Pregnancy

Labor and Delivery

It all happened extremely fast.

The week leading up to active labor had been slow. I had gone four weeks being dilated with contractions that were mostly uncomfortable or nonexistent. The intensity of these contractions had been what drove Keith and I to the hospital for Isaac; yet now I was being sent home on a regular basis because i wasn’t in “true labor”. I had become discouraged at the repeated rejection and further delay of delivering this baby.

To take my mind off of the waiting, I did my best to do things for me rather than to just get baby out. I went out to dinner later in the week with Keith and some friends and then took a casual stroll around the lake with them. Friday, I decided to be ambitious and make lobster mac n’ cheese, spending most of the remainder of the day on my feet either grocery shopping or preparing dinner.

We filled our bellies that evening, and our souls with a good heart to heart. Keith turned in early, and I set up camp in the living room as usual. I decided to watch half an hour of TV before heading to bed. My insurance had just sent me my new Madela breast pump and at the suggestion of my doctor, I hooked it up to try to help my uterus establish more consistent contractions.

Fifteen minutes into Riverdale, I got my first strong contraction.

I turned the pump off and waited to see if anything would follow. Nothing. I turned it on for another ten, feeling irregular contractions that increased slightly in intensity. There was a growing pressure on my cervix. I turned the pump off when I felt and heard a light popping sound. I turned the pump off. I stood, wondering if my waters had broken. Not even a trickle, and the contractions seemed to have subsided. But within five minutes they were back, stronger and more rhythmic.

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Within thirty minutes they were a minute long and less than three minutes apart. I thought for sure if we went to triage they would turn us away, but I wasn’t going to chance it. It was late, but thankfully it was a friday and I felt less guilty about waking Keith up. We checked into triage at half past eleven and within minutes the delayed sensation of trickling water alerted me that I was in active labor. A nurse, dressed in lavender scrubs, bright pink sneakers, and a metallic fanny pack entered our room with a smile.

Lets see, Nurse Pink Daisy replied as she examined my cervix. I’d say you’re 6 almost 7cm dilated.

Daisy along with another nurse, Tracy worked quickly to get me hooked up with an IV and antibiotics. Dominique, a nurse who had served us earlier in our pregnancy, got the honors of wheeling me up to labor and delivery. Within half an hour of arriving to triage, I was changed, pricked, and admitted to begin active labor.

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Keith and I sat and looked at each other, silently exchanging glossy smiles. In a few hours, our baby would be with us. And that wasn’t the only excitement. Nurses in our section had heard that the gender was a surprise and flooded our room, feeling my belly before casting lots on what i was having. I tried to rest, but both the anticipation and contractions were becoming too great a distraction. As a matter of fact, the contractions were becoming stronger and irregular at the same time, which was making it difficult for me to focus. I asked for a walking epidural, just to bring the pain level down from a 10 to a manageable level 7. Basically, it was a glorified excedrin for me.

An hour later, the pain had returned and I found it difficult even to walk. I even tried to go to the bathroom, but quickly asked Keith to help me back to the bed because the pressure on my cervix was unbearable. The epidural was no longer working, but before the anesthesiologist could switch me to a full epidural, a nurse came in to check my cervix.

You’re a 10, she replied. Do you still want the epidural?

I was delirious. My contractions were still irregular, but powerful. But there was pain in between the contractions. I remember crying. Not really wanting an epidural, but knowing there would be no way to concentrate during delivery. I was really surprised that none of the nurses seemed to want me to get the full epidural.

I whimpered when they asked if I still wanted the full epidural. i can’t do this. I can’t do this.

Just as I was admitting to my weakness, Nurse Jay asked, Is that the baby’s head? Nurse Jay and Pam both comically tilted their heads to the side. Yeah, it looks like -2 station. Pam confirmed.

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Oh, God, I thought. This baby is a few pushes away from entering our atmosphere. I started to panic. I don’t think I can do this. I thought I would have more time, but now Isaac’s brother or sister was headed our way like he did--a blazing meteorite. You can do this, Nurse Pam said sternly, but not without compassion. I need you to pull it together for me. Your baby is right here, and I think it would be best if you started pushing rather than getting the epidural.

Will you help me? I cried. I was so desperate to gain some control over my senses and failing miserably. Of course I knew they would help me. It was their job. But the question was my way of surrendering control. Within minutes of the midwife arriving, I was pushing.

Three contractions. Eight pushes. Five minutes. A cry. Our baby boy, in my arms.

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He looks like Isaac, just bigger. He even has his strength and spunk. I broke down crying as I was wheeled out of the hospital--with a baby to take home. Once home, I was overwhelmed with the reality that our son was here to stay. It still feels like a dream. Even a week later.  I look down at his sweet face while he rests on my stomach and cannot wrap my mind around him being real. I thank God every moment that I look at him and then I smother him with kisses till he grimaces.

My life was altered with Isaac, as it is with his brother. And I am so incredibly grateful for the change.

The Final Countdown: Preparing for Baby

Even though we spent weeks leading up to thirty-seven weeks preparing the house for our new roommate, keith and i still had some items left unchecked. They mark a significant turning point for us as some of these tasks we never got to complete while preparing for when isaac came home. I decided that the in between moments were just as significant as the major milestones, and made a little montage below.

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The Saturday mornings we still get to sleep in. The nights of reading through our labor and delivery book together. The endless list of projects that will, for a time, be put on hold. Figuring out baby gear.

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Soon, all of this will feel like a distant memory or at least become second nature to us. I will enjoy what comes to replace some of these moments, but at least wanted to keep them glowing for a little while longer.

Maternity Shoot with Dreamtown Co

To say that keith and i have taken few pictures together is an understatement. While we have had the occasional couple selfies, the last time we took photos together where there was someone other than keith’s outstretched hand behind the camera was our wedding. It’s not that we hate taking photos with each other, it’s just that we (particularly keith) are anti-photography that turns our candidness into a full fledge production. Thankfully, our wedding wasn’t like that and we didn’t want our maternity photos to be that way either.

With isaac, i had been in the beginning stages of planning one with Jesse Walsh of Dreamtown Co. the week before he made his surprise entrance into this world. I was nervous to reach out to her, concerned I would get another surprise. We set a date, being mindful of when my cerclage was scheduled to come out. June third was the only Sunday she could do before my ditch the stitch day. The date worked for both of us.

Jesse showed up about an hour after house church had ended. We all agreed that the best way to get keith to feel relaxed was to give him a project. I had wanted to create some artwork in remembrance of isaac weeks ago, but we never got around to it. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to work on it. After loosely showing him how to work with charcoal, we both began to draw while Jesse went to work capturing the moment from start to finish.

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One of the more natural things keith and I like to do on occasion is dance with each other. We either put on gregory allen isakov’s weatherman album or michael kiwanuka’s love and hate album. Keith chose michael kiwanuka. Earlier that week, it dawned on me the significance of the date of our shoot. June third was the day we buried isaac. While I had kept my emotions in check for most of the shoot, at least until “cold little heart” started playing. It was a few weeks after we buried isaac, that we were in that exact spot dancing and grieving as we listened to that album. It had all come full circle, as if God was charting new memories for us. To remember death. To remember life.

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I am so glad Jesse caught the transition. Somehow we were able to have that moment with each other without feeling like she was invading that quiet space, that “holy ground” as she so eloquently put it. We could not rejoice without acknowledging the tears we have shed this year.

To read about this shoot from her perspective, head over to Dreamtown Co.’s blog.


Photos by Jesse Walsh

letter to baby k

To the child I wish to know,

I caught a glimpse of your smile. I hope you smile that way when we finally do meet each other. I hope that is the smile i see often as you grow up here in my love.

Do you sense my love inside of your universe? Are you anticipating the warm reception waiting for you on this side of eternity? I cannot wait to show you all of my love, little one. I hope you will show me yours.

I have had dreams of you. Imagined what kind of person you might be. I hope your imagination stretches further than mine, far beyond narnias and neverlands, to some unknown universe where you are still my child. We can play there together, until it is time to descend from the stars, where i must concede to how much you have grown.

As i was born in the image of my creator, so will you be of his light. For now, i will raise you in the image that i understand of god, the part of him that was bestowed upon me. But one day you will better reflect the piece of him that was made for you to be a the light bearer of. Do not be afraid to shine that light toward me so that i may gaze at a deeper and fuller picture of our creator’s heart. i have much to learn from you just as i have much to teach you.

Although i wish to have you in this world, i am already saddened that the world will be unkind to you. The world will not always treat you as you deserve to be treated, and unfortunately, neither will i. I ask for your continued grace toward me for not meeting your expectations. For getting parenthood wrong on occasion. Despite the disappointment and heartache you may receive from me and this world, please allow your heart to love us through our many failings. Know that i will always love you through all of yours.

Finally, you should know about the one who came before you. I am sure your paths crossed before you came to us, and i hope you knew him better than we did here. We did not get to know him long, but in two short weeks his presence filled us with so much love, that it was more than enough to continue loving him in his absence and consuming you in your arrival.

You will find me grieving his absence. It is because i deeply love him. But know that you are not his replacement, or second best in my eyes. No, the love he left behind has been waiting for you to know it. That is the sweet gift your brother left for you. For you to be deeply cherished and loved fully and guided in the ways of love.

I hope that if you took nothing from this letter, that at least you hold onto the truth that you are loved by me and your family, here on earth and in heaven, and especially by the one who made you uniquely you.

Love always,
mum.

 

Diminished Expectations

Disappointment. Frustration. Anxiety.

Not what I expected to be feeling completing thirty-eight weeks of pregnancy. Accomplishment. Joy. Relief. This is what I ought to be feeling at this moment. I was told to expect now. To plan for now. But now has come and gone, leaving me questioning how well i know my own body, its capabilities, and even the idea of its incompetency.

We thought we would be bringing home a baby by now. Starting our tiny family. But instead, I am at yet another obgyn appointment being told i am still 3 cm dilated.

Its normal for pregnant mums to hang out at 3 cm for weeks, the triage doctor who discharged on friday informed me. But the fact is, that this pregnancy hasn’t been considered normal since i was diagnosed with incompetent cervix. I was given the impression that if the cerclage came out too soon, or if i stopped taking my progesterone too soon, my cervix would collapse like the walls of Jericho. ok a tad dramatic, but still that was the sentiment.

But here i am at thirty-eight weeks, debunking the assumptions I have been fed. It has left me wondering if i indeed have an incompetent cervix. After a weekend of brewing in my own emotional deflation, I think it is good that i am here, with no expectations. This entire pregnancy i have been guided by benchmarks, milestones, and achievement. My pregnancy, for a time, existed within twenty-four weeks. When i achieved twenty-four, i graduated to thirty weeks and then finally thirty-seven. I have never looked beyond the perimeters set up for me. It would have been too much to hope or expect more.

But now I have nothing but birth to achieve and there is no real date for that. Even my estimated due date is just that--an estimate. I realize it has been easier to live with stability rather than unpredictability. Delivering Isaac at almost 24 weeks was unpredictable and the cost of that was devastating. The thought of a structureless pregnancy intimidated me, and so I have spent the last nine months with blinders on, with the end barely in my periphery.

Now, there is nothing standing in the way of the end and me. It feels like i am a marathon runner told the race would end here, but as my body brushes up against the finish line ribbon, I find that it has been moved forward another five miles. But, I must either hope and persevere, or stop living. Stop enjoying this transition as it is meant to be enjoyed.

I must choose perseverance.