Sunday, January 15, 2012

Zoë Suite Mangum (December 7, 2011)

‘Twas the Night Before Birthing

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Danny and I lay on our bed. Most of my ‘go bag’ had been packed with the exception of food items and some toiletries. Since I was scheduled for induction the next day, and didn’t have to be at the hospital until 7:30 the next morning, I figured I’d just grab the stuff in the morning. Also on the agenda: straightening my hair. I vowed NOT to have another wretched looking picture of me post L&D, whether I was in the OR or not.

“What movies should we take?” I asked my best friend, explaining to my better half that it would most likely take forever for the pictocin to kick in, so we’d probably have some down time. I was planning on bringing my computer and thank you cards to get caught up on.

Although in the back of my mind I still (not so) secretly hoped by some miracle my body would burst into spontaneous labor during the night. It was 11 o’clock. Yes we should be sleeping, but I figured we’d have plenty of time to relax… last time I was induced NOTHING happened for hours… except disappointment. So I was kind of resolved to the time frame.

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if I just went into labor tonight?” Danny nodded and smiled. So supportive.

I knew things would be different this time. Danny had given me a blessing (ok, more than one) during my pregnancy telling me that my will for this baby was God’s will as well. In my heart I knew ultimately that meant healthy mama, healthy baby – but I was hoping it also meant a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).

I set my alarm for 6ish; providing ample time for a shower, to straighten my hair and grab the stuff to go.

Riddle: How Many Velour Jumpsuits Does It Take to Deliver Baby Z?

I was no stranger to 2am wake up calls. They had kind of haunted me the last couple of months of pregnancy. Usually from having to go to the bathroom, or because of a random Braxton-Hick contraction (which I hardly EVER had), I’d be up and then not fall back to sleep until I had watched a couple of episodes of Big Bang Theory, The Daily Show or Colbert Report OnDemand (one of the few things I actually like about Comcast).

And so it came. Wednesday morning, when I should be getting my beauty rest for the induction later that morning, I lay in bed after one of the more painful contractions I had felt. I tried to go back to sleep. Ten minutes later, another…I looked at the clock 2:10? Seriously? This never happens. I’ve had two contractions before, it never goes beyond that. I laid back down, eyes closed thinking about if I should make the trek for the basement to get caught up on my shows.

But what if…..

Don’t get your hopes up Sabrena.

But maybe I should just time them…

By 2:30 I was on my fourth contractions, 10 minutes apart. I was up… and apparently being a bit dramatic because I woke up Danny.

“What’s wrong?”

“I think I’m in labor?”

“Really? Should we go to the hospital?”

“No! I’ll just time them and see…”

“Should you call your midwife or Emily?” (Emily was our doula).

“No, just go back to sleep. I’ll just keep track a little longer.” And then I started snapping my fingers because another contraction had started, and I didn’t know what to do with the intensity – or my body. This was like period cramps mutated by Lex Luthor to overtake the world through birthing mothers.

And the ten minute pattern continued…and so apparently did my snapping. And instead of utilizing my hypnotbirthing techniques I had practiced to relax and be at one with my body’s rhythmic waves of feminine splendor (read: pain), I instead made the genius decision to straighten my hair.

So here’s how it went down –

Forty minutes into this comedy of errors, my contractions were eight minutes apart and seemed to be progressing fast. I would work on my hair, and then a contraction would come – I’d drop the hair tool, do a walk around the house, semi-double over in pain and… (you guessed it) snap my fingers really fast and make a weird noise in the back of my throat.

Danny wasn’t sure what to do. He couldn’t sleep because I apparently am a noisy snapper.

Now it’s about 3:15…things are not getting better (unless you consider my hair, and that was coming along fabulously). But the contractions had moved to the 6-minute mark. Oh my gosh this is ridiculous! No wonder people get epidurals. I want one NOW. This is wretched. What have I signed up for? I haven’t even made it to the hospital yet.

Then it dawns on me about the reality of what I was up against:

I. Am. Screwed.

Danny suggests I get in touch with my female-care providers. I send a text message to Emily and my Midwife Lisa explaining a bit of the situation (trying not to be too dramatic) finishing with: “The last ½ hr they are 6-8 min apart now. Sorry to bother you in the middle of the night…..It obviously could be nothing.”

Emily writes back that she’s thrilled; and I ask for a little advice about what to do, she responds:

“I would actually just try to sleep through or at least in-between them…sounds like early labor and at this point you need your rest! No worries on timing them just yet unless they are really strong.”

Sleep through them?

Sleep through them?!?!?

That’s not really possible at this point – and not just because my hair isn’t finished. I pick up the phone, since I’m pretty sure these would be considered ‘strong.’ I don’t have much to compare this too. My body never technically went into labor with Holden. They did feel remarkably similar to the contractions that finally set in with Little Bits after hours of pictocin…

I give Emily a run down and part way into our conversation I drop the phone and hand it to Danny because I need to snap my fingers and I need to snap them BAD.

He's talking to her but “…..the incessant snapping…” is all I get from my husband's conversation.

Emily and I make a plan and she is on her way over.

I try to finish my stupid-dumb-hair, and end up puking in the bathroom from what I understand to be a combination of prostaglandins and pain. (The two “P’s” of childbirth! Huzzah!)

Holden has woke up and made his way into our bed with Danny; so I try and relax in his bedroom (not really happening until Emily shows up.)

She talks to me about relaxing and gives me some techniques to work through the “waves.”

Things are much better and manageable with her help. Danny would later mention on multiple occasions that the decision to have a doula was one of the best decisions we’ve made in our entire marriage. He says it saved him from having to do anything. Which is not true, Danny was actually an amazing support – and, as you’ll see one of the biggest factors in Baby Z’s safe arrival. But having a doula did take pressure off him, and our doula not only helped me with my contractions but was key in giving Danny things to do so he could help –taking away the guesswork. Which a man kind of needs, right?

Anyway, back to the story: with Emily’s arrival and help, I’ve calmed down and think I can actually handle this. We’re still around 6-minutes, progressing to 5 minutes apart.

Another factoid about Emily – she’s also a childhood friend (one of my sister’s best friends from her youth actually). So we have lots to chat about. We do this in 4 ½ minute increments until another contraction comes and I stop mid sentence and she puts pressure on my hips/lower back, I make a weird noise like a humpback whale mating; and we survive and work through one contraction after another.

My midwife has called, and we make the plan to just head to the hospital at the same-Bat-time we had originally planned for the induction.

Except now I wasn’t being induced!!! I was just going to the hospital for labor. We still had a little time, but I did need to get my things ready.

Problem was, the contractions were really too strong, and too-close at this point for me to be packing the remaining items of my ‘go’ bag. I had made a handy list on my iPhone to remind me what I wanted/needed and enlisted Danny’s help.

But he didn’t really know what had made it in the bag – and I certainly couldn’t remember. Thus “velour jumpsuit” became two and then three and I had even packed a cream one. Seriously, cream for birthing or even post-partum? Somehow the fact that I had 10 months worth of menstrual cycles waiting to escape from inside of me post delivery had completely escaped my mind.

Seriously, cream jumpsuit? I am a piece of work. This would be just one of many mental lapses I would experience in the next 20-plus hours.

“You’ve had 10 months to pack this thing,” he said, giving me a hard time.

I reminded him it wasn’t an option to pack the food last night (not that I was up for eating anything after puking already, anyway) AND you can’t very well pack your toothbrush if you’re going to be using it the next day. The amount of jumpsuits somehow escaped my mind.

Somehow the bag got finished, and the food, and everything else…and it appeared I planned on moving into the hospital for a week or two.

Danny’s Mom came over to tend Holden and my Mom came to give me a hug and wish me good luck.

I admitted to Emily I was a bit concerned about the drive to the hospital without her help –especially since the surges were under six minutes apart. We thought it would be a good idea to listen to one of the hypnobirthing ‘scripts’ on my iPod to see if I could relax through the drive. That lasted until the first contraction came and I yanked out my headphones in annoyance. The blessing/curse of the drive was that my contractions slowed down: back to 8 – 10 minutes apart.

Danny pulled into valet parking, I got out walked to the side of the building and took a moment for another surge.

We walked to L&D and I couldn’t help but have this feeling of euphoria that I was checking in, IN LABOR, and was going to have a baby.

42 (almost 43 weeks by my lunar cycle) of pregnancy, my body was doing this. I knew it was possible!


It was after nine in the morning - we'd been at this for seven hours. I made it a point to bring to everyone’s attention when another hour of labor had passed, because I felt like it was some great accomplishment. The irony being that we had no idea how long it was going to last…so counting down the hours was pretty much an exercise in futility, excepting that I thought it was cool.

Lisa eventually checked me (neither of us felt rushed since the contractions weren’t too close together), but I was only at 4 (though 100% effaced)… so she and Emily both knew I was in for a marathon of a labor.

They coached me through more contractions, suggested I try and eat and drink something, and then recommended rest. The problem was, if I was up and moving, my contractions sped up too… but when I rested, they settled back into 10 minutes apart (which is obviously easier to manage, but I didn’t really want to be in labor ALL DAY!)

I took their advice and tried to rest.

Me "resting" - this was obviously taken between contractions

We all kept visiting, working through the surges (which still were intense, but seemed to be even more manageable with the support system I had).

The timeline all seems to mesh into an entire afternoon, but my labor had slowed (or ‘stalled’ if you will.) We tried a bunch of things to ‘augment’ my labor: walking, which was helpful, but I was so tired from only getting three hours of sleep the night before and I had no energy because I hadn’t eaten anything – and obviously any nourishment I had consumed the day before had been lost to the great porcelin bowl in the bathroom earlier. Also at some point I had been hooked up for IV liquids because my stomach felt too upset to keep anything down, and they didn’t want me to be dehydrated.

We sent Danny off to Whole Foods to pick up some Cleary Sage essential oil -- it's supposed to accelerate contractions once they've started. Here’s an awesome picture of my giant belly getting some Cleary Sage love rubbed all over it. The marks on my stomach are from the external fetal monitors -- not henna as you may have expected and would've been a much cooler story.

We even tried ‘nipple stimulation’ with a breastpump (poor Danny didn’t even get a chance to volunteer for the job)…ironically, this had the opposite effect, slowing the contractions to 15 minutes apart. Walking seemed to be the only thing that helped… but even that wasn’t cutting it. And I was still so exhausted.

Sometime around one, Lisa had suggested we try the Pitocin -- both she and Emily reminding me that augmenting was different than inducting labor. Emily agreed and Danny and I were on board.

I also agreed to have some lunch (soup, apple juice), and I decided to call my mom to check in since I hadn’t talked to her since the morning. After delivery I found out that Danny had been keeping in touch with some people about what was going on (a few text messages, a couple of phone calls and some facebook updates here and there.)

It turned out my mom and older sister Cassandra were on their way to the hospital to pay me a surprise visit anyway. We would start the picoticn after their visit.

We chatted for a bit. Cassandra made comments about me sounding like a dying whale through the contractions (she also gets induced at 39 weeks and is pro-epidural from the start.. so this whole "trying to go natural" thing did not make sense to her...oh, and she's married to an anesthesiologist.)

Lisa made the executive decision to let me walk around the hospital for a while -- this was actually a pretty big deal because being a VBAC candidate the hospital required that I have continuous fetal monitoring. They gave me a ½ hour to walk with my family without the monitors (otherwise I would’ve been quarantined to the L&D floor which was less than 50 yards of hall space I had access to.)

We were to be back at 3:30.

So we strolled through the hospital; pausing on the sides of the hallway when a contraction would come. I sent Emily off to get lunch since I had the support of my Mom, sister and Danny for the walk. A couple of times hospital staff asked if we needed a wheelchair because I was leaning against a wall apparently looking like I was going to die. Eventually it was time to head back and we made it to the room. I said good bye to my Mom and Cassandra and got ready for the next step in augmenting my labor.

The Problem with Pitocin

Four o’clock-ish… we were on hour 14 of labor (AHHHHH! SERIOUSLY HOUR 14!!!) and it didn’t take much time for the Pitocin to kick in. Fortunately I got one of the rooms with a bathtub so after a little while I stripped down (excepting the external fetal monitors) and spent some time working through contractions in the water. (Thank goodness for those wireless external monitors).

It helped…a little.

The hotter the water, the more relief from the contractions – but my body felt like it was overheating. We took cool washcloths to my face, and I even started wolfing down cups of apple juice on ice.

Danny took some awesome pictures of me in the tub (he is surprised I am sharing them with you). Man I am so good at looking horrible when I am ‘laboring.’ First he snagged this one:

I like how you can really see the agony in my face. Also, that it is obvious I had forgotten how much time I had spent on my hair hours earlier...When I realized he had taken a photo, and saw what was actually caught on camera, I demanded he take another. So we ended up with this:

Just look at me, and my chins enjoying the birth experience... see, it's obviously not so bad.

But as the clocked ticked, something started changing in my contractions… they moved from waves and intense surges to a spiking pain that resonated through my entire body. There seemed to be no peak and resolution, just flat-lined trauma that only intensified when my water broke – yes, in the bathtub (ew.)

My body hit a wall.

The contractions were so intense, I don’t think I physically knew how to deal with the intensity. I started puking. With each contraction, the applejuice returned in all its splendor…and throwing up is so violent that the convulsions seemed to only serve up a stronger contraction more intense than the last. It was a maddening cycle.

I felt hopeless. I couldn’t go on. I was hysterical. More than 16 hours had passed since this birthing marathon (and the contractions) started.

“I don-wanna-do this!” I said, tears streaming down my face. I was sobbing uncontrollably.

The pain…

The pain…

I would collapse into Danny’s chest for support and comfort. He was so tender, would just hold me and try to help.

“I c-c-c-c-an’t do this!” My face was stained with a constant stream of tears. I was inconsolable. My midwife and doula each took separate turns staring directly into my eyes, trying to calm me down.

“Sabrena. Sabrena!… you can do this!” they’d say with conviction. I felt like a helpless child that couldn’t be consoled. It was like someone had cut off my arm, and instead of offering a tourniquet and Vicodin, I was expected to breathe through the pain? In the immortal words of Alicia Silverstone: “As if.”

“Danny, I can’t do this. I can’t do this… I don’t want to do this.”

I was cold and practically naked from exiting the tub. I couldn’t focus long enough to even get dressed… This is not the meditative/orgasmic birthing experience I had envisioned.

“Wouldn’t it be better if we were all just calm and could talk?” I said this like everyone was freaking out; not realizing I was the only person acting completely ridiculous. I’ve been told repeatedly that drugs mess with your mind, but Pitocin just messes with everything…

How do you spell relief? A-n-a-s-t-e-e-s-h-i-a, A-n-i-s-t-e-s-h-a…um, “Pain Meds.”

“You know, it’s really her decision.” Our nurse Sarah had said to Danny and my other care providers at one point. I did not actually know this conversation was happening. Danny told me about it after the fact.

“I’m just waiting for the word,” he explained, “and then we’re calling the Anesthesiologist.” But I was oblivious. As I mentioned, I was too busy vomiting my insides and writhing in pain, like unto that scene in Star Wars, episode VI (?) where it appears that Palpatine is electrocuting Luke with his hands and the power of the dark side.

Now that I mention it, I’m pretty sure Pitocin is what George Lucas had in mind when 'force choking' was invented for Vader (ask your husbands for clarification if you don’t get it. Unless you’re married to a man like my husband, in which case I’d have to explain the joke to him…so if that’s the case, just keep reading and lets just put that whole ‘bit’ behind us.)

Anyway, like a lot of couples on the natural birth track, we had a “safety word.” It’s a word that the Birth Mom can say if it becomes too much for her to handle. The understanding being that of course a woman is going to say, “This hurts,” “I don’t want to do this,” “Get me drugs,” “You did this to me” etc, etc, etc… or any of the many things the actresses on TV would have you believe is all part of the birth experience (and apparently it can be.) But the word is generally something out of the ordinary…or something she wouldn’t say just because it hurts. It has to be something she’d think through to say – making a very conscious decision.

“I want to say the word. Can’t I just say the word?”

I should also mention that while I can’t remember the exact time frame, sometime between the first dose of Pitocin and my meltdown, Danny laid his hands on my head and gave me a blessing of comfort and that I would be able to make decisions in the best interest of myself and the baby.

And at this point, I wanted permission.

I wanted someone to tell me that it was ok to ask for help. That it would be ok to have something to take the edge off. That I wasn’t endangering my baby by getting an epidural (part of my desire to go natural was my fear that the Pitocin, if too strong for me would definitely be too much for baby and cause undue distress).

I wanted support and to hear that I wouldn’t be letting people down. I didn’t want Danny to think I was a wuss – yes, after nearly 17 hours of labor, I was worried I would be perceived as weak. (Still to this day I fell like I have to over explain why I finally “caved.”)

“Sabrena,” Danny said, with a deep intensity in his eyes, that was not forceful, but full of love and concern, “remember I blessed you to make good decisions – for you and the baby.”

He was right. When the thought of a c-section seemed like welcome relief from the agony, I knew this was not a good place for me to be.

“I’m going to say it… I’m going to say the word……Antidisestablishmentarianism.”

Yes, my word was “antidisestablishmentarianism.” Sure I could’ve gone for the longest word in the English language, which I learned in 7th grade at Churchill Junior High was Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, but let’s be serious -- that just seemed excessive.

Funny thing about saying the word – it was still another half-hour or so before I got any semblance of pain relief. And having to hold still – hunched over through three rounds of contractions while the anesthesiologist stuck the needle in my back was just one more hurdle in this eventful day.

She also gave me a button to push “up to 40 times” I think she said. Apparently you can self dose your pain meds – and it ranges from “I’d really like to be able to move my toes and feel the contractions” to “make the bottom half of me numb – I’d have chosen ‘Twilight Sleep’ if it were an option.”

I didn’t feel a need to be void of feeling. I actually was grateful the epidural was a minimum dosage. For the rest of labor I could feel (and for the most part move) my legs and feel the surges. Huzzah!

The minutes kept tick-tocking by. We had made it through our first nurse’s shift – and at some point Sarah had said good-bye and was replaced with Kari – who was so interested in ‘the tape’ I wasn’t sure if she was actually a nurse or just an extra assigned to sit at the monitor.

Part of the problem was that Baby Z was showing early signs of distress. I had been given oxygen and internal fetal monitors were placed inside me to more closely watch the baby. They were having me shift positions (much harder since my legs weren’t as functional as I’d normally prefer), but I had kept the epidural dosage light – enabling me to have some movement (also, a lot of will power and determination helped).

Perhaps it was the epidural, or just that the baby had moved positions because I was now at nine centimeters, but the contractions moved from beginning at my uterus to lower and deeper in my body (and yes, I could definitely feel them…they just didn’t make me vomit and I could carry on a conversation. Huzzah!)

Miracles Never Cease

It was right around 9pm – hard to believe we had been at this for 19 hours. Yes, 19 hours. Holy Balls! 19 friggin’ hours!?!?!?!

At 9:07 Danny sent out a text to a few family members and posted to Facebook: “At a 10 time to push.”

Lisa got me ‘positioned’ and said to take really deep breaths and push with the contraction (I was really grateful I could feel the sensations coming since I had only hit that button a few times in the last couple of hours.)

I hadn’t been pushing for very long beforeshe had asked if she could check me… she was concerned the Baby was posterior again. For those unfamiliar with the drill, getting “checked” requires a certain level of intrusion into the female body parts/cavity. Eventually she asked if I was ok having the resident Dr. Calvert check me as well. For some reason, she couldn’t really tell the baby’s position.

Dr. Calvert was technically a resident, who happened to be just two weeks away from no longer being a resident and starting his big-boy-job in some fancy hospital in the Pacific Northwest -- Seattle Grace perhaps? I don’t know how much emotional baggage this doc came with but from the looks of him, he definitely could’ve been a character on Grey’s Anatomy. He walks in -- million dollar smile, amazing eyes (not that I noticed) and at one point was up to his forearm in my lady parts, twisting and turning (what I think was) Baby’s head.

“Sorry,” he said. ”I know this is uncomfortable.”

“That’s ok,” I said nonchalantly. “My husband does it to me all the time.”

The room erupted in gasps and giggles. I’m pretty sure Danny turned a shade of crimson, and Dr. Calvert looked up, aghast and then somehow worked out a smile when he realized I was in fact, joking.

The good news was, he couldn’t categorically tell that baby was posterior. The bad news was, he couldn’t tell if the baby was posterior…and Baby Z continued to show signs of distress.

“I’m going to be honest with you. Those decelerations are concerning to me.” My heart sank a little…ok, a lot. “We’re going to have to start talking about other options to get the baby out.”


And then he mentioned a few things, but of course all I heard was the dreaded C-word.

“What about forceps?” I asked. The thought of having Baby Z delivered by giant salad tongs didn’t sit well with me, but certainly seemed like a better option than a repeat cesarean. He explained that since we couldn’t tell the exact position of the Baby that forceps could actually be more dangerous to the baby.

“So what do we do?”

He was willing to let me try and push a bit longer to see if progress was made, and give Baby Z a little more time… but I knew we were up against the clock.

“We are doing this!” I say to the room. “Everyone needs to believe!” I looked at Dr. Calvert, “Ok?” I ask him. “We are doing this!”

“Ok,” he nodded, and I got the feeling he was agreeing more with my attitude than the actual procedural side of things.

I could not have have another cesarean. This had to happen. Danny had told me it was God's will, I reminded myself (though, that's not exactly what he said, but how I had chosen to interpret it). Beneath the oxygen mask I started mumbling a mantra to myself: “God’s will is my will. My will is God’s will.”

How could I end up in the OR again if what I really wanted more than anything was for us to be safe through a VBAC?

“My will is God’s will. God’s will is my will.”

Dr. Calvert settled in at the base of my bed with Lisa and helped me push. Danny and Emily were to my left with Kari (the paper watcher) to my right. Fortunately for all of us, Kari had suffered a back injury and was not so helpful, so she got replaced by Heidi, to help hold my leg (the fortunate part obviously being that Heidi was great, not so much that Kari’s hurt her back… just wanted to clarify).

I was working so hard. I was using every ounce of strength and all the intention from my past 5-plus years of yoga practice I could muster to take long deep breaths and push until my head would explode. (I would later find out from one of the nurses that my ‘awesome pushing’ was the reason Dr. Calvert let me continue to try and get Z out.)

“Can you feel my two fingers?” Dr. McDreamy asked.

“Yes,” I said, thankful again I had gone easy on the epidural button.

“That’s what you need to push against.” And so I set in again.

I continued pushing for what must have been about another hour. It seemed like we were making progress (at least I was working really hard), but they had turned up the monitors making it impossible not to notice that Baby Z’s heart rate continued to nose-dive, and not just with the contractions – apparently slowing to a critical 80 beats a minute or less.

“We’ve got to get this baby out, soon,” Calvert was stern.

“What’s our time frame? What do you mean?” I was anxious and scared and disappointed but needed something more concrete.

“Twenty to thirty minutes,” he delivered the blow. My heart sank, but my resolve was still in tact.

I looked up at my husband – my face fearful, yet with a pleading faith. Throat choked, eyes welling with crocodile sized tears: ”Danny, you have to TELL ‘em it’s time to come. You have to tell the baby…Now!”

My doula looked at Danny, “She wants you to get down and talk to the baby.”

“I’ve got this…” my husband responded. And while I don’t remember the exact words he used, I do remember what he said. Danny laid his hands on my head for a final time that evening and commanded our baby, by the power of God to come join us.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I dug deep somewhere inside and pushed. Pushed with everything left I had to give, for this baby’s health, for it’s life, for the safety of both of us. The room seemed to move in slow motion-- like in the movies when things go kind of silent and you see people shouting and yelling but there’s only background music.

It was like that.

The room was dimly lit, with almost an orange undertone. The air felt thick, like there were extra people/spirits in the room… Danny was to my left, my doula holding my leg, then Dr. Calvert and Lisa at the foot of the bed with nurse Heidi to my right, holding my other leg… and they were all cheering me on. Their faces seemed to say that something was happening, as if I was getting close, but I couldn’t tell exactly.

“You’re doing great Sabrena!” We were all in this together. One common purpose, one common cause. It seemed as if in this past hour Baby Z would teeter on joining us, and then go back to the other side…but angels were attending, indeed.

And then it seemed all at once the room went into overdrive. The nurse was calling pediatrics, and I could feel a burning sensation down below. My midwife said something about a stinging; and I realized it was the ‘ring of fire’ I had heard about, but was amazed I could feel it, with the epidural and all.

The room filled with people.

And cheers erupted as the head emerged. Danny said it was amazing to watch – I couldn’t really see. From what I felt, the rest just seemed to slip out, but if you hear my husband recount it, the shoulders emerging were the scary part.

Baby Z was out. At 11:04 pm, just 19 minutes after Dr. Calvert had given us the deadline, our miracle had joined us.

What is it? What is it? I was thinking.

I looked down but the umbilical chord was covering the discerning gender parts. Since everyone these days pretty much knows what gender their baby is, doctors, midwives and the like are not real accustomed to announcing “It’s a (whatever it is)!”

“What is it?” Danny and I said out loud.

“It’s a girl.” Emily FINALLY chimed in, thankfully.

“Yes, it’s a Zoë. We’re finished!” I think I threw my hands up celebration. I wanted her immediately. I couldn’t get my hands on this miracle baby soon enough. But the doctors had to take her because of the stress/meconium and fear of her aspirating.

Our birthplan had mentioned we wanted to wait to bathe the baby until after we had had some time to bond. They did the emergency checks and apparently were trying to hand her to me but she kept pooping on everyone.

Also, Zoë wouldn’t cry. We had declined the eye ointment, but they gave her the Vitamin K shot to try and get her to make some noise. That didn’t change anything. Although it was probably less than five minutes without her, for me it felt like an eternity before she was in my arms – poop and all. (Though bless Heidi’s heart – she really did just try to get her wiped off a bit for me.)

Elated she's finally in my arms--didn't know there was a camera, obviously.

Zoë didn’t get full points on the Apgar because of the whole lack of crying thing, but when I took her in my arms, I was surprised to discover she latched immediately. This also surprised the majority of the room, because they thought she seemed less responsive.

I got to hold her for the next 45 minutes or so while I was getting stitched up (yes, I had significant tearing and yes, the epidural turned out to be a blessing for this part of L&D), and I just starred at her, amazed at my miracle.

Here I did know there was a camera...a little improvement, but not much.

In true Sabrena fashion, I also proclaimed to all present in my birthing suite: “Hey everybody – we just had a baby in THIS room, and it came out of my vagina!!!” And the fun didn’t stop there – apparently I proceeded to tell everyone in the hall (which mainly consisted of the janitorial staff, it was after midnight by now), the same thing.

Danny, Baby Zoë and I got transferred and settled into our room. Danny was passed out on the ‘Daddy’s chair’ before Zoë had finished nursing again. We got some sleep that night, but mostly I just kept thanking God that our miracle was here, and we were all safe…no OR, no serious complications.

Healthy Baby. Healthy Mama.

Yes, my will apparently was God’s will.

Zoë Suite Mangum

8 lbs 6 oz and 20 precious ounces of perfection

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Faye Suite Cain (December 22, 2008)

Faye's Mommy Cicely decided her birth story is best told in verse.

Twas the night of the sabbath, December 21st
I was having contractions, but I've had much worse.
We ate supper at the Dickinsons which was made from the heart
And the cramps that I had were about 7 minutes apart.

We watched a poor movie and when it got through
They were five minutes apart for more than an hour or two.
It was midnight that I convinced Dave that the time was near
I made a quick call and Bam! the Blatters were here.

We rushed to the hospital. The winds were a blowin'
I was worried we wouldn't make it the way the blizzard was goin'.
I was nervous and anxious and it may have been said
That visions of car birthing snuck in my head.

Read the rest of the poem about "the best Christmas present ever" on her blog by clicking here.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Irey & Cohen

In mother Kristen's words:

My poor husband ;) . . . it all started the month I said, "Don't worry honey, it takes 6 months to get pregnant." So at the end of that month, I couldn't contain my excitement after taking a pregnancy test and called him while he was working a Saturday and said, "I AM PREGNANT!" 9 weeks later...our first ultra sound and our doctor didn't say anything for 5 minutes (literally). I thought, "Oh no! Something is wrong with the baby." Then his first words were, "Well, I think we have a friend in there." Which I followed up with a confused look and "Um, what does that mean?" He said "Well, I think we have twins." :) LOL, my husband and I just stared at each other and laughed. Nowhere in our families are there twins, so it was quite the surprise!

Then 24 weeks came and the preterm labor with it. I was in and out of the hospital every 2 weeks and at 30 weeks my hospital couldn't get my contractions to stop and sent me to a different hospital...thinking they were coming, but the new doctors got them to stop. I was sent home with a terbutaline pump that I got to stab in my leg once a week and a home monitoring system. Finally at 36 weeks, I was taken off the pump and played the waiting game. May 9th, I was having contractions all day and called in to the doctor, but the nurse said, "Don't come in until you have to breathe through them and they are painful." I was thinking, "Um, ok, but they are every 3-5 min?" So, I waited and waited and they never became painful, just a bit uncomfortable. My husband got up for work at 5 a.m. on May 10th and came out to the living room where I had been sleeping on the couch because it was the only comfortable place to sleep. So, I got up and made my usual trip to the bathroom and came back and said/asked, "Well, now there is some pink showing, so even though the contractions aren't painful, maybe we should go to the hospital?" As soon as these words came out of my mouth, I felt a heavy sensation and sprinted back to the bathroom, where Irey's water broke. At this point I could feel her head putting massive pressure down there and called the doctor and said we were coming. This was when the contractions started getting the time we got to the hospital I was having horrible back labor and the most excruciating pain I had ever felt.

At the hospital
We finally made it after our half hour drive and there was also another woman gingerly walking in acting like there was nothing to this labor thing, while all I could do was hold my extra large stomach and think, "PLEASE JUST GET ME AN EPIDURAL!" They put me into the small triage room and gave me the test to see if my water had actually broken(to which there was no question, since it gushed out!), but the nurse said, "Are you sure your water broke, because the litmus test says it hasn't." I just looked at her and said, "YES IT BROKE AND I CAN FEEL HER HEAD, SO CAN I PLEASE HAVE MY EPIDURAL NOW!" I knew that I had to have an epidural anyway just in case I needed a c-section, but since both twins were head down, I would try for a vaginal birth.

I was finally given the epidural and could breathe. After this everything went so smoothly. I figured God must have made this part easy, since my pregnancy was so difficult. After an hour of pushing, they wheeled me into the OR(where I had to deliver, just to be safe) and I pushed a few times and Irey came out weighing 5lbs 10oz. I had always assumed that twins just came right out, one after the other, but apparently not. I was lying there waiting and asked the doctor, "Um, just wondering, but what are we waiting on?" He casually replied that my contractions had stopped and we were just waiting for them to start back up and 20 minutes later Cohen came weighing 5lbs 2 oz. They were so beautiful and such a wonderful gift from God.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Miles Martin (April 1, 2008)

As told by Staci Martin

There was nothing I was more nervous about then to give birth to a child. In my last months of pregnancy I realized that time was getting closer and closer and the best thing you can do is educate yourself on exactly what will and might happen, but it will never prepare you for what is to come. Story after story of different experiences woman go through in that moment. What would be mine? Horror stories of the worse pain in the world, surgery, something happening to the baby? A woman can go mad thinking of the worst! I had a rough pregnancy with morning sickness the first 5 months; luckily the last trimester was a breeze. Until the unknowing would happen.
It’s hard to describe what goes through a woman’s head when she is about to become a mother. Nervous, scared, excitement, happiness! So with me it was 1 week before my due date. I was sitting at work along side the woman I was training and I felt it! Wait was that a contraction? I got up and walked around and they kept coming, but I didn’t know if they were real because they didn’t hurt, just felt like a Braxton hicks. They continued 3 minutes apart, but I shrugged it off and finished working. Got off at 5:00 then I went home still 3 minutes apart. I told my husband well guess we could try and go to the hospital and hope they don’t turn me away saying “I’m not ready.”
It was funny...nothing like the movies where everyone is rushing, panicking, and the woman is breathing heavily. I simply walked in and said “I think I’m having this baby.” Again let me remind you these contractions have been going for 3 hrs and still not hurting. I get into the ugly gown that makes you feel just as naked wearing it. They took a gander and I am 90% effaced and dilated to a 7….yeah that’s right 7!!! Who would of thought? So they take me into my, really nice for a hospital, room, I have my sweet husband, mom, brother in law by my side as we watch “Family guy.”
Doc comes in and breaks my water which probably was the most painful out of this whole experience. I mean seriously there is nothing comfortable about a man sticking his whole arm up inside you to burst open your water sack(don’t know medical term). A couple hrs fly by and I’m still at a 7…again WITH NO PAIN. Just feels like a really light period cramp…I have had worse gas before. I thought man is it all really supposed to be this painless and easy? Well I’m defiantly going to have an epidural; I wanted this experience to at least continue to be pleasant.
First I must tell you my fear of needles! I think I was dreading the epidural more then actually giving birth. Also I have seen the needle…a bad choice I made long ago to see what it looks like. I advise for no one to see this massive thing. I was still in no pain but thought well give me the epidural before I do start feeling what a real contraction feels like. I probably squeezed my husband’s hands off when they pricked me, but honestly it really wasn’t the worse prick I have ever gotten. Yet another pleasant surprise….then the dizziness and puking began. The epidural made me very nauseous for a couple minutes, then back to watching “Family guy.” The numbing was wonderful…I think most woman get uncomfortable with being numb waste down but I thought it felt very cool….I also felt very jiggly and fat, but cool.
After the epidural the nurse tells me “if you feel like you are about to go poo, like pressure down there let us know”…..couple hrs later felt like I was about to go poo, hoping that really wasn’t going to happen. The nurse comes in “he is crowning!”
Ahhhh ok here we go, nervousness starts to sink in and I think that is where I left my body. I pushed maybe 10 times and it was so unreal to see this baby coming out of me. At the time you really don’t think wow my baby…you think wow that is really gross and weird, but keep pushing. Now when you get the epidural it’s crazy to watch this happening and not feel any pain. He slid out and when I say “slid” you can feel the sliding of the baby coming out which I thought was cool…painless but you can still feel.
My life flashed before my eyes as he took his first breath. The warm spiritual feeling you get by watching a baby take its first breath is serial! I felt like I was having an outer body experience…like I was watching myself do this hovering over the bed. Even when they handed me little Miles it didn’t feel real…this is mine? There is no real way of describing what it feels like for someone other then it feels like I just had the best orgasm and I mean 100 times the power and strength. The rush of warmth, tingling, numbing, and the energy that is drained from you. I believe everything is symbolic from when we conceive a child with the one love to when we have that child. I am a religious person I know our Heavenly Father is the creator of all things. The miracle of birth is such a spiritual experience, I have never felt closer to my Heavenly Father then when he was there handing me my sweet Miles!

We had Miles at 12:15am on April 1st! There is hope for woman that think giving birth will be scary, but I had the most painless, wonderful, spiritual experience! I can’t wait to do it all over again! ---Staci Martin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Holden D. Mangum (Feb 1, 2009)

As recorded by Sabrena Suite-Mangum

Many a time I have discussed my desire for a natural childbirth. Danny and I studied the hypnobirthing method; believing that it was the best fit for us (again, no judgments on anyone else’s birthplan.) I just always felt convicted I would have an epidural-free natural birth (at least once). I had even desired to birth at home, though my husband, his parents and my parents were not so game. I imagined my birthing experience as a meditative surrender allowing my baby to join this world when he was ready; and I had released any and all fear regarding the next stage of my life… But the Lord (and Holden) apparently had a different plan.

Two days prior to my due date, my exam revealed that I had not dilated…AT ALL. And though they were willing to let me go a week over (because at the time the non-stress test reveled that everything looked copasetic with Holden) each night that week, as we were on countdown to being induced, I would go to bed hopeful… yet anxious that “tonight would be the night.” Every Braxton-Hicks contraction that would come, I would say a silent prayer hoping that my body would launch into a 20 minute pattern… starting the process and saving me from pitocin on Sunday… continually hopeful tonight would be the night I’d wake Danny, hand on his shoulder nudging him and saying the blessed words: “It’s time.” But every morning I would wake up – still in my bed -- a little bit sadder and little bit heart broken fearful that I was in fact broken. What was the hold up?

I knew that the universe was trying to teach me something: Patience? Acceptance? Letting go of my will?… There was a reason that Holden was not yet with us; that I understood, but I wasn’t sure what that reason was.

But as a firm believer in the old adage that “God helps those who help themselves,” we tried the pregnancy pizza at Trio, walking, jogging, sex, raspberry leaf tea, acupressure, spicy food, energy work, blessings and of course… a lot of prayer. Everything short of caster oil, and yet still Holden did not come.

And so the 31st came. I was to call the hospital at 4pm that afternoon to find out what time they wanted me there to start the cervidil. (And I’ve shared some details on how that went…) I started Saturday morning with 75 minutes of Yoga at Flow – I told my guru I was going to try and “twist the baby out.” Danny and I had our last supper of sorts at Pinion since I couldn’t eat anything after 12-noon that day. (Which is one more thing that made me nervous because my hypno teacher told our class one of the #1 reasons women don’t succeed at “natural” is because of fatigue from not eating… “So stay home as long as possible” she and my midwife counseled. But obviously that part of the birth plan had changed from necessity as well.)

Danny and I spent the rest of the afternoon together … every so often I’d get a little emotional (ok, totally break down in tears); but I felt strangely calm despite things going completely opposite of how I saw them a week prior.

My friend, guru, massage therapist, yoga instructor and cranial-sacral magic worker came over to do some more work and invite Holden to join us in the world. (That sounds like a lot of people, but really it’s just one… Jami Larsen, and she does great work and has been such a blessing throughout my pregnancy.) As I mentioned, Danny had also given me a couple of blessings – one Friday night that was amazing.

One thing I noticed, looking back though, is how in tune my husband is. Many times I have heard him pray for specifics as far as miracles he wants to see happen (a tumor on my nephew brain to shrink – go away, heal… it did. The cleft palate of his cousin’s daughter to be healed – it was. And so on and so forth.) I kept thinking he should just bless me that my cervix would dilate and everything would go the way we wanted (or something to that affect)… NO DICE.

I think on a spiritually conscious level, he knew that it wasn’t meant to be that way (so instead of trying to change God’s will, he tried to put my fears at ease)… and instead blessed me with patience, with understanding, with the ability to make good choices in the best interest of me and the baby… and he blessed the medical personnel that they would make good decisions… I had no idea what we were up against. But yet, reflecting back… I guess I did know; I just didn’t want to believe it...because “I was not the type of person who would need that type of medical intervention”… or so I wanted to believe.

Before we left for the hospital, I did my hair (I’m so vein. I wanted to have a cute picture of Holden and I one he was born. Instead….well, I couldn’t bring myself to post it on line I look so torn up.)

Both of our families stopped by be fore we left for St. Marks. I’ll never forget being in the back bedroom with my mom as we embraced, and I just wept. She knew I was disappointed that it was happening this way, but I really didn’t want Danny to see me upset one more time (oh if I had only known how many more opportunities their would be!)

And we made it to the hospital. (Again, details here. )

That night we slept not so soundly. Danny had one of those crappy birthpartner chairs that is not really a recliner, and his body was is way too long to be comfortable. My midwife had ordered a sleeping pill and STRONGLY suggested I indulge. Pretty ridiculous to be taking an ambien the night before delivery when I had had ONE Tylenol in 10 months… but c’est la vie, eh? I figured ½ a pill was a good compromise for both of us. (She seems to think I have control issues and some level of anxiety… where did she ever get that idea?!?!!? ;)

The next morning we rose early; I did my makeup (again, at 10 months preggers and carrying 20-plus lbs of water weight alone, I needed all the help I could get.)

Kat (my midwife) arrived just after 9 and my exam revealed that after 12 hours of cervadil, I had dilated to a .5… yes you read that correctly, NOT a “5” but half a centimer. She let me take a bath (huzzah, I got to use the birthing tub afterall!) and I did my face, again… (which constituted more make-up application in an hour period than I usually have in a week.)

So we continued with the plan B, and they started the pitocin. I was all hooked up to IVs, an external fetal monitor and a blood pressure cuff -- so getting to the ladies required unhooking a bunch of plugs and chords and wheeling that stupid IV bag across the room… again, NOT how I pictured things going down. Not to mention I think my ace kept hanging out of that stupid hospital gown. Danny said he would live in one of those things if possible – he and I are so different.

The rest of the morning had nurses coming and going. They would move up the pitocin every 20 – 30 minutes or so and I would feel contractions sporadically but nothing to really write home about.

“Laura” (the nurse) joined us on a shift change and she was another tender mercy. She was real sweet about reading my birth plan and even apologized for using the word contraction (to which I told her I didn’t really have a problem with, although hypnobirthing lingo is to call them “surges” or “waves”)… by this time I was pleading “PLEASE BRING ON THE CONTRACTIONS!” We needed some sort of action below the belt line (or at it?)…

The monitors were not a real fair showcase of what I felt was happening… they’d show a really intense peak (and I would hardly feel it), and then another time I feel a tremendous surge and it would barely register. At the same time, it was hard to tell what was going on with Holden’s heart rate… there were signs that his heart rate was dropping with my contractions, but again… they couldn’t get a really sound reading; and since I hadn’t dilated, they couldn’t get internal monitors hooked up to tell.

After a while they made the decision to put me on oxygen because even without a real clear reading, it seemed pretty obvious that Holden was being stressed. And with one more intervention, I broke a little more… I was lying in a hospital bed (and everything about me screamed patient (no, not “patience” but a medical patient). The O2 was so loud, I couldn’t really hear what was being said – but Kat and the nurse often talked in hushed tones anyway.

I tried to stay the course with my relaxation, because the contractions were finding more of a groove at this point… and I was definitely starting to feel them. So I listened to a couple of the hypno scripts to take me into a deeper relaxed state and try to not be too upset. I was crying under my breath with the O2 mask on; and Danny just held my hand in a way that said, “I know this is hard for you, I know that you’re upset… but it’s going to be ok.”

Obviously I was worried about Holden at this point too…no mother wants to hear that there baby is in distressed. But the O2 seemed to help him and his heart rate appeared to be improving.

Around 2:30 or so, with the contractions more timely my mucous plug released which appeared to be a sign of progress. Kat decided on another cervical exam for a few reasons:
-perhaps I would be dilated enough to break my water and if there was room, she could get the internal fetal monitor on Holden so we’d have a better idea of what was going on with him (and we could also get a better reading of my contractions… since they still were not registering with how I was feeling them)

The exam revealed (after what now tallied 18 hours of induction/intervention) I was now at a 1.5. (Let’s all sigh heavily…) That was the bad news… but the good news was it gave Kat enough room to break my water and get the monitors inside.

As most will tell you having experience L&D, the contractions intensified after she broke my water… (and the whole “water breaking” thing is a tremendously disgusting feeling.) I kept telling Danny “Don’t look down! Don’t look down!”

I have to admit that the next 2-3 hours are somewhat of a blur. Danny, my mom and apparently all the medical staff involved could see that with each contraction’s peak, Holden’s heart rate tanked. Kat could also see from breaking my water that Holden had had a bowel movement and as such there was meconium in the amniotic fluid meaning there was a risk of Holden aspirating.

Conversations continued on the side (I tried to stay in my state of hypnosis… which I think was easier to do with the oxygen on because it made it really difficult to hear anything… plus I had my iPod in and was listening to more birth scripts). At some point after watching the monitors for a bit Danny asked my mom “How much longer are we going to wait?” Again, I was pretty oblivious to anything going on. The contractions were steady and intense at about a minute and ½ to two minutes apart… but still, no dilation progress.

I kept breathing, working through the pain (yes, it was painful… but tolerable)… I felt really dazed and began to wonder how much longer I could go on for… apparently, the top dosage for the pitocin drip is 20… and I was hovering around an 18 – 19… again, recalling this period everything seems blurry (and I wasn’t even on meds!)

Sometime around 5 pm, Dr. Nelsen (the on-call OB that Kat practices under) showed up in my room, and I knew. . .He was here to deliver the news… the reality of what we were up against:

• Possibility of Holden aspirating
• That I was ONLY dilated to a 1.5 (after having my water broke and pitocin nearly maxed)
• We were looking at more than 20 hours since the induction process had started and hadn’t seen much progress
• My baby was in distress and we could continue to wait things out, but there was no guarantee I would ever dilate for Holden to get through the birth canal

He said it would be a different scenario if I was, say, at a 6 or a 7… but there was some reason we weren’t seeing progress:
• Maybe Holden was a bigger baby than the ultrasound showed
• The chord may have been wrapped around his neck

And I don’t remember how, but he presented the case for a cesarean. To which I turned to Danny and said:

“What do you think?”

And my husband, in his infinite wisdom responded: “Let’s go get our son.”

“I know right?” I responded, with tears streaming down the sides of my cheeks and into the oxygen mask.

At that point, I think everyone was breathing a sigh of relief. I think Kat was apprehensive… wondering if I would fight her on the decision…but our objective for the birth experience was the same the whole time – have a healthy baby (and a safe mommy)... we though hypno was our best bet for accomplishing that objective and that’s why we chose it. But the universe had something else in mind – though our objective could still be met.

They asked if I wanted something for the pain until surgery… but I was still committed to not having meds for the contractions so I declined… instead, Danny gave me a back rub which was helpful… but then somewhere between turning down something to “take the edge off” and surgery… I CAME OUT OF HYPNOSIS.
And that is when I experienced pain like I have not felt before in my life.

I understand why people (who have not practiced the use of natural epidurals) make comments like “You’ll be screaming for the epidural.” Because it was pretty overwhelming…

It was like something had switched to the off button inside of me. Since the decision for the c-section was made, I was thinking “No need to keep rallying anymore…” and my natural defenses for dealing with the surges were void.

Apparently it was another 45 minutes from the time the decision was made for the c-section until Holden officially joined us…

The O.R. (sans McDreamy, to say the least)
I was a patient…there was no way around it. I was wheeled in on my bed -- harsh bright fluorescent lights only served to magnify the stark white sterility of the room. I was thinking about the irony – more crying about the irony under the o2 mask with a giant lump in my throat. What a difference from my birthplan this experience was! I’d requested that the lights be dimmed on Holden’s entrance to the world… here, there would be no dimming. There was no background music. There was nothing about this experience that could be defined as “calming”… but Holden would be here soon.

The contractions were still coming (why did I come out of hypnosis!?!?!); and Danny had not been admitted into the room yet. I felt naked, cold and exposed; though a lot of that could’ve been that my hospital gown was open on its backside for the spinal. The Anesthesiologist asked me to curl up in a ball – cat like position) so he could administer the spinal. He told me to pull in tighter and at that moment a contraction came, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more miserable in my life.

Emotionally, I felt like I had nothing left to give. I was in this awful dream like state that felt more like a nightmare… everything was still hazy and I just kept wondering why I was so alone.

Why was it happening this way?
What was wrong with me?
And why wasn’t Danny here yet?

It must’ve just been a moment because suddenly the pain ceased and Danny was by my side, holding my hand. The tears kept streaming, but Holden would be here soon. While there was no pain, it was odd to feel pressure and sensation in my lower abdomen while they moved things around. I tried not to look, but glanced up and saw a reflection in the metal of the lights. It was pretty nasty.

And then, like a miracle… he was here, and every emotion I had been thinking was washed away as one thought over took me.

He’s here.

… and time stopped, and nothing else mattered, and my heart expanded throughout the eternities.

The nurse brought him around past the curtain, he looked like a beautiful mess…

...eyes bulging, crying from the cold of the room and the harsh transition from my womb to the world. But you don’t think about that as a mother. All you think is – perfection.

While they stitched me up, Danny went back to watch as they checked and cleaned Holden (again, much different than we had planned. I though Danny would end up cutting the cord, and Holden would be handed to me to lie skin-to-skin on my bare chest with a blanket covering him as they cleaned him. But not so.) As I mentioned, they were worried about Holden aspirating so all I got was a peak at my baby.

I can’t describe the intense sensations that were going through me…an almost preternatual desire to be near my child. It seemed like forever that Danny and Holden were gone.

I can’t remember the exact order of events, but eventually Holden was brought to me in my room. My in-laws and mom were there, and everyone was anxious to greet our new addition. But I was not in the mood for sharing. I took Holden into my arms and again, time stopped and it was just to two of us.

He was calm and almost looked inquisitive. He’d purse his bottom lip (a look that I would come to recognize more and more as we spent time together) and drift in and out of sleep. It had been a long 24 hours for both of us. And so mommy and baby shut the outside world out.

Apres L&D
Over the next few days, I would battle the emotional demons of having a cesarean. Continually asking the gods why, and feeling guilt over everything I had put Holden through. His glucose levels presented some challenges with a drop in body temperature (which they thought had to do with a calcified placenta that was not really working), and they had to give him formula from a bottle (which I still maintain was the start of our breastfeeding woes)… I kept thinking that I would’ve never waited so long if I had known he’d be in distress; and at the same time feeling like my body was broken because I never dilated and needed all of the medical interventions to get my baby here.

Everyone kept reminding me that he was here, and that’s all that mattered… and it’s true. But somehow, I couldn't separate the two issues in my mind. Holden was here – safe – and that was the ultimate objective… at the same time, I kept coming back to the guilt and shame of needing all of the interventions.
What would people say?
What would they think?
Am I less of a woman?

Coming from a religious background where it’s been drilled time, and time again that motherhood is basically the ultimate goal, and yet if I had been alive 100 years ago, Holden and I would not have made it… what does that say about me?

Over time, I would come to recognize and accept that it didn’t matter what the answer to these questions were. And for whatever reason (that I needed to learn I’m not in control, or so that Holden could have a perfectly round head, or something more) I was not to know…

Holden was here.
And everything was perfect and everything is perfect.

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