Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Part Three: My Own Little Miracle

For a full recap: Part 1 and Part 2.

We arrived early for our induction. Dr. Johnson came in to break my water. She took the "crochet hook" instrument and proceeded to make the tiniest opening. I felt the warmth slowly trickle out and as I looked down I heard Dr. Johnson. Oh Sh@#! She exclaimed. Let me tell you, when your very kind and well-mannered doctor swears, you know two things... something just went wrong and your birth plan more than likely just flew out the window...

Or there is a third option. Dr. Johnson is also vocalizing exactly what she has encountered. "Normal" amniotic fluid is clear. What I quickly saw as I looked down was a pool of what looked like "pea soup," pooling underneath me. It was greenish-brown and I knew it was meconium. Meconium is a sign that a baby has somehow been stressed and has had their first bowel movement, in utero.

The rest of the day Murphy's law laid waste to any preconceived ideas I had concocted for myself about this birth experience. I was in bed for the day, tied to monitors and iv's. While priding myself on the ability to breathe through the initial contractions, as the crescendo of fastly intensifying contractions soared to unchartered magnitudes, my ability to cope with grace and dignity intact, waned.

I sent up the white flag and surrendered to the placement of the epidural in my back to assuage the pain. But not without, still another complication. I was allergic to the numbing medication they gave me and now had splotchy red hives breaking out all over. Oh the irony of deadening any sensation from the waist down while activating the most intense fiery itching from the waist up!

And then we were suddenly given the green light. I was 10 centimeters dilated. It was time to push. And push. And push and push and... push some more. On my back. Now on my side. How about on my knees? We carefully orchestrated each position while maneuvering iv's and oxygen masks and blood pressure cuffs and fetal monitors.

An hour passed. Then two. And three. Where was that white flag? And a fork... I was done. Convinced I couldn't do this. The baby was stuck. Dr. Johnson surmised it was facing the wrong way. Up, instead of down. But she kept telling me if she really thought I couldn't, she'd consider a c-section. But she thought I could. She tried the mighty-vac hoping that help with some suction on the baby's head might be the answer. After three pop-offs, she stopped, saying it was unsafe to proceed with any more.

In the meantime, I was deep within myself. I had long ago surrendered to needing some help. I prayed and talked to God, summoning some strength and courage to keep going. But a new thought was repeating itself over and over again in my head. What about that baby? What if he or she is scared too? The baby has been in that tunnel over three hours now. Why might he or she be finding it safer there, instead of in my arms? Because... I knew, in my heart, I still had the tiniest shred of doubt. I still didn't think I could handle whatever this baby was going to bring me. I was surrendered to it, resigned to it. But still not sure I could face it. And it was slowly occurring to me, that I was the one standing in the way of myself. I had to let it all go, every last ounce of it, released. I started blocking out the noises, the lights, the machines. I turned my only focus to reassuring the baby.

And wouldn't it be a beautiful thing to be able to tell you that is all it took and the baby came out? Well it didn't. But something did change. Dr. Johnson had been on the phone with a colleague who had a suggestion. He was coming in to see if he couldn't help "turn" the baby and facilitate the head through the last little bit. And as I had done before, I started to build a foundation of hope. "See baby? Mommy knows how you feel too. Its time we do this, together, no matter how uncertain we both are."

I might have retracted that thought had I known that Dr. C's idea was actually called "forceps." But in no uncertain terms, Dr. Johnson said this was it. And Dr. C said I had one chance. I would push with everything I had and he would turn the baby from face up, to face down. Believing for the first time that I had one chance to show this baby that not only was I ready, but excited to meet him or her, I pushed with renewed vigor and stamina, and the head popped out. While "searing pain" doesn't begin to describe what the forceps feel like, the amount of relief I felt when the head was out was indescribable.

One more push and the baby was out. And after all this time, while Dr. Johnson handed the baby off to the NICU team waiting, nobody remembered to tell me what I'd had! Girl, or boy? And then I saw, it was a BLUE hat they were placing on his head as they took him to be checked. They decided he sounded "chunky" and wanted to get him back to the NICU. They came to us to fill out the card on his bassinet and to let me get my first real peek at him. Nolan James. 7 lbs. 3 oz. 10:47 pm, May 14th, 2000. He was wide awake and alert. My eyes studied his. I slowly took in the landscape of his face, his tiny slender fingers, all that hair. He was perfect. In my heart I had all the answer I needed. Take a look. My own little miracle.

Two hours later Rick returned. Dr. Johnson and the NICU doctors had just finished checking Nolan over. Rick confirmed what we both had had seen with our eyes. They all concurred there were no visible signs of any birth defect.

But God hadn't done all of this work in my heart for no reason. I was being prepared. For just what, it would take awhile to unfold. It seems that in a lot of ways, our journey with Nolan was just beginning and being revealed to us. We had truly ended the chapter of this particular story. It turns out the name was not Down Syndrome. And even if it had been? I would unequivocally tell you, this much I believe, every baby is indeed a miracle.


  1. Babies truly are such a miracle. Thanks for sharing your story, although I have to admit after reading Nolan's birth story I'm not sad I have a scheduled c-section coming my way :)
    Love you!

  2. Julie, I was thinking of you and all our friends expecting new babies as I wrote this :) I hope you are starting to feel a bit better. I'll email you a little later!

    Love you too and please give Mackenzie a big hug and kiss for us!!

  3. Oh Vicky! He's just BEAUTIFUL and so are you. I love the pictures. And the story was very moving. I've attended several births as a doula and yours sounds like the worst one I was at, which also happened to be my first. Hers did end in a C-sect.

    I can hear there are other things that have unfolded where you were able to use all this preparation and I can't wait to hear what they are. What a wonderful story teller you are. LOVE YOU!!

  4. Robynn,

    I longed to find a doula while I lived there :) I'll bet that was SOME first time experience for you!

    Yes, more to tell another time :) And you know I am taking notes any time I read one of your infamous stories!! I am learning from the BEST! Love you too!!

  5. Vicky, Just had to keep popping back to catch part 3.
    So very pleased for You, Rick and Nolan James that your fears didn't materialise.
    I hope Rick and everyone spoils you, whilst you recover.

    All the Very Very best.

  6. This is so good Vicky. The writing and the beautiful story. Thank you for sharing and can't wait to read more of your stories...

  7. I'm catching up on my reading, while holding a little miracle in my arms. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  8. What a moving story. Birth can be a rough experience.
    When my wife was pregnant with Pat ( our second child) she got Shingles. She hurt and worried and the Doctor worried if it would hurt the child but it didn't.

  9. Andy, so glad you came back for the end :) I should have included a little sidenote that this was almost 9 years ago! But I'm telling you right now, it flies by, and feels just like yesterday.

    Robin, thanks sweetie, give that sweet baby Ellie a hug for me :)

    Libby, so good to hear you are snuggling the newest grandchild and getting to spend so much time with him!!

    Dr. John, my father recently had shingles... ugh that is the worst :) Thank goodness it didn't hurt the baby!!

  10. I just kept reading faster and faster and praying (like it hadn't already happened). Great writing and you have a beautiful boy!

  11. Beautiful baby and Mom and a nice story.
    My baby did this too, pooped while inside. It was funny because I did have a feeling of bile in the pit of my stomach a few days earlier but I never put two and two together. I should have called the doctor.
    When the water broke it too came out thick so the doctor flew me into surgery right away .I had no chance to think or say anything. It was the easiest baby I ever had. I woke up and my husband was running along side my bed and he said he's beautiful, before I fell asleep again, with a smile on my face.
    In my room I finally got a chance to see him and the first thing you do is undress them to check 5 fingers, five toes and if all the body parts are perfectly made.
    Then you spend the next year just looking at this angelic face. At least I did.You can't believe what you created.Truly a miracle.:)

  12. Julie, thank you for your kind words :)

    A.L.L., I'm chuckling at your "easiest" baby ever, comment. You have quite the birth story yourself! Yes, we looked at his angelic face and weren't the only ones to notice how devilish it was around the edges :)

  13. Great story Vicky! Even though I see Nolan often I was eager to get to the end to see how it all turned out!

  14. Becky, how the heck are ya? Glad you liked Nolan's story :)

  15. OK now that had me in tears. You are an amazing writer. I think you should try and get that story published, seriously. You have such a beautiful soul and what a perfect baby he was too. This will be lovely for your boys to read one day. Thanks for sharing Nolans story with us. A miracle alright.

  16. Lilly, thank you for your thoughtful comment :) I hardly know how to respond to such high praise. I'm gathering all these stories to put in the hands of the boys later :) Although they know bits and pieces of them.

  17. What a beautiful birth story, start to finish. I'll have to admit, I was hanging on the edge of my seat as I waited to see whether you were going to go ahead with the amnio or not. I would like to think that I would do the same thing in your position. :)
    Your story is truly a miracle!

  18. Thanks Jill, I almost missed your comment here, speaking of sneaky :)


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