Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Birth of Hosea: Day Five

This is the only photo I have from the day Hosea was born. The rest of the post will be only words, as I cannot imagine what photographs would feel appropriate to space out these words.

A year ago today, I was given a hesitant countdown: "a couple more hours for your body to dilate that last centimeter, or we need to consider other options."

I swallowed hard, my partner locked eyes with me: "this is the time for prayer, ok?"
I allowed myself to fall back into sleep, and let the clock watch me.
2am came quickly and I prepared myself for the news that my cervix, after so many hours, was still holding fast to its edge. 

I liked this doctor. He wasn't condescending or dismissive. Neither did he sugar coat information or evade my questions in order to placate me. He was respectful and thoughtful and attentive. I prepared myself to negotiate the terms of a cesarean with him. The doctor's face brightened as he withdrew his gloved hand. 10cm.
My eyes welled with tears and my heart leapt as I thanked God for answering my prayers.
More rest. I was grateful for any more time to let the epidural drugs wear off, to let my baby get ready to be born.

Then, I pushed in all the ways I knew better than to push: Eyes-bulging, blood-vessel-popping, hernia-inducing, purple pushing. I didn't care about the consequences to my body. 1 hour, 2. Nurses praised me, and suggested I take breaks. No. Harder. Longer. I heard the nurses telling my support team to look at the head. One position, another. I pulled on the squat bar to keep my hips elevated over my rubbery legs. 3 hours, 4. Shift change. New nurse. New doctor. 5 hours. I tried not to look at the clock, focusing instead on the sensation of trying to move a whole person through me. I felt this little person shift within me, wiggle shoulders, a head.

"You have been pushing a long time, but your baby is doing fine. Let's try one last position?"
The instant my body's weight shifted to my side, the hot pain of 2 days prior came slicing through me again. Unprepared, I cried out, shaking, unable to shift my weight back alone. A flurry of nurses.  More epidural, lidocaine, locked eyes, coached breathing. I was sure my legs would be sliced ribbons by this pain.

My partner took my hands and our eyes welled with tears. I knew that our journey to birth was over and I couldn't say it out loud. "I know." I said. "I know." She kissed me.
"I've reconsidered a lot of my opinions midwifery because of this." The midwife said, as she stood at the foot of my bed, preparing to leave. She came closer and looked into my eyes: "I love you." She said, before she left.
It was 2 days later that I learned of the nasty things she said in dark corners and behind closed doors.

I watched florescent lights pass overhead through teary eyes. I was almost unaware of the entourage that came with my bed to the operating room. 

In a tangle of sheets, they lifted me from the bed to the operating table. Cold Hard Narrow Steel. Like something they put dead bodies on, I thought.

A spinal block, extra IV ports, do I consent to a blood transfusion, if necessary? O-, I kept saying, just to make sure they knew. O-.

Masks, hairnets, paper gowns. "It's me." My love had to tell me, as she took her place by my head.
"Do you feel that? Do you feel this?" Tugging, pinching, burning smell. I drifted in and out of consciousness.

"Do you hear that?" My partner asked, and I jerked myself awake. Squalling. Baby squalling. I hadn't even realized they had started the surgery. But, sure enough, over the sound of the vacuum emptying my womb of blood and fluid, over the clinking of instruments, a baby let out jagged, shocked cries.
In and out of consciousness. Tugging, sucking, pinching. More burning smells. Skin. That's my body being burned, I realized.

"Do you want him on your chest?"
"Yes" I knew that was what I was supposed to say. Gloved hands unwrapped his little body and held him to me. His big, grey eyes were wild and his mouth searched for me. He nursed while I was sewn shut.

We had planned to wait a few days to name him, but we both knew his name immediately. Hosea: God is help. His middle name, he would share with his great grandmother, who passed just 2 weeks before. 

That night, it snowed.

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