Sunday, July 29, 2012

Feelings of a relinquishing mother

They say I'm not your mother
But what do they know.

What makes a mother?
Is it the blood that runs through our veins?
Surely our blood has crossed while you were nestled in the depths of my womb.
So surely I am your mother.

Is it the genetic link that we do not share?
Science has shown that your genes now run through my veins.
They are shared between us and us alone.
So surely I am your mother.

Is it love?
For love is the reason I stayed.
Love is the reason I ran.
Love is the reason I fought.
And love is what I still feel.

Is it because I signed a paper that states you are no longer mine?
I wonder at times why I did sign that paper.

Then I remember the wonderful people that I signed that paper for.
The people who want to love you and care for you in ways I don't know how to.
That paper allowed you to have the best future I could possibly give you.
So surely I am your mother.

For a mother is not who is biologically 'yours'
A mother is not only the one who's genetics make your own.
A mother doesn't yearn merely for control,
No, a mother is so much more.

A mother holds you close and loves you with all her heart.
A mother makes choices and sacrifices so that you can have everything.
A mother loves, and hates; laughs and cries; rejoices and despairs; for everything that her child endures.
And if that is a mother.
Then surely, I am your mother.

Weeks have passed, and yet I am still not sure that I am through the woods as far as my own feelings go. Most days I feel alright, as though I can continue with my day to day, taking care of the girls, acting as though I was not missing anything. But in the quiet of the night, things are very different. My heart is no longer complete; something pulls at me like a string on my finger, reminding me that there is something that I do not have. There are many nights that have been spent pacing the apartment, tears streaming down my face. I know my hormones are still out of whack, but not all of this can be attributed to postpartum emotions. People have said that I am in mourning, and I guess this is partially true.

My daughter lays in a hospital room, with people surrounding her that she does not know; those that know nothing of our journey. The person who stays with her, night and day, is not me. I walk into her room, and the nurses ask who I am; I am a stranger.
In some strange way I feel as though I'm abandoning her. I love Baby S dearly, and of course I want what is best for her. Through my entire pregnancy and the early days of her birth I have asserted that I believe that the best place for her is with her adoptive family. There are many reasons that I believe this to be so, and my opinion has not changed in that regard. Maybe it's just the postpartum hormones, but even though my head tells me I"m right, my heart is still aching with feelings of having abandoned my baby.
These feelings are exacerbated by the facts that I have been unable to go to the hospital as much as I'd like, not being able to provide her with breastmilk, and the day quickly approaching where she is going to go to Boston and I will still be here.

Part of me is jealous that others will be the ones who will get to experience her growing up. The first steps, first words, all those are going to be something that I will have to experience second-hand. All these things that I had prepared myself, at one time, to experience as her mother, now I must experience as an onlooker.

And the worst thing of all; my own two children. Little girls who have become accustomed to going to the hospital to see this little baby. They remember me pregnant with her; they know she was in my belly. They have been by my side as I have taken care of her, and they have come to think of her as 'our baby'. I look at them, and I see how much they love her, and my heart breaks for them. I am not the only one who has gotten used to the idea of having this baby around.

But long nights become busy days, the memories and the awkwardness will fade, and in time all of this will be just another story in the neverending saga of my life and the lives of my children. We will all be better for our experiences, and Baby S will be in the best position I could possibly have put her in. After all, that's what I've been working for all along.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 11, 2012.

The day had arrived. What would forever be remembered in my mind as one of the top 10 worst days in my life. Worst part? Up until the morning of, I still didn't know it was going to happen. After getting confirmation from the IPs lawyer on Tuesday that they were signing the paperwork declaring a denial of interest in custody of Baby S, it was a matter of if the papers would arrive to MI in time for court at 10:30am. With all the shady dealings from the lawyer up until that point, I had serious doubts that it would happen, so I was completely in shock when on Wednesday morning I received an email stating that the paperwork had been received and the court proceedings could happen as scheduled. I was in complete shock, all of a sudden everything clicked into place and it all became very, very real. I was going to court to give up my rights to this child; the child that I had sacrificed everything for. I had to tell a judge that I wanted nothing to do with my sweet Baby S, when nothing could actually be further from the truth. I don't think I stopped crying for more than a few moments that entire day. Driving to the court house, in court, driving home, going to the hospital, and for many hours as I sat there holding Baby S and not wanting to let her go. I wanted to go back and tell that judge I had changed my mind so badly, but I couldn't. I felt like I was giving up. I felt like all that sacrifice meant nothing, because I wasn't fighting anymore. I was passing the 'problem' (it feels horrible to refer to her like that) along to someone else. I had gotten so accustomed to fighting for this child' being one of the few people advocating for her welfare, that relinquishing control tore at my heart. To do it, especially with the change in plans that had so suddenly occurred, was torture. I had been preparing myself to bring this baby home, even if only for a short time. That was what we had expected to happen upon initial discharge, which had now been postponed twice. I had already lost out on my week, even my last few days, of baby time, and I felt a bit cheated. I felt like the hospital was possibly keeping us there because of the legal issues; out of concern for the situation and not really concern for the baby. My head was spinning and my emotions were out of control. It took a few days, but I did finally remember all the reasons that I knew this was the best decision. When I got to the hospital after signing the papers in court, I spent the next few hours sitting with Baby S alone and crying to her to forgive me. She was very agitated, and I know that she could feel the tension, distress and upset that I carried and it upset her. I fought to regain my control for the sake of my daughter. MY daughter. As I calmed down I recounted all the reasons that the choice I had made was the best for all of us. Baby S's adoptive parents are wonderful, fabulous people, and I know that they understand the unique bond that she and I share. I have a very good trusting relationship with them and I truly believe that they will keep me aprised of her progress and important events. I will still get to be a part of her life, in whatever facet we are all comfortable with, and I feel as though I have gained a new extension of my family in them. They are much better equipped to handle all the special care she will require as she grows, and they are ready, willing, and able to do this. The one thing that gives me the most peace is knowing that as Baby S grows and develops, I will still be able to do the two things that I have promised her from the moment I decided to continue the pregnancy against the IPs wishes: I will always be there for you and I will never give up on you

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moving forward!!

As of today, when I visited in the hospital, Baby S has been moved back to the floor! Yay!!! We are all so happy that she is on her way back up the ladder. Yesterday was the PCTU, today is the Moderate Care Unit.. next will be the general care floor before she can go home!! With the move to MCU we have gained: A private room again :) Our old team of doctors and residents <3 and="" br="" her="" know="" love="" who=""> A renewed sense of hope that, yes, eventually we WILL leave the hospital! The team stopped by to say hi as soon as we got there and let us know that they missed us! So sweet! We love you guys!!
Ms. S is more content than she has been in days, and ready to keep moving up in the world! We even got some content awake time to stare into her eyes and play with her sock monkey (which she LOVES!)
We're not out of the woods yet, and there are still a few things that need to be figured out, but this is a good step forward.. and we're all about moving forward!

1 Month Old!!

Today is July 25th, 2012. Nobody will see this post today, but it is important that I post it nonetheless. Baby S is one month old today!
Never before have I been so happy and excited to see my baby reach the one month mark. She did it! She survived! For all the months of uncertainty; the worrying, the waiting, the tests and talks, everything that could have gone horribly wrong and the challenges that still lay ahead... She's here! She's surviving! She's proving everyone wrong! I could not be more proud  She may still be in the hospital, and she may be having some issues at the current moment, but she is still here, and she is still fighting. She is my beautiful warrior princess. She has truly earned her name! firewings She is the fiery one. She is my Sweet S!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baby S .. birth story part 2

So to pick up where we left off:
Friday- Cervadil induction scheduled. 11pm insertion, scheduled for 11am removal and start of Pitocin if necessary at 12pm.
Saturday- induction cancelled. Sent home

As stated in the previous post, I was determined to go into the hospital in labor on Sunday. So we spent Sunday doing all the things that are suggested to put a woman into labor. Lots of sex, nipple stimulation with my pump, walking, and I even ate some spicy salsa (eww btw). As a last resort I tried an enema, which did absolutely nothing but produce ONE really long good contraction.

I was done.
We went in to the hospital at 8:30, as instructed. Immediately upon getting into the hospital waiting room my contractions (which had subsided the entire time we were at home) picked up to their previous rate of 5-7 minutes apart. We were told that because of the cardiac situation and staffing concerns they would not be starting my induction process until midnight. I was contracting anyways, and there was nothing we could do about it, so we settled in and took our time setting up the room and getting ready for the night. We had the same ditzy nurse, but she was a little bit more prepared for us this time and had the tub room ready and knew not to ask me to change into the stupid hospital gown.

And at midnight, true to their word, they started the pitocin! I wasn't chancing it with the cervadil again, I was going straight for the good stuff. I spent the first couple of hours in bed, watching a movie with Jeremy while hooked up to the monitors. I had brought my body markers and wrote the cue words of 'peace' 'release' 'love' and 'let go' on my arms and hands. When I felt like things were picking up a bit I asked for the nurse to go find the telemetry monitors so that I could get up and move around. I got a ball also and sat on that for a while while she looked for the wireless pieces for the monitors, and totally lost myself in the zone of labor.

When I finally got hooked up to the telemetry it was time to move the birth ball away from the side of the bed. I was irritated with being so enclosed and wanted to be in the middle of the floor. I rocked during my contractions, and rested squatting on the floor in between. I remember that they were about 3 minutes apart and Jeremy told me they were peaking at about 120 on the monitors. My pitocin was on 4. I had no idea how long it was going to take, but I figured it would be better to call my doula and photographer then and have them there then to have things start moving really quickly and have them miss it. I'm glad I called when I did. I believe it was about 2:30am when I called Amber and Kristen. Amber got there in about 20 minutes, Kristen took a bit longer. At that point the pitocin was on 6 and I was ready to try the tub. At that point I was breathing through fairly intense contractions, reminding myself of my cue word 'release' (which was written on my right arm and thank goodness because it was a great reminder)

The tub was amazing! I immediately felt like the contractions were less intense. A feeling of relaxation washed over me and while it took a few contractions to get into a good position, I felt comfortable there. My doula was wonderful reminding me to drink water, and Jeremy got me a Sprite because I needed to burp a lot. I had a lot of gas as well, and in between contractions we laughed at my gas bubbles and other little things. I kept expecting the contractions to pick up in intensity, but they never did. I completely lost track of time in the tub, which was heavenly.

During one fairly long contraction, I felt the telltale 'pop and gush' of my water breaking. From there labor became very intense and I was consumed with staying on top of the contractions. They came fast and furious from that point on, sometimes two or three at a time, with little break between. I don't remember exactly when, but I know that shortly after my water broke Baby S adjusted herself into position. She did this in the middle of contractions that were coming on strong, and I do remember looking at my doula and asking 'what the heck is she doing in there?' and talking to my belly 'stop it.. that's not comfortable!' My nurse came in and asked if I felt 'pushy' which I didn't. She turned the pitocin down (thank goodness) and it stayed at a 4 until I delivered (or at least I think so hahaha I wasn't really paying attention at that point). After a short time in the tub with the more intense contractions I really felt like I had to use the toilet. My doula and Jeremy helped me out of the tub, and I realized just how hot I had been in there. The cool breeze felt good. I sat on the toilet and pooped, which felt great. I had a few contractions on the toilet also and decided I didn't know what people were talking about when they said it felt good to sit on the toilet during labor. I did not enjoy it at all!

After my potty break, Kristen asked me if I wanted to get back in the tub, or do something else. I was in a state of dazed.. not sure what I wanted. Part of me wanted to get back in the tub, but I'd been so hot I felt like I needed the fresh air of being in the room. I wanted so bad to go lay down for a few minutes and recoup, so that's what I decided I wanted to do. After about 5 contractions on the bed, one laying down and 4 trying to find a good position sitting and leaning against the back, I decided the bed wasn't working and moved back to the birth ball on the floor. My telemetry wasn't functioning properly anymore, so the charge nurse came in and helped me get back onto the wired monitors. This meant that I had to be right next to the bed again, which made me a bit anxious because there was very little room and people kept walking around me. I soon forgot about that though, and was back into my own little world.

One of my biggest issues during this part of my labor was that I didn't feel like I could completely relax and release my hips. I was trying hard to release, as I knew this would help the baby descend, but every time I released my hips I would sink to the ground which was not working for me. I ended up having Jeremy pushing against my butt/hips as I was on my hands and knees so that when I would have a contraction he could support my weight and I could get the deep release I needed in my hips. That was so much better, and I think it helped things to progress as fast as they did. I did threaten to fart on him, but I didn't find his reaction very funny. He definitely got yelled at and told not to move like that again.

My nurse had come in and asked several times if I felt pushy yet. I had no inclination to push, so I always told her no. She would disappear, and we would do our own thing again. I honestly had no idea that Baby S was so close to being born. My doula, however, had a better idea. She suggested we move to the bed, and I agreed, but after the contraction that was just starting. Moving, however, never happened. At the end of that contraction my body involuntarily pushed, and the head was halfway born. I remember reaching down to feel her, and knowing that her head was mostly out. Kristen went for the call button and everyone else went into 'oh shit' mode. The nurse on the other end was all calm 'I'll page your nurse', and Kristen had to buzz her a second time and tell her 'the baby's coming NOW!' while I was yelling on the floor that I didn't want to do it anymore and I wanted some Stadol.

This is where I go fuzzy. I was very consumed in delivery, yelling that I couldn't do it, give me some f**ing meds, etc. Baby S was halfway out, and I was doing everything possible not to push any more because I was so afraid I was going to tear. From what I"m told the door to my room is cracked open, maybe 6 inches, and people are just pouring into the room, bewildered that the baby is almost here and they are not ready. The doctor who caught her had her glove halfway on, no fingers, just pretty much draped it over her hand and hoped for the best. I'm sure it was a funny sight to see; if only I'd been on the other end. 2, maybe 3 pushes later this beautiful baby girl was ejected from my body and flung into the world, screaming her head off. I collapsed in tears; I couldn't stop repeating, she's crying! I had hoped she would, but never really expected that my wish would come true. I was practically picked up off the floor and placed on the bed for delivery of the placenta while she was looked over and evaluated on the other side of the room. Delayed cord clamping didn't happen :(

Delivering the placenta didn't take very long. I was impatient, so I gave a push every few minutes, and in about 10 minutes I had a good long contraction that pushed it out. I insisted that they bring her over to me before rushing her away, and I spent about 5 minutes staring at her and crying over her before she went off to the NICU. I really don't remember when the doctors and nurses who were taking care of me left, but within an hour my mother came back and told me they were bringing Baby S up to the PCTU (Pediatric Cardio-Thoracic Unit) and if I wanted to see her before she went I had to go now. We went and spent about a half hour looking at her, soothing her, stroking her before they came to take her up and I went back to my empty, baby-less room.

And that was it.
Baby S was born on June 25th, her due date, at 6:51am. She weighed 6lb, 9oz, 19 inches long. Almost a month later, she is still hospitalized. More on that to come:

Baby S.. birth story part 1

She's here! Forgive me for waiting almost a month to write this post, but the last few weeks have been so crazy that I can't even wrap my head around it. Now that things have settled down a little, I'll write out the birth story of my precious babe:

I was reaching the 40 week mark. This was something I had not expected, not by a long shot. I had been told by so many doctors that I would not make it to 40 weeks, that IVF babies came around 37 weeks, that heart babies tended to come early. There was no way I was going to make it to my due date of June 25th. No way.

I had it in my head that she would be here before the 18th. On June 11th my mom and I joked that she would share a birthday with the baby. That I was 'forbidden' to have her on that day. It was ok though, I was convinced she was coming somewhere between the 14th and the 18th. I was severely disappointed when it was revealed to me that Jeremy and my father would not be able to come until the following week. They arrived on the 21st, and I was still not in labor.

I'd had all of my 'final' tests, and since I was nearing my due date, all that was left were the weekly non-stress tests that they recommend for all heart babies. I was a little worried that I hadn't gone into labor yet, so I kept my appointment on June 22nd and we went in to see how the little punk was doing. She was very happy in her little world, sleeping through most of the test (except the end when she decided to wake up and make the machines happy finally) and I had a chat with the social worker and the geneticist about procedures, ongoing legal stuff, and my concerns with carrying much further into the future. I had been having contractions that were more intense than braxton hicks, but not very strong and about 20 minutes apart during the day that day, and I was finally starting to feel like maybe labor was coming. I had an appointment scheduled with the OB's office later that day, and after speaking with the on-call doctor it was decided that they would do a membrane sweep to try and get labor moving before I left that day. If that didn't work I was to report for induction at 7pm. The doctors were comfortable with my dates, labor was starting on it's own, and with the time restraints of having my family in town for a short period of time, we felt it was best to give the little lady a little 'push' to come into the world.

After my appointment Jeremy, the kids, and I did some serious walking. We walked all over campus in an attempt to get things moving. I was having contractions, they were a bit more intense and as close as 10 minutes apart, but not very strong and not progressing. So, at 7pm we gathered our overnight bags and headed to the hospital. I was determined to give my body as much of a chance to pick things up on it's own, so I opted for an application of Cervadil before starting pitocin in the morning; hoping things would pick up on their own and we could avoid the full induction. However, getting into the hospital and ready took forever. Our nurse was a little bit ditzy (she really should have been blonde) and had to find us a room with a tub as I had requested, and was generally just very slow. The Cervadil went in at 11pm. Jeremy and I tried to relax. Watched a movie, tried to sleep. Contractions continued through the night, woke me up a few times, but I still managed to get some decent rest in between. In the morning I got up and they were still coming. Still not as strong as I'd expected, but 5-6 minutes apart. We walked the halls, sat on the ball, etc.

And then it happened. Around 11am I buzzed the nurse to see when the Cervadil would be coming out. She came in and said they were just waiting for the doctors. So we waited. And waited.. And waited some more. Finally around 12:30 I just took it out myself. We waited until 2pm before anybody came into the room. When they came in, it was as a group, and there was no talk of pitocin, no planning, nothing. I was so ready to have the baby, and they completely shut me down. They had a cardiac baby who had been born the night before, and the weekend cardiac team was not ready for us. If at all possible they wanted to keep the baby from being born while the weekend staff was on, and wait for the normal weekday shift people to be back in-house. So the induction was off, and I was going home. They also refused to check and see if I'd dialated any further than the 2-3cm and 60% I'd been when I went in Friday night.

I was devastated. Immediately my contractions slowed, and by the time we walked out of the hospital they were only coming every 15-20 minutes again. I cried the whole way home, and for a while afterwards. We'd been re-scheduled to come in Sunday night, and by the end of the day Saturday I was determined to go in there IN LABOR.