Warning: long post!
10 years ago today, my firstborn made her way into the world, though I must say that she took her sweet time in doing so. Not only was I two weeks overdue, but my labor was long as well (17 hours of back labor, plus an additional 2 hours of pushing). But my extra long pregnancy and hard labor soon seemed insignificant due to complications right at delivery.
While pregnant with Mia (a.k.a. GothGirl), I had been looking forward to the Norman Rockwell-like hospital moments after the delivery: snuggling with our new daughter, celebrating with my husband over a glass of champagne, and showing her off to visiting family and friends. But, that’s so far from the way it actually happened.
Mia had been doing great all through my labor & pushing; but as she passed through the birth canal, she breathed in amniotic fluid and collapsed a lung. I remember seeing her as soon as she was out and thinking that she looked so blue. But I’d never seen a newborn baby before, so I figured it was normal. The nurses immediately carried her over to a side table, which I could barely see while the doctor got busy checking me. I asked the nurses what Mia’s APGAR score was and they told me it was a 2 out of 10. I had read What to Expect When You Are Expecting, so I wasn’t immediately concerned as I know the 1-minute APGAR scores are often low. At 5 minutes, I asked again and her number was still at 2. Now I was very alarmed and rightly so as the neonatalogist came into the room around that time. They hurried Mia over to me for a quick kiss and then they rushed her up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
My heart plummeted and I was out of my mind with worry, but yet stuck in my maternity suite. And unbeknownst to me, I was in trouble myself. While I thought the doctor was just doing a routine post-baby wrap-up on me (I was so focused on Mia that I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening with me, plus they never said anything out loud to alarm me), I was actually starting to bleed out because my uterus would not stop contracting. But while I was oblivious, my husband knew exactly what was happening because he is a nurse. The poor guy was worrying about both his wife and baby. Fortunately they finally got my bleeding to quit and I sent my husband up to the NICU to check on Mia. I think the only thing that allowed me to keep my sanity in those first few hours was the fact that I was so worn out from the long labor & delivery and then weak from losing so much blood.
It was several hours before we were told that Mia had finally stabilized, when her neonatologist came down to let us know her condition. He told us that when he first saw her in my room right after the delivery, he didn’t think she was going to make it. We were both beyond relieved to hear the news and we hurried upstairs to see her (me in a wheelchair, due to my condition). Seeing Mia in the NICU with monitors and tubes made my heart hurt. When it was finally time for me to hold her for the first time, I was scared that I would hurt her. She had a tube in her head and she looked so fragile. Gradually I convinced myself that she wasn’t going to break and I was able to relax. Even looking around the room, I realized yet again how lucky we were. There were so many preemies in the room who were dealing with many struggles. At 7 lbs 9oz, Mia looked like a brute. Though her condition was now stable, she had to spend some time in the NICU so they could watch for infection and give her percussion therapy to break up the fluid in her lungs. Few people outside immediate family came to visit because it was such an ordeal to see her in the NICU and only 2 people were allowed in at a time. My doctor tried to extend my stay in the hospital so that I could at least be in the same building with her, but my insurance company wouldn’t approve it. Next to those first few hours after her birth, probably the hardest part of all was leaving her at the hospital. No mom should have to do that. I was so sad and an emotional basket case without her. We visited her several times a day (our house was a 30 minute drive away) for fairly long periods, but I was also trying to recuperate and needed my own rest. Finally, she got the all clear and was released 4 days after her birth. We were finally all together as a family.
Now 10 years later, we think of her as our little miracle and we treasure her all the more because we almost lost her. I wanted to do something special to celebrate her “double-digit” birthday, so I called the local grain elevator down the road for us. They post birthdays for local kids on their sign. Since her school bus does not pass by the sign, I drove her up after school for a look. I didn’t say anything, wanting to see if she would notice it. She didn’t, so I ended up turning around and pulling into their lot. She saw her name and her eyes lit up and she gave me the biggest hug ever. You could tell she was so excited. I’m happy that it made her day! And I love the look of the old grain elevator and sign in the photo.
Editing: curves & levels adjustmentf/4