Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A profound event that changed my life

On June 6, 2010 at 1:52pm I became someone's mother. Her name is Audrey Helen Hammond and she came out perfect. 6 lbs 12 oz and 18 inches long. Red hair, for the moment her blue eyes -- just perfect.

I am 42 years old, married to a wonderful man...and now I am a mother. Even after 8 months, the word is so foreign to me that I have not yet been able to incorporate it into my existence -- into my psyche -- into my soul. Before I get into the absolute change in my consciousness, I should back track to the few days before I became a mother.

My due date was June 26th. On June 4th, I went into the OB for my normal weekly appointment (in the last month of pregnancy, they request that you come in weekly). The doctor checked me and I was 80% effaced and 3 cm dilated. So all the contractions that I had been feeling over the weeks prior were not for nothing...I had progressed.

I said, "Oh, so I probably shouldn't go back to work, because it's going to be any minute now..."

My doctor says "Well, you could go back to work"

I say, "I work an hour drive away from the hospital."

My doctor says, "Okay, I'll write your more work for you...we should see you in the hospital Monday or Tuesday...get to walking."

I had two other doctors' appointments that day, a meeting with the pediatrician and then a final "how big is this baby ultrasound" appt. due to my gestational diabetes. They were a pound off of her birth weight - the thought she was 5 lbs 11 oz.

On Saturday, June 5th, I started to have fairly regular contractions. My dear husband had been working all day on a commercial shoot somewhere a few miles from where God lost his shoes in the desert. He had taken a bus there from another meet up location, so getting him home would've been difficult. I had a chat with Audrey that she had to wait until Daddy got home. A good and dutiful daughter, she complied.

My friend Julie was around helping me bake cookies for the maternity ward nurses and generally being supportive. She was supposed to leave, so I called the doula. At this point, my contractions were about 7-8 minutes apart and intense (well, I thought so at that point).

Sid arrived home around 6pm, the doula arrived shortly thereafter, Julie left.

At around 8pm, I called my mother to tell her what was going on and that my contractions were about three minutes apart. She said to me, well, you should probably go to the hospital. In recent years, I have learned that listening to one's mother is usually a good idea. In this case, I'll give it 50/50 that I should've listened.

So, off to the hospital we went. We arrived, checked in (delivered the cookies) and waited.

Several hours later, and after about a 1/2 gallon of water and ice. I was exhausted, angry and ready to go home. Nothing was happening. My contractions were further apart and it was hard to move around. Audrey's arrival was no longer imminent. I cried and told Sid that I wanted to go home. He went to the nurse and at 2:30am implored her to call my doctor and have me released. Much to our nurse's surprise, my doctor agreed.

Most likely the contractions were brought on by dehydration. To this day, my husband refers to it as false labor; a phrase I despise.

We packed up and went home. I slept, I ate. My contractions continued to come intermittently and were not particularly intense.

I woke up, walked the dogs, ate breakfast and then at about 5 minutes before 11am on Sunday, June 6, 2010 -- my water broke...while it is an uncommon occurrence to happen the way that it did with me, I can tell you -- it was like in a movie.

Sid, being well practiced from the night before asked me some questions. Brought me dry clothes (Which weren't dry for long). Then there were the contractions....the real live, holy crap, I'm going to die contractions.

I have rarely been brought to my knees by pain...this pain brought me to my knees, literally!

The memory is academic,. My body does not hold the pain memory the same way that it does for my torn ACL or the kidney stones I once had.

So, after several attempts to get the doula on the phone (Thankfully the car was packed from the night before) and one major contraction that brought me to the floor of the bathroom. I said to Sid, "we should probably go to the hospital".

On the way to the hospital (15 minutes away) - I had four contractions. we arrived, and I could not walk. They wheeled me up (if you are squeamish, skip the next sentence)... Amniotic fluid pouring out of my lady bits the the entire time - I do not envy the orderly who had to clean up that mess.

Sid parked the car and joined me in a dimly lit room. The hep lock in the back of my hand. I leaned back in the bed.

Natalie, our delivery nurse, encouraged me to bring the the bed up to a 90% angle, turn around and kneel facing the back of the bed. when I finally acquiesced, I knew I should've done it as soon as I came in the room (note to self, next time!).

The pain was intense, but I was determined to keep painkillers out of my system.

I screamed and yelled and begged to push (only 6CM dilated, no pushing here). My eyes were closed (I can close my eyes now and recall the sensations of the room, Sid's presence next to me).

If I couldn't push, I was going to scream - and I did. The sound that came out of me was one I doubt I could repeat if someone paid me too. (The next day, Sid ran into one of the other Dad's in the nursery when Audrey was getting checked for something, apparently, he and his wife came in around the same time. They heard me.)

My will to go all natural began to wane...Through teared cheeks and tightly closed eyes, I said to Sid, "I don't know if I can do this without drugs" -- He leaned in and whispered in my ear, "Anything you introduce now will simply slow this process down."

The perfect words in the perfect time. I let out a holler and exhaled through my gritted teeth.

Several minutes later, I asked to be checked. I had dilated from 6 to 9cm in less than 20 minutes.

The doula was there, and all I heard was that she would get me a cool towel for my forehead.

I was in the zone at that moment and I knew if she touched me or my body temperature changed, I would throw I, not so politely, decline the offer. Our wonderful blessing of a doula stepped back and watched the next several minutes.

It was time to push. No doctor. Natalie grabbed one leg and Sid grabbed the other. I pushed against their hips and the counter pressure helped me push my little Audrey into this world.

I remember clearly, Sid saying "she's almost here - one more push" and Natalie saying "There's a bunch of curly blond hair coming out" (and of course the two things that my conscious mind thought, blond? curly? not a chance!)

I pushed, her head delivered...I pushed again and her shoulders were out. The pain was over...literally... gone and forgotten. It was 1:52pm - Almost exactly three hours from the moment my water broke.

She was placed on my chest, her umbilical cord still pulsing. Sid cut the cord, they took her across the room to clean her up. I remember "This is Us" playing on the ipod.

My doctor proclaimed my Gestational diabetes cured and told me that if everyone had a birth experience like mine, the world would have an even worse over population problem.

There I was, with my perfect birth experience, my perfect husband, my perfect baby --- I was someone's mother.

When we were transferred to our private room, the first movie that Audrey was exposed to was JJ Abrams Star Trek - a fitting first film for our daughter.

We spent two blissful days mostly isolated, getting to know one another. Sleeping, cuddling, eating. Sid visited intermittently, somehow, intuitively knowing, that for Audrey and I this time was sacred.

She had arrived, my daughter...and we started our journey together as mother and daughter, on our terms and in our own way.

1 comment:

  1. wow! THAT is beautiful! Thanks so much Flo, for sharing this ~ your writing, perfect... reflection on the moment, amazing! Bless you both - all! - and... happy mothering! All my best to you, Sharon