Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Day That Carter Was Born

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I've had moments recently where I feel like I'm already forgetting.
Forgetting the feelings. Forgetting the moments. Forgetting the tiny pieces that make it our story.
I feel anxious even starting to move my fingers across the keys tonight--to start. The lump in my throat tells me that the feelings of that day are still real today, and I don't know if I want to feel it all over again.

But I don't want to forget. I want to be able to tell him his story one day when he's older without forgetting the little moments that made it so hard, but so beautiful, all in the same breath.

So I'll just start writing...

I remember the smell of Thanksgiving turkey baking in the oven that filled mom and dad's house that afternoon. The cozy feeling of being at home--my old home, with my parents, Jen, Jeff, Oliver and of course Terry and Mya. Drinks were being poured, little feet were running on the cold kitchen tile, potatoes were being chopped and delicious smells of mom's comfort food filled the air.

It was as calm as to be expected with two children under the age of 2 at our feet. But I remember feeling relaxed.

And then the cramping began.

I sat on the couch silently for a while, quietly and discretely managing the pain that began to seep into my body. I knew it was coming. But I was calm. I had done this before. I knew these pains.  

But as the pain grew stronger I could no longer avoid the inevitable. We were only 30minutes away from eating Thanksgiving dinner when we packed up the car, headed to the hospital and left the entire meal behind.

All of a sudden I found myself lying in a hospital bed, straps placed around my large belly as the sounds of a little heartbeat echoed throughout the room from the machine beside me. This was it.

The pains were coming steadily and I held Terry's hand as he sat next to me, trying to comfort me through each contraction.

We walked the halls, either Jen, mom or Terry each taking a turn to hold my arm as I slowly took each step then stopped abruptly, head and hands against the wall, working through each painful contraction. But we were laughing, talking...excited at the anticipation of the miracle that was about to happen.

Day quickly turned to night as the walls, people and smells of the hospital became more and more familiar. So when the nurses told me that it would still be several hours before they expected that we would finally meet our little boy, we made the disappointing decision to go home and sleep for a few hours--knowing though that we would be back.

Once back at my parents house, I crawled into bed and remember feeling the cool sheets on my back. It was as if they were reminding me that this is not where I would be for long, so don't get too comfortable.

The contractions started coming with a vengeance only a few hours later and I rolled over to wake Terry up. We quickly went to wake mom and Jen up and the feelings of excitement and fear swept through all of us once again as we all piled into the car and headed back to the hospital. THIS was it. I knew it.

The pain was so fierce that I don't remember even arriving at the hospital or how I ended up in the birthing room. But somehow I found myself lying in that bed, hooked up to monitors once again, begging for an epidural.

The pain continued to whip through my body as the epidural desperately tried to ease the burning sensation, but I was progressing too quickly now. They broke my water and told me that I had gone from 7 to 10cm in about 30 seconds flat. The epidural just couldn't keep up.

It all happened so quickly after that. I remember telling them that I had to push...begging them to let me push. But the OB wasn't there yet and baby was coming. The nurse frantically rushed to the phone to call him into the room, realizing that this baby was coming, with or without him. And she told me to push.

I don't even remember the OB coming into the room, because I only pushed four times and all of a sudden the doctor was there, pulling my sweet little boy out into this beautiful new world.

I did it.

It was over.

My boy was laying on my chest...gooey and beautiful.

They wiped him down as I tried desperately to study his little face and take him all in. I had waited 9 months for this moment and it was finally here. The best moment of all. That moment when you meet your baby for the first time, when you lock eyes, breathe him in and realize that life will never ever be the same again. You're a mama again and the world is all of sudden completely beautiful. Because all that you can see is your baby in that moment, our sweet little Carter, and all of a sudden nothing else matters.

I wanted that moment so badly.

But as he laid on my chest I knew that something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong.

Instead of that relaxed sigh of relief that I expected to feel once they placed him in my arms, my heart started to race as I heard him struggling to breathe.

I looked up and saw my family staring at us smiling, loving eyes meeting the newest member of our family for the first time..but through everyone's calm, happy demeanour, I wanted to scream.

Something was not right.

I put the back of his head in my hands and stared at his tiny face. It was so perfect, so beautiful. I could literally feel my heart bursting as tears welled up in my eyes.

"Is he okay?" I asked the nurse.  "He's gurgling. I don't know if he's breathing right".

I asked, but didn't want to hear the answer.

She came over, took him out of my arms and took him over to the table to examine him. I watched from my bed as they checked him over, weighed him, cleaned him up and then lovingly came back to my bed.

"We're going to have him examined by the pediatrician. He's in the NICU right now, so we'll take Carter there. Do you want your husband to come or would like him to stay with you?"

My head starting spinning.


"No. Terry. Go" I said as I literally pushed his arm away from me and towards our baby. I didn't want Carter to be alone.

I all of a sudden couldn't breathe. It all happened so fast.

I remember them wrapping Carter up in a white blanket and putting his face towards mine so that I could kiss him goodbye. It felt like procedure. It's procedure to let the distraught mother kiss her newborn baby as he is being carried away from her. I kissed him quickly but wanted to grab him and run, because that's what you do when someone puts your baby up to your face and tells you to say goodbye.

I had only held him for a few minutes.

I never got to nurse him, snuggle him or take him all in. This baby who I so desperately fell in love with within a matter of moments was all of a sudden gone.

I watched in agony as they walked out of the room with him. I watched silently as their backs turned the corner and I could no longer see them walking quickly down the hall.

The room was silent.

I looked at my mom and sister and tried to pretend that I wasn't dying. That the life hadn't just been sucked out of me. That I wasn't hurting as badly as I really was.

I felt my mom's warm hand grab mine as silence filled the room.

I stared at the wall straight ahead of me in a daze.

Only minutes before the room was buzzing with excitement, movement, sounds and people. The room felt so small and cramped with so many people in it. Now it was silent. Huge. Empty.

I felt like I was watching this happen to someone else. Wishing that it wasn't me. Hoping that it was just a dream that I would wake up from. But it wasn't.

"He'll be okay honey" my mom said. "They'll just check him over and he'll be just fine. I'm sure they'll bring him back soon. The pediatrician at this hospital is so incredibly good".

My mom works as a nurse at the hospital and knows the pediatrician, but I don't think there is anything that could have made me feel better at that moment. I ached for my baby.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur. I remember Terry coming back into the room at some point and I panicked.

"Who is with Carter? Why aren't you still with him? What is happening??" I begged.

He explained that he was sent away since they were doing a staff change and he therefore wasn't allowed to be in the NICU anymore. No one had any answers yet.

I wanted to scream.

We waited in that hospital room without answers and without our baby for hours and hours. What if he wasn't okay? What if he needed me? What if he was crying? What if he was hurt? What if he wouldn't know who I was? Where was he??

My eyes stung from all of the tears. My cheeks were burning. The exhaustion was overwhelming.

As I laid there waiting, still sore from the birth, trying to process what was happening and trying to convince myself that this all wasn't real, the pediatrician walked into the room. I sat up immediately as he began to gently and calmly tell me that the results of their tests came back and there was fluid on Carter's lungs. They thought that he might have pneumonia and he would need to stay in the NICU as they were still running more tests, blood work and trying to stabilize his situation.

My heart sank as he left the room.

But finally after what felt like hours once again, a nurse came in and told Terry and I that we were able to go and see our boy. I cried as I thanked her a million times and almost fell out of the bed as I quickly tried to get my feet onto the floor.

I didn't understand what I was about to see as they helped me into a wheelchair and wheeled me down the hallway towards the NICU doors.

I thought naively that I'd find our boy wrapped in a blanket in the pediatrician's arms, waiting for us to take him back to our room. Waiting to tell me that everything was just fine and that I could hold him, kiss him and never let him go.

But instead, we saw our baby hooked up to machines, surrounded by plastic walls, wearing just a diaper, with the sounds of monitors going off and nurses rushing around caring for extremely ill babies.

As the nurse wheeled me through the NICU doors, I desperately scanned each passing incubator for my boy. I told her to stop--that's my baby. I knew it with every inch of my being. That was my boy. Through the plastic shield, the wires and the machines surrounding him, I knew. I had only seen him for a few minutes, but I knew that it was him. She didn't believe me.

"I don't think so", she said.

I told her to stop. PLEASE stop. I put my feet down to break the movement of the wheelchair.

"Check his wristband. I know that's him" I begged.

I was right.

She wheeled me over to him and Terry put his hand on my shoulder. I wasn't prepared.

 I cried as I stared at him. I wanted to pull the monitors off of him, turn off all of the machines, wrap him up in my arms and run. Run as far away as I could from this place that told me that something was wrong with my boy.

Instead, I took his little hand in mine, careful not to touch the I.V. embedded in his tiny vein, and whispered to him. I told him that I loved him. I told him that I was sorry. Sorry that I wasn't there for him. That I wasn't able to hold him. That I wasn't able to nurse him yet. That I wasn't able to take his pain away. That this all didn't go as I had planned. I was just so so sorry.

I wanted to bond with him. I wanted him to bond with me. I wanted him to know that I was his mama. I never wanted to leave his side again. I never wanted anyone to take him away again. I wanted him to know that I was there and would always be there for him.

So I stayed by his bedside every single moment that they let me. Holding him. Talking to him. Loving him. Soaking up all of those lost hours just after he was born.

And I was finally able to nurse him for the first time. It gives me goosebumps still just thinking of it. It was immediate, it was perfect, it was easy, it was a moment of bonding that I'll never ever forget. All of a sudden his heart met mine and we were one. I couldn't stop smiling.

I lived in the NICU in a small dorm room for the next week and spent every waking moment holding him, nursing him, rocking him, bathing him, caring for him and making sure that he knew that he was so very loved.

Through daily bouts of uncontrollable tears, visits from family, sleepless nights and fears of the unknown...

we were finally awarded that blessed day when they told us that we could finally take our boy home.

This little boy, along with his beautiful big sister are quite possibly the most loved little souls on this Earth. 




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