My posts are ridiculously random. I know this. Maybe someday, we’ll write a book or something and our story will make much more sense. For now, I’m just writing whatever is on my mind in the moment. Our goal isn’t only to help someone someday, but also to write down our thoughts and feelings as they come so that we don’t ever forget.
I’ve been struggling with the process of Ava’s delivery and how I met my baby girl for the first time. Remember when I talked about that beautiful birthing experience mothers expect during childbirth in my last post? My experience was exactly opposite of that. It was nothing less than traumatic. I hate that I remember the trauma of it, and can’t for the life of me remember my thoughts when I saw my precious Ava for the first time.
I resisted the emergency c-section for as long as I could. Dr. A kept telling me that she was going to have to deliver the baby and I was having none of it. I knew the chances of Ava surviving weren’t good at 24 weeks; in fact I didn’t even think it were possible for a baby so premature to survive. The first few minutes in labor and delivery were a whirlwind. A mix up of Ava’s heartrate with mine left Dr. A telling me that she was just going to monitor me and Ava for a few hours. Perfect, no c-section. When this mix up was discovered and Ava’s heartrate was dropping into the 40’s Dr. A. decided it was time to deliver. I remember telling her “no.” I remember saying that I was sure she wouldn’t make it if she were born so soon. I will never forget Dr. A looking me square in the eyes and saying, “If we don’t deliver your baby, she’s going to die.” I knew I didn’t have a choice at this point. All at once there were people swarming me. My clothes were being taken off, a nurse was starting an IV, another nurse giving me a steroid shot in my bottom, and yet another nurse was inserting a catheter into my bladder. I was handed consents to sign and medication to neutralize acid in my stomach. An anesthesiologist came to tell me the anesthesia I would be receiving. All I remember him saying was that we didn’t have time for me to have an epidural so I would have to be put under general anesthesia. Before this, I had never had any sort of surgery in my life. I was scared to death to be put under. I begged and pleaded for them to find some other so that I could be awake. The anesthesiologist and Dr. A assured me that this was my only choice. I was whisked away to the operating room and before I knew it, I was on the operating table and nurses and doctors were prepping me for surgery. The last thing I remember is begging the nurse at my side not to let them give me the anesthesia. And the next thing I remember is someone saying my name as I was wheeled into the recovery room. I can’t begin to explain the feeling I had when I woke up. I don’t think I fully understood what had just happened. I remember being in pain, and wanting the catheter out of my bladder like now. And then, I wanted to know where my baby was. There is something surreal and honestly awful about being put to sleep while pregnant and waking up no longer bearing a child and having no idea where your child is or if she is even alive. My mind couldn’t comprehend all that was happening. It felt like I was in another person’s body, living someone else’s life. I couldn’t tell you how long it was before Ryan appeared at my bedside to tell me of Ava’s condition, but it felt like an eternity. When he told me that she was alive and “okay” I was so incredibly relieved. You already know that her being “okay” didn’t hold true for very long. And you know the general gist of the story after that. The c-section was traumatic, but the most traumatic part for me and the part I struggle daily with, is that I wasn’t awake for the birth of my child.
I didn’t get to experience her birth. Doctors and nurses saw my child before I did. I wasn’t able to hold her against my skin. A doctor was the first to hold my child; not me. Ryan and I didn’t have a moment to hold each other and Ava while reveling at her beauty. He saw her from a distance, while a breathing tube was being inserted into her mouth and hospital staff was frantically working on her. My eyes didn’t get to meet hers. I didn’t get to tell her that I was her mommy and I loved her so much. I didn’t get to feed her. I didn’t get to bond with my baby. This made the experience of meeting her seem like a dream. I didn’t meet my child for at least three hours after giving birth. I was taken to a room and told that this tiny human being enclosed in a plexiglass incubator was my child. It isn’t that I didn’t believe she was mine, but it was seriously a state of complete and utter shock. This child came from my belly? My child is here? This is my baby? It didn’t even seem possible. I don’t think I could ever justify how I was feeling with words. Even after meeting her, the only way I was able to bond with her was by inserting my hands into holes within the incubator where I was able to touch her ever so gently. The only reason I even have memory of this is because Ryan took pictures of me holding her little hand for the first time. She was born at 6:01pm, and if I remember right the time the photo was taken on his phone was at 9:41pm. Three hours and forty minutes before I ever laid eyes on Ava for the first time.
I was never able to hold my precious Ava until she was passing. It devastates me. It tears me apart. The majority of my bonding with her took place while she was no longer breathing. It just shouldn’t ever have to be that way. On the outside looking in, it may look like we only lost our daughter; which is already more pain than any human being should ever have to endure. But we lost so much more than just her physical presence. We lost moments, experiences, memories, smiles, her touch. We lost the ability to bond with Ava the way a mother and a father should. My motherhood took place from such a distance. I know that I did the best I could at showing her how much I loved her in any way that was possible, but it still hurts, really really bad. My scar and her photos are proof that I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, but I will never be able to tell anyone the details about how my daughter came into this world.