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Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Three to D!

It occurs to me I have never told how my Miss D joined us in this world . . .

By January 27, 2005, I was hugely pregnant, hugely miserable, and cursing the notion of a “due date.” As soon as I had a positive pregnancy test in hand, I looked up an online due date calendar and cemented January 18 in my mind. Our earliest ultrasound at ten weeks estimated a January 21st arrival, so I mentally allowed a few extra days for Sweet Baby’s arrival; but a first time mama at ten weeks, when each day seems to fly off the calendar, can’t really know how those last, tortuous days of being fully full-term and “past due.”

Here I am at the beginning of December 2004 - almost nine months pregnant.

And here I am on Christmas morning. It's the last known picture of me pregnant with D. Behold the belly. And you know what? It would be over a MONTH before Dacey would finally be born!

So anyway . . .

My beloved OB practice errs on the side of caution and is slow to schedule inductions, but at last my doctor had mercy on me and scheduled me to come in early on the morning of the 27th. “Call first,” she said, “and make sure we have room for you on the floor.” I be-bopped out of the office that day, never once dreaming that so many babies would insist on arriving on January 27th. At 6:00 am, I called the L&D floor and the only thing delivered to me that day was the spirit-crushing news that there were, in fact, too many mamas on the floor that day for there to be room for me and my great-with-child self.


But the Lord, He ministered to me with the words of one of my favorite Psalms, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (27:14) Wait we did, and not too long after that, my OB called and said she wanted to see me at 1:00 for a non-stress test and ultrasound.

Discouraged and weary, The Coach and I followed orders and went in for the testing. At L&D, we had the non-stress test and discovered everything looked fine for the baby, but my doctor could also see right away how disappointed I was. She offered to strip my membranes to see if that would get some action going. Downstairs in the ultrasound room, the ultrasound tech asked, “Has anyone given you a guess on how much this baby weighs?” I told her the last guesstimate from the doctor had been “no more than eight and a half pounds . . .” and the tech replied that what she was seeing looked closer to nine. I didn’t really linger too long on that part because I was starting to feel so crampy and uncomfortable.

We left the hospital under instructions to call if contractions started. In all the (non)excitement of the day, we had somehow forgotten to eat, so we pulled through the Whataburger drive-through on the way home. By this time (close to 3:00), I was having a hard time concentrating. The Coach ordered me a Whataburger and we went home to eat, but I think I ate about three bites before I discovered I had no appetite.

“I don’t feel right. I don’t feel good. I think I might be in labor,” I told him. The next few hours are kind of blurry now. I remember getting one of The Coach’s stopwatches and timing the “cramping.” At one point, the pain became so bad that I didn’t want to talk anymore, so I went up to our bedroom to watch "Friends" and continue timing. I called my sister-in-law around 7:30 to ask her (mother of four at the time, five now) if it sounded to her like I was in labor. When I had to stop mid-sentence of my explanation of what I was feeling, she told me, “Yeah, I think this is it, girl.”

As Donald Trump’s big head filled the screen announcing the beginning of "The Apprentice", I called L&D to tell my OB (who was thankfully still on-call) that the contractions were lasting about a minute and coming every five minutes. She told me to come on up and bring our bags this time.

I remember breathing through contractions at check-in, and I remember that The Apprentice was still on by the time we got settled in our room, but I could not for the life of me tell you who got fired that night. My doctor checked me and found I was at a three already and this sounded like the best news ever. The Coach read quietly as I continued to breathe, and I remember thinking there is really no way words could describe how much I was hurting. It was around this point that I started to curse quietly to myself with each contraction, and my husband started to get pretty nervous.

(I guess this would be a good time to tell you that we had not taken any childbirth classes. Dacey was born at a time before I was even a little tiny bit crunchy. In fact, to be honest, I had no idea what “crunchy” was, other than the other kind of peanut butter. I have a decidedly low pain threshold and there was no question in my mind as to whether or not to choose pain management. In fact, we didn’t take a childbirth class, but I sure DID attend the hospital-required “epidural class.” At the time, I was much more focused on being able to breastfeed and took a breastfeeding class, too. Again, not because it was the natural thing to do. No, no, this was in a season of life when we made just a *little* too much money to qualify for WIC, and so in my mind I had to breastfeed because we couldn’t afford formula. True story.)

The next time the nurse checked me, about an hour later, I had made it to a four, which is evidently the Magic Number for getting that epi. The nurse anesthesiologist was a tall, jolly man named Rocky and he became an instant hero for me. The Coach had ducked out of the room at that point to go gather our bags out of the car, so he missed that experience . . . seeing what I hear is a very long needle being inserted into my back.. I didn’t care how long the needle was, I just wanted relief.

I dozed and half watched TV for a while. When I got to a five, my doctor broke my water. I remember feeling disappointed that I didn’t get to have that “Oh my gosh! My water just broke!” experience. Every check from the nurses showed more and more progression, and everyone kept congratulating me on doing such hard work with no pitocin. That seems silly to me now, but at the time I needed all the encouragement I could get. By 2 am, I had made it to a seven. “A baby by dawn at this rate,” my OB said. But it was also around this time I noticed the nurse kept coming in every fifteen minutes or so and reading the long strip of paper being spit out of the machine measuring the baby’s heartrate. At 3:30, my progression had stalled. I was still at a seven. My doctor ordered pitocin, but told me they were concerned about the baby’s heartrate – that it was becoming erratic. She said she’d give me an hour to get past seven and then we would need to make some decisions.

It’s funny, really, if you go into a birth experience like I did with absolutely no desires other than to bring home a healthy baby. My mother-in-law delivered a stillborn baby between my sister-in-law and husband, and for some reason, I just could not get that out of my mind. I honestly did not care how the baby was going to come out of me. I just wanted her out and I wanted her healthy.

This is where it all gets really fuzzy. I spiked a fever and the next check revealed that not only had I not moved past seven, but there was also now meconium in the fluid. In a ten-second conversation, my OB said she felt strongly that we needed to get the baby out now, and of course we agreed. I remember them starting me on antibiotics for the fever that indicated I had developed an infection (in the amniotic sac? Why can’t I remember these details?) and being given a medicine to stop my contracting uterus. They had me get on my hands and knees on the transport table to be wheeled down to the OR, and it was about this time that I started crying. I was so scared.

Again, lots of fuzzy details, but before I knew it, my man Rocky was by my side in a freakishly cold operating room. He spoke softly and gently to me about everything that was happening, and that helped ease my mind as I lay there, completely naked, arms stretched out and secured to the table. So vulnerable. So very scared.

In a few more minutes, my husband was beside me, and I remember my doctor quietly talking to me as they started. A pediatrician I had never met came in, scrubbed down and in scrubs and my doctor said he was there “just in case.” I cried some more.

There was lots of quiet, tense conversation between her and her surgical assistant. My husband stroked my hair and cheek and told me everything was going to be fine. I heard my doctor sort of murmur “cord tightly wrapped,” and then, “It’s a girl! Daddy, you can stand up and see your baby!” She explained they didn’t want the baby to cry until they were positive she had not and would not inhale any meconium. As every mama knows, those seconds until the first cry reverberates through the room are so much more than seconds. I cried softly while we waited.

Finally, finally, Dacey’s first scream of protest filled the room. I cried again, this time with relief. Later, my husband told me he had never been so terrified as when he saw Dacey freshly pulled from my womb. “She was so, so blue,” he said. I was told later her APGARs were four, and then nine. They escorted Daddy up to the nursery to stay with the baby, Dacey Allyse. The mood was much lighter as the team finished working on me, and after what felt like an eternity, they rolled me into recovery.

I was the only patient recovering from surgery at six o’clock on the morning of the 28th. The post-op nurse was friendly – very friendly – and I remember as he chattered away that all I really wanted to do was sleep. I was so very, very tired – emotionally and physically. My doctor came into the room and began working on paperwork at the far end. The phone rang. The nursery nurses reported that Dacey Allyse had arrived at a staggering nine pounds, twelve ounces. I think she was twenty-three inches long. Or was it twenty-one? Or was that AJ? Oy vey! Anyway, she was, um, big.

After another eternity went by, I was finally released to leave post-op recovery. When they wheeled me past the nursery, I got to see my Dacey for the first time. Oh, I am all teary just thinking about it. I remember that shock of black, black hair. And she was, as you may have guessed, the biggest baby in the nursery that day.

The Coach met me in my room and told me how Dacey had cried and cried while they cleaned her up, but when he reached down to stroke her forehead with his finger, she immediately calmed down. I had never seen him smiling so big.

A little while later they finally brought my sweet new baby to me. The nurse helped me get her ready to breastfeed and she did latch on right away, but didn’t stay on long. I was so sleepy from the various medications and Dacey was, too. I fell back to sleep for a good while, but didn’t sleep much after that the whole time we were in the hospital. I don’t think I took my eyes off of her for more than a minute at a time. I just stared and stared and tried to wrap my mind around this miracle. Our attachment one to the other was instant and fierce and completely surprising.

And that’s the story of Dacey Allyse. As she’ll tell anyone who asks, she’s “fwree yews ode TODAY!”

Happy birthday, my lovie.