A Promise

I was a total scatterbrain at end of my pregnancy. I have no idea how that happened or why, but for the last bit of my pregnancy I was definitely checked out of reality, oblivious to most things happening around me.

I hadn’t had a child before so everything was new and near the end I was definitely a fan of getting my body back.

I have no idea how many ultrasounds I had in those last several weeks but it was at least 4 and I want to say it was closer to 6. Every visit had an ultrasound.

My doctor would review the results, measure my belly, study my file, make a face I didn’t like, check my cervix, ask if I was ok, then leave after telling me he’d see me again in a few days.

That was the routine for the last full month of my pregnancy.

Ultrasound. Measure. Face. You ok? See you soon.

It was driving me nuts, but then again I was fully scatterbrained and so a big part of me didn’t think anything of it.

The week of my due date, a Monday, same routine (I was due that Thursday). This time he stares at the file, measures me, stares again, makes that face, keeps staring. I like him but I thought he was being a bit strange so I just keep waiting. He finally sat down, crossed his legs and with my file closed in his lap said, “I don’t think you can deliver this baby.”

Again, scatterbrain here doesn’t register what he’s said and I ask, “What did you say?”

I don’t think you can have this baby.

What does that mean?

Well, I don’t think you can deliver him. He’s in the right position but he’s not dropped. You’re not dilating. Your fundus is too big (still no idea what that means). There are four options here and I don’t most of them.

1. I let this pregnancy keep going and maybe you go into labor, maybe you don’t. If you labor though, I see the baby getting stuck and we end up doing a cesarean, possibly an emergency one and those are the gutting kind. In this scenario the risk is high to you and the baby.

2. I induce you. You labor for more than 24 hours. You start running a fever. The baby goes into distress. We do a cesarean. If we’re lucky I don’t have to gut you. In this scenario the risk is high to you and the baby.

3. Same scenario as #2, except he gets stuck. I gut you to get him out. The risk is even higher to you and the baby.

I think I was about to faint at that point. My husband had missed two appointments during the entire pregnancy. This was one of those two. Of all the appointments for him to miss, this is the one where I needed him the most.

Option 4?

Option 4 is we just take him, this week. No inducing. No labor. Scheduled appointment and we just take him.

I have no idea if my insurance will let me. I have to ask. I have to talk to my husband. I….

He pats me on the shoulder, says he understands, but I need to make a decision, by tomorrow.

I can hardly think as I leave. My beloved grandmother had just passed away two weeks earlier. My cat is at the vet dying and she’s trying desperately to save him. My main thoughts are how dramatic can this get? Where is my husband when I need him? Why is he at work? Will insurance let me? What am I going to do? I’m scared.

I call my husband when I get to the car. He’s been waiting for me to call and he was starting to panic. Most of our calls haven’t been stress free lately.

I start to explain options 1-4. I barely get into option 2 before he asks if there an option where I don’t die. I say yes and explain. He’s quick to say then that’s what’s going to happen here. I start to protest and he puts his foot down and says no. Even if we have to pay cash, no. I’m not dying. The baby isn’t dying.

Ok. I need him to take charge so I comply. I check with insurance the next day, they’ll pay. I call the hospital and book the surgery. I get my now saved cat from the vet. I tell my family what’s happening. My mother and sister don’t like it.

Drink castor oil like mom did with us!

Walk that baby out!

Nope. Doing it the doctors way.

Friday comes.

Get packed. Get bathed. Wash my hair. No makeup. No lotions. Get dressed. Go to the hospital for my 4 pm birthing appointment.

I never went into labor. I had Braxton Hicks contractions but I’m told those don’t count. They aren’t real.

They prep me. I pee in a cup for the millionth time. Baby’s heartbeat is strong. Surrounded by family and friends, we wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Finally they come to take me on the long walk to the OR.

Yes, I walk.

My husband holds my hand. I’m scared, excited and numb all at the same time.

My husband’s aunt and uncle are waiting near the OR. They hug us and wish us luck.

“See you on the other side.”

They take my husband away and make me finish the walk alone. The anesthesiologist is waiting for me. The nurses start their prep work and get me ready for him. The sweet nurse who walked with me hunches my shoulders with all of her bony weight and he starts the epidural.

I feel like my bones are set on fire from the inside. I want to scream. The nurse tells me to scream. I say no, my husband will hear and it will scare him. I don’t want to scare him.

The epidural starts to kick in. My legs are still dangling off of the table and I wiggle my toes as long as I can. As they start to go numb the nurses swing my legs onto the table and quickly say oops.

Oops?!?

Um, you’re a lot taller then we thought you were. Can you scooch yourself down the table?

How exactly am I supposed to do that? I can’t feel my body anymore.

Put your arms behind you and push.

Sure. I try that. My whale of a body numb from the breasts down doesn’t move so much as an inch. I laugh.

Yeah. That isn’t going to happen.

They get to work. 2 behind me, 2 on my legs. 2 push, 2 pull. They move me down the table far enough to make them happy. I’m dying of embarrassment because I haven’t been able to reach my legs the last week and really needed to shave. I had no idea anyone was going to touch my legs . I think I should have asked my husband to help me. Too late now.

Then I quickly don’t care. The dehumanization of giving birth via operating room begins. There is no privacy. You are a body and there is a task to do. They’ve seen it all. You’re nothing special.

My doctor finally appears.

Any contractions?

Nope.

Damn.

He scrubs up and comes in and gets to work.

I can’t feel anything. I have no idea how many people are in the room. I can’t see anyone but I know it’s a lot. I can tell they’ve started. I can smell it.

Where’s my husband?

No answer.

They continue.

Where’s my husband?

Still no answer.

I’m scared the baby will come before they go get him.

Where’s my husband?!?

I finally hear someone ask if they can go get my husband. I don’t hear the response but suddenly my husband is there, holding my hand, telling me he loves me.

For the first time in my life my roller coaster of a mind is blank. The wheels have stopped turning. No thoughts run through. I’m just waiting. My husbands face is blank. He keeps telling me I’m doing great and that he loves me.

My body is jerked around the table by the hands manipulating me. I feel strange things I can’t describe, then my chest starts to heave upwards separate from my will.

I hear my doctor say, “Yup! This baby was never coming out on his own!”

Heave. Heave. Heave. What is happening to me? Heave.

Then the biggest cleanest breath I’ve ever been able to take is finally rushing though my lungs. I didn’t realize I couldn’t breathe. The baby is free from me.

I couldn’t see anything this whole time but suddenly the doctor is standing next to me. The baby is in a funky Buddha position, purple, not breathing but moving. My doctor is smiling. My baby starts to scream.

It’s the greatest sound I’ve ever heard. Strong. And lord he’s angry!

Dad, you want to come help?

My husband is off in a flash, gone from my side to be with this new life we created together.

I can hear my baby scream endlessly. I can hear the nurses talking to and laughing with my husband.

I just keep waiting.

Finally after what seems like forever he’s being placed on my chest. He has his little cap on. He’s wrapped up in his blanket. Upon touching me he finally stops screaming. I wrench my arms free and place my hands on him.

Hello, my love!

He is at peace with me there. My husband back by my side, leaning over me, the three of us together, in this moment.

Bliss.

Joy.

Indescribable.

Nothing else mattered. This was everything. This was the meaning of everything. All else faded away. This moment. This creature. Our baby. Our family.

I knew then that we would survive anything. He was worth everything. Nothing was more important and never would be.

I made a promise to him at that moment. I never said it out loud. It was from my heart to his, my soul to his.

I will love you and protect you forever, from everyone and everything. All I can ever do, I will do. Always.

Love is an inadequate word. It really is. It’s a beautiful word, but there is no word that man has created to encompass a parents love for their child, to encompass the passion we feel, the need to defend, protect.

And it all begins in a moment. It’s the most beautiful moment that can be experienced.

This Mama Bear was born in that moment. I made promises I won’t be able to keep in the long run, but I did make them to that gift that was lain in my arms on that chilly Friday evening. I intend to fight as hard as I can for as long as I’m able to keep those promises. He deserves all I can do and I owe him nothing less than all I can give.

Oh, and my doctor was right, I couldn’t give birth to him. He had a massive head!! He was 20% in size and 95% in head size at 14.5 cm!! My body wasn’t made for a head that big. He was also very very comfortable where he was, feet in my diagram, head on my bladder like a pillow, and still had plenty of room to move around so no, he wasn’t coming out on his own.

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