It's been a whole month since our sweet Emelia was born, and I’m finally ready to write her birth story.
I want to say my pregnancy and her birth were magical and brought me intense joy and that is the truth. What's also true is that my pregnancy and especially the birth of my daughter were full of complications.
And I’ve been shaken.
I have to tell you that this post is a bit of a selfish one. In my heart, I know it's more for me than for those who have been bugging me to write. So I'm sorry in advance.
On Thursday, March 27th, Mgo and I celebrated 36 weeks of pregnancy with my doctor at my prenatal appointment. It seemed like the whole office was rejoicing with us, because we didn't think we'd make it! It was truly a blessed day. It had been three long months of strict bed rest, strong meds, 14 hospital visits, and constant worry that our little one was going to come too early. At that appointment, my doctor smiled and told me she didn't think I'd go too long before going in to labor.
We began preparing for our little girl's arrival. I also allowed myself a few outings since I'd been laying down for so long. I had been having contractions since the end of January, but they were finally welcome, and the anticipation was killing us! There were a few times we thought it was really time, but the contractions slowed down.
When the preterm labor scares began, my doctor decided that, twice a week, the baby and I were to be monitored, and aside from intense contractions that surprised even the nurses, we always left with good news - the baby was doing great! On April 3rd, we went to the hospital's outpatient center for our routine biweekly non-stress test. When I tried to sign in for my appointment, the receptionist told me I didn't have an appointment. I laughed because I realized I hadn't made any appointments past March 27th, thinking there was no way we'd make it past 36 weeks! He asked me if I wanted him to squeeze me in anyway, and I said yes. I figured, why not?
The nurse smiled when she saw me walk in, knowing what a big deal it was that I had made it that far. During the test, I started to feel extremely nauseated, but I figured it was just normal pregnancy stuff. I was, after all, almost full term. 37 weeks that day. I slowed down my sips of my latte just as Emelia's heart rate began to decelerate. Suddenly the nurse was at my side, flipping me in all different directions. I figured that my baby had moved over and that's why the monitor was having trouble picking up her heart beat. But then the commotion started. Nurses yelling to one another to call my OB, call triage, call my husband, all the while telling me to remain as calm as possible. The doors flew open and about ten nurses rushed in and started rushing me to triage, running, telling everyone to get out of the way. As usual, Mgo was waiting in the car for me. I texted him to hurry over to triage. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong.
By the time Mgo arrived at my side, Emi's heart rate had returned back to normal. My doctor called my cell and told me that after speaking with my specialist, they’d decided to induce me that day. Moments later, after being prepped for induction, my sister arrived. Just as I told her I had just experienced the scariest moment of my life, Emi's heart rate dipped dangerously low again, and I told her to hurry and get Mgo. The nurses rushed in. When her heart rate finally came back up, I was told that my doctor was on her way to perform a C section. We needed to get the baby out as soon as possible.
When the anesthesiologist came in and told me he was going to knock me out since it was an emergency, I begged him to give me a spinal. I wanted to be awake when my daughter was born. He seemed extremely nervous as we spoke.
I was rushed into an operating room, placed at the edge of a hard bed and told to lean forward.
"Now, this is really going to hurt, but it's for your baby," the anesthesiologist said from behind.
Then I felt him administer the spinal. No time to numb my back.
They quickly laid me down and immediately I felt my legs go numb. I heard her heart rate fluctuating on the monitor and looked around for my Mgo. He was still in triage. Minutes later, something didn't feel right.
"I can't breathe," I said, feeling my hands go numb.
"Don't worry, Tamar," the anesthesiologist said calmly. I heard a hint of a smile in his voice. Even almost a chuckle. "Everyone thinks they can't breathe when they get the spinal. Just take deep breaths."
As soon as he said this, I became paralyzed from my toes all the way to the top of my head. My eyelids shut and I stopped breathing. However, I was conscious. I heard everything, but I knew I wasn't breathing. The anesthesiologist had the nerve to tell me to hold his hand. How? I couldn’t move.
Focusing on the one thing I could feel, the beating of my heart, I prayed. I prayed that my baby would be okay. That they would get her out quickly. That she would live, even if I didn’t.
I don't know how long it took for the anesthesiologist to yell, "Oh my God. Someone help me! She's not breathing!"
I felt them intubate me. I felt a machine begin breathing for me. I heard my doctor rush in. She later told me she was in such a hurry, she ran into the OR, dropped her clothes to the floor, pulled some scrubs on and made the final incision to get Emi out.
Then I heard the sweetest sound I'd ever heard... I heard Emelia cry for the first time.
I woke up in recovery, completely confused and delirious.
"Congratulations, mommy. Your baby is doing great," a nurse told me.
I felt a squeeze on my hand and turned around to see my sweet sister smiling at me, nervously. I asked her a million times about what had just happened. She answered me as many times as I needed. And I'm so thankful for that. I was so thankful for her presence.
Mgo came in with a huge smile on his face, and showed me pictures of a baby that, apparently, was mine. She was here. And it took everything I had to not completely lose it in front of him. I decided not to tell him what happened in the OR. I wanted to be strong for my daughter, so I blocked out what had just happened out of my head. The joy I saw in his eyes was indescribable. I didn't want to hinder that in any way. I tried to savor it. I tried to join in on it. It was hard.
I met her for the first time in a hallway. I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that she was MY baby. They placed her on my legs, and I felt her warmth. That's when I realized that the numbness from the spinal had totally gone away. I felt a strange strength come over me. I think it was my new identity: mom.
I'm still healing both physically and emotionally. There were times after we returned home that I sunk into a deep, dark hole. It usually happened in the middle of the night, when I was the only one awake, feeding Emelia. There were lots of flashbacks of moments I tried to block out of my memory, but somehow they crept in. I quickly made it a point to let God in on those dark moments. And, as always, Mgo is always by my side, making me talk it out, letting me lean on him, helping carry this burden.
Now, I stare at Emelia’s little face - her tiny nose, lips, fingers, toes - and I'm in awe of this precious miracle. I'm in awe of God's grace, for sparing both her life and mine. Every moment that I spend with her, I am filled with a joy that brings utter peace. I waited for this little girl, I fought for this little girl, and now she’s here, filling my days with wonder and laugher.
I'm so thankful that she's with us. I'm so thankful that God spared us both and continues to give us life each day, because I just love being Emelia’s momma.