Monday, May 12, 2008

A Special "Mother's" Day

I thought about posting yesterday, and after the resoundingly bad day that it was, I figured it was better for y'alls delicate psyche if I just didn't put that energy out there. Instead I watched the season finale of my favorite TV show (with multiple interruptions) and then retired early (for me anyway) at midnight.

So it's a new day, and I am upright and breathing this morning. I was thinking about what to post as I drove my daughter to school. I figured since it was mother's day yesterday, and everyone has a "Mom" story to tell, I would share a story about my becoming a mom. There is a lot to this story, and I can tell it in five minutes or five hours, depending on who I am talking to or how much I feel like sharing. I don't want to bore anyone nor do I want my fingers to bleed from excessive typing, so I am going to share a condensed version today.

It starts with the year 2003. I began the year by leaving a very bad man and a very bad environment. He and I had been together for several years, during which I had several miscarriages. He had cheated on me constantly, and was mentally and physically abusive, as well as a chronic drug user. Let's just say that cheers were heard all over the world when I left him. In January, I moved in with a guy that I had met on the internet. (Insert groans of many who think that was a bad idea here.) He offered me a place to live that was drug free, in a good neighborhood, and closer to where I was working at the time. He asked nothing of me other than to be a responsible adult and pay my bills and live a better life than what he just helped "rescue" me out of. I moved in, got back on my feet, got my life together, and started healing from my past.

In May of 2003, as I was getting on with my life, my roommate was neck deep in a nasty divorce from his wife of 25 years. He was depressed and moody and generally just miserable. I had been "seeing" someone occasionally, and was contemplating moving out, but I just felt guilty about leaving the roommate after all he had done for me. He was at a very low point in his life and needed a friend. (Guilt+Sad Guy=Pity Sex...'nuff said.) So the roommate planned a vacation to lift his spirits, and invited me along. I had never been to Sarasota before, so I agreed to go. Wouldn't you know that the week the vacation was planned, I was scheduled to have a visit from "Aunt Flo". Well, I went on vacation, had a great time, and not once did I bleed. Got back home, one week later, still no period. Since regularity in bleeding has never been my strong suit, I just figured I would wait it out and it would happen eventually.

I should take a minute here to say that the last time I miscarried, I was about four months along and the bleeding was so bad that the doctor told me I was probably never going to get pregnant again. He also told me that with my heart issues, getting pregnant was tantamount to suicide. That doctor was a real prick, by the way.

So, thinking that pregnancy wasn't even a possibility at this point, I just waited a couple more weeks before I started to worry. Month late. Worried. Pregnancy test with *Bonus Test!* So I am sitting in my bathroom, having already taken one test a few days earlier that turned out negative, and have the second test in my hand while I am chanting "oh shit, oh shit" over and over again. Positive. Great. I have managed to turn one positive and one negative. Guess it's time for a doctor visit. I went to see my roommate's doctor, a very nice Guatemalan woman, and got a blood test. She of course tells me that I am definitely pregnant, and congratulates me. (Picture that deer in the headlights look on my face at this point.) I tell her that I can't be pregnant due to my heart and all, and I need some direction or help in terminating the pregnancy. She looks at me with a stunned look on her face and tells me that abortion is illegal. Uh...OK. Not in this country, lady.

I of course am in complete turmoil as to what to do, so I decide to start by going to see a cardiologist. His advice? Having a baby not such a great idea for me, but if I really wanted it, there would be ways to proceed. Like finding an OB/GYN first of all, and getting to bed for the duration of the pregnancy. I would also need to be followed by a cardiologist relentlessly, only not the kind of cardiologist that he is, I would be needing an electrophysiologist. (That would be a really long word for a cardiologist that has had his personality removed and replaced with an overwhelming instinct for acting like a complete asshole.) I started calling doctors. The conversation always went the same. I would tell them about my heart, and my possible need to end the pregnancy, and I would be told politely and coldly that they couldn't take me on as a patient. On call 53 I finally found a doctor's office that was willing to take me on. They told me that they would evaluate me, and if necessary, help me end the pregnancy to save my life. I had an appointment and really liked the doctor (bad hair plugs aside) and thought that no matter what the outcome, things would turn out alright.

I was driving a motor scooter at this time to get back and forth to work, and one morning (about 2 months along) I got into an accident and had to lay the bike down in order not to hit a truck that was backing out of driveway without looking. (idiot) I was scraped and bruised, but decided to head to work, anyway. At work the pain started, and then got worse. I decided to head to the ER and told them I was preggers and about the accident. They did an internal sonogram (my first sonogram) to check things out and see if I was still pregnant. I am laying there, watching the screen, and see this little blob...with a heartbeat. I made the tech hold the position so I could watch for a minute, and what I saw was a tiny little perfect heart, beating exactly how it should. I was hooked. I really wanted this baby.
I was 27 and I wasn't getting any younger, I had a great job with good insurance and I was in the most stable living environment I had ever been in in my life. I figured, I was already 2 months into the pregnancy and had all kinds of doctors on my case at this point, so why not just let things develop and see what happened. I had never carried any pregnancy to term, and I figured, if this wasn't meant to be, then nature would take it's course like it had in the past. I just couldn't bring myself to voluntarily end the pregnancy at this point. My OB/GYN was thrilled (being all pro-baby like that) and my electrophysiologist (Dr. Personality or asshole or perv...he was really a piece of shit with a diploma) was absolutely PISSED. I was sitting in an exam room telling him I was going to try to keep the baby and he screams at me, "You stupid bitch! Are you trying to kill yourself? You need to go get an abortion or you are going to DIE!"

At this point, nurses are running in to rescue me from this idiot. I am reduced to a weeping puddle of snot, and he is yelling at me and the nurses and just generally trying to make everyone in earshot feel bad. Lots of meetings with office managers and lawyers take place and eventually, the little fucktard doctor is put in his place, apologizes to me and we continue to rotate around each other in a very strange and uncomfortable doctor/patient relationship. This same doctor, just to give you an idea of how low of a human specimen he is, would flirt repeatedly with my VERY married and very pregnant at the time also, sister. He would act like a little schoolboy whenever she brought me in for a visit. What a fucktard.

Anyway. My pregnancy progressed week by week with constant doctor supervision and many, many sonograms. I was fortunate enough to watch my daughter grow weekly because of this. I knew it was a girl before I even got the little picture to confirm it. At 5 months along I was ordered to go on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. My roommate thought that a small vacation to the Florida Keys, one last "getaway", would be good for me before I spent the next 4 months on my back. I agreed. We both knew that with the doctors' prediction of me probably not surviving the birth (I was given a 10% chance of surviving, my daughter was given a 50% chance.) that this was really going to be the last vacation of my life. We went to Key Largo and stayed in a beautiful hotel on the gulf side. During the trip, I was "leaking" amniotic fluid. I thought it was just me losing control of my bladder. This went on for a week. We cut the vacation short, and drove back to Jacksonville. I went to bed. Two days later, on a Sunday, I woke up and my bed was completely soaked. I thought I had wet the bed in my sleep. I called the doc, and they told me to get to the hospital immediately. I called my sister and she showed up to take me. Even made me sit on a plastic bag so as not to ruin her car seat. That's sisterly love for ya.

As we were driving down the off ramp that lead to the hospital I had my first contraction. I was 23 weeks into the pregnancy. I knew I was in trouble, and was really upset that it seemed this pregnancy would end in a miscarriage as well. When we got in the lobby the admitting clerk was asking me questions and typing when I had a second contraction. She asked how long it was between contractions. When I told her it had been 4 minutes, he fingers started flying faster than humanly possible as she registered my info into the computer. I was pain...but impressed. I was wheeled up to a room and told to get undressed and pee in a cup. For what? Going to check to see if I am pregnant? I think the ship already sailed on that one, folks....

I was about to pee in the cup..when I noticed I was bleeding everywhere. I screamed at the nurse and told her what was going on, and she made me get into the bed immediately. Then they turned me upside down at an almost 45 degree angle. The told me it was to counteract gravity. Guess they thought I was going to drop that bowling ball right there on the floor.

They did the checking of the nether regions on me, and told me that I was trying to have a baby. No way! Ya THINK? What? The contractions weren't enough of a clue? At that point, being upside down and all, I was starting to get a little cranky. And panicked. I was only 23 weeks. I was FIVE MONTHS ALONG. My daughter's due date was my birthday, February 6th. It was only the middle of October.They gave me drugs to stop the labor, but my amniotic fluid was leaking fast out of a rupture in my placenta. The medicine they gave me made me extremely thirsty but nauseated so they wouldn't let me drink anything. Only ice chips occasionally. My mom was there and was feeling helpless. She thought she was going to lose me, and was more worried about that than anything else. After all, I am her baby. So she did the only thing she could. She fed me ice chips. Lots of ice chips. I threw up. And my water broke. I thought I had popped the kid out right there on the bed...after felt almost exactly like the last miscarriage. I was screaming at anyone to come get the kid...she popped out and was somewhere in the sheets. A nurse came in and looked under the sheet, told me my water broke, and there was no kid yet. She then went to go leave and as she was about to walk out the door, she turned to me and said, (quoting her verbatim here) "You know, babies born this early don't live."


They prepped me for an emergency C-section by sending in a 12 year old cardiology resident that looked like he was about to shit himself or pass out, an anesthesiologist to give me an epidural that didn't take, and my OB/GYN Dr. Hairplugs. They smiled at me with that look on their faces like they knew this wasn't going to end well. I was wheeled (still upside down) into the operating room with my sister beside me. (Mom wasn't dealing with reality very well at this point.) I felt them cut me sideways, then vertically, then felt my daughter being ripped from my body. The doctor held her up with one hand (she was the size of a Barbie Doll with a head the size of a small apple) and she was all blue.

He said, "Say hello to your daughter!" Then they swooped her over to the other side of the room and weighed her before they started working on her.

"One pound, five ounces," someone said.

I remember saying, "I have chicken in my fridge that weighs more than that."

At that point, I died. So they did what they do and they brought me back. At the same time they were working on her because she was basically born dead and was slow to come around.

A few days(?) after I gave birth a nurse came into my room with some paperwork. She said she needed some information for the official paperwork. I asked her if it was the death certificate. She looked at me funny and said, no, it was the birth certificate and some hospital stuff that needed her name on it. I just sat there blinking at her. She asked me why I thought it was a death certificate and I said, "Because she was blue when she was born and I haven't seen her since."

Well she wigged out on me. She was SHOCKED that I had not even been taken to see my child, and told me that not only was my daughter alive, but breathing on her own without any help. She told me she would be right back, and was, bearing a Polaroid of my daughter. Then told me that as soon as I felt up to it I could go visit her in the NICU. I wanted to go at that moment, but she told me to rest and they would get her all ready and then come back for me in a little while. The first time I saw my daughter she was already a few days old. I had to reach under a little plastic tent to touch her and my finger was bigger than her whole hand.

This was at 5 weeks old. Still very tiny at that point.

They told me that babies so little generally don't live and have lots of problems if they do. I will say that the journey up until now has been long and trying (and a whole other story or ten)...but so very worth it. My daughter is now 4 1/2 years old. Most of the problems due to the prematurity have been resolved, and my daughter has all the potential to be a true smart ass just like her mom. I am blessed.


meuse said...

Thats my GIRLZ!!!! you know i love you, now, as i do EVERYTIME i read or hear this story...lemme go dry up my pansey tears and blow the running snot outta my head before it clogs something...

Feisty Irish Wench said...

And this is why they call it PRACTICING medicine right? I just wish we were in contact then so I could have been part of that chapter too. *sigh*

Lindy said...

What a traumatic story. Thank God you & your sweet bundle of snarkiness both pulled through that one. What a blessing!!

tysgirl said...

What a great story, thanks for sharing it.

I spent 5 years being a nanny to twins that were born at 24 weeks and weighed just over a pound a piece. The boy came out pretty much unscathed other than chronic lung disease and some sensory issues. The girl has severe cerebral palsy. Lilli will never walk, talk or even sit up on her own but you can be damn sure she is the light of my life. She just turned 6 and still weighs just 25lbs.

I hope you had a nice Mother's Day.

Character Builder said...

I don't even know what to say, except WOW! That's some story. I'm happy to report that all 3 of my pregnancies and births were all much less eventful than this story. Congratulations on giving birth to a tiny but healthy little girl back then. Wow!

Anonymous said...

YAY! WOOHOO! I love happy endings!! I just started reading your blog. I can hardly wait to catch up on everything you've wrote so far! Congrats on the baby girl!!!