Monday, April 26, 2010

The Arrival of Aubrey

The following is my daughter's birth story, told through the eyes of one who will always see her for the angel that she is...

My due date was November 9th. Having that date in my mind for nine months had led me to become quite fond of that day being Aubrey’s birthday. Of course, if she wanted to come earlier, that was fine by me – but not too early. I didn’t want an October baby! At 36 weeks, I began having my weekly check-ups with the Obstetrician. At the first of my weekly checks, Dr. Rosado told me, “You MIGHT make it to your due date…” I was elated – this baby would not be late. If anything, she would come early!

October turned into November and I started thinking, Aubrey can come any day now… But the weekly appointments continued to net the same response – only 1-2 centimeters dilated and about 75% effaced. At my 38 week appointment, Dr. Glass mentioned the I-word – Induction; an idea that I was not at all opposed to. Because I had become so enchanted with November 9th combined with the fact that my Dad’s birthday is November 15th, I knew I didn’t want to go past my due date if I could help it. I asked her to check the calendar for November 9th. She came back into the room and said, “The 9th is all booked... How about the 10th?” Disappointed, I reluctantly said that the 10th would be okay. After all, the 9th was off the table unless she came out on her own terms!

Thirty-Nine weeks came and went without so much as a hiccup. My last day of work was Friday, November 6th. I had decided to take Monday off and rest up (if she wasn’t going to come over the weekend.) I spent Monday trying to mentally prepare as best I could. My nerves and fear of the unknown were getting to me – I was an emotional wreck. We were scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 7:00 on Monday evening. Matt got home from work and we loaded our bags into the car and headed to Chambersburg. I cried the whole way there.

Arriving at the hospital, we checked in with the receptionist at the labor and delivery unit. We were given our room number and allowed entry through the locked doors. Ironically, our room was the exact same room that we stood in during the hospital tour with our Child Birth Class! It would be just as we were picturing it. As we settled in, I was hooked up to what seemed like fifty monitors and given my i.v. Dr. Esmuede came in around 9:00 to administer Cervadil – a suppository to help soften my cervix overnight so that I would be ready for the induction at 6:30 the next morning.

We decided to turn off the television at 10:00 and try to get some sleep. Try is the key word in that statement. I knew it would not be a restful night between the beeping of the machines, Aubrey’s heartbeat thumping away on the monitor, and the nurse coming in every thirty minutes to check my vitals. I tossed and turned for the next hour and a half, feeling rather uncomfortable in a strange bed. Shortly before 11:30, I started feeling like I needed to pee. I considered pressing the call button, but felt like a nuisance to be bothering the nurse. I waited a few minutes longer and then decided it was becoming more of an urgent situation. I pressed the little red button and waited for the nurse to come in. While waiting, I began experiencing a strange sensation – something was leaking out of me and onto the bed. I knew better than to think I had lost bladder control, but I wondered if it was the Cervadil. The longer I laid there and felt the now trickling stream, I became aware of the notion that my water may have broken. When the nurse arrived (only a few minutes after I had called) I told her that I thought my water broke. She told me I could go to the bathroom first and then she would do an exam to check on things. Upon standing from the bed, an exam became unnecessary – water began streaming down my leg and on to the floor. I was going in to labor – entirely on my own! I could not stop thinking about how perfect (and somewhat humorous) God’s timing is. Had we been at home, my water would have broken in bed. Instead, we were already right where we needed to be - no rushing around, no forgotten items at home, no ruining of the bed linens! Aubrey was SUPPOSED to be born on November 10th. That’s all there was to it.

As the night progressed, so did my labor. My contractions went from irregular and slightly annoying (or a “1” on the pain scale) to more frequent and progressively painful. By 3 or 4:00, the contractions were beginning to interfere with my rest so I asked for some pain medication. It was quickly brought to my aid and put into the iv. It worked its magic for a few hours and made me “loopy” enough to not care about the pain. By 6 a.m., the pain was back in full swing and rapidly climbing the scale to an “8”. Dr. Esmuede arrived to check my cervix. I was 4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. After Dr. E left, I requested the epidural. I had been bearing the unrelenting pain long enough. I was beginning to feel nauseous with each contraction and could hardly make it through without having to close my eyes, stop everything and focus solely on breathing. It seemed like an eternity before the Anesthesiologist arrived with his supplies. In reality, it was 45 minutes – there had been a shift change at 7:00, and the new guy didn’t get to my room until 7:30. Getting the catheter put into my back was not as bad as I had prepared myself for it to be. The worst part was the feeling of pressure in my spine – gross! Within fifteen minutes, he was done and the medication was being pumped through my body. Oh, sweet epidural… we were instant friends. As my lower extremities began to lose sensation, I was feeling wonderful! Finally I was able to relax. I dozed for a brief time until Dr. Glass arrived around 8:30 to check my progress. To everyone’s surprise, I was 7 centimeters dilated – 3 centimeters in two hours! Dr. Glass looked at Matt and me and said, “You’re going to have this baby sometime this morning…” WHAT?! Our parents hadn’t planned on arriving until lunch time. Before we could think any more, Dr. Glass said, “How about we try a couple pushes?” My head swirled with unclear and unprocessed thoughts. Was this really happening? She had me get into “the position” and Matt braced himself against my right leg while a nurse grabbed the left. Watching the screen for a contraction, Dr. Glass calmly sang, “Okay, here we go – ready, and – PUSH.” I bared down as best I could to mimic the nurse from the child birth class. I felt no pain - just pressure, but I felt like the pushing was going no where. Dr. Glass and the nurses counted out my push, “one… two… three… four… five… six… seven… eight… nine… ten.” It was all I could do to make it to ten. Their counting was severely sluggish – it was obvious they weren’t as in as much of a hurry to get to ten as I was. They had me push twice more before the contraction was over. Dr. Glass beamed. “Yep! You’re almost ready. Won’t be long now! Dr. Molloy should be here shortly and she’ll check your progress once she is here.”

As promised, Dr. Molloy arrived by 9:45 and not a minute too soon. She checked my cervix and upon inspection, confirmed that I was fully dilated and ready to go! Matt fumbled with his phone, trying desperately to establish some sort of communication with the family, letting them know Aubrey was coming. He typed a text message – “NOW!” and hurriedly sent it off to his parents, my parents, and my sister. In one swift motion, Matt slipped the phone into his pocket and again set his grasp on my right leg. Here we go!

Shortly before 10 a.m., I began my “marathon” of pushing this child out into the world. Pushing was my only concern – my focus. My goal: seeing that head and the sweet face of my daughter for the first time. I pushed and I pushed. The breaks in between the pushing weren’t nearly long enough. I felt like I was gasping for air. I was pushing so hard, I felt like I couldn’t give any more. I was expelling every last living morsel of my being into these pushes. At one point, I dry-heaved. Matt cringed at the thought of getting covered in vomit. Luckily, it remained a DRY-heave. All the other commotion taking place in the room was blurred as I honed in on my target – let’s see that baby! Dr. Molloy, Matt, and the nurses kept excitedly shouting, “There’s her head!... I see the top of her head!... It won’t be much longer... Just push a little more... Make it a good one!...” The encouragement was nothing short of miraculous – it was giving me the will to try harder.

Fifteen minutes in, I was ready to be done. So much so, that I became overly-aware of the need for bigger pushes. Trying to catch my breath before the next contraction came, I thought to myself, “You can do this.” I felt my body tensing as the next wave was about to hit. Dr. Molloy looked at me. “Are you ready?” Not wanting to waste my breath, I gave a quick nod in agreement. Breathing in as deeply as I could, I took charge of my body with new energy. I pushed down and pulled back on the underside of my legs, contorting my body as best I could. This push felt different. Before I could realize what I had done, Dr. Molloy shouted, “Okay – stop!... Her head is out! Janelle, look down – you’re never going to see this again!” I leaned as far forward as I could, a daunting task when you’ve got a beach ball between your chest and your legs. There she was – a little head bobbing around as it was grasped by the doctor. She was crying and wincing from the cold, bright world. After clearing her airways, I was once again given the green light. I pushed, knowing I had to get the shoulders out. Dr. Molloy guided her shoulders out – one at a time, with ease. The rest of her slipped out into the doctor’s hands and she quickly placed her on my stomach to cut the umbilical cord. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. I felt… empty, deflated. I felt like I could breathe again! Something I hadn’t experienced for nine months! It was an incredible feeling.

Dr. Molloy looked at Matt. “You want to cut the cord?” His eyes widened with excitement – he had been waiting for this. “Yeah!” he exclaimed. She grasped a section the cord between both hands, defining the area where Matt could cut. He positioned the scissors. “Here?” he asked. She nodded and he snipped. She took a second look – “Better cut down a little closer.” So he repositioned and snipped a second time. Perfect!

Things were abuzz in the room and it was instant chaos. The team of nurses that had been waiting to take care of Aubrey in her first moments after birth jumped into action, doing what was merely a routine for them. Matt grabbed the camera and began to snap photos while Team-Aubrey weighed, measured, cleaned, and gave her the first round of immunizations. Amid the organized chaos, I laid in bed, somewhat tense but very relieved while Dr. Molloy delivered the placenta. I had torn slightly while pushing her out, so Dr. Molloy took a few minutes to stitch me up. I couldn’t believe it was over. Just like that. I couldn’t stop thinking about how fortunate I was to have had such a brief and “easy” labor and delivery. God was watching over our new family!

Aubrey was now clean and ready to face the world, her eyes glistening from the Erythromycin. They handed the little bundle to me for our first cuddle. I gazed at her face, expecting to have some out-of-body experience like they portray so regularly in movies and television. But there was nothing like that. I looked at her, she looked at me. I tried to detect a glimpse of Matt or myself in that little, wrinkly, perfect face. I thought, “So this is Aubrey…” One of the nurses broke my train of thought. “Do you want to try nursing?” “Sure.” I had known this would be coming, but it seemed so soon! After some coaxing, Aubrey latched on and began suckling, taking in the colostrum. It was an odd feeling, but extremely natural. I was happy. As I nursed, the front-desk receptionist peeked in the room. “Are you guys taking visitors?” she asked, “Because there are some people out here who are wondering if you’ve had the baby yet.” Matt jumped up from his chair, “Oh my gosh, our parents!” We both had become completely enthralled with this new little life and had forgotten that our families had probably arrived. Matt ran outside to the waiting room. His Mom asked how I was doing. “She’s great,” Matt said. “Aubrey’s doing great too.” “She’s HERE?!?!” They all asked eagerly. Matt spilled the details of the morning, not skipping a beat. He showed them some of the pictures and reassured them that they could see Aubrey just as soon as I was done nursing her.

Upon finishing, we gladly welcomed our parents in to meet their new Granddaughter. They were beaming with pride and couldn’t stifle their smiles, not that they wanted to. Both Matt’s Mom and my Mom were teary-eyed. With hormones raging full-boar, my eyes started to well up too. I’ve never been so overwhelmed yet so satisfied. We spent the rest of the day visiting with family – my sister and brother in law came, Matt’s brother stopped by. We were even blessed with a visit the following morning from Matt’s Grandma – Aubrey’s “birthday buddy”. Helen’s Great-Grandchild was born on her birthday, 85 years later. What a gift!

Just as Jesus’ mother Mary treasured these things in her heart, I also treasured each and every moment that day, every day since and now each day to come. I’m not saying there aren’t days when stress and fatigue takes its toll. I’ve had more than my share of post-partum mood swings (just ask Matt!) But I can honestly say that never in my life have I experienced the joy that I feel in my heart when I hold that little girl in my arms – even just to think about her, to picture that face in my mind sets my heart aflutter. To hear her coos, her laughter, to see her smile, to watch her brow furrow and her mouth contort when she is learning something new… she gives me a reason to wake up each day. She is my little love-bug, my Aubrey Mae, and I will forever cherish each and every day that God allows me to share with her.
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