Mine is the story of both my children. Four years apart, yet sharing a birth story too much like the other.

The plan was to give birth naturally. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, and so much depended on how long my laboring took, but miraculously I did and I did it well. My doctor was unavailable at the time I was ready to push, so my nurse delivered my sweet girl on November 7th, 2001 while the on-call doctor ran in to cut the cord wrapped around her neck.  She let out her first scream and I cried uncontrollably as she was handed to me and placed on my chest. She was the most beautiful and perfect baby I had ever seen (of course).

She was then cleaned and weighed and the room was magic-filled. I attempted to feed her for the first time, relishing in the first moment of intimacy between my babe and I, but within a few seconds I noticed that she began to turn blue. The nurses rushed in immediately and whisked her away. She was barely breathing.

I remember so much of it as a foggy dream. Rushed. Quick. So different than what I expected the moments after delivering my first child would be like. What I do remember clearly was seeing her wheeled into my room in an incubator. She was covered in tubes within a glass case that made her tiny body barely visible. I couldn’t hold her. I couldn’t take her pain away. Her first moments on earth and I couldn’t even be her mother. Suddenly she was gone, and I didn’t know if I would see her again.

Because I gave birth in a hospital without a NICU, I was literally left alone as my husband and in-laws rushed over to her hospital where she remained incubated and tested for a probable cause. I remember that night like no other. I sat in my dark room alone and just cried and cried. I was without a baby. I had no visitors because I was without a baby. I had never felt more helpless or alone in my life and it still makes me shudder to think of it.

It wasn’t until I was recovered from my delivery and released that I was able to go see her myself. I pumped my milk in the hopes that she would be able to take it. I waited. My only chance to connect was through that glass window. I was heartbroken. It felt like the waiting would never end. I waited for her to breathe on her own. I waited to be allowed in that room where she slept. I waited for the chance to feed and hold her tiny head in the nook of my arm. It was almost too much to bear.

Incredibly, a week later she was sent home (without a diagnosis) and I was able to feel her tiny body against mine once again. She was truly my first miracle.

Four years later it was time for my son to be born. The moment we realized that he would be born that day we called my mother-in-law in Georgia. I could hear here gasp and cry on the other end of the line. It was the same day that my husband’s father had passed away, so instead of mourning like years past, we would be able to celebrate and feel joy on December 16th.

My labor started to become serious at 2am. We went to the hospital quietly that morning, taking our daughter with us. We had just recently moved to Seattle from Georgia and the reality that we knew of no one to watch her at that early hour suddenly became very real. As the next few hours passed, we finally felt confident enough to call a woman we barely knew to pick up Brianna. She was unable to come to us, so my husband had to make the thirty minute trip to her. Unfortunately, he got lost, which caused quite an uproar in communication from my hospital bed, to his mother in Georgia, to my sister-in-law in Florida, and finally to my brother who was able to meet my husband and take her for that morning.

During the outside confusion (and let me tell you.. it was some serious confusion!), I remained laboring by myself in the dark hours of early morning. It was happening quickly, and excruciating compared to what I experienced with my first. At 9 cm I finally broke down and asked for medication, all the while knowing that it was too late. I wanted that epidural. I wanted it bad. Thankfully, I had a gentle and helpful nurse coaching me through my pain since it was too late for that resource.

As she helped me move to a different laboring position (remember, no husband there yet), I suddenly began to tell her about the experience with my daughter after her birth. I was nonchalant. I had no idea why it came out of mouth. I was almost ten centimeters. I certainly never could have imagined it would happen again.

Finally, my husband found the hospital again thanks to a gas station attendant and arrived within a matter of minutes of my delivery. I found out later that because I had expressed my last birthing experience, the nurse watched my son intensely after he came out. He cried out with vigor, but his breathing slowed immediately and he was whisked off to the NICU (in the same hospital this time). It was the EXACT same scenerio as my daughter.  My hands were empty once again.

The next few days were very dark. My memories became vivid from four years before because I was alone in my room without a baby. I couldn’t believe it. AGAIN? Really, what were the chances?

Although the darkness seemed all encompassing, gradually my fears began to dissipate as he progressed to breathing on his own. I waited and waited just as before, unsure of what the outcome would be because there was never a diagnosis. But being our miracle number two, he was able to eventually able to come home within a week.

I am still unsure why both my birth experience results were so alike and heart-wrenching, and I would be lying if I said I had no fears for the next time. What I am sure about is that today both my children are healthy and vibrant (frankly, sometimes I think they are a little too vibrant.) They were worth every heartache and lonely moment in that hospital room. They were worth the wait.

From Carrie of The Rowdy Stroudys.

PS — Here’s a wonderful story (happy, easy labor!) from Misty Bell Stiers and a Home Birth Water Baby story from Leslie at Lights and Letters.

——-

Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. I just had my baby and am taking a blogging break for a week or so. I’ve received so many wonderful stories and thought it would be great to post as many as I can during this little “maternity leave.” You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here.