I got on the scale this afternoon and I saw a number that I hadn’t seen in a long, long time.
I thought about what that number represented, and how it had less to do with pounds and ounces and more with the gravity that is pulling me toward earth.
In May, I had a baby. Whenever I say that out loud, it sounds like such a clumsy little summary. Like, I woke up and had a donut. And then I had a baby. The verb “to have” doesn’t quite capture it…
I woke up and had…maybe cereal?
I left before my Baby Girl had awoken. I made my mother promise not to say good-bye. Good-byes make me nervous.
Loverpants and I brought Scrabble to the hospital. Like we were going to have all this time to finagle Triple Word Scores while transitioning from 7 to 10 cm.
It was sunny. I liked my birthing room. I wore pigtails. I arrived 4cm dilated, already contracting. They gave me pitocin.
They gave me too much pitocin.
My contractions and the pitocin were like the sound and the fury. The baby’s heart rate kept dropping. They put me on my side. His heart rate dropped even more. Suddenly, there was a whole team of nurses putting me in child’s pose on the bed. They shot me with something to make the contractions slow. I got an oxygen mask.
The midwife suggested I get an epidural so that I could relax which might make the baby’s heart rate relax.
The anesthesiologists arrived but as they started prepping, I started sweating so hard, they couldn’t keep the area clean. I started screaming. I couldn’t stay on the bed. The baby was coming.
THE BABY WAS COMING.
On my side.
Lift leg, push push push push push push push.
Baby’s heart keeps dropping, I’m sorry, the opening is small, we can’t use the vacuum, the baby’s heart rate keeps dropping…
I wasn’t scared this time, not like my first c-section. I had the same anesthesiologist, and she is amazing.
The surgeon said she is glad I didn’t try to go for a vaginal birth. Something about my bladder being in the way, something might have burst?
She leaned over the curtain and said, Don’t you EVER labor on this uterus again.
“John, can you see what it is?”
“Boy. Hahah, Kenny, you were right. Boy!”
I cannot believe I am 2 for 2. 2 healthy, perfect babies. Thank you. Thank you.
The hematocrit level expresses the proportion of red blood cells in the blood. Adult females hover around 38-46. After surgery, I was at 26.
I had lost some blood.
But then I dropped to 24. And then to 18. I was at the hospital alone now. I was pushing to feed my baby, but I couldn’t make a phone call. I was so weak. I saw myself in the mirror when I went to use the bathroom. I could barely see my freckles.
So I got a blood transfusion. Some plasma, too.
And then I dropped on down to 16. I just kept losing blood. Where was it going?
After an MRI, we saw that the blood had pooled into a hematoma around my liver.
More blood transfusion. The next day, my levels stabilized.
For the next 6 weeks, I was in the most pain I have ever, ever experienced in my life. Getting up was a struggle, sitting down was a struggle. You can’t take pain killers for irritants like blood. You can, but it won’t do any good. There’s no swollen tissue, no torn muscle. It’s just ounces and ounces of blood irritating your insides while your body does what it’s supposed to as it reabsorbs the blood you lost during surgery.
Meanwhile, Baby Girl was going through the violent throes of sibling adjustment. Meanwhile, I had a newborn. Meanwhile, my in-laws visited. Meanwhile, my husband was working himself into the tizzy that socked him with peumonia a month later.
This morning I ran with my strollercize class that I’ve been attending for the last 2 months. I ran and sprinted, and I didn’t die. I sweated and smiled, I did leg lifts with my exer-band while holding a pacifier in place for a robust 3 month-old baby. I handed snack bags through stroller portals to spunky toddlers.
I thought about the miracle of life that has unfolded a thousand times this past summer. I praised God for His amazing handiwork in all of creation, in this short, stumpy, strong body of mine that is privileged to care for this family, to enjoy the perfection that was this late August weather, to live this sweet sweet life.
…But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40: 31