Yesterday Outlaw Mama celebrated her first blog anniversary or “blogiversary.” When I read her witty words, I was all “awwwww, I never took the time to remind you that I had been on the world wide interwebs for a year!” Since that ship sailed over a month ago, I’d like to indulge by reliving a different bit of history.
My post, Beautiful Boy, is consistently the most read piece on this blog. It is the birth story (sort of) of my first child and it has probably gotten more views than every other post combined. I have two people to thank for that: my son and Christy Turlington.
My son for the story, CT for the tweet below.
There aren’t many moments in life when you can look back and say on this specific month, day, and year my life was forever changed. One of those moments for me was the day he was born. I mean that, of course, in all the obvious ways, like never being able to go to the bathroom in peace again and scouring the internet for Hot Wheels cake toppers. But I also mean it in some unusual ways, like creating this blog to handle the isolation of new motherhood and putting my stories out there for everyone to read, including Christy Turlington. And since she turned around and shared my link, I’ve had complete strangers email me to tell me they had similar experiences or how much they enjoyed reading my account. It’s been amazing.
So today, on the fourth anniversary of his birth, I’d like to share my story again.
I was on the fence about posting my son’s birth story. It’s not as fast-paced or sweet as my daughter’s. In fact, all 16 hours were entirely uneventful as far as labor goes. Textbook delivery.
It was after he was born that shit got hectic. But I never want to put that on him. He carries enough weight on his tiny shoulders.
So this is not his birth story. This is my story and the lessons we can both take away from that day.
Dear baby boy,
We checked into the hospital early on a unseasonably warm Friday in February, nine days after the first time they told me I would be induced. I resisted as long as I could. I knew you weren’t quite ready (even if I was!). But as my due date passed and my fluid level decreased to alarming levels, I could no longer demand more time.
After 16 hours of pitocin induced labor and 4 hours of pushing, you arrived. 3:46am on Saturday.
Immediately I began to hemorrhage.
355am. I lose consciousness. Daddy tells me my eyes roll back in my head and I go limp. With some oxygen they revive me as they call for the crash cart. Your nana, who is with you in the nursery, hears the code blue call to maternity but cannot imagine that it is her baby that might be dying.
4am. They wheel me to an operating room. I am crying and confused but mostly terrified. Your daddy’s face is white even though his voice is strong. He is willing me to stay with him.
408am. The doctor is trying to explain. The placenta. They can’t deliver the placenta. It has grown into the uterus. She needs to perform a D&C. Here, sign these forms. We may have to remove your uterus entirely. Yes, I was asked to consent to a hysterectomy twenty seven minutes after giving birth for the first time. “Hope you enjoyed that experience because it will probably be your last,” the universe taunted.
411am. Your nana left you in the nursery to come check on me. When she enters the delivery room it is empty of people but covered in blood. What looks like buckets and buckets of blood.
418am. My doctor is working. Working to save my life. There are no less than eight nurses and doctors around me. The room is full but I feel so alone. No one is talking to me. Staring up at the glaring white lights I bark questions into the air. No one answers. So I listen. We need blood. What’s her count? 2 units. Look at her tongue. It’s white. Four units. Carinn, you are going to need a transfusion.
420am. I am crying. What is going on? Everything is a blur. Suddenly I realize you are not there. “I miss my baby. I want to see my baby. When can I see my baby?” My pleas are ignored.
422am. They won’t let daddy in the OR. He receives the cold shoulder from the nurses going in and out of the room. At best, a vague update. “We are doing everything we can.”
5am. The D&C was successful and the blood transfusion complete. I am wheeled to a recovery room. I STILL HAVE NOT HELD YOU. Thankfully it is only me that is deprived. Your daddy and your nana are loving you every second that I am gone. And they are making damned sure you don’t get a bottle. The doctor agrees. You can wait.
6am. After my incessant begging, they bring you to me. With a warning. “Do not sit up, do not stand, do not feed. You may hold him and nothing else.”
As I hold you for the first time I am starry eyed and breathless. You return the look. What has this experience been little smoosh?
We meet again
Three years later you are a serious and sensitive soul. You are reserved. You take your time and you don’t like change. You are deliberate. Everything needs to make sense to you. You ask a lot of questions. You soak up the answers like a solar panel, stored, to be used later.
You seem to carry the weight of the world.
I wonder if the way you came into this world made you that way or whether it was you who dictated the way you were born. Either way, my lessons to you will always be about letting go. They are my lessons as well.
When I checked into the hospital, I had my birth plan printed and in tow. It involved my feelings on epidurals (no), episiotomy (no), immediate physical contact upon delivery (yes), breastfeeding (yes). I scored 50% on the plan that applied. I scored a zero on the rest of the days events. Because my birth plan never contemplated most of what actually happened.
Life is not perfect. It surely does not always go according to plan. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make plans. You should make plans. Big ones, small ones, practical ones, grand ones. But don’t lose it when life gets in the way. Just roll with it.
In the mess that life can make of your plans, it’s your job to find the beauty. Not to try to make sense of it all or to try to make it perfect. Instead, it’s your job to find the humor (like when I tried in earnest to convince everyone that I didn’t need surgery, that a little oxygen would do just fine). To find the good (like how you stayed strong through the trauma of 4 hours of travel down the birth canal, how your heart rate never even so much as dipped with the stress). To find the positive aspects of the outcome (like the fact that you were born completely healthy, with a perfect APGAR score no less!).
In the mess of a mother I am at times, I always see the beauty in you.