Wednesday, October 26, 2011
On the Day You Were Born
Even though I'm a little (um, a lot) sleep deprived, I want to write about Mia's birth while all the details are fresh in my head, so here goes.
On Monday, after Sammie B's first day of preschool and celebratory lunch, I came home to do my daily kick count (for those not in the know, "kick counts" mean laying and counting baby's kicks for an hour - and there should be at least ten). I got ten kicks, but they just felt weaker than normal. I'm a worrier like no other, so I called my doctor to explain and asked if she was worried. She wasn't, and said that Mia had probably just dropped, but told me that she knew I would worry so that I should just run to the hospital and ask to be monitored for 20 minutes and that she'd call ahead and let them know I was coming. (Making this my FOURTH trip to Labor & Delivery during this pregnancy). So, once again . . . off I went. I told B there was no reason for him to go -- nothing about this trip indicated this would be "it" so he came home to hang with Sammie B while I drove to the hospital, thinking I'd be back within an hour or so for our pizza dinner and continued celebrations!
As I was driving to the hospital, suddenly baby Mia was moving and grooving and kicking up a storm. I called B and said, "this is silly, I should just go home, right?" and he said, "no, just go, you'll feel better." So, I did. And, for 19 minutes of monitoring, Miss Mia behaved like a champ. Then, literally AS they were about to take me off the monitor, her heart rate decelerated. For a mama of a child with CP, decelerations are a scary thing (Sam had many during my labor with her, and I've often since wondered if one of those were the moments was a sign that she was in distress that caused her CP). I tried not to panic, and the nurses said they weren't panicking, and the doctors said they weren't, but they wanted to monitor me a little bit longer, so I stayed.
And, then, out of nowhere, I started having contractions. And they kept getting more and more painful. B was on stand-by, our childcare for Sam was on stand-by and we were just kind of waiting to see what would happen. The nurses all predicted this was "it" and baby was coming. I had one contraction that was loooooong, and Mia's heart went down again (scary!) so they decided to keep me overnight. Then, at 3 am in the morning, the contractions just stopped. At 6 am, they were discharging me. I was texting with B, joking about something on Twitter, and just waiting on the discharge papers when . . . Mia's heart rate went down again. And this time, the quick fixes (flipping me to my side) didn't get it right back up and like 7 people came running into my room. They put an oxygen mask on me. I watched as her heart rate went down and I panicked. Like the worst panic attack of my life. I was on oxygen so I couldn't talk so I dialed B's number and a nurse told him to get to the hospital. After I managed to calm down (you know, deep, slow, calm breaths when you are SCARED TO DEATH and SOBBING), Mia's heart rate normalized.
My doctor came, explained that Mia was just not tolerating contractions and that this wasn't that uncommon, but that she didn't want to take any chances. She wanted to deliver the baby, by c-section, that day. Understandably so, I started really worrying about these decelerations and what they meant, but as my doctor had told me before - out of every 1,000 births that have abnormal heart rate tracings, only TWO of those will statistically end up with CP. TWO. I could go on and on about how THAT makes me feel. (You know, like WHY did Sammie B have to be in those TWO? Why MY girl? My magical, amazing Sammie B who I WISH didn't have to struggle so. . . . but I'm truly, truly trying not to go "there" now.)
So, we scheduled the c-section for noon. At 8:06 am, B texted me, "parking. I'm here." He got to my room about 8:15, when Mia's heart dipped a little AGAIN (during a small contraction) and my doctor said, "I don't want to wait, I'm delivering you now, let's take her to O.R. 3." So with very little time to process what was going on, B was suiting up in his fancy c-section outfit, and I was wheeled away for an epidural. And, Baby Mia was born at 8:50 am, less than 45 minutes after B arrived at the hospital!
She came out screaming and pink, and I sobbed listening to her. Laying on the O.R. table, I couldn't help but remember my Sammie B coming out NOT crying. Those agonizing minutes (seconds?) of waiting for her to cry. And, this time . . . this time my doctor had been proactive and fast, and my baby was screaming. B said he kept running back and forth from her to me - to see her, to hold my hand (he says I was most definitely crying harder than her). It was all intense and surreal and there were just emotions I can't probably put into words. B cut the cord, we held her right away, she got to go to recovery with me, she was in our room at the hospital. All things we didn't get to do with Sammie B . . . and even though I know these were Mia's moments, I couldn't help but flashback to Sam's birth and the NICU stay. I couldn't help but wonder if the doctor that delivered Sam had been faster, more proactive, and rushed me to a c-section after the decelerations, if my girl would still be struggling. So even though I don't want to go THERE, it has been hard not to.
Sammie B arrived at the hospital to meet her little sister just hours later, and that goes down into my "favorite moments of all times" category . . . she was absolutely over the moon DELIGHTED. Squealing, laughing, loving. We asked her if she wanted to hold her sister, and she said, "yeah, wash my hands!" (She remembered this from the movie we watched at her Big Sister class!).
And then, she held her. And my heart melted. Seeing my two girls - my daughters - together for the first time. Absolutely magical and amazing and all things wonderful.
Sammie B visited us each day in the hospital, and each day arrived excited to hold her little sister. The second day, I'd even sent Mia to the nursery for a little bit, thinking it would be nice to spend a few minutes alone with Sammie B (who was missing mama terribly while I was in the hospital and kept asking for me to come home). But, as soon as she arrived, Sammie B was looking everywhere for "baby Mia" and wanted to go get her. And immediately said, "mama, wash my hands!" (Does she melt you like she does me?) Each day, she just wanted to hold her sister. And I just wanted to hold them both!
After the first night, B slept at home with Sammie B, so Mia and I were alone in our hospital room. It may have been pregnancy hormones, but on that first night we were alone, I laid her down on my bed in front of me, and I poured my heart out my youngest daughter.
I told her that I was scared. I told her about her magical big sister and how much I thought she'd love her. I told her that her big sister was already madly in love with her. I told her that her sister had been the center of my universe for three years, and that I was worried and scared about how I would handle having TWO centers to my universe (because there's no doubt, they will both be at the center of my universe, where they belong!). I told her how her sister had shaped who I am as a person and as a mother, and that there were pieces of me that were just always going to worry too much. I told her that I was sorry that on HER day, her birthday, my mind kept going to her sister's birthday and wondering how things could have been different. How one different decision might have changed the course of Sammie B's life . . . and maybe, just maybe, meant she'd have struggled less.
I told her that I knew she'd learn so much from her big sister, and that she'd teach her many things too. That I couldn't wait to watch them grow together, and that even though right now, I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of mothering two little girls, that I felt quite inadequate for the job, that I knew that by having Miss Mia, I'd just given Sammie B the greatest gift of her life, and that the two of them would always be amazing assets to one another. As I talked to Mia, I sobbed. And somehow, all the fear I'd felt about how I'd love another little girl just melted away. Suddenly, I felt such peace knowing that I just would. My heart felt fuller than ever before, and I looked at Mia and just felt so in love and so, so eager to take her home and have my little family all under one roof. Home.
And, during our little talk, I promised my Mia that just as Sam is writing HER story, I promise to try, every single day, to let Mia write her own too. To not constantly be thinking about how things might have been different for Sam if her birth had been different. To not look at Mia's milestones and wish they'd come easier to Sam. I know this won't be easy, but Mia deserves it.
And, more than anything, I just feel so, so blessed to get to be a part of two little girl's - my two daughter's - stories. I can't wait to watch them unfold.
My sweet Mia, I am already so in love with you, and I look forward to each and every day watching YOU find your place in this world and our family, and to watching you and your sister become friends and teach each other amazing, wonderful things. And, I have no doubt that you will teach ME things too, just as your sister has. While I hope that your story and your sister's are always intertwined, yours is yours and hers is hers. And, I'm just playing a supporting role to both of you!
Our little family of three is now one of four, and while I have no doubts the moments of being overwhelmed will come and go, it all feels so fabulous and wonderful.
Tonight, Sammie B and Mia laid in the floor together, with Sammie just playing with Mia's toes, and I looked at B and said, "can you believe they are both ours?" And my universe felt perfect, and centered . . . with two centers.
MY TWO GIRLS.