Relive it all again! Here's Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Labor is hard. If it wasn't we'd have another name for it. Like "Picnic" or "Party" or something equally pleasurable in comparison, like "Clipping alligator clamps to your nipples and turning on the attached 12 volt battery until you scream like a little girl".
My labor was more difficult than some, less than others. It probably fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of sucktitude. Toward the end Chicky, the still unborn fetus, was showing signs of distress and there was concern that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. But my girl, the champ she is, pressed on through all of that. It was what came after that really made me question whether I ever wanted to do it all over again.
My baby came out blue and not crying. Not at all like they show it on the Lifetime channel. She was covered in this icky greenish brown goo. And one doctor said to the other, "Is it terminal?"
Chicky, the girl who took her sweet time making her way out of my female slip and slide, was covered in meconium when she was at last pulled forcibly from me. She was given the once over, and then the twice over. And then while the doctors (yes, plural) conferred and the nurses ran around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off, the word "terminal" was uttered again.
A blue baby, not crying. The word "terminal". Not a good way to begin.
I did not hear any of this, there was something else going on at the time. Something like delivering the placenta. Who knew that would take so much effort?
But Mr. C heard it. And while I begged to see my child, to hold her finally and check all her fingers and toes, he put on a brave face and decided not to mention that tidbit to me. Smart man.
Now, those of you who have heard that word used before in relation to meconium know where I'm headed with this. The word terminal when applied to meconium is not as bad as it sounds. Terminal meconium is actually a somewhat common phrase and fairly banal. I actually don't know the reason why it's used (that's what I get for never going to medical school) but we've been assured that it's not as frightening as it sounds. But we didn't know this and when you're a new dad and you hear the word terminal being used to describe your brand new baby girl... Well, you can cut my husband some slack for freaking out.
He later called her sister, the doctor, in Minnesota to bitch out the entire medical community for even using such a term without explaining it to new parents beforehand. She agreed it's pretty scary.
Long story slightly shorter, the goo was not found in the amniotic fluid and Chicky hadn't swallow any. She was handed over to a nurse and all but she rushed out of the room to attend to a woman and her unborn child who were possibly dying in the next room. And though I understand this had to be done, it still kind of sucked to be left with just one nurse to attend to everyone. The poor woman was so flustered things kind of fell between the cracks.
From my bed I could see my baby in her plastic box lying, presumably, under the burger warming lights. I could see her squirm and her fists flail but I could not hold her. The nurse was so busy attending to me, and all the blood I had lost, that she decided it was a bigger priority to fix me up then to give me my child to finally hold.
And then we all found out she had forgotten to turn on the billirubin lights. Poor Chicky, she was supposed to be warming up like a nice Big Mac but she was shivering instead.
Okay, I don't know that last part for sure but you can see how my imagination might go there.
For TWO HOURS.
I did not touch my baby, not even a tiny fingernail, for over two hours. The two longest hours of my life.
We didn't know enough to demand her. To just take her out of the damned plastic box and hold her. We trusted in the nurse to do right by us and our daughter. If this ever happens again, we'll know better.
Let this be a lesson to you kids, have an advocate in the room with you. Hire a doula or a midwive. I decided to have Mr. C (naturally) and my sister assist me in my delivery, and I would never go back and change that, but the rules of the hospital where we delivered was two people per mom to be in the room. End of story. No room for a doula in there. If I had a do-over I'd do more homework since between the three of us we had never so much as been present at the birth of a gerbil. Talk about flying blind.
I do trust in the hospital where we had Chicky. I trust they are more than capable and we'll be delivering there again. Circumstances, unfortunately, got in the way. I think, although I'm not 100% certain, that the mother and child in the next room survived. That's got to count for something.
The next two days were filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. I was thrilled with my baby, who obviously was the most beautiful baby to ever have sprung forth from a woman's hoo ha, but recover was tough for me. I passed out being transferred from the delivery bed to the wheelchair. Lost too much blood, blahdee blahdee blah. I didn't expect the pain of recovery to be as bad as it was. I wasn't prepared for doctors to agonize over the birthmark on Chicky's lower back, wondering if it was a sign of spinal damage.
(It wasn't. Though they did tell me we could have it removed. You know, in case she ever wanted to wear a bikini one day and we might be concerned she'd feel self conscious about it. She will and we won't be. They obviously didn't see the giant strawberry birthmark on my upper left thigh. No elective plastic surgery just yet, 'kay?)
And Chicky and I were not exactly a match made in breastfeeding heaven. She was lazy, I was incompetent. I will always wonder if those two hours made a difference in that. If she had just been handed over to me immediately upon being given a clean bill of health, would we have had an easier time?
I guess we'll never know.
But she was the most beautiful baby in the world. And here we are, doing it again. Mr. C and I will know better next time but most importantly we'll know to speak up for our child. Hopefully it will go smoother.