Labor Day

Stella is five weeks old tomorrow, but I’d like to look back to the day she was born.

Tuesday night, october 11th:. Lindsay is home with her friend Colleen and they have been timing contractions for a few hours. They are coming at least five minutes apart, if not quicker, and with increasing intensity.

Just after midnight: I get off of work and head home.

2:30 in the morning, October12th: I drive Lindsay to Memorial Hospital and make good on my promise.

2:45 AM: The triage nurse measures Lindsay at 3 centimeters, but won’t admit her until she’s at 5. Colleen, who happens to be a nurse at Memorial, and I walk Lindsay around the hospital for an hour in the hopes of getting things moving.

4:00 AM: it works. She reaches 5 centimeters and we are admitted to a birthing room.

5:00 AM: Lindsay opts for some mild narcotics to help with relaxing between contractions. We are going to try to work through them with the skills we learned in birthing class.

7:00 AM: Lindsay is assigned a new nurse, Melissa, who will be with us for the duration.

8:00 AM: Texts are sent to family and we settle in for what will hopefully be a short time. While I help Lindsay get through the contractions, Colleen offers moral support.

Late Morning: My sister Lisa stops by to get a set of keys to our apartment so she can check in on our cat. I packed along with Lindsay, prepared to stay for a few days.

The next few hours consist of the periodic monitoring of contractions and heartbeats, walks around the birthing floor, a long hot shower, many trips to the bathroom and donuts.

Around 2:00 PM: Dr. Fowler stops in for a second time. Lindsay’s been at 8 centimeters for a couple of hours now. He breaks her water to help things along and is confident she will be having the baby in a couple of hours. There is some merconium, but he assures us that there is not enough to be alarmed about.

Lindsay decides to get an epidural. She’s endured enough and feels that the pain of the actual childbirth may be too much. She’s been a trooper and deserves some relief.

It works and the contractions are barely noticeable. Lindsay finds enough relief to nod off for a short time. We are all exhausted. Colleen, who has been with us the whole time, falls asleep on the sofa. I doze off in the rocking chair.

A calm envelopes the room.

Close to 4:00 PM: Still at 8 centimeters. The contractions and the baby’s heartbeat are still steady, but Melissa, our nurse, decides to internally monitor them to make sure everything is moving along since Lindsay is still at eight.

Five minutes later: The monitors are in. The heartbeat slows, then stops and starts up. It’s inconsistent. We get Lindsay on her side for better positioning. The heartbeat is sporadic and slowing.

“What’s Happening!”

The doctor is on his way. The nurses believe Lindsay is at 10 centimeters, that the baby has dropped,  and start readying for delivery.

We are scared!

Dr. Fowler arrives and determines that Lindsay is still at 8 centimeters. He advises a C-section because she has been stuck at eight for some time and the baby’s heart rate is still sporadic. We can wait, but he advises against it.

Between 4:00 and 4:20 PM:. The next twenty minutes are the scariest of my life. We decide to do the C-section. There is a buzz of activity as they prepare Lindsay for the operation. I am handed hospital scrubs and told to get ready. Lindsay and Colleen are in tears. I am numb. It’s all happening so fast. They take Lindsay away and I ask Colleen to try and contact family and get all our stuff together. I am taken to a waiting area outside the operating room and told to wait. Nurses are milling back and forth. One of them gives me instructions on what’s about to happen and how things will unfold.

Then … I’m alone in the hallway. Waiting.

The tears come. Fear starts to fill me. Please. Let everything be ok. I can’t lose them. I won’t be able to face a future without Lindsay. We’ve come too close for it to not end well. My thoughts go to a dark place. I’m crying now. But I can’t let Lindsay see my fear. I feel totally helpless.

It seems like time has stopped. Why is it taking so long?

Then Melissa brings me into the operating room.

There’s a chair by Lindsay’s head that I sit in and I brush her hair with my hand. She’s panicked. There’s a curtain blocking our view of the procedure.

“Something’s wrong!” She says. “Is the baby ok?”

Dr. Fowler tells her she will feel some pressure and I see it in her eyes and the grimace in her face.

4:21 PM: Stella is born.

I peak over the curtain and I see her. My daughter. She’s squirming in the Doctors hands.

She’s beautiful!

Tears of joy in my eyes, I kiss Lindsay and tell her how beautiful our baby is. It’s all going to be ok.

Soon I am brought over to the incubator where the nurses are cleaning the baby and trying to get her to cry a little stronger. They are trying to clear her lungs. She aspirated.

I’m in awe. This is my child.

I go back to Lindsay’s side and try to comfort her. To calm her fears. She’s convinced something’s wrong. That we won’t tell her.

“Why can’t I hear her cry?”

She feels nauseous. I hold a bag for her to get sick in.

The nurse brings Stella over and hands her to me. She’s swaddled and I lean her in to Lindsay. We’re both crying. Lindsay can’t hold her because she’s numb and her hands are strapped down out to her sides.

Sadly it’s only a moment as they have to take the baby up to ICU and keep her on oxygen. I kiss Lindsay and go with the nurses up with Stella. I don’t want to leave Lindsay’s side but I need to go with the baby.

4:30PM: Intensive care unit. They weigh and measure the baby. They continue to rub her down and clear her airway. People are talking at me, but it’s all a blur. I want to be with Lindsay. Hold her. Comfort her. I want her to hold our daughter.

“What’s her name?”

No name. Not until her Mom sees her. Holds her. So, she’s Baby Girl Hand for now.

Back down to recovery and at Lindsay’s side. She’s shaking and incoherent. Confused. And still convinced that we’re withholding the truth. When can she see the baby. I stay with her for awhile. Holding her.

Melissa, who has been her nurse all day is with her. She assures me that Lindsay will be ok. They have just given her something to help her relax.  She also informs me that it was wise to do the C-section  The embilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck three times and as she dropped it was choking her.

And so for the next few hours I am back and forth between mother and daughter. Lindsay’s parents and sister, my sister, and friends come by.

10:00 PM: Lindsay is taken in a wheelchair to see Stella. She finally gets to hold her. They have taken the oxygen off and she’s breathing on her own. The visit is brief.

All night long I trek back and forth between Lindsay’s room and Stella’s. Every time I’m with Lindsay she tells me to go be with the baby so she’s not alone. I finally fall asleep in Lindsay’s room and awake at around 6:00 AM and discover Lindsay awake and sitting up in bed

” I get to go see her in an hour!” she says like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

My heart breaks at the sight of Lindsay filled with pure love and longing. The fact that it had been so long without her baby in her arms wounds my soul.

Thursday morning, October 13th, 8:30 AM: Stella gets to leave the ICU!  She is with us now  And forever.

I want to thank some people for the part they played.  Colleen for being with us throughout the labor.  For her calming effect and support.  Melissa, our nurse, for her kindness and compassion.  She suspected something wasn’t quite right at the end and for remaining with Lindsay through the birth and recovery.  She visited us the next day to officially meet Stella and told Lindsay what an awesome job she did.  That Lindsay was one of her favorite patients.  Doctor Fowler for his awareness and decisiveness.  For bringing Stella into the world unharmed.  Family and Friends for their love and support.

I experienced many emotions throughout the day, love for Lindsay and Stella reigning supreme.  We three begin our life together.


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