Friday, October 11, 2013

I'm a mom.

as I previously stated, my second trimester was glorious.  At that point in my pregnancy, I had every intention to update this blog situation on a pretty regular basis....and then, like a merciless demon bitch from hell, the third trimester hit.

there was a span of about 3 weeks when I could hardly move because my hips hurt so badly.  One day, I had to run into the town center to the bank, and on the walk from my car to the building, 3 different people asked me if I was okay, and one of them seriously thought I was going into labor.  The discomfort was seriously like nothing I've ever experienced before, and nothing that I took (and believe me, I tried everything that was "safe" for pregnancy) eased it, and no tried-and-true home remedies (warm bath, epsom salts, heating pads...) helped either.  I couldn't sleep because I couldn't get comfortable (and this is when my residence on our sofa began), and I was always in a bad mood because not only was I in pain, but I was also exhausted.  I was swelling so much that I stopped recognizing myself. seriously. my face was foreign to me, and the only shoes I could fit my feet in were flip flops, and even THAT had become a challenge. Then, about 3 weeks before my due date, I started to break out in this bizarre rash. It started just as a little patch on the inside of the elbow of my left arm.  It wasn't huge, but it itched like nothing I'd ever experienced before.  At first I thought I'd just been around or into something that I was sensitive to (it's not unheard of for me to have a mild allergy to....well.....everything on the planet that grows in nature, actually), but my usual methods of defense for such an issue (benadryl, anti-itch lotion) weren't helping at all.  It was around this time that I had a prenatal appointment, and I addressed the issue with the cuckoo bananas nurse practitioner, and she basically brushed it off as nothing, so I brushed it off, too, and figured it was just something that would go away eventually. It didn't.  In fact, it began to spread and pretty soon both my legs and my arms - from my elbows to my shoulders - were itching. I tried everything I knew for relief and even sat in a bathtub full of oatmeal to no avail. I was in hell.

on the 17th of August, Gene went to a beer festival in London.  With my due date still two weeks away, and no real reason to think I'd go into labor in the next 24 hours, I didn't see the harm in letting him go have one last weekend with his friends (at least for a while) - I, of course, was too bloated, itchy, painful, and miserable to go, so I sat at home on the couch trying not to scratch myself bloody, looking all pitiful with my bloated face and feet, and my hips supported by a strategically constructed mound of pillows that offered just enough cushion and support to make life bearable.  I started to notice that morning that my rash was spreading and had become angrier and itchier - by this point it was from my shoulders to my wrists, all over my abdomen, chest and neck, and down my legs.  I'd scratched myself so hard overnight during the short time I slept that I was covered in dried blood and pretty impressive scratch marks and scabs.  I was hot, and kind of nauseated, and I started to wonder if there was something else terrible going on.  I didn't want to be one of those crazy pregnant women who runs to the ER for every little thing, but around 5 that afternoon, I just couldn't take it anymore.  I called the nurse advice line who immediately told me to get to the emergency room.

....and my husband was in London.  fucking great, right?

by this time, though, Gene was on his way back.  I figured I would go to the ER, they'd give me some magical cream to rid me of my demon rash, and send me on my merry little way, so I sent him a text telling him where I was going.  I didn't really see any need for him to come with me, but since he was almost back, and had to pick his car up at the base, we decided I'd just meet him there and we would go together.

Since I was 38 weeks pregnant, (and probably because I was the only one there at the time, but I like to think my pregnancy gave me some sort of priority), I was immediately taken back to the treatment area, where they asked the normal questions and gawked at my rash and took my vitals.  My blood pressure was reading pretty high, though I can't remember exactly what it was.  I didn't think much of it since I was in such a state of discomfort that I figured it was contributing to it being so high, but they took my pressure a few more times, and each time it was elevated.  they ran some labs, which all came back normal, and didn't address the blood pressure thing any further (though in the back of my head I was thinking "I'm swollen, my BP is through the roof, I'm pregnant....." and putting the pieces together, but figured since my doctor didn't seemed TOO concerned, that I was probably overreacting), gave me a giant tub of cream and sent me home.  I was relieved, but also a little concerned about the blood pressure thing, but who am I to second guess a medical professional, right?

we got in the car and stopped at the gas station on base to grab something to eat.  By this time, it was late (sometime around 10, I think), and I hadn't eaten since earlier that afternoon.  I was relieved to be going home, slathering up with this cream that I was just sure would work miracles, and getting some rest.  when we got back to the car, I had 5 missed calls on my phone from the hospital. I called them back and was told to immediately return and go to labor and delivery.  So we did.

We got on the floor and we were met at the door by a nurse who took us back and explained that this was just a precaution.  She said that the OBGYN on call had just happened to call the ER to discuss another case when the doctor I saw there told her about me. When she heard my symptoms, she couldn't understand why I was allowed to leave, and told them to get me back to the hospital ASAP.  They took me into a room and hooked me up to monitors, and said they'd keep an eye on me for the next half hour and probably send me home.  As the nurse was talking I looked up at her earrings, and when I saw their shape - elephants (the theme of Callum's nursery) - I knew we wouldn't be leaving (call me nuts, but I believe in little signs like that....).  30 minutes and numerous elevated BP readings later, I was told I'd be delivering a baby the next day, via C-Section, and was officially admitted to the Labor and Delivery floor with PUPPS (my gnarly rash, which aside from being a pain in the ass is mostly harmless) and Pre-eclampsia.

I was terrified, and not prepared - at all - I hadn't even packed my hospital bag.  I thought I had at least another week, if not two or three, and my brain literally couldn't wrap itself around the fact that I was going to have this baby in a matter of hours.  I was horrified that I could have not gone to the ER at all, and possibly unknowingly done harm to myself and Callum as a result, and I was also freaked out that I was even allowed to leave the ER at all considering where I was now. I was also a little sad, because it wasn't happening the way I wanted it to - call me insane, but I wanted the labor and the pushing and the water breaking.  I wanted the screaming and the struggle and the glory of delivering my child on my body's own terms.  I felt like it was my rite of passage, and it was being taken away from me. In my head, I was going to push him out, hold him up, and hear that song from Karate Kid playing over and over ("YOU'RE THE BEST AROUND! NOTHING'S GONNA EVER KEEP YOU DOWN....") - instead I was getting an emergency baby removal that I wouldn't feel or even be able to see.  It broke my heart in a way I can't even describe that I'd not have that magical moment of really giving birth to my son.  He would be extracted from me like a foreign object.  It didn't seem fair.  I spent the next 6 hours not resting, as I should have been, but mourning the loss of the moment I'd never have.....

When they came around to start my prep that morning, I was terrified.  I've never had a major surgery before, and none of my family was there, and even though I had Gene with me, I still desperately wanted my mother. I kept telling myself "you're and adult and you're going to be fine" - they took me in, jabbed me in my spine, and laid me back as the lower half of my body went completely numb.  There were a few scary moments when my blood pressure dropped (and by scary I mean me screaming "this is not NORMAL" while dry heaving and trying not to pass out), but once they got me leveled back out, it wasn't so bad. I didn't feel anything, of course - not even when they said I'd feel some pressure - I kept waiting for something to happen and nothing did....and I couldn't see anything either because of the damn drape.....I just sat there watching Gene, trying to gauge what was happening by his facial expressions, but I really couldn't tell anything.

Then I heard what I knew to mean that he was here.  Not a cry from his little mouth, but the doctor saying "7:37" - I knew that calling the time meant that he was here.  He was out.  He was born.

after a few minutes they brought him over to me, and every bad feeling I had about how he was being born or about being robbed of my natural birth just went away.  He was this amazingly perfect little person, and I knew that the way things happened were how they were meant to be.  It wasn't a perfect pregnancy or the delivery I'd planned in my head for the last 38 weeks, but it was OUR journey together, and this was how we were supposed to end it in order to get this new journey underway.  He was ready to be born, and I think my body was done carrying him, and fate did what it had to do (by giving me the most horrific rash EVER - I never thought I'd say a rash was a blessing, but in this may have saved both of our lives....) to get us where we were.

I'm 7 weeks into (post-pregnancy) motherhood, and I can't believe I ever even considered never having a child.  If you'd told me 3 years ago that I'd be where I am now, I would have seriously doubted it.  Now I sit here and can't believe that I could ever love another person so much - it trumps every love I've ever known or felt in my entire life, and I'm such a better person just because he's here.  It's not easy, and it's not always fun or exciting, but literally every thing he does is magical and amazing, and my heart is constantly on the verge of exploding from happiness.  It's crazy how I can be so exhausted and overwhelmed, and yet I feel healthier and happier than I have in years.  I used to always say I didn't understand women who seemed to live completely for their children, but now? Now I get it.

Holy crap, I'm a mom.