Nine Months Later:
“IT”S A BABY!” the doctor announced. Then I heard the first tender cries of my sweet newborn. I was terrified.
“Are you sure it’s alive? Is it okay? Is it breathing? Why did it stop crying?” I was slurring from a drug-induced haze from the surgery table. I refused to call our baby a nickname or anything that might attach me even closer than I thought possible.
During my entire pregnancy I was told that the baby looked perfect and healthy. I was followed closely by a geneticist and a high-risk pregnancy clinic. I had more ultrasounds than the average expectant mother. I cherished those moments just as much as I was terrified of them. The evening before my appointment my anxiety levels would rise. The words, “I’m sorry, but your baby died…” echoed in my head. I’d sit on the couch and count the kicks my baby made. If the baby was still, I’d drink juice or poke at my belly to make the baby move. During my appointments, I’d often catch myself wondering if these ultrasounds would be the only time I’d see my baby alive. It may have been through a monitor, but I could see it moving, opening and closing its eyes, sucking its thumb and somersaulting around my womb. What if these doctors were wrong and it’s not okay? I’m not sure my heart could take another loss like that.
We decided to not find out the sex because we weren’t given that choice with Machaela. We had to find out her gender to accurately diagnose her. But with this baby, we wanted to be surprised. It didn’t matter whether it was a boy or girl. We just wanted it to be born healthy.
And there she was. I barely got a glimpse of my perfectly pink baby girl before Jim followed the nurses and newest member of the family to the well-baby nursery. “The well- baby nursery”, I got to say these words this time. The emergency C-section had me terrified I wasn’t going to be able to say them and by the grace of God, I did.
The ceiling was spinning and the shakes were settling in like never before. I was as high as a kite. I could hear the clicking of the staple gun as they closed my new wound and I tried to not imagine what the lower half of my abdomen looked like. The nurses had to manually move my legs and lift my body from the surgical table to the recovery bed.
When we came to the realization that this baby was not going to be born naturally, I was devastated. Needless to say, I panicked a little. This was not part of my birthing plan. It had not occurred to me that I may one of those moms who ended up with a C-section. Jim and I had attended Lamaze where we learned all of the crazy breathing techniques and pushing positions. When we weren’t distracted by the ginormous prego lady who was making strange snorting noises next to us, we actually learned some things. When the Lamaze teacher covered the topic of C-sections, I thought to myself, ‘thank God that isn’t going to happen to me.’ Now I wished I had paid more attention.
I had been laboring for 24 hours and stopped dilating. My blood pressure was 210/90, I was spilling protein in my urine and the baby’s heart rate dropped to half of what it should be. The baby needed to come out now.
Crazy thoughts started running through my head; what if I wasn’t numb when they started cutting? I knew someone who experienced that and she had nightmares after that. The doctors whisked me away quickly and there wasn’t much time for these thoughts to remain.
Once the morphine kicked in, all that I could focus on was the uncontrollable shaking. It felt like the San Andres fault line had just erupted and every one of muscle fibers was part of the fault line. Even my insides were quivering. It was unreal. The bright light above my head was blinding and my arms were tethered to boards. Suddenly, I thought of Jesus Christ. I couldn’t imagine what He must’ve felt like; enduring excruciating circumstances, experiencing unimaginable pain. Here I was, totally unworthy, with an epidural and morphine running through my blood.
I had to puke. I couldn’t feel my stomach enough to help push it up. I was numb from my chest down and it was the freakiest thing I’ve ever felt. What if we had a huge earthquake at that instant and I was tethered to this contraption and couldn’t make my body move. This must be what it feels like to be a quadriplegic. How terrifying to be so helpless and dependent on other people. I started to panic when I couldn’t tell whether or not the puke had just come up. It was stuck in my throat. Great! The anesthesiologist told me to turn my head sideways and he would try to catch it in the basin. I was choking and searching for air. The anestheologist’s finger swept my mouth and I was finally able to take a breath. My eyes searched for Jim. Where the hell was he? They’d better not start without him. What if I was still puking when they began cutting? What if they actually cut the baby? What if I choked and died right here on the table? I was scared shitless and shook even more.
Finally, Jim was sitting near my head. All I could see were his eyes. He was covered from head to toe in the famous blue ‘dad’ suit.
The doctor asked if I could feel her poking my belly.
“Umm…I’m not sure.” I was afraid to say no because what if only the top part of my skin was numb? Most people have had the experience of a dentist poking you in the gums assuring you that you are numb. Next comes the drill and that’s when you realize that you weren’t as numb as you thought. Hot lightning bolts shoot through your tooth, 10x’s worse than biting on foil and the side of your face lights up like the fourth of July. I, absolutely, 100%, had no desire to feel anything going on down there.
“You are doing great, Darla. We have already made the incision and in a few seconds you will be feeling pressure under your lungs. It may take your breath away, but it will only last a second or two.”
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she had already made the incision. I tried to relax a little bit. Then I felt some pressure, tugging and pulling and then a pause. All of the sudden I felt a ton of pressure under my lungs and I lost my breath. As soon as my breath came back I felt some aggressive tugging and pulling and then it stopped.
“The cord is wrapped one, two, three times around the baby’s neck.” The doctor was talking to a nurse.
It was a good thing we delivered when we did.
Then I heard some suctioning of the nose and mouth. Jim peeked over the blue curtain and told me the head was out and that the baby actually had black hair! I felt a couple more tugs and heard the scream!
Sophia Averie was born on October 26, 2002 at 3:55 am. I was amazed that my body actually grew a baby! A 6 pound 10 ounce baby at that! I was feeling like a rock star at that point. She was a shorty like me, barely stretching to 17 inches. She had ten fingers, ten toes, and a head full of black curly hair and rosebuds lips. She was beautiful. I was a mom. All I could do was thank God!
Look! Come look and see!
What the good Lord has given me!
In my arms I hold our sweet Sophia Averie.
She has the breath of an angel, Shh, please don’t make a sound;
If you watch closely you’ll see her chest rise up and down.
This enormous blessing that came from above
has overflowed my heart with a new mother’s love.
As I hold her close, skin to skin;
I think what a wonderful place that I’m in.
Thanks I give to the great Man above;
Nothing beats unconditional love.