Oh, hello. It’s been a while, and there have been quite a few changes to my life, but none is bigger than Marion coming into our lives like a big-little hurricane. A very much wished for little hurricane.
I found out I was pregnant in early September. I remember peeing on the stick that morning, thinking it would be the same as always: not pregnant. But there it was: two lines instead of one. I woke Kris up (ha, five minutes before his alarm went off…that was mean of me) and asked him if he saw two lines instead of one. He did. Like anyone who gets pregnant after loss, it’s a loaded happiness when you find out you’re pregnant again. Would it end in miscarriage like our first and second pregnancies? Would it, worse, be an ectopic pregnancy like our third? If we had another ectopic pregnancy and it wasn’t stopped before the embryo got too big, it could rupture my remaining Fallopian tube and destroy all chances of a pregnancy outside of IVF. We were tired of our shitty luck, but maybe our shitty luck wasn’t tired of us.
But the pregnancy progressed. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the slightest about the development of the baby. I bristled when someone (not a medical professional) called it a ‘high risk’ pregnancy, or when people grew a too nosy, almost like they were looking for something to be wrong. Our baby was cooking along perfectly, though, even if I was nauseous and tired for the majority of the time (yay for the window of week 22-week 32!).
By week 36, I was ready to give birth. By week 37, I was REALLY ready. My feet and legs were swelling like crazy. In the last three weeks, I gained 15 pounds, most of which was trapped fluid in my feet and legs (later I was diagnosed with preeclampsia). Week 39 I threw in the towel and took maternity leave at work. I just could not roll myself into the office. I was big. I was miserable. I was having contractions on and off, but nothing meaningful. My doctor stripped my membranes, but nothing happened, other than the seeing-stars pain that accompanied the procedure. She stripped them again on my due date, and I felt heartsick at taking maternity leave early. I was going to be missing precious time with my baby on the other end of leave, but I couldn’t really see how going into the office was even possible.
The day after my due date, a Saturday, I spent the day doing what I had for the most of my pregnancy: sitting on the couch watching Four Weddings.
“I’m really glad we had table service instead of a buffet,” Kris told me as we watched.
“We did have a buffet,” I said.
By evening, my contractions seemed to become a little more serious. They were a knock at the door that refused to be ignored. Period cramps on steroids. My vocabulary was reduced to “Holy shit” as each became stronger. At midnight, I made the phone call to the doctor and she said she’d meet us at the hospital. We said goodbye to the pets and made our way to Meriter. Traffic in Madison at midnight is almost pleasant. I, however, was not as pleasant. I made time in between contractions to criticize Kris for his route to the hospital and for hitting too many potholes.
What came next was a predictable blur: we went to Labor and Delivery and I was examined and deemed acceptable to be admitted for real. I asked for all the drugs and got all the drugs. I don’t remember the epidural being particularly uncomfortable or hard to have administered (I thought having my membranes stripped was worse).
But being in labor was extremely uncomfortable. The bed was terrible. I kept sliding down the bed and didn’t really seem to fit on it. I couldn’t turn from side to side easily, but seemed to want to do that every five minutes to try and get some relief. It seemed that I was hooked up to a bazillion IVs and there were tubes coming and going all over. The fetal monitor kept slipping around my belly. Somewhere during the process, I was given an anti-nausea drug that I had an allergic reaction to, and things got real wild. I felt itchy all over and was convinced I was falling off the bed and I was rolling around without any regard for all the monitors and tubes I was hooked up to. I started crying and I’m pretty sure I scared the nurse, and perhaps Kris. It was intense.
Finally, though, I was given the okay to start pushing. We were into Sunday afternoon by then, and the sun peeked through the overcast sky. Yes, I thought, this is it. Just get through pushing and she’ll be here. I finally had a meaningful task after waiting all those months and I wasn’t going to mess it up.
I could barely feel my contractions through the drugs, but when I did, I bore down and tried to get the baby out with all my might. Confession: I was mostly driven by the dream of having a large cup of coffee without having stomach acid shred my esophagus. An hour passed, then two. My doctor checked on me and said I was making good progress.
Until, I wasn’t. The baby was not coming on down like expected. C-section delivery was brought up, and then more firmly suggested. It was up to me. I said okay. I wanted it to be over and I wasn’t particularly partial to a vaginal birth. I did wish that I hadn’t wasted the time and energy on labor but I was relieved that there was an end in sight. I looked at the clock — 5 p.m. We’d have our baby in less than an hour, I knew, from reading about how C-sections go.
And true to everything I’d read and heard, once a C-section was in the cards, things moved super fast. The OR was exactly as I remembered it from my ectopic surgery. Bright lights, very cold. A dozen people hustling around in scrubs. It was the same anesthesiologist from my ectopic surgery. It was the same doctor who operated on me. The gang’s back together, I thought hazily.
I got cold and shaky and nauseous from the anesthesia. The doctor began to tentatively poke at my stomach, asking if I was numb here yet, or how about here? I definitely hedged my bets when answering those questions! Kris reappeared in his scrubs and sat by my head. He very kindly held my puke bag (I didn’t puke though!) From there, I drifted in and out. I felt the first cut. It didn’t hurt but it didn’t feel right. I remember screaming as I felt the baby being pulled out. I remember the agony of waiting what couldn’t have been a full second to hear her cry. It felt like a thousand years, like the entirety of the three years we had waited for a healthy baby at the end of a healthy pregnancy.
And then, there it was – a protesting cry from the baby. Our baby. Our daughter. She was here and she was unhappy about being yanked from her warm, dark cocoon, and I was drugged, and Kris had just watched me being cut open, but she was here and now she was ours and she had to be our baby forever. Or at least until she figures out how to apply for emancipation or call CPS.
That’s how Marion arrived!