Sunday June 12th -midnight
Wondering and waiting through prodromal labor for days watching a movie and relaxing .... suddenly
Yay! Baby time! My water broke with a few smaller gushes and I thought I had better get some rest for the upcoming ordeal. So off to bed I went. The last birth with Eva Plum took 12 hours before active labor began. So I figured I had plenty of time.
Two hours later I knew I was wrong.
I asked David to fill the Jacuzzi ( it takes an hour to fill) and I went downstairs to quietly labor on the sofa and wait. Active labor had begun and the contractions were gaining momentum.
OOOoooo the hot water, soothing music, and low lighting exactly delivered the environment I desired. I labored steadily and focused easily for the next hour or two. About this time David called my midwives and let them know labor was progressing and my contractions were becoming closer. They were on the way.
Transition had begun, now each contraction was a little more difficult and I was officially in "labor land". For myself, I am always sick during this transition time, the hormones really make me nauseated! So with my handy bowl nearby I continued to labor and focused on breathing and making low noise, visualizing each contraction as a wave moving towards the shore as it dissipated. As 4 and 5 am approached labor became very hard, this is the point where I am hanging on every word of encouragement from my husband and midwife. Where time seems to slow and communication stops. I know I kept asking if it was over soon. And reassuringly the answers were "Yes, very soon!". It didn't seem soon enough however!
Before long I knew I needed to move from my sitting position to a more squat position with a more open pelvis as I felt the pressure increasing. Now every contraction was so intense and so close together I couldn't think. Out of the foggy mist of my mind I hear one of my midwives voices clearly. Telling me its time to have a baby. Its time to use all the energy and force I am feeling to push the baby out.
I had forgotten I was suppose to push the baby out! Sheesh. I KNEW I forgot something!
Even after doing this 4 times you would think I would remember what to do. Instinct kicks in at this reminder of my purpose and direction and holding my breath, bearing down I push with all I have! The baby's head is out and one more gigantic push later I pull him up above the water to me.
O to see your baby's face! To see the wee one you have waited for all this time! And the relief that birth is over! Joy and tears and all around wonder and we all meet Sawyer David for the first time. The children, who had been sleeping for most of it, all come in to admire the new baby. He starts to pink up and cry a bit as I hold him in the bath. We wait for the placenta to come, and about 15 minutes later it does, intact and perfect. David cuts the cord and my baby is officially an independent earthside human.
Birth is so wondrous, joyful, intense and challenging!
But SO worth it.
And I would like to say that this is the end of the story.
But it isn't.
This is just the beginning.
Sawyer is pink and perfect and beautiful. Latching on to nurse vigorously and often. Doing all the little baby things that newborns do. We were recovering well and my amazing midwives were checking on us often. We had a completely normal, low risk pregnancy without complications followed by a lovely uncomplicated healthy birth. Everything looked routine and lovely, minus a few afterbirth pains and hemorrhoids. I was enjoying him every minute and basking in that newborn glow.
During one of our visits about 72 hours postpartum my midwife listening to Sawyer's heart said she was concerned about a heart murmur. She listened long and carefully. She let me try to hear what she was describing. Sounded Ok to me, but not being a midwife or a Dr, that isn't saying much. Besides... dont most kids grow out of that anyhow?
But she was quite concerned and suggested I see a pediatrician. I made a mental note and thought perhaps Id take him in next week when I felt up to it and check the " I took my newborn for an exam like a good Momma" box. But my midwife said she would make an appt. for me TODAY. ( I think she must have felt my hesitancy and exhaustion). Not being a terribly obstinate gal and because I do really like my sweet midwives I agreed (though very much grumbling about putting on clothes and going out 4 days after birth).
So off to the Drs. I go. After the weight check, paper work and many questions, the Dr comes in to listen to his heart. She also was very concerned and immediately called the pediatric cardiologist to see him before they closed. I am only slightly concerned. Though a bit annoyed and terribly tired, it's five o clock on a Friday however so we rushed over to the cardiologist. David meets me there.
They ran a few tests on him, an EKG and an echo cardiogram (fancy word for ultrasound of the heart). Then the cardiologist comes in to talk to us and is quite solemn. Ok. Now I am officially concerned.He has a few colored handouts with him. He talks about the anatomy of a normal heart.
Then he says that Sawyer has a congenital heart defect. Its called Tetralogy of Fallot. That his heart has a hole in the left ventrical wall and it affects the anatomy of the rest of his heart. That he will not grow out of it. That it requires heart surgery in the next 6 months. In the lower 48.
I feel like I just witnessed a terrible tragedy. Stunned. I asked "What if we do nothing?" He replies that it isn't an option. His bedside manner was amazingly compassionate. He looked crestfallen and earnest. My mind screams he must be wrong. There is a mistake. Why is he telling me this?! I can't process it. We have no risk factors. I am not over 40, we have no history of heart defects in either of our families, I do not do drugs, I do not drink, I take my prenatals! I am so careful. What went wrong? The chances of this are 4 in TEN THOUSAND. Four.
He told me several times it wasn't my fault. Now I know why. Because your mind wants someone to blame and when you are the Momma that some one is you. I go over everything I have done during pregnancy. I am pretty holistic. I took tylenol a few times for a headache. Occasionally I drink cherry coke, I know, I know, its practically sugar meth! I start thinking maybe its because not all of our plastic products are BPA free. I microwave leftovers and coffee. Maybe I was standing too close to the microwave! You start thinking crazy things. No one knows why this happens. I know logically it isn't my fault. But still in circles my mind wants to find a cause and blame someone or something.
And then I am just sad. Crying and crying out to God. I am a real person, and I put all this here so that you know I am real, I struggle, I cry, I get overwhelmed with fear. I am not very brave, I shrink from risk, and physical harm. I don't like roller coasters, or dangerous sports, I do not do things like sky dive or even surf. I am fearful. So naturally cautious and fearful, it seems in the depths of despair, it is fear that preys upon me. All the "what ifs". A new postpartum Mom, I am sure I am more vulnerable than normal. And its SO heavy. And there is no escape.
"Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden- and I will give you rest"
Where else can I go? To whom does my help come from? In my despair I cry out. And in my darkness He answers me. I am not alone. I couldn't write about this in my despair. But in the last day or so He has granted me a peace. Peace and rest as I come unto Him with my heavy burden. He is enough to carry it. I am not. Please friends, pray for me, for me to continue in His peace and not fall into fear. The fear is there - lurking- waiting. But I feel confident that I need not indulge in that. For I shall fear no evil, For my God is with me.
The prognosis is good.He is a "pink tet". He is thriving and gaining weight. Waiting till he is older will mean his heart is bigger and stronger, but operating before his heart defect affects his oxygen too much is the optimal time. Hopefully he will only have to have one surgery this one time! And he may go on to live a normal life after this. Many stories I have read now give me hope.The success rates for the surgery are very good. And the surgeons very skilled. I am thankful for all these things. I am thankful he is so healthy otherwise.I am thankful for insurance that will cover this expense. I am thankful that God in His goodness has seen to so much for us in advance.And I know He has a plan for Sawyer. A plan for good and not for evil. I am thankful we have a good friend who has a heart defect, had many surgeries and grew up to serve God and his family. God had a plan for him too, maybe part of that plan was to give me hope.
So as we enter this season of our lives and prepare for this, some lifestyle changes are necessary. Sawyers heart can not take much stress, it may throw him into a cyanotic episode ( where his blood Oxygen levels are too low and he turns blue). So we must do what ever we can to keep him from hard crying spells. Thankfully he seems to be a very calm, low key baby, not easily upset! Thank you Lord! But I am sure that I will be baby wearing more than normal, nursing on demand ( like that minute), and generally at his beck and call. We dont normally let our babies "cry it out" anyways, but this preventing any serious crying will be challenging. Also, we have to protect his immune system. It could be bad for him to get sick. So forgive me friends when we dont attend many soical functions this fall/winter. In this season, with those changes, I am sure it means we will be more isolated and less social. Come visit us ( when you are completely healthy), and encourage me. Pray for healing for Sawyer and for the upcoming surgery. Pray for a speedy recovery, and pray for peace and hope for our family.
I am writing this because its still hard to talk about. I know it will get easier. Whenever I talk about it I feel like I am listening to someone else. Because this can't really be happening to me. And I need to talk about it, to acknowledge it, to be prayed for and encouraged. I am reaching out here, where I can put it all out there and not have to smile and say Im Ok. Because its hard, and its heavy, and its scary. And I am OK. today. To God be the glory.