Well here we are…one year out from Maggie’s birth. So many emotions cross my mind, and I’ve done a pretty good job the last couple of weeks trying to ignore all of them and distract myself with anything else. Tomorrow, is her would-be one year birthday, and I will probably do the same thing, only with less success.
I am 8 months pregnant and very afraid my memories of Maggie will mesh with this new little life. So in an attempt to separate their births from each other and remember the emotions and details, I will share Maggie’s birth story here.
It started a year ago today. Me and my husband arrived very anxious to another weekly appointment with our specialist to measure the growth deficiency of our sweet baby girl. Her growth declining weekly, we knew that this day might be the day we met baby girl. Actually we were hoping to get it over with…we wanted to know the beginning of a beginning, or the beginning of the end. Either way, we had waited, not knowing her outcome, for far too long.
We got our wish. We left the appointment and were told to go have lunch while we waited to hear when our induction would occur. I chose Chinese buffet! Ha! On the way to lunch we heard we would be returning to the hospital that afternoon to start the process. I remember during the ultrasound at the appointment seeing her little feet and being able to count all ten of her toes. I cried tears of joy in the car as I exclaimed my excitement about finally seeing her ten tiny toes!!!! At lunch we were giddy. The waitress found out we were going to be delivering a girl and brought us a pink paper crane she made, for good luck. We brought that back to the hospital and hung it on the closet door. We needed luck it seemed.
At this point in the pregnancy I was just a day or so shy of 37 weeks pregnant and my body was not prepared yet for delivering a baby. That Thursday evening the doctors gave me medicine to soften my cervix. Things would get started in the morning. I was brought a delicious smoothy, visitors came and said prayers with my family, and I did my best to get sleep after having worked into the early morning of that Thursday. I was tired, but scared of what the next day would bring. My man slept next to me and I stayed up through much of the night trying to get comfortable as the Royal Wedding was televised.
Friday morning at about 6 a.m. the doctor came and checked my progress. It was very painful. Pitocin was started to begin progression of contractions. Most of the morning I did not feel anything. Family was arriving from out of town and friends were stopping in and visiting. It was cheerful somehow, with a tint of nervousness. At 12:30 p.m., I had made no progress still and it was time to break my water. Knowing this would be painful for me, I was given some medicine beforehand. It didn’t work. I remember it feeling like I was being stabbed in the back between the shoulder blades but from my lower pelvis. When the doctor was done, the medicine kicked in. Whoa. I just felt really tired for a couple of hours.
Around 3:30 p.m. the nurses asked if I was ready for the epidural. At that point there were contractions happening, but I barely felt them. I decided I would wait and reassess every half an hour. Welp, about 20 minutes later the contractions had progressed so quickly and constantly that I couldn’t make it to the restroom without stopping half way and breathing deeply through painful contractions. Epidural time! By 4:30 p.m. or so we were in business. I sat on the edge of the bed for the anesthesiologist, and Stephen sat in front of me. My feet rested on his legs, my left one tapping carefully through the pain, trying not to jar my whole body around. Ah, sweet relief. Pain improved, visitors continued and my awesome nurse let them know it was time for me to rest up for the next events.
It was estimated sometime around midnight is when delivery might occur. I kept my fingers crossed, hoping baby would be born Friday and share her birthday with grandpa! With many hours ahead, I did my best to sleep between the blood pressure cuff squeezing every fifteen minutes. About 7:45 I woke up to the night nurse checking in for her shift. She asked how I was doing and if I felt any pressure. I told her no, and then thought about it for a minutes and realized, yes, yes I do feel pressure. She checked to see how dilated I was and announced quite surprisingly, ten!! Ten centimeters and ready to push!
Oh my goodness, this was getting real, and really fast. We were going to meet this loved little girl very soon. It was terrifying. I remember thinking how crazy it was that I was actually having a baby!!! For a few minutes I forgot that she probably would not be born alive, or at least would not live for very long. I remember getting nervous that the NICU team was not in the room yet and what if she came too soon and they weren’t there to save her. I liked the doctor who helped me deliver. I was so certain we would be having a cesarean delivery. I was kind of scared of surgery and what recovery might mean and the possibility of missing my baby girl be born and then die. This doctor somehow made me feel strong, like she was even impressed with me. My husband was by my side, held my hand, watched the process in awe and I think probably in fear for both me and for our baby girl. The waiting room was full of support praying hard for our girls little life.
First round of pushing. They came in sets of three pushes. Nurses scrambled to find a heartbeat. Slow. Very slow. Then it increased. Whew. I thought we lost her and it would be c-sec time. Rest. Next round, set of three. Search for heart beat. Slow again, then increasing. She was being stressed with each push. For sure I thought this was going to end in surgery. Five maybe six rounds total and the doctor pulled her out! She seemed bigger than I pictured. I also remember thinking, “that’s gonna hurt later”. The NICU teamed took over. My sweet baby girl was handed not to me, but to the neonatologist and her team. Please be alive, please be alive little girl! I watched helplessly from the bed. Stephen paced the room watching and then walking away, watching and then walking away. Doctor was struggling to get my baby a secure airway. No one had said much, I couldn’t see much. I heard, “she’s trying to breath”. And, “her airway is just too small for the tube”. Please, God, let her breath. Please let her live!! Airway in, she was then wheeled away with Stephen following. My body started shaking severely.
I was so afraid she was going to die and I was going to be in my bed, not allowed to go anywhere until my legs had feeling again, while my husband was alone making awful decisions without me.
She was alive! With help, but alive!!
We were so proud to announce Maggie Mabee Colwell. Born at 8:52pm. 4lb. 9 oz. 16 ¼ inches long on April, 29, 2011. She is loved.
Happy Birthday Maggie!
I wish you were here to celebrate. You have moved mountains little girl. You have taught me how to pray deeper. You have taught me levels of compassion I had not known. You have exposed me to levels of love I had not experienced before. I miss your smell, your little blond mullet, rounded toes, the snoring I heard as the only sound I ever heard from your small body. I miss the way you snuggled in on your right side to be most comfortable. I missed the snot bubbles you blew out your nose. I miss seeing your skin turn bright red and face crinkle up as you cried your silent cries. I miss the warmth I felt holding you close, soaking in every single minute I could trying to make time pass slower. I miss singing every song I could think of to make sure you knew I was there with you and loved you. I just miss all of you.
They say the first year of grief is the hardest. I hope they’re right! Year one. Check.