I want to share his birth story. Like I have with all my children. The story just happens to differ from theirs, dramatically.
I truthfully wonder if he even has a birth story. My version, the version his father can tell...it looks a little like this.
There are of course more details. More than a half closed door. I can try to put them together, and see what comes of it.
We had plans. The birth pool waiting to be filled. The sacred trinkets from our blessing way waiting to be displayed, offering supprt and encouragement. We took the belly photos, read to our growing bub. Had doubts, insecurities...but we enveloped them in anticipation.
I thought our baby would come early, just a feeling. Gender unknown, the connection I made with my mystery parasite somehow communicated "early" to me.
My sixth child...I know my birth pattern. I trust those instincts. Still my "due date" crept closer. I felt fine, not very uncomfortable. ..just waiting....and not "early".
I had contractions...they never lasted long, never got stronger. Baby also never "dropped". So despite my belief that babe would come early, birth wasn't imminent.
At 39 weeks we went about our day, ran some errands, had lunch...as we were out and about I realized baby hadn't kicked much. Not totally abnormal, running out of room, baby did tend to move less.
When we arrived home I called our midwife to mention it..and we decided I would do a fetal movement count. You lie on your side for an hour and count baby's movement until you reach ten. So I took some time and laid down to start counting..
After about ten minutes I still hadn't felt a kick..or shift..or bump. I spoke to my partner and shared my increasing anxiousness. He suggested I give it the full hour..so I laid down again..within minutes something shifted. I just felt scared.
I decided I would rather go in to our hospital and get a heart rate check...we told our midwife our plans and headed off. Along the way I had a feeling..I just knew we should be hurrying.
I have had non-stress tests before...they track baby's heart, movement and my uterine activity. I also know that more often than not the baby starts moving like crazy as soon as I get hooked up....and I feel relieved and embarrassed.
Sure enough, strapped onto the monitor baby's heart rate was strong and solid. So, feeling slightly foolish, I settled in for the test...about an hour on the monitor.
My husband and I joked and waited..comforted by baby's thumping bass line. There still wasn't much fetal movement...but the machine picked up little squirms I could not feel. Without stronger movement the test could not really show baby's variables, so we waited for some kicks. The monitor needed adjusting a few times, it would start picking up my heart, or get knocked out of place....an alarm would sound, and the straps would get "fixed" into a better position.
At some point the rate changed, it was suddenly very slow. So, alone in the room we did what we had earlier, we adjusted the straps on the monitor. It was clearly picking up my heart again. My husband pushed it around, I wiggled and shifted. The alarm sounded again, like every time the rate dropped. Eventually a nurse pops in and tries to adjust the straps.
It only takes a second to realize we were wrong. The strap hadn't shifted, it wasn't my heart rate.
It was hard to not be impacted by the nurses obvious panic. She phoned the local ob/gyn, she called our midwife. In both instances she yelled at them to "get here, NOW". Another nurse came from nowhere, they both aggressively pushed my belly while searching for the heart tones.
The ob/gyn arrived and looked at the test strip showing baby's heart rate. He said he felt we should "make you a mom right now"....I knew that was coming.
Details are hazy, nurses frantically and awkwardly started pulling off my street clothes. "The best" lab worker came to start my I.V, and failed..and failed again. It wasn't her, this is my norm, an impossible blood draw, even worse for I.Vs. After several attempts she moved to my ankle and succeeded. A catheter was placed, ew. I signed something...there was a distinct shift in behavior, no longer time for pleasantries, everything became abrupt and panic'd. Perfectly our midwife arrived and offered her love and support in the midst of a whirlwind.
We moved to a surgical suite. Several other doctors had been called in. They had all been summoned to the hospital, it was surprising to see a ready room filled with gowned and gloved doctors knowing the small window of time that had passed.
They tried again to place a second I.V...eventually the anesthesiologist succeeded. I was put in position for an epidural. While bent awkwardly over a hospital tray I remember another difficult attempt to find baby's heart rate. I heard the alarm, I heard the slow beating of a heart. If it was mine or baby's I don't know.
I knew my baby was alive, I knew my baby would be with me soon.
The doctor tried to place the epidural, and couldn't...with time of the essence, it was decided that I would require general anesthesia.
As we had prepared for surgery I had warned our nurses that my husband is in fact 'a fainter'. At this point, before surgery i found my husband's face was suddenly in front of mine. He was wearing scrubs, i had no idea where he got them or when. He told me he loves me, gave me a kiss and was ushered out of the room, missing the birth of our babe.
It is a story. I can sit here and recall details. They come together to paint a picture.
As for a "birth story"? That goes something like this....
I went to sleep, I woke up and there was a baby across the room.
My husband's story..he sat outside a sterile looking set of double doors. He overheard someone say "he"..he knew he had a son.
There are more details. A lot of pain for me, noticing blood on the floor for him. Learning our son needed resuscitation for both of us.
In most birth stories there is lovely details about meeting siblings, first breastfeeding experience, cuddles in bed.
I feel like the story up to this point was the birth. This was our "birth story".
As for the aftermath, a lot of chaos followed. Our son was promptly airlifted to another hospital, without us. Without ever being held, or hugged...We found out via a phone call in the night that he was far sicker than we believed and was being transfered again. All night I desperately clung to the towel he was laid on after his delivery.
In the morning we were taken to him, via ambulance and ferry, immediately post partum, hours after surgery.
There were weeks in a city far from our home. NICU insanity. Tests, pokes and prods and fear.
All of that feels seperate. It isn't his birth story. It is part of his life story. A life that almost wasn't.