Etta’s birth and the immediate aftermath.

This is an old unfinished and previously unpublished post from Dec 14, 2013

It’s almost 2 am and I am wide awake.  Not because my newborn baby woke me up.  I absolutely wish it was because my newborn baby woke me.  It was my neighbors baby in the hospital room next door that woke me up.  Poor baby was so unhappy with whatever scenario was happening in that room.  Be it diaper or breast feeding, something had that babe very upset. This is the part that has me worried about post partum depression.  The events that happened were so out of control and unforeseen that I can’t even wrap my head around it.  And yet, here I am sitting in the middle of it, at 2 am. Tuesday 12/10:  I had been contracting for a while, but specifically on Tuesday towards the end of my work day they were becoming regular.  I was doing parent teacher conferences and joking with all the parents about how ready I was for my girl to be born.  That’s when my contractions really started to kick in.  Sitting on the 405 in rush hour traffic I started to time them, as it was really apparent that they were coming at regular intervals, approximately 8 mins apart.  At home, my mom who is here visiting to help during this time, had made dinner and we all sat down to eat.  Put Crosby to bed and showered.  Hung out for a while, still timing and eventually around midnight decided they are 5 mins apart and it’s time to head to the hospital. After all, aren’t second babies supposed to come fast?  Get to the hospital or run a risk of no epidural!  We check in and the contractions are 4 minutes apart.  It seems like today is the day!  But then again, there isn’t a lot of pain with these contractions, but they are indeed contractions.  I am on the monitor and yes, those are contractions coming and a regular pace.  I am not really dilated much, almost 2cm.  So it was time to walk.  Kurt and I walked and walked and walked.  Then they checked again and I was for sure 2cm.  So we rested back on the monitors and waited until morning.  I was almost 3 cm.  My Dr came in and chatted with us.  After giving us various options, we opted to go home and labor at home.  I could spend the day with Crosby and prep for baby girl.  It seemed like the smartest option.  If I didn’t go into more active labor by Thursday then I could induce.   Thursday 12/12:  I was 39 weeks to the day.  I was 3cm dilated and some decent amount effaced.  Contracting randomly and regularly.  I was getting induced.  It was simple really, break my water and see what happens.  A few hours later add pitocin and let labor progress.  Everything was moving along perfectly.  Hours passed, all signs are great.  I had my epidural and the contractions were strong, I could still feel pain, but bearable pain.  The “magic man” gave me a dose of something stronger to ease the pain, it worked, I felt nothing.  My Dr checked me and I was 7cm and fully effaced.  She said she’d check again in two more hours.  It was maybe 10 minutes later she came back.  Something was wrong suddenly and the baby was in distress.  I was on oxygen, everyone was in my room.  She wanted to see me push.  Wait what?  She wanted to see me push?  But I am only 7cm.  Then before I knew it things were happening.  The bed dissembled, the table of instruments uncovered, my Dr in her full on scrubs and I was told “If you were a first time mom we’d rush you into an emergency c-secion, but because you are a second time mom we are going to see you push first.”  What is happening?!  So I push.  I push so freaking hard, but I am only 7cm.  Am I about to have an emergency c-section?  What happened to my baby?  Screw this, I have to seriously push! Push again. Again.  They are all shocked.  Every face in the room, shocked.  Positive responses about my pushing are coming at me.  I push again, again, again.  Yes.  Everyone seems happier with the scenario.  I push again, again, again.  Wait. Now give tiny little pushes.  What she’s here?  Already!  It’s not even been 20 minutes!  I’m a fucking rock star pusher!  We wait a second, unwrap that cord that’s around her neck and then one more push and she is out!  Her head is blue, her body pink.  She is handed to NICU immediately.  This happened with Crosby too.  But in 10 minutes she will be handed to me and all will be fine.  Then the faint cry, but it stops.  Okay, now someone tell me what is happening?  I am still in position, delivering the placenta, getting stitched up from a tear.  She has to go the NICU.  Okay, dad’s going with her.  Okay.  What exactly is wrong?  Dad comes back, they have to intubate her.  She’s not breathing well on her own.  Then an hour later more is revealed after the NICU Dr visits.  A machine is breathing for her.  She’s not breathing on her own.  Nobody seems to know what happened, or why it happened.  Millions of babies are born with cords wrapped around their necks and turn out fine.  This cord wasn’t hard to unwrap.  I couldn’t fully grasp what was happening.  My daughter was in serious distress and there was nothing I could do. It feels terrible not being able to hold your child after they are born.  To not get that immediate skin to skin contact.  To not hear them cry or kiss their heads.  I didn’t even see her face.  I didn’t know how much she weighed or how long she was.  I was numb from the waist down, and with all the overwhelming information coming at me, I was becoming numb everywhere else. We did get to go in and see her.  It was brief but wonderful.  No holding, just looking and a simple touch on her arm or leg.  Then it was over.  I was given some strong pain management, it knocked me out of sorts.  How anyone functions on pain meds is beyond me.  I couldn’t even see straight.  I remember Kurt saying they are taking her tube out.  It was late and I couldn’t get up.  He left the room and came back.  She was breathing on her own with oxygen assistance through her nose.  This was huge.  This was the best news yet!  Then I passed out. Friday 12/13:  Friday the 13th.  I would get to see my baby!  I woke, pumped and marched my way down to NICU and there she was.  All the color back in her face, hands and feet.  I saw her eyes and her face for the first time without a massive tube and tape all over.  I held her hand in the incubator and talked to her and she respond to my voice.  I was told that I could hold her after her feeding at 11am.  So I waited, right there with her.  Finally just after 11am I held Etta for the first time.  She was so small and a million tubes and wires were connecting her body to machines.  None of that mattered, because I was holding my baby girl.  My sweet Etta.  My mom, Kurt and Crosby all showed up.  Eventually Kurt would get a chance to hold Etta too.  I came out of NICU and saw my boy Crosby.  Giant hugs and kisses were exchanged.  He’s like medicine for the soul.  Chatting with me and playing.  He didn’t get to meet his sister, but having him there for me was the jolt of joy I needed.  Everybody left pretty quickly.  Crosby needed his nap, I needed to pump, Kurt was tired.  The day started to slip in.  The realization of how bad it really was.  How Etta almost didn’t make it.  How serious the situation still was.  And I found myself alone, with all these people checking in with me and updating me on the situation at hand.  I didn’t want to fake happiness to people and I couldn’t quite express the true level of my fear or my sadness.   I started to cry uncontrollably.  Quietly to myself.  I was pumping, because everyone was telling me to pump, she needed my milk.  But not a drop was coming.  Not a single drop.  Pumping and pumping and pumping.  Nothing.  I was failing in every possible way.  I couldn’t even give her my milk. Kurt arrived at 4:45 and I cried.  At 5pm we went down to NICU and could see her but couldn’t hold her.  Told to come back at 8pm.  At 8pm we went back and had our best visit with her yet.  A new nurse allowed me to feed her by bottle and hold her.  We spent an hour with her until we had to leave so she could get tests done.  She was improving and it was noticeable.  She’s going to be okay.  The nurse also said something to me that helped my heart.  She told me of course I wasn’t getting a drop out, my milk hadn’t come in and though I had my first pumping with plenty of milk, it was stored up from weeks of preparing for baby.  She said, Etta is getting formula, which isn’t the first choice, but she’s getting food.  Babies out there with their mommies right now are crying because they want to nurse but mommy’s milk hasn’t come in.  So they will just keep crying.  And it hit me.  I was being so hard on myself.  The series of events that happened came so fast and severe that I felt like I had to punish myself for not being able to detect it or stop it.  I couldn’t protect Etta from getting hurt or having the hardest start to her life.  But being a mom doesn’t mean I have to be a superhero.  It means I am human and experiencing all these things for the first time too.  I am allowed to have these emotions.  To feel such great sadness, fear and loneliness.  Because that is what I am feeling.

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