Sunday, May 2, 2010
Tuesday, May 2, 2006: Cora's birth story
I woke up at 6:30 to shower before heading to the hospital. I ate very little, I was feeling very sick, which is really not all that abnormal for me while pregnant. But I think that the nerves were accentuating it.
On our way to the hospital we passed a sign that struck us both as funny. It was in front of one of the student apartment complexes. At BYU-Idaho when you register for classes you agree to an honor code of conduct and one of the things you agree to is to obey the law of chastity. Anyway, it was a sign that said "seatbelt law enforced" and someone had crossed out the "seat" part and painted "chastity" over it so it read "chastity belt law enforced." I couldn't help but laugh. I wish I'd gotten a picture.
But as we drove down the hill and turned toward the hospital I felt like steel bands were wrapping around me tighter and tighter, squeezing the breath out of me.
As we walked up to the desk in L&D, the nurse there was holding a newborn baby. I think I was still mostly in shock, completely numb. She asked how she could help me and I replied that I was there to be induced at 7:30. As she realized what I was there for, her eyes went kind of wide and she turned her body to hide the baby from me. She called to my nurse (I really wish I could remember her name) to let her know I was here, and went into the nursery and shut the door. It didn't matter to me at the time, but after the fact I am grateful for her sensitivity.
As my nurse put her arm around me and lead me to my room, she asked how I was feeling physically. I told her how sick to my stomach I felt, and how I had been very sick my entire pregnancy. I then asked her if it was true that I had bumped someone else who was supposed to be induced that morning, and she said it was. I said, "I sort of feel bad that she has to be pregnant longer because of me." My nurse, such a wonderful lady, replied. "Oh honey, don't feel bad for her. She gets to keep her baby." That's when I started getting angry. Why didn't I get to keep my baby?!?
It took them a few tries to get the IV in, and Dr. Barton came in to examine me. They broke my water and started the pitocin. They asked if I wanted an epidural right away, but part of me wanted to see what labor was like first. A friend had let Matt borrow his PS2 while I was in labor, and I had a book. After a couple hours, I was in enough pain that I asked for the epidural. It's always just a little scary to have the anesthesiologist come in and give their little spiel they have to give on side effects and such. When he got to "including death," part, I thought to myself that it didn't matter if I died then.
Unfortunately it took him 3 tries to get it in right, and each try hurt more than the last. I had really bad bruising on my back from it. He kept muttering to himself about how I was having a bad enough day already and he was making it worse. To make up for it, he turned it up as high as it would go. I could not feel anything from just below my breasts down. I slept on and off throughout most of my labor after that. At about 2pm, after 6 hours of labor, a cervical check confirmed I was fully dilated and effaced, and it was time to start pushing. I was so numb though, that the pushes were ineffective. After 2 hours of pushing, Dr. Barton decided he needed to use the vacuum to help her head crown. Unfortunately, by then the epidural had completely worn off. That was probably the most physically painful thing I'd ever been through up to that point, and at that same moment I realized that all the sickness and misery during pregnancy, all the pain of labor, it was all for nothing. I couldn't help the sobs that came then, and the nurse (my wonderful wonderful nurse) tried to calm me enough that I could push again. She was crying too, I noticed later.
When her head was free, Dr. Barton told me that he'd have to cut the cord from around her neck before she could be delivered the rest of the way. He had a had time cutting it, it was so tight around her neck. When she was finally born, he wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to me. She was so beautiful. So perfect. I was surprised that she was warm, I don't know why, since she was my temperature. All those nightmarish visions of what she would look like were completely unfounded. She was beautiful. As I examined her hands and feet, Dr. Barton examined her placenta, and pronounced it one of the healthiest placentas he'd ever seen, and was fairly confident that her cause of death was a cord accident with how tight her cord had been. He offered the possibility of an autopsy, but felt it was unneeded, and we agreed. I asked if there was any way I could go home that evening, and he said that I had to stay a few hours to make sure there were no bleeding problems, but if everything was okay he had no problem with that.
I let the nurses take her for a few minutes to try to clean her up a little (her skin was fragile enough, though, that they couldn't clean her much for fear of tearing her skin), and to weigh her and such. She had been born at 4:06pm, weighing 6lbs10oz and 20 1/2 inches long.
Matt called a few of our close friends and said that if they wanted to come see her they would be welcome to then. It was good to have someone who loved us, and loved her, come to see her. One friend brought a frame & handprint kit for her. I don't think she'll ever realize just how much I treasure that, to have Cora's hand imprinted clay. It makes her feel real
After a couple hours the man from the funeral home came to pick up Cora's body. He was so nice, and he also had tears in his eyes. I don't think they will realize how much their tears meant, that they understood how devastating it was and had compassion for us. He explained to us the paperwork we had to sign, but tried to make it not seems so....businesslike. And then he took my little baby in his arms, and left. The sound of the door shutting sounded like the door slamming on all my hopes, my dreams, and my future.
I was released from the hospital at about 8pm. The nurse who had been on duty all day had gone off shift shortly after Cora was born, and the new nurse was just as wonderful. She'd had a 2nd trimester stillbirth herself, so she understood. She pushed my wheelchair out while Matt went to get the car. She gave me the tightest hug, the hug that only someone who can understand can give.
As I went to bed that night, I shut the door to what would have been her nursery, wishing the room to just disappear. I couldn't stand the sight of the empty crib. Luckily, thanks to the ambien, I didn't have any dreams that night.