The birth of a baby is always miraculous. It’s what happens in those moments following the birth that determine whether the experience itself was blissful or something straight from a bad dream. It’s been 8 years since the birth of my second son, but it’s a day that’s etched in my mind forever. A memory that will never go away. I’m grateful and blessed to have a lovingly rotten 8 year old little boy on this Earth with me today; as I’m equally thankful I’m here to watch him grow. Because I almost wasn’t.
This Is My Birth Story…
and I’m finally ready to share it with the world.
Having stage IV endometriosis, I was more or less promised I’d never have babies. If children were to be in my future, we should plan on a long road of medications, surgeries, and fertility specialists. So many women are given this grim outlook when given an endo diagnosis, especially one to such an extent as mine. For you, sweet ladies, I want to say that is NOT always the case!
In October 2006 the boys’ dad and I were married. A positive pregnancy test came a month later in November. I was elated to say the least! I was about 5 minutes pregnant and out shopping for gender neutral clothes! My pregnancy with Max was picture perfect (aside from the mass amounts of morning sickness induced vomit). He cooked for a long 9 months and came on his due date. 7 pounds, 5 ounces of absolute perfection.
I knew right away how lucky I was to have this handsome man in my arms and my life! Which made baby fever strike pretty quickly after his arrival!
Don’t Count on That
“Don’t count on another one.”
Those were the exact words out of my OBGYN’s mouth. My endometriosis had gotten terribly out of control not long after Max was born. If we even wanted a shot at another baby, an ablation and some “clean up work” would be necessary. This would need to be followed up by three months on oral contraceptives. Even then, the outlook wasn’t fantastic.
Willing to try anything, I went through surgery. This didn’t make my doctor any more optimistic. She prescribed birth control and told me to take it for 3 months, then “try like crazy”. Dreading the pills, because my track record with them was somewhat a path of mental instability, I filled the prescription. Each day for two weeks I took those tiny pills just waiting for the crazy to kick in.
Somewhere around the third week of pills, I remember having pain under my left ribcage; a symptom I had very early on in my pregnancy with Max. Writing it off as adhesion pain from post-op, I didn’t think much of it.
One day, I was doing a photo session of a little guy at Riley Children’s Hospital NICU. I spent that whole morning snapping photos of tiny fingers and tiny toes, just wishing I’d get to hold another newborn of my own one day. Like, my ovaries were literally aching. (Really. I ended up having a cyst on one!)
To this day I don’t know why, but I stopped at a Target on the way home and bought a pregnancy test. I was on the pill and had endometriosis for crying out loud. No way was this going to happen. So full of anticipation, I took that sucker right in the Target bathroom. Classy, huh?
IT WAS POSITIVE!
If you’ve every met my youngest son, you know what a determined little guy he is. Clearly he’s been that way from literal day one. Sometimes I need to remind myself how grateful I am that he’s so damn stubborn. Without that link in his DNA, I’m sure he wouldn’t be here. (That stubborn gene is from his mama.)
Keeping Mama on Her Toes (and Off Her Feet)
His determination continued throughout my pregnancy. Every thing about this pregnancy was different than with Max. Aches, pains, spotting, exhaustion–you name it. My hormone levels weren’t doubling as they should and everything felt all wrong.
My midwife took great care of me, as did the high risk specialist she shared an office with. She kept a constant close eye on things and explained every single red flag and how to handle it. Around 29 weeks she knew something was just “off”. Sure enough, I was dilated and thinning out.
Those two little words every pregnant mom of a toddler hates were spoken: BED REST. I was to stay off my feet, not lift Max (who had just turned 2), and start weekly check ups with the midwife. That very day they gave me steroid injections to help baby’s lungs develop. It was anyone’s guess when he’d come and we needed to be prepared!
Around a month had passed since the bed rest order was given, and I was feeling pretty good aside from some Braxton Hicks contractions. It was a chilly day and I had a routine check up to attend. Max stayed with my mom and I kissed him goodbye, telling him I’d be back in a couple hours.
He did see me a couple hours later…when he came to visit me in labor and delivery! During my appointment, my midwife discovered that I had dilated to 6cm and was 100% effaced! She was leaving town the next day, but the high risk doctor would be around. The two of them decided it was best to admit me. Hours passed and I only dilated to 7cm on my own, but my water had broken so they started Pitocin after several hours.
Contractions got intense, but I refused meds or an epidural. Multiple times I remembered thinking that this time was more painful than Max’s delivery. Charlie was born after only a few pushes, and I felt amazing! He was a tiny screaming bundle of dark haired perfection and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him!
But That Didn’t Happen
I was bleeding, and not just a little. At first the midwife was sure I just needed a D&C. The next moments, blurry as they were, will never leave my mind.
My midwife, Andrea, maintained order but it was clear that she was panicked.
“Let her see that baby NOW! I don’t care if you’ve weighed him!”
“Bring Max in right now so he can see his mommy!”
“I don’t care WHO is on call! Get the doctor who lives closest here RIGHT NOW!”
I got to kiss my boys and was rushed to the operating room. By this point I was fairly sure I wasn’t just having a D&C, but I was in absolute love with my little boys and nothing could bring me down.
That’s when things went dark.
Through blurred vision I watched the clock on the wall tick to 4:00. Morning? Night? I didn’t know. Nor did I know where I was or why. My throat was dry and I couldn’t speak. The nurse refused to give me a drink so that I could ask questions. I began to sob.
Where was I?
Where was my baby?
Had he died and they placed me in a mental unit? (Not even kidding. This was exactly what I thought had happened).
Finally I was given a sip of water and could ask questions. The answers were bittersweet. I couldn’t speak because I’d been intubated and was in the ICU after a very close brush with death. My uterus had ruptured during birth (most likely due to weakness from endometriosis). After several attempts at using cutting edge technology to stop the bleeding, the medical team began to give up hope. My ex-husband was asked to sign a waiver allowing the medical team to perform a hysterectomy. “If you have any faith at all, now is the time to pray. Things are very touch and go” was the report he was given. I lost over half the blood in my body and needed 6 transfusions with more to come.
14 hours after his birth, I finally got to hold Charles Gregory. 5 pounds, 13 ounces and 17 inches long. He was teeny tiny and perfect. I’ll never forget those first snuggles with my little baby. My last baby. I bawled.
Almost 8 years have passed since Charlie came into my life. He still has that spark and determination that he’s had since conception. Some days I think those qualities will be the death of me. While my patience is tested often (maybe like last week when he was sent to the principal’s office for calling a kid Billy Bob), I think about how lucky I am that he defied all odds to be on this Earth. And how lucky am I to be here with him?!
Celebrate, We Will
I think of Charlie’s birthday EVERY single day. It hasn’t escaped me that I’ve been given a second chance at life and that’s something I try hard not to take for granted. But every year as November 16th rolls around, I get a little more emotional. I look at my ever-growing big kid and see that little baby I held in my weak arms while receiving another transfusion during recovery.
When I look at him I know, without a doubt, that miracles happen every day. We are living proof of that. And miracles are meant to be celebrated. As Charlie told us as a toddler, “Call me Chuck. I like to PARTY!”
So party we will, little man. Mama loves you.