powerful doses of whatever they used directly into my son. He was lethargic and non-responsive. He was breathing too fast and couldn’t hold heat. He also had (unrelated) jaundice. He was in the NICU and I was told I couldn’t see him until I could stand on my own. They said, “Tomorrow.” Yeah, right. I immediately started to cry and then began wiggling my feet, trying to get sensation back. I was so groggy at that point that for days it all seemed like a dream. I kept asking for my baby, they kept repeating the same thing: “You can’t see him but he’s fine.” It wouldn’t sink in.
Finally they took me to my room. None of the nurses were sympathetic and there were many people there to meet my new son. Many of them had visited the NICU window and actually seen this tiny man before I could. My grandmother and youngest daughter dashed out, digital camera in hand, and developed two pictures for me so I could actually see what he looked like. When they returned, I was still crying and pleading with the uncaring nurses. I knew from all the books I’d read that preemies need hands-on care, that touch makes them stronger. But no one listened.
My biggest fear after all those miscarriages, was that he would die before I’d ever been able to hold his tiny body in my arms. I screamed this at the nurses as they kept changing shifts and faces in my delirium. I cried on my Mommy, 32 years old but feeling totally helpless. I couldn’t stand the awkward feeling in the room…all these people were here to see my new baby boy, and I had no baby to show them. I had my mom ask them to leave.
When they left, I swung my itching legs off the bed and tested my weight. My son was a few hours old and I still hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting him. Ooooh was I wobbly! With Mom busy shooing people out and apologizing, and the nurses afraid to come too close to the hysterical woman in room 1764, I was unsupervised. I unhooked the Foley catheter bag from the side of my bed, walked to the other side and grabbed my IV fluids, then made my way to the door.
Slowly and deliberately I started for the nursery. I knew the NICU would be close by. A nurse stopped, mouth open in protest but the look I gave her squelched any sound she might have made. Two other nurses started towards me and insisted I get back to bed. Over my dead body. I was going to see my baby boy if it killed me. My mom came around the corner and started to wring her hands, knowing how badly I needed to hold that baby, but also how dangerous it was for me to be standing on wobbly legs with a foot-long incision on my tummy.
Finally a NICU nurse greeted me and looked over my shoulder at the trail of OB nurses. I told her I wanted to see Baby Corum. She led the way to the biggest, most beautiful baby in the NICU.
Jackson Anthony Corum weighed seven pounds, thirteen ounces and was all pink and warm on a table, with many wires and blinking alarms attached to him. All I could do was touch him and sob. He had a feeding tube in his nose; I had wanted to breastfeed again. His heart monitor scared me. His limp, sleepy little body made my arms ache to hold him. I just whispered to him and told him how brave he was, how frightened I had been, and how much I loved him. He was here, he was alive, and I knew then that he would be fine.
Things got better but I will never let anyone I know have a baby at that hospital. Until the night before I left, each nurse was worse than the last. I had to tell them that I WAS going to see the baby every hour. They wanted me to stay in bed until he was strong enough to come out. The picture of Jackson in the NICU will break your heart. Imagine how I felt looking at him through the glass. I don’t want to relive anymore of the bad memories, because this is a beautiful story and I want it to have a happy ending.
So on the second day, my mom, daughters and I were standing in the doorway of my room because they were leaving for a while, when my mother looked around the corner and stepped back. I had received so many gifts and flowers at this point, and Mom said, “Your biggest gift yet is coming down the hall.” I thought someone had bought me a giant bear or something. We all stepped back as a nurse pushing a plastic basinette rounded the corner.
I scooped him up, kissed his cheek and just took his clothes apart, checked everything and cuddled him and rubbed him. I couldn’t get enough of this little toothless, bald, fat man. I turned my back on the nurse who brought him in a dismissive gesture. I’d had enough of them all, and now I had what I came for.
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