Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What should have been

On the four month anniversary of Quinn’s arrival, I was inspired by a fellow blogger – Lindsey Henke – to write the birth story that should have been.  It’s the story of hope, joy, and welcoming a new life into the world.  In reality, however, we were not so lucky.  Instead of first cries we got haunting silence.  Instead of warm nuzzles, I touched her cold skin.  Instead of tears of joy, I shed tears of terror.  This is the story that should have been.  The story that I dream of, only to be wakened by my real birth story called stillbirth.

Birth story

Valentine’s Day, 2015.  Up until this year, I always saw Valentine’s Day as a fabricated holiday and felt mostly neutral to it.  However, this year Valentine’s Day would take on a whole new meaning.  My husband, Josh, and I were expecting our second child!  My due date was in two days – February 16, also my father’s 70th birthday.  We had a lot of reasons to celebrate!  We could not be more trilled, scared, excited, and nervous about growing our family.  The day after Valentine’s day, my contractions started.  They were mild in the morning, and grew to severe intensity that night.  Finally, I told my husband that if we didn’t want to have the baby in our bedroom we needed to go, now!

At 2:30am on February 16th, Josh called his father and said, “Dad – this is THE call,” with a smile on his face.  The plan was for him to watch Riley while we welcomed our new family member at the hospital.  In the car in between contractions, I told Josh, “I haven’t felt the baby move much since my contractions started.”  “Its fine, you worry too much,” he casually said, almost laughing me off.

I entered the hospital at 3am, and learned I was 8 centimeters dilated.  We would be meeting our new baby very, VERY soon!  In between piercing contractions, I was thrilled and the joy of what was coming was not lost on me.  I was hurried to the delivery room since my baby was coming any minute!  My intake nurse set-off an alarm to inform delivery that I was on my way.  I held my belly, hobbled down the hallway, and got settled in my delivery bed.

Here my friends, is where the story takes a drastic turn.  Below are the words that I had dreamed of and hoped for.  They are the feelings of anticipation and joy.  Unfortunately, they are words and feelings that only exist in my imagination.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Not all endings are happy.  For our reality was unkind and plagued with longing and heartache.  How I wish I could awaken from this nightmare to live the words below.

The nurse puts the monitors around my belly and the baby’s strong heartbeat starts thumping strongly on the screen.   Another nurse calmly but hurriedly starts the IV in my arm.  That nurse leaves and we are left with my one labor and delivery nurse.  My contractions continue to be intense.  “There’s no time for an epidural,” she says, “but we’ll get you through this.”  The baby’s heartbeat stays strong on the monitor and an alarm is made to call the house doctor since my OB won't make it in time.  

Dr. B. arrives and measures my cervix.  “10 centimeters!” he exclaims.  It has only been 20 minutes since I entered the hospital.  The team quickly prepares for delivery.  My husband stands strongly by my side and helps me get through the next set of contractions.  No nausea this time around, I think.   At 3:20am, I start pushing.  Josh is on my left side and my nurse is on the other.  “Push,” Josh says.  “Push!” Dr. B and the nurse cheer me on. 

18 minutes later, our baby enters the world, breathes her first breath, and screams.  That precious, heartwarming scream.  The sound of life.  My heart sings and my soul is filled.  Tears of exhaustion and joy stream down my face as my OB finally enters the room to deliver the placenta and give me stiches.  Josh cuts the umbilical cord and proudly tells me it’s a girl.  Quinn Amelia Wilson, we both instantly said.  It’s the perfect name for a beautiful, healthy, strong girl.  My body fights the post-birth shakes as Quinn is put on my chest.  Love.  Pure love.  She is life.  Her warmth, breath, and cozy body against mine.  Within minutes she searches for my nipple with her mouth.  It’s so animalistic.  She knows exactly what to do. 

After a while, I reluctantly give her to the nurse for her first bath and footprints.  While she’s gone, my body yearns for her and calls for her.  Finally, after several long moments, we are reunited.  Skin to skin once again.  Later that morning, we are wheeled upstairs to the recovery room.  I insist on holding her and won’t let the nurses transport her in the bassinet.  Her skin is soft and warm.  The pangs of pain from delivery are dulled by the feeling of love and hope.

Once settled in our new room, where we will spend the first 2 days of Quinn’s life, Josh calls our family and close friends.  “Mom and baby are doing well,” he says.  He also throws in a clever joke that I can’t hear.  Both ends of the phone are met with smiles and laughter.  “We’ll be ready for visitors tomorrow, we hope you can come,” he closes.  We blocked off this evening for a very special visitor.  The first visitor who would meet the newest family member would be Riley of course. 

After an exhausting but fulfilling day of nursing, napping, and changing diapers, we welcome our very special first visitor.  Josh meets his dad in the hospital lobby and takes Riley to the gift shop.  She scans the whole store to pick out the perfect gift for her baby sister.  A stuffed cat – to match the one she has at home.  “Ri-Ri has one and my sister has one,” she proudly says.  Josh also includes a pink balloon when checking out. 

Josh takes her in the elevator upstairs and the nurses coo over Riley as they step off.  “How sweet,” they think.  Josh says, “She’s meeting her baby sister for the first time!” and they all laugh.  When Riley comes in, she tilts her head, lets a big grin creep over her face and says “Mommy!” in her tiny voice.  “For my sister,” and proudly presents the kitty.  Except, sister sounds like “tister” and I laugh.  I’m holding the baby and she comes over.  “Quinn,” I say.  “Can you say it?  Quinn?”  Oh, how I love hearing Riley say Quinn’s name.  I ask her to say it over and over, she couldn’t say it enough. 

Riley gently pats Quinn’s head and gives her a kiss on her forehead.  Quinn moves, as if to say, “hi sister!”  I put Quinn in the bassinet and Josh helps Riley climb next to me in bed.  We have a snuggle and I tell her I love her.  I ask, “Do you love the baby?”  “I love her,” she sweetly says.  I present Riley with Quinn’s presents for her: mickey and mini mouse stuffed dolls.  She squeals and snatches them up.  Quinn cries and Riley doesn’t want to get down, so Josh tucks Quinn on the other side of me, each arm filled with my most proud possessions.  With this, my journey as a mother of two beautiful living daughters begins.  

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