Mommy to Isaac Louis
January 31, 2012
Center Township, Pennsylvania
I couldn’t have been more prepared to welcome our second child, Isaac into this world. The nursery was stocked full of all the necessities. (items that with our first child I was sending my husband out in the middle of the first night to get). The shelves of the changer had perfect little stacks of soft, sweetly smelling diapers, and there were containers upon containers of newborn formula if I chose last minute not to breastfeed or had any difficulty. The crib that our son used was reassembled and waiting to be filled, and the new upholstered glider I dreamed of always rocking my baby in, sat in the sunlight that was streaming in from the window. His due date was February 8th after being two weeks early with my first son I was ready and willing to be early again. But days passed that two week early mark and I was doing anything I could to control my frustrating excitement.
It was Monday, January 30, 2012. It was a Monday like every other Monday. After we put our son to bed I expressed concern to my husband that I hadn’t noticed Isaac moving at all that day. I always do this to myself, cause alarm when there isn’t any need. This time I took a deep breath and a calming bath first before drinking a giant glass of orange juice and ice water and lying down. From 7:30pm to 9:30pm I felt no movement despite my desperate prayers and changes in position. I was afraid to be a paranoid pregnant woman and call with unnecessary concern, but something in my core pushed me to pick up the phone. Labor and Delivery told me to come in for a stress test right away. I remained calm and optimistic and told my husband I was just going to run to the hospital to have a quick stress test so that I wouldn’t waste the whole night worrying. The car had been packed for two weeks with my hospital bags to bring our sweet baby boy home so I didn’t need to scramble to get anything other than my purse and my cell. The whole 20 minutes to the hospital I laid my hand on my tummy, begging this little child to make a tiny movement so I could turn around and crawl under my covers for the night. I got to the hospital at 9:55pm. I told the nurse I was a little nervous when she asked how I was as she walked us back to the room. I will never forget this dim room where my life would change forever. I searched her eyes as she listened quietly for the heartbeat. Another nurse came in, said nothing, but took my wrist, and felt my pulse. The voices in my head were saying “C’mon find it. Find it. You are starting to scare me. Dear God please find it.” Then I heard a faint beating. “Say it, Say you hear it too,” the voices in my head said. The nurse locked eyes with the other nurse and she quietly said “maternal.” My world was crushed in one single word. I began looking around the room, thinking this couldn’t be, this wasn’t my life, this isn’t how my story goes, this doesn’t happen to people like me. This cannot be. This CANNOT BE. The nurse sat on my bed after I sat up and I asked her to tell me the truth. She told me I needed to call my husband and have him come. She put her arms around me and said we would have to wait for the Doctor to do an official ultrasound but it didn’t look good. I needed to prepare myself. How does one do that? How do you carry a child for 9 and a half months and then he just slips away. Without warning.
My husband arrived and the doctor began the ultrasound. I hadn’t seen my baby since the 18 week sonogram, and I couldn’t bring myself to look at that screen. I never did. I only looked into my husband’s eyes. His own eyes switched between the monitor and me. The image was flat and unmoving. The doctor tried for a while and looked at several different things without any change. She turned to us both and said, “I’m so sorry.”
He turned to me and said, “We’re going to be ok.” We were both crying. At 11:10pm at my request I was being induced. Over those many early morning hours the concept of time did not exist. We talked about everything from asking “why” to a slew of other topics lost to the moment. It was almost immediate that we talked about our near future and the need to keep things as steady and consistent as possible for the sake of our son’s quality of life and normal development. Our faith never failed us and truly showed its strength throughout this situation. It was in knowing and trusting in Christ that we were able to go through this traumatic process. Through 17 hours of labor I was in terrible agonizing pain. I had gotten an epidural right after being induced but it was of no help. The anesthetist tried more epidural and some IV medications. Nothing. No relief. Finally she checked my numbness and it was up to my breastbone. They concluded if they gave me any more epidural then they would paralyze my respiratory system and have to help me breath. They gave me some oxygen at this point. Through ‘groupthink” as my husband referred they came up with the plan to replace my epidural in another place and also give me a spinal. The thought of having to move during this pain was terrifying. I was bawling, crying, begging for help, scared out of my mind with pain. They explained that my anxiety was BLOCKING the epidural completely. My body was numb but inside I could feel everything. In my body. In my heart.
My husband was asked to leave and they sat me up. I remember the nurse wiping my face with a cool cloth and hugging me, letting me cry into her shoulder. They had to turn the pitocin off so that I could sit more still but it was so hard not to move while I sobbed. This whole night I felt like all of this was for nothing. All this intervention for my fake delivery was undeserved attention. It broke my heart to need so much help, do so much work, have so much trauma with no great reward at the end. I didn’t even feel the epidural or the spinal. But after the 7 minutes it took I felt instant relief from the spinal.
I was exhausted. I had been through a war. I actually closed my eyes knowing this was the lull before the storm. The nurse said they were going to check me unless I wanted to sleep for a little bit. I said no. If it was time to push then let’s go.
She checked me and I was fully dilated and effaced. When the Doctor came in she asked if it was ok if she prayed with us. The doctor, nurse, my husband and I bowed our heads together and she prayed for strength to make it through this hard endeavor and to give us peace throughout this time. It was such an awesome moment.
I pushed 7 times. The 5th time the head came out. The 7th time his entire body came and that relieving feeling overwhelmed me. It was 3:39 pm. I had been so afraid he would be scary looking I had to make the decision to see him. The Dr. had agreed they would take him when he was born and clean him and then let my husband decide whether or not I should see him. I think I was afraid he would be so deformed that it would burn this horrible and torturous image in my head that I would never want to be with child again.
As soon as he was born everyone just shouted and praised Jesus that he was perfect and beautiful. They asked if I want to see him, and I looked and Tyler and he shook his head yes. I looked and he was perfect. They asked if I wanted to hold him, and there was no question about it. I took him in my arms and I just studied his sweet precious face. I had looked at his legs only briefly but I only remember seeing his face. Later in the week I asked my husband if he had ten fingers and ten toes and he said “OH yes. He was perfect.” I’m so glad he was sweet and precious in my memory. I held him for a few moments and everyone just took him in. we cried. No cord problems, no obvious issues. Simply called to Heaven by God.
I remember thinking how sad this was but how precious to be able to physically hold him. Everyone said how beautiful he is. Finally I said they could take him and they did. We asked the nurse to tell our family he was here and before she left I said, “Please tell them he is beautiful” and she smiled and said she would.
We waited for what seemed an eternity. We cried. A nurse let us know he was 6lbs 3 oz and 20” long. Finally they wheeled him in wrapped in the blanket I made him and a small white sleeper with thin blue stripes that read “Thank Heavens for Little Boys” and a small blue knit cap on. Instantly I took him into my arms and he was peaceful and precious. He had physical weight to him. He had small little eyelashes, a tiny button nose, and a perfect little mouth. I could see his tiny ears and tiny little tongue. His tiny neck was so fragile.
I just studied his face for what seemed like hours. Finally I gave him to my husband and he held him and swayed with him. He began to sing, “Ride the Pony” a song my mother had taught us to sing to our first child. I chimed in and we sang our first and final lullaby to sweet Isaac. We cried and memorized him for a long time. When we were ready we buzzed the nurse to call back our family. Both of our mothers and my sister came in. Both of Isaac’s grandmothers held him in their arms. It was really a beautiful moment, one Isaac deserved. Finally I took him and they all kissed him goodbye one final time and left the room to give us some time alone. We held him and cried. Memorized his face some more.
Finally we said our goodbyes and that we loved him so much. We laid him back in the bassinet and called the nurse to take him. As he left we said “Nigh Nigh Isaac.”
I’ll never forget hearing the wheels of his cart go on forever down the hallway. That was it. The last time I would see my son. And my heart, although irreparably broken, felt at peace.
You can contact Anissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.