I'm on edge tonight. It took me a little while to figure out why... not because I didn't know what tomorrow was, but because I expected my feelings to manifest themselves in tears, not in extreme bitchiness. I've been going over this in my head for a year now and I knew it was coming, but it still caught me off guard. Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of one of the worst days of my life. I kept a lot of my feelings close to me because I didn't want to scare anyone (including myself, talking about it certainly made things worse). However I regret not being more honest about my experience, especially if it could have helped someone else. So in an effort to help myself deal with the experience I've chosen to blog about it. Hopefully someday I'll need to read through this post to remember these feelings. Hopefully someday they won't be in the front of my mind every minute of my life.
Please be warned that this isn't a happy post (Mom and Dad, that means you shouldn't read it at work) :)
Last year on February 3rd I woke up thinking I had peed my pants. As luck would have it, that wasn't the case, rather I was bleeding heavily for the second time in my pregnancy. There are so many parts of the day that stick out in my mind. I remember laying on the floor, after I called my midwife, trying to do a kick count, and not feeling much movement. She asked us to come to the hospital and I don't recall much of the ride, but I do remember checking in. Because it was a Sunday we had to register in the ER and I was doing a really good job keeping it together until I had to sign some kind of consent form for the baby. All I could think was "this baby isn't supposed to be here for 4 more months, how am I signing any kind of form for it". Then they wheeled me up to the labor and delivery floor, and I will tell you that having perinatal on the same floor as labor and delivery is probably the most cruel form of punishment imaginable. Anyone who visited me will remember the long hall filled with portraits of beautiful infants, I learned to appreciate them over the next 3 months, but that first day those photos combined with the scent of newborns pushed me over the edge. I kept thinking "I'm not supposed to be here yet, no one should have to be on this floor until they are ready to deliver and I'm not ready yet". I was sobbing so hard by the time they got me to my room that I couldn't answer their questions. I remember being propped up on an upside down bedpan for a pelvic exam (omg, the pain!). I remember being introduced to nurses and thinking to myself that I would never remember their names. Little did I know that not only would I know their names, I would also know their weekly schedule and that the nurse who was there when I was admitted would be the one there as Emma was being born 6 weeks later :)
Things calmed down for a bit until they wheeled me over for an ultrasound with the perinatologist. It was a pretty bad experience, they found a huge tear in between my placenta and my uterus and were of the mindset that I could deliver at any time. In pregnancy 24 weeks is considered viable, the baby has a 55% chance of surviving outside the womb (to say nothing of the complications that can arise), I was 23 weeks 6 days. I remember the doctor telling us that WE would have to decide how far we wanted to take life saving measures when the baby was born. He said that there were amazing things that could be done to save a life, but that we needed to make some decisions about the quality of life we wanted the child to have. Um, what? In my opinion this is a conversation that no couple should ever have to have. I can still remember that feeling, the feeling of having to decide the fate of someone's life. Actually that is the problem with all of this. I can still remember everything all too well. There are sounds and smells that set off memories I didn't even know where there. I will never be able to wash my hands at a doctor's office or hospital without reliving those 3 months. I spent 3 months on the worst roller coaster of emotions I could have ever imagined. On good days I was cocky and certain that I would keep the baby in until s/he was big enough to come home with me. On bad days I couldn't eat, or shower or even pee in a toilet because *they* were sure I would be having a baby that day. I remember being in so much pain for a week that no one even knew I was in labor until I was 8cm dilated. Seriously, how does something like that happen? How do you spend weeks and weeks in a hospital and still find yourself in a surprise labor situation? So ridiculous.
I remember calling Jamie and my parents and having to tell them I was in labor and to come to the hospital. No one could understand me because I was crying so hard. I was so scared. I was scared when I was admitted to the hospital, but I hope that will never experience the level of terror that I did when I found out I was in labor. I went into labor alone, something that was only my fault, and I will regret for the rest of my days. I'm not sure words can even express what I felt in those moments. I think that is what I find most difficult about all of this... I know this story has a happy ending, but the terror and helplessness is what sticks in my mind. I look at the product of this every day, and she is amazing, but I still have so many issues. The smallest memories can make me burst into tears and I know that people think I'm crazy because I can honestly say that the day of Emma's birth was one of the worst days of my life. I didn't know if she was going to live or die. I didn't know how this was going to effect the rest of our lives. All I knew is that we had this tiny, tiny little baby that came into the world way too early and that I had failed her in my very first job as a mother. Hopefully someday I'll get over that guilt (and hopefully it will happen before she figures out she can use it against me).
This journey started one year ago. It's been 366 days since I woke up bleeding. Some days it feels life a lifetime ago and I can barely believe that it's only been a year. Some days it feels like yesterday that I was stuck in 371 and I can't fathom how much our lives have changed in a short amount of time. Hopefully the pain will one day be a distant memory and I'll read this post to remind myself of how terrifying this was for me.