Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunny Side Up

See PDawg read. See PDawg steal idea. See PDawg write.

Tracy didn't tag me in her post, but I feel as both her former English teacher and as someone who knew her way back in Elementary school when she had a trendy blonde bowl cut (don't worry, she was still a total cutie), I am qualified to hijack her ideas. This was the challenge she was tagged with, from Ocean Dreams (which I also read, so neener neener). Hope that's okay, Tracy. :)

The Picture Tells the Story
So here are the rules...
* Open my first photo folder
* Scroll down to the 10th photo
* Post that photo and story on my blog
* Tag five friends to do the same

Like everything in my life, my choice of picture requires explanation. Depending on which photo browser I opened to view my pictures, I got a different result for "first" photo folder. I went with the first chronological folder, and took the 10th picture.

This photo was most likely taken the day Addie was born or the day after. I don't really know, since it was another month until E and I got our first digital camera. This is either a picture that my mom or grandpa took. Note that since it was 2002, it's not that great of a camera. It was probably around 2 mega pixels or something, but this was back when you'd see a digital camera and you'd still go "ooh, cool." I'm actually kind of pleased that this was the picture. It gives me the chance to make a matching bookend to Hank, the Story, which I posted back around his birthday in March to chronicle the story of his time as a bun in the ol' oven and the ensuing, you know, birth.

My pregnancy with Addie was really difficult. I threw up like a Midwesterner on her first sailboat ride: nonstop, for five months. She liked her foot wedged somewhere in the vicinity of my second and third rib on the right side. I had severe hip pain from a weak ligament supporting my pelvis. I was pregnant everywhere. I wore it like a floaty around my waist and even my nose was fat. My feet would usually try to ooze out from the holes of my sandals by the end of the day in sheer rebellion over how long I'd been standing on them. They looked like Playdough that you push through that little mold. I was no glowing mom-to-be. I was just a house. A three-story, wraparound porch, two car garage, back of the cul de sac, house.

Speaking of houses, we bought our first one the last month of my pregnancy, and just because God is funny, we closed escrow the week before my due date. I was due on Halloween, and we rushed and put our house together with all the family help we could recruit so it would be ready and livable for the baby. Then we waited. I did Yoga. Nothing. We waited. E walked me up and down the aisles at Home Depot. Nothing. I meditated. I watched TV. I prayed. I ate spicy things and did all kinds of stuff they say starts labor, even though at that point the only thing I was feeling in the mood for was hibernation. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I even sewed pillows, for God's sake. No baby.

After about two weeks, I was beginning to walk around the empty house and say things like "okay God, lesson learned. I am not patient. PLEASE?" Nothing. Doctor's appointments where they assured me that the baby was only 6 or 7 pounds, despite my Humpback whale-esque mass and my ever-swelling face and feet. I didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. My little Beanie, as we called her in utero, was having none of it. She liked it in there. She was swaddled in my layers of blubber and she was not moving. More walking, more Home Depot, more praying which turned to pleading and desperate bargaining. More nothing.

FINALLY, my doctor looked at me and said "I think it's time." Not because I was dilated or effaced or any of that made up crap that they tell you happens to "all pregnant women." No, not so much. Finally she looked at me like that out of pity and the thought that oh dear, this chick is going to have a three year old in there if I don't intervene soon. Geez. I remember it very well. I had instructions to call to make the appointment for induction very early in the morning. I could barely sleep, so I got up and called, made the appointment, and then scoffed to myself because I was sure I'd go into labor before that day ever came. Halloween was already a distant memory at this point. How was I still pregnant halfway into November?

Yeah, that didn't happen either. E and I found ourselves keeping the appointment for the night before my induction where they, um... prep the area and do some things to start moving you along (I'll spare you the gory details--at least some of them) and then we were told to go back and come in the next morning, but I'd probably start labor before then. Ha. Ha, I say. The next morning, we were packing and talking about how we'd have a baby three or four hours after we got there, how excited we were, and how we couldn't believe she was finally going to come.

Not. The breaking of my water and the 85 miles of hallway I walked in my chic hospital gown avec red monkey socks didn't exactly do what they were supposed to do. Cut to me stuck in a bed and chained to an IV of Pitocin. Cut to family members coming by to see the baby and being greeted instead with a solo performance of steady moaning by Yours Truly, accompanied by a corps of supporting players--E, his sister, my mom and dad, playing cards and noshing on snacks I was no longer allowed to eat. I forgot to mention that they starve you when you have a baby. That part is just cruel. This had nothing to do with them thinking I could've lived off my fat stores for a month, but even blubber didn't seem to be keeping me happy. The music I'd brought for labor (ha!) played mockingly in the background. My carefully-typed birth plan sat in a backpack, worthless as the paper it was written on, having already been declared null and void by Fate and the stinging pinch of an IV full of drugs.

That was the longest day/night/day of my life. There was no sleeping. I was having contractions as though I was in Transition (bad/hard part of labor) but my body wasn't responding by dilating, so the baby was just not moving. Or rather, she had nowhere to go, even though my insides were giving her the big squeeze. My goals of birthing drug-free were abandoned. At some point they gave me a narcotic. It didn't help the pain, but I saw cartoons when I closed my eyes. Cartoons plus pain does not equal better. They eventually had to back off on the Pitocin because her heart rate was dropping. I had to wear an oxygen mask. I had to lay on my side. We started to watch the monitor and scrutinize every number, beep, and line. It got scary. We couldn't relax. We didn't see a baby. Eight hundred doctors paraded through as shifts changed, each one "checking me"--UGH. HELLO!--and none of them delivering a baby.

By the morning, I was haggard, as were E and my parents who had slept in chairs in the room in shifts. Nobody could help, but everybody took their turns staring at me, holding my hand, sitting by my side. My dream of holding my baby the day before seemed imaginary. By the time the sun was up I felt hopeless and drained and raw. It was exactly at this vulnerable moment that the head of Gynecology came in and announced to me and E that our decision to allow them to break my water the day before had meant I was on a timer. They had neglected to tell me that if I allowed them to do that, I was on the clock. My 24 hours of labor had expired; they needed to get the baby out NOW. That meant C-section. I cried and cried and made everybody leave except E.

E was terrified, but he held it together. He was scared. I've never seen him like that since and I'm glad. Later he said it was the worst feeling, watching me in pain like that, knowing the baby could be in trouble, not being able to do anything. He looked at me and told me through my sobs that I needed to do this. I told him I couldn't, that my stomach would be ruined, that I'd never dance again, that I was scared of being cut and I wasn't strong enough and he looked back at me and told me I would be okay.

They hauled me into surgery right away (again, after some dehumanizing prep, but I'll leave that part out. All my C-section gals get it) and they made me drink this black goo. They said it was so I wouldn't vomit, or so I wouldn't aspirate my vomit, or something like that. I was delirious, but I knew that if I drank that nasty junk I would puke. I told them as much. The nurse looked at me with all the sympathy of a mother making her child take Amoxicillin, and basically stared me down until I drank it. I did, and dutifully barfed all over the place. That showed her.

The surgery was a blur, but I can remember that hearing Addie cry was the single greatest sound I've ever heard in my life. I think I had been holding my breath until she cried out. Once she was born, I kept asking E questions since he could see over the partition. I wanted to know all the stuff you always want to know--hair, ears, eyes, fingers, toes. I remember seeing his face as I heard her cry--we cried together. Then a black curtain closed over my eyes; I knew I was losing consciousness. I remember hearing someone say something to the effect of "Oh my God, she's huge!" and learning that she was over nine pounds. I could hear, but I couldn't see. In the final stages of the surgery, they had to give me more drugs because I started to be able to feel everything. I know. Ouch. I wanted to see her but by the time the nurse brought her to me, I was already in blackness. She said she'd put her next to my cheek. I remember feeling Addie next to me and then I passed out.

When I see this picture, I notice how tired I am, how swollen my face looks, and how E and I look so enthralled with this new little being. I think that those first moments alone with her were some of the most amazing of my life. (This was, of course, after I woke up, after she was returned from the nursery, after everyone in the family visited, and after nurse after nurse poked and prodded us both.) By comparison, the pictures from right after Henry was born are very different. A planned C-section doesn't take nearly the same toll as 26 hours of labor and an emergency C-section. The hat covers Addie's crooked head--they had to use suction to get her out, she was so stuck. Apparently she was "sunny side up," which explained why she wasn't moving. It's a good thing she turned out to be so easy and wonderful as a baby--her labor was difficult and scary. Written all over my face and this picture is exactly how hard we worked to bring her into the world that day.

I'm not going to tag anybody--consider yourself one of the few and the proud if you made it all the way through this monster of a story. I know, I know. It's long. Anybody who wants to take the photo/story challenge, go for it. Tell me if you do it, so I can read yours. :) I'd love to. Thanks for reading. Miss Adele Marie and I both thank you.


  1. Heather,

    This story is so ... vivid. And I mean that in the best storytelling sense. I usually peter out about midway through posts about labor, mommyhood and the like, but this held my attention from start to finish.

    Honestly, I was rooting for you and Addie throughout and when it was over I sighed out loud! How freakin' scary is birth?! I mean, jesus h. It's stories like this that keep me popping my B.C. like Pez.

    I hope when my day comes I'll manage to be as tough as you.

    Lance thanks you for your very sweet compliment! I bet you found me through Tabitha's blog. I've visited your site once before through hers.

  2. I love that you think you stole this from me... haha... you must ALWAYS steal from me... plus I steal from you too. :) Love the story about Addie, and I love how you describe your pregnancy. A big 3 story house. So funny. and if you look at yourself now, you would never even know!

  3. Haha. Thanks Heidi.

    And thanks Trace. Glad you didn't mind. :) I really liked reading yours.