Friday, January 4, 2013

Ford Birth Story Part 4

**Sorry for the delay in writing & posting Part 4. Life with four children = NO TIME**

I opened my eyes after I had been "asleep" for what seemed like 20 minutes and at the same time 8 hours. "Was it the same day as when I was in that operating room?" The first thing I remember feeling was very warm and wrapped up in heavy blankets. Quite the stark contrast to having my hospital gown ripped off of me on an icy, metal OR table in a freezing cold operating room. I could see Marty sitting in a chair at the end of my bed and I recognized that I was in the recovery room right outside of where the operating rooms were. (I had been in that recovery room before with a friend.) I said, "Is he ok? Where is he?" He lifted his hand and pointed over toward the left side of my bed and said, "He's right there." And there he was. Lying in the warmer with the glow of the warming lights on him. He was quiet but moving his tiny arms & legs around. There is no way to write a description on how it felt to see him for the first time. Of course, there was always bliss every time I had seen one of my children right after they were born. But this was different. I went into that OR with the full realization that there was a chance my baby would not survive. Or if he did, there may be problems. And seeing him lying there next to me with no wires or tubes, just himself...peaceful, quiet...moving around like a perfect baby boy, was the biggest relief I've ever felt. And those words of description do what I was feeling no justice. Marty asked me if I wanted to hold him and I declined. I felt very groggy and was afraid I was going to drop him. So he brought him over to me and laid him on my chest and held onto him for me. I kissed him and took in that perfect, make you high with love, smell of a fresh newborn baby and thought, "We are ok. We are OK. Thank you God." The nurse came in and suggested I try to nurse him and I agreed. I think Marty, the nurse & Ford were the only ones contributing to that feeding session. I literally just lied there while they maneuvered everything to get Ford nursing. After he was done, my family started to come in to see me (who am I kidding. They were coming in to see Ford, not me.) one by one, and I have very little memory of the conversations we had. I do remember asking my sister how Taste of the Town (a local food showcase where we live where my family's cupcake store had a booth) was and she laughed and said, "You just had surgery and you're asking me how Taste of the Town was!?" My nurse came by later and referred to Ford as my miracle baby. I will never forget that. He was a miracle. The nurses & doctors were all afraid of what they would find when they pulled him out of my belly. A baby that had a Mom who had lost over half the blood in her body. A baby who had been deprived of oxygen because of that blood loss. A baby who had a heart rate so low that they got me from my hospital room to the OR and had him out all in less than 10 minutes. A baby who had all of those things going against him, and yet was completely fine. A miracle. My Mom came into the recovery room and was able to give Ford his very first bath. That has been a tradition for us...she always gave my babies their first bath in the room with us. This time was a little different because the bath area was not where I could see them, but I remember hearing her & the nurse & the water running and thinking, "This is nice. At least there is some tiny bit of normalcy to this delivery." After a while it was time for me to move out of recovery & back to my room. I remember when they wheeled my bed down the hallway and got outside of my room there were so many people standing around waiting for us. And I remember feeling like I wanted to say hi and talk to all of them but I didn't have the energy. I have vague memories of my family hanging out in my room for a short while but I was drifting in & out of sleep. No one stayed long and I didn't really get to bask in that moment and share it with all of them like I had previously with my other babies. I still mourn that loss. It was one of my favorite things about having a baby...the "party" that ensued after the delivery. Lots of people coming & going. Lots of pictures being taken. Lots of hugs & conversations with my family & friends. None of that this time. The only thing I could do was use every bit of my strength & energy to keep my eyes open so I could see what was going on in the room. I know I was up a lot that night feeding Ford, but it felt like I went to sleep for the next 2 days straight. For my last 2 babies my husband had left me to stay the night in the hospital to go stay with our other children at home, but he wasn't going anywhere this time. I could hardly move. The only thing I could offer to care for our newborn was feeding him. That's it. I couldn't rock him, sway him, change his diaper. Nothing. I needed my husband more than I ever have and he was there for me like he's never been. The next day I felt a little more aware but still drifted in & out of sleep all day. I remember answering a text from a sweet friend asking if I was up for visitors and saying, "Yeah! Sure! We'll just be hanging out, so come on by," and then quickly realizing I had no business having visitors. I could not function as a normal person. I asked another friend if she would let everyone know that I wasn't up for visitors after all. I hated to have to do that. And I hated that I wouldn't have my friends come by to see us & meet Ford. But I literally could not move. Could not sit up. Could not hold a conversation. Could not keep my eyes open. It was a very quiet day. We had a few family members come by and of course lots of nurses coming & going. They came in to give me a blood transfusion because I had lost so much blood. I will never look at donating blood the same again. I've never been able to give blood, but I've always wanted to. I will some day. Some stranger made the decision to donate blood. And I now have their blood. It was definitely a strange feeling when they hooked up that bag filled with deep crimson liquid and it began to flow through my IV, into my body. Someone else's blood was going into my body. Weird. And kind of creepy. But I am thankful for it. I had to have it. And thank goodness it was there. I ended up having a second transfusion, because the first one wasn't enough to replenish the supply I had lost. Well, actually even with both transfusions, I was nowhere near where I needed to be in terms of blood supply. But they just wanted to get my body to a place where it could start replenishing the supply for itself. I had no idea just how much that process would affect me & my recovery for the next weeks to come. Marty asked me how I felt about him going home on night number 2 and I asked him to please stay. I didn't think I could do it by myself. I still could barely move and hadn't even been out of bed since I first arrived at the hospital on that Thursday morning. So he slept on that horrible hospital couch/bed thing for yet another night and helped me muddle my way through taking care of our baby. By the next day I was ready to get out of that bed and take a shower. I will never forget putting my feet on the ground for the first time with the help of Marty & my nurse. I felt like I was a baby learning to walk for the first I had forgotten how to move my legs. And I felt like I weighed about 1000 pounds. Slowly but surely I made it to the bathroom and to the shower where I was able to give myself a shower. It was the longest shower of my life. I had to move ever so carefully & slowly and it took forever. But it was a glorious feeling when I got out, to have finally done something "normal" even though I felt very far from normal. The shower helped me perk up a bit and I felt much better that day. We had a few visitors and the kids finally got to come and meet Ford! They were so great with him. They all came strolling through the door in their "Big Sister/Big Brother" shirts, giddy with excitement. They took turns holding & kissing him. At one point I was able to get up & sit in a chair and Reagan took over my spot in the hospital bed, just snuggling with her new baby brother. A surreal & sweet moment. I had all of my FOUR children together in the same room. Welcome to life as a family of SIX. The thought of going home & caring for all of them as I recovered from my traumatic delivery was more than overwhelming. But it had to be done. Thank God for all of my family who stepped in to help me in the next coming weeks. I absolutely could not have done it without them. For the weeks after Ford came home I felt like I loved my life in 2 spots in my house. In my bed & in my comfy white chair. I sat in that chair & fed him and hardly got up, then I retreated to my bed at night and the next morning it started all over. I remember watching my Mom & my sister unloading dishes and putting laundry in the washer and yearning to just be able to do that stuff just be NORMAL again. I actually will never forget the first time I did unload the dishes for the first time after having Ford. It must've been weeks after I had him because I couldn't even bend over & back up for that long afterwards, but it was so freeing. I thought, "YES! I am UNLOADING THE DISHWASHER! Maybe, just maybe I WILL be normal again!"Slowly but surely I made it back to the land of the living & was able to start functioning as a wife & Mom again. Ford's delivery & the recovery from it was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. The feelings I had throughout that time are not soon forgotten. But it makes having him here & healthy that much more precious. His & my life were not guaranteed in those moments, but we pulled through. God must have some pretty big plans for Ford in the future and I can't wait to see what they are.