Monday, February 2, 2009

02.03.08

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.

10 comments:

Shana said...

I am touched by this post, and although I was not in the exact same situation, I can relate to a lot of what happened.

You should never feel like you failed as a mother, as my sister once told me..."you have already done more for your daughter, than some mothers do in a lifetime"

Shana

The Maiden Metallurgist said...

Oh buddy. I remember how much pain you were in at the hospital, struggling to keep Emma in just another week longer, just another day longer. I hope that, sooner rather than later, you will stop seeing that as a failure and begin to see it as the triumph that saved beautiful Emma's life.

MrsKatieH said...

Oh Hunny I know so much of that guilt and noone but other preemie moms understand it. I hope today is better for you :)

Jeff and Kerry said...

You did NOT fail Emma as a mother. You did not fail her. I know you believe that, but I'm going to tell you that you don't know what you are talking about. You are seriously one of the most amazingly courageous people I know, and I've only known you, well...about a year.

The way you are with Emma now absolutely melts my heart. You know how incredibly lucky you are that she is here. You know that circumstances could have risen where the outcome would have been much, much different. And you can tell that by your parenting style. Emma is so loved. And she will continue to be because you are her mother.

(((hugs)))

Tanya said...

BIG hug.

Trish said...

I hear ya sister..

Martha Compton said...

From one guilt-ridden preemie mommy to another, thank you for being honest. I know how hard it was to write this. I also know the dichotomy of having such terrible feelings about a birth experience and yet such amazing feelings for the result of that experience. I hope that we all are able to continue healing. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

I, like you and Jamie are so happy this experience is over and that you can look forward to a happy life with Emma. Yes, guys your cup is half full. Kitty

Rhonda said...

Ivory, I second everything that Kerry said. Emma is the sweetest, happiest baby I have ever known, and she's that way because you are an incredible mother! You did everything you possibly could to keep her in, and she is alive and healthy and happy because of that.

Kelly, Louis, and Ruby said...

Thank you for sharing. I remember the terror and panic the day I was admitted to the hospital, and had to have an emergency c section that same day. I had no warning, no time to process, and all I could think was "it's too soon, it's too soon"... like you we have a happy ending! but every now and then I feel like I might have a panic attack if I think about it too long...

Hugs to you! And so happy you have a beautiful daughter to show for everything you had to go through.