February is the birthday month in our family. Every birthday has a tendency to force us to stop and reflect. Austyn’s is not different. If I had been able to control nature Raun and Austyn would have been 3 years apart but as it went there four and a half years between them. I struggled for two years not knowing why I couldn’t get pregnant and when it finally happened I was thrilled.
The first doctor’s visit was the typical appointment. The call that came a day or two later was not. My blood type is AB negative and although it is rare it in itself is not an issue. What was the issue is the fact that I had already produced antibodies. In layman’s terms this means that if my blood come in contact with the babies blood the antibodies would see the baby as a disease and try to kill it. Questions were asked about Raun’s birth. Fortunately I was in the same doctor’s office so they had all my records. The doctor had already looked into that history and was alarmed that those same antibodies were also found while I was carrying Raun.
When this occurs, each birth becomes a higher and higher risk. Basically what I was being told was that Raun should have been considered a high risk and that further pregnancies be avoided. This would now classified as a high risk pregnancy, which meant visits every 2 weeks. Bi-weekly blood tests and waiting for results. I was always well informed about what we were testing for and what paths were options to us. With each test came the wait for a call, each call would reported “all is well, see you in a few days”.
During an appointment just prior to my due date I mentioned that I had noticed a lack of movement in the past day or so. Arrangements were made to be at the hospital the next day; they were planning to induce me.
The next morning we were loading the car, dropped Raun off at his best friend’s house and made our way to the hospital. I was in a large room hooked up to monitors waiting for it all to begin. It took very little time to realize that this would be the second time I was going to experience back labor. Back labor is very different, the pain never lets up and is unbearable. Once again I would be doing this with out pain killers, not by choice but because of the fear that the baby couldn’t handle it.
As the time came closer, I realized that more and more people were entering the room; my doctor and the two or three nurses from the unit, a group of about six from the NICU and a group from the nursery. The room was filling quickly. My doctor happened to have laryngitis and was whispering the entire time. It was quite the scene, twelve or more people standing against the door, I in pain trying to breath and Dr. MacDonald whispering the entire time. He informed me that he had called these two groups is so we would be prepared for anything.
In a very short time I could see Dr. MacDonald holding a precious head in his hands. One more push and I heard him say “stop pushing”. The nurses moved quickly, grabbing the cart and pulling it close to the bed.
“Clamp. Cut. Clamp, Cut. Clamp.” This seemed to go on for hours.
“Five is all we have, there are no more”, replied the nurse.
“OK, Jeannie one more push.”
At that moment, the group that was standing at the door went into action. Half left and the others made their way to the bed. Dr. MacDonald handed over this infant who was now blue. I looked back at Jeff, there was great concern on his face.
A few moments later we heard, “She’s breathing”. It was the first we knew she was a girl. Everything had gone so quickly that the reality of “she’s breathing” did not hit us until later.
We held her for just a few moments and off she went with this team of people to NICU. The next few days were very lonely. The walks to NICU were long. The unit itself seemed so bright and there were alarms going off every few moments. She was there for three days simply because she wasn’t eating. We would be able to take her home once she began to eat.
I went home before her, another very long and lonely drive. The day we brought her home had mixed emotions. It was very apparent that we had not bonded. This could have been any baby, we had missed those first days of connecting, of becoming one. I had to make up for those lost days and I did. I laid on the sofa for the next few days as much as possible allowing Austyn to lie on my stomach. Two days later we had bonded, she belonged, she was ours.
Dr. MacDonald was very clear that some of the issues caused by this difficult birth could have long-term effects. The cord had been wrapped around her neck 5 times. There could be development issues down the road, even into her late teen years.
As we were explaining to Raun about his sister’s birth we told him that she was blue when she was born. Somehow that explanation led him to think of Smurfs, the animated television show. That has stuck all these years. Every birthday I relive that experience. I can hear the words “she’s breathing” as if Dr. MacDonald is in the room.
The Smurf baby is all grown up and going to get married. Had we known of the risk we were taking, would we have chosen to take the risk and have a second child? Probably not. Jeff and I are risk takers but not when is come to dealing with life issues. What would the world be like without Austyn? It’s unimaginable.