- They are memories worth repeating.
- The stories are complicated, and miraculous.
- Childbirth is hard, and wonderful, and scary, and oh so worth the results--I want my kids to know that.
- None of the books I read while pregnant REALLY spelled out how messy and scary childbirth can be. I want them to know that, too, and know that it can be all right in the end (or is that "beginning"?).
- They survived and thrived because of the work of many helping hands--doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, surgeons, child life specialists, occupational therapists, speech therapists.
The last note is my text-to-self connection. I just finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and one of the points he makes is that no one is truly a "self-made man" (or woman). Success can be linked to a series of astounding coincidences that put people in the right place, at the right time, born to the "right" families, under the right socioeconomic conditions. Personal efforts are taken into account, for sure, but Gladwell provides statistics and data to prove his theory, not only in success, but in failure as well.
I want my children to know that we were blessed to have them under the circumstances that allowed them (and me!) to live, to not take that for granted in a world where childbirth can still be risky and life-threatening for both mother and child. (There are many programs like this providing birthing kits for women in third-world countries, if you'd like to help out.)
So to give equal attention to both children, here's my son's birth story.
The nurses in the downtown NICU threw me a party at 27 weeks. I was working there as a weekend desk clerk, and they wanted to mark the milestone of making it past my firstborn's premature delivery. All signs were pointing to a "fully-baked" child, as I got to enjoy my third trimester for the first time as a second-round mama.
I went into labor at 37 weeks, in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, and had to call in "sick" to work, then call the labor and delivery folks at my suburban hospital to let them know I was coming in. "Honey, is this Gaby's mom? Please tell me you are past 26 weeks this time!" Wonder of all wonders, it was the same nurse who had received me almost five years earlier, who remembered our first miracle baby. Happy to hear I was closer to term, she told me to come on in.
A few hours later, I had the doctor and nurses scrambling yet again. Blood work drawn (twice, to be sure) during labor confirmed my platelet count was dangerously low, and delivery had to be sped up to prevent hemorrhaging. The stomach ache that I thought was from the previous night's pizza turned out to be elevated liver enzymes. I had HELLP syndrome.
When our son decided to make his appearance, he had jump-roped his cord to a thrice-wrapping around his neck. I got a few good looks at him before he was whisked off to x-ray to make sure his windpipe was sound. A couple of hours later, our pediatrician's brand-new partner came in to tell me our son was fine, but...he had an extra thumb. I'm guessing he didn't know my birthing history, because he seemed surprised that I didn't "wig out" over the news. After confirming that it wasn't part of a syndrome, I let him know that after having a 26-weeker, we were okay with extra parts.
Yep, my family has interesting birth stories. No self-made mama and children here; we are ever so grateful for the interventions made on our behalf.