It’s funny how memories of past dates in your mind just never lessen. The memories stay just as clear as they were the day after they happened. I’ve thought a lot about specific memories that have stayed clearer to me than others. Not necessarily significant ones, like one time when I was a kid, maybe 10 years old, I was laying on the livingroom floor doing my homework and my Dad came in and started tickling me. I don’t know why that memory is so vivid, but it is. It makes me wonder how our mind chooses what to hold in higher priority than other things. I know this all probably doesn’t make sense, but I’ve had a couple sleepless nights lately (as you can probably tell… ha) and these are things that I think of. lol
I remember very clearly the morning of January 10, 2002. My parents and I left our house in Santaquin fairly early, around 6 or so in the morning. I was being induced and was supposed to be there around 7. We stopped at McDonalds in Payson and I got a breakfast bagel, hashbrown and orange juice in preparation to not eat for God knew how long (Since they don’t let you eat while you’re in labor!) I don’t remember the process of eating it, although I know I did because my Mom urged me that it was important to eat something. Just a small piece of the memory that my mind chose wasn’t important to keep. LOL I remember feeling really shakey and scared. I remember sitting in the back seat and hugging my belly, trying not to cry. I knew that as soon as he came out, he wouldn’t be mine anymore. I remember thinking that if I could keep him with me for just one more day, I’d be grateful. I didn’t want to let him go. I didn’t want to stop feeling his love in my belly. I was the only person in the world he knew and loved. I was important to him and he needed me.
I remember getting to the hospital way faster than I thought was normal. I also don’t think I was really “there” for most of the drive. I don’t remember my parents and I talking, but I can’t be sure. When we got to the hospital, my parents checked me in, they brought us back into a room and told me to change. I remember that I changed into the ugly, stiff hospital gown and that at one point one of the nurses told me I was supposed to take my underwear off too. I hadn’t. I didn’t know it was necessary until the baby was to come out. I remember them starting the IV and that it hurt a lot because they had to try multiple times to get it in the top of my hand. I don’t remember much about the initial setup other than that. I seem to recall being kind of “out of it” and not paying much attention. I don’t remember when, time wise, but my Midwife broke my water with a thing that reminded me of a crochet hook. Everyone seemed a little concerned because my water was filled with meconium and talked about the risk of the baby having possibly inhaled some of it. When the contractions started, I remembering throwing up a couple times. My Mom held one of those tiny little hospital “pans” (not a bed pan, but those tiny ones that I believe are meant for throwing up) and I remember thinking that was the stupidest thing I ever saw and that if I was going to throw up, that little thing wasn’t going to hold all my puke. (It held it just fine because I didn’t throw up that much, but the point is, I remember thinking it…)
I remember after a few hours of labor, my Midwife kept checking my chart and looking concerned. I remember words like “heart rate” and also words like “blood pressure”, “baby not responding”, but mostly I remembering feeling very scared at the tone in her voice and the creases between her eyebrows. They had warned me before inducing that at any point if at any point the baby was in danger, they would do an emergency c-section. (At the time, that was extremely scary to hear… at that point in my life, I didn’t know that they basically say that to EVERY woman who goes in to be induced… you have to agree in advance to allow them to do an emergency c-section if it becomes necessary.) I remember thinking I would do ANYTHING they told me to do if they could just make sure my baby was ok. I think she realized that she scared me at that point, because I started crying and she came to me and reassured me that it would be fine. They’re probably trained to say that to people who are freaking out in situations like that. Heh. But hey, she did well. They told me that their best suggestion was for me to get an epidural to lower my blood pressure and hopefully the baby would respond better if my body wasn’t “panicking” as much. I remember being annoyed at that word, because I did not feel like I was panicking. I was in pain, but I thought I was doing well. The mind and the body are NOT “one” when you’re in labor! lol The mind is a powerful thing. They knew beforehand that I did not want an epidural. I even told them not to give me one even if I asked for one during labor. Usually when I tell people that, they think I’m crazy. No, I’m not a hippy, nor do I believe epidurals are evil. Keep in mind that when I became pregnant at 15 years old, I was also addicted to cigarettes, cocaine and probably alcohol. I was doing almost every drug that you can think of that didn’t involve a needle. If it was smoke-able or snort-able, I was doing it. When I found out that I was pregnant, regardless of how dumb of a teenager I was or how selfish a person I was, there was zero hesitation in my mind that I could not be doing those things while I was pregnant. (Maybe it was because I was being raised by a Midwife/Nurse and was no stranger to knowledge of the potential effects…) My point is that as a 16 year old girl in recovery from drug addiction, I did not want drugs to help me bring a person into the world. I didn’t want to not have control of my body, as was my personal experience with many drugs that I had done that put me in horrible, damaging situations that I couldn’t prevent because I was not in control of my body and mind. So, while the epidural is a great option for many, it was not desireable for me. – At this point in the labor, when she suggested the epidural, I became very frustrated and basically asked what my other options were. She felt strongly that nothing else was going to help. They had already put an internal monitor into Dustin’s skull because his heart beat was hard (nearly impossible) to read through the “strap” monitors (I don’t know what those are called that they velcro around your belly.) Still, his heart rate was barely better than a flat-line and he was not responding properly to contractions. I remember her saying some other things (I was in the middle of having contractions, so I don’t think I can be blamed much for not remembering much of this ) and then the words “risking the baby dying” were said. I agreed to the epidural. I remember the man having a really nice face. He looked kind. I remember the shot hurting a lot more than they said it would. I felt like I was being electracuted, or like a thousand bees were stinging me, starting at the middle of my spine and shooting outward like vines. I felt nauseous and light headed. They said it would take just a few minutes before I lost feeling in the lower half of my body. I was extremely nervous. To add another piece of information (that I admit contributed to my “fear” of epidurals), I had a friend who had a baby just a few months prior to this who had an epidural and described that she was SO numb, that when it came time to push, she could not. She couldn’t feel when she was supposed to, nor could she feel or control anything in her body TO push – basically when they told her to push, she would… or so she thought. Nothing would actually happen. She described the nurses having to basically push on her belly to get the baby out. I will say that it wasn’t as bad for me. Once I became numb, obviously I didn’t have control over my legs. I also remember farting once, which for some reason my mom and the other nurses thought was great (no, seriously… they seemed pleased…..) but I thought it was so funny that I farted without me knowing it. Usually you’re aware when it’s gonna happen… so it’s weird not feeling it! Regardless of being numb and not being able to control farts…. I was still feeling the pressure of my contractions (they just didn’t “hurt”) which I was grateful for. It meant that I was going to know when my body was contracting without them having to TELL me. Hours of this went by and Dustin’s heart rate was still fairly concerning. After about 14 hours of labor, my Midwife came in to check me. I was dilated to a 4 and had been for about 10 hours. I was at a 2 before I was even induced, so I had only progressed 2 centimeters in over 10 hours. She told me that she was going to talk with the Doctor and that we needed to start discussing a c-section. I have no recollection of who the Doctor was, but she had consulted with a doctor many times throughout the labor because it was turning out to be high-risk and Midwives generally bring a Doctor in when there are medical concerns. He came in with her to talk to me and my Parents. Again, I don’t recall who the Doctor was. I don’t remember anything about him (his face, his build, hair color… nothing. But I do know “he” existed and was there…) they talked mostly to my parents about what would happen with a c-section and what to expect, etc. I do remember very clearly at this point looking up at my Dad and him telling the Doctor that he needed a few minutes alone with me. They agreed and everyone (including my Mom and I also think Lena was there) left the room. I don’t remember us talking or anything particular, but I do remember, more clearly than almost anything, my Dad’s hands on my belly. I don’t remember the words he said, but I remember looking down at his hands as clearly as if they were there right now. I remember his tears, although I don’t remember actually seeing him cry. I was focused on his hands. He wasn’t talking to me, he was talking to Dustin and he was praying. The only way I can describe the way I felt is that if I were to ever in my life doubt my Daddy’s love for me, all I would need to do is recall this memory and it would be impossible. I could feel all of his pain, strength, weakness, dedication, heart, soul and every ounce of love in this moment. I don’t talk in detail about this particular memory very often because it’s so indescribable and private, but I needed to write it now in more detail than I have in the past. I’m not sure how long we were in there alone, but the Doctor and Midwife came back in, as did my Mom and probably the nurses (seemed like there were suddenly a lot of people). My Dad talked to them and for some reason the Doctor agreed to give me 30 minutes. If I hadn’t improved in 30 minutes, they were going to do the c-section with no further delay. 30 minutes later, I was dilated to an 8. Everyone was in such shock, there was no speaking for a couple minutes. The Doctor and Midwife were talking and looking over the chart. The nurse updated the chart (which they later printed and gave us a copy of) that showed “Emotional Support from Family”. Immediately after that, Dustin’s heart rate improved. About an hour later, it was time to push. There were a lot of people in the room. There was a “team” waiting for Dustin (there was a little bit extra caution because of my water being filled with meconium) of about 4-6 people, my Midwife, my parents and Lena. My legs were numb and I could not lift them into the stirrups OR hold them there, so my mom held my left leg and Lena held my right. My Dad stood up by my head. I remember my Midwife asking me if I wanted a mirror to watch the birth and I partially yelled/snapped at her and said “NO!”. Everyone thought it was funny and I think it was my Dad that said “Well, I think she’s sure about that!” When she told me to start pushing, my Dad was counting to ten with each push. He thought it would be funny to start saying “booorderline ‘leven!” (Have you ever seen “Gone Fishin'”? Well, if you have, you’d know…) about 50 minutes later, Dustin was born. She flopped him on my stomach as she took care of the cord, placenta, whatever else she was doing. All I know is that it literally felt like she threw him on my belly and it felt so weird (physically weird… my stomach was mush and after being used to a solid mass for 9+ months, it was a very strange feeling). I remember looking down at him in utter shock. I remember thinking he was enormous. Everyone talks about how they see their baby and think of how tiny they are. I thought he was huge. His skin looked gray and was covered in goo and snot and blood and making a very strange sound that I thought was choking. He was only there for a very, VERY brief moment (it felt like a little longer at the time because I just stared and felt very scared) but they took him as quickly as they were able and suctioned him out. When I heard him cry, I immediately started hysterically sobbing. It’s actually really hard for me to describe this moment and as I’m recalling it, I’m having a hard time typing because my eyes are filled with tears. The relief that he was ok was overwhelming. Immediately following this relief was sadness that he was no longer inside me and the deepest sorrow I’d ever felt, knowing that he was no longer mine. I don’t like to admit that because it was a very selfish way to feel, but it’s true. Words really cannot adequately describe this moment. Most women talk about this moment in such a happy way, hearing the first cry of their newborn baby and the happy release of tears. I truly felt, more than I had ever experienced up until this point in my short life of 16 years, that I wanted to die. The pain inside my chest was so severe and so very real that had I not acknowledged where the pain came from, it’s possible that I could have confused it with a heart attack. It’s the only time that I had actually understood the term “heart ache”. They gave him to me a few minutes later, wrapped up in a blanket and with a little beanie on his head. This is one part where the cliche fits perfectly: He really was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. He was so perfect, so beautiful, SO cute and chubby. The gray had gone away and he had the brightest rosey red plump lips and pink cheeks. He looked up at me and I held him to me and sobbed. I’m really not sure how long I stayed there and held him and cried like that. I was vaguely aware of a LOT of other things going on. People in between my legs and around the bed, touching me, moving me, moving things around… but it’s as if the world had muted. You could have been speaking directly to my face (for all I know, people may have been… I’m really not sure) but I didn’t fully see, hear, or feel anything else in the world. I had a moment of not thinking about the fact that this baby was not mine. My mind emptied of everything going on in my life, in the world, in existence. I didn’t think of anything but this little face looking back at me. I have NO detailed recollection of anything else for quite some time. I don’t remember people leaving or anything else happening. I actually, many times, have even wondered how much of this memory is real or if it’s something my suconscious created, as if pausing a memory and putting it on endless repeat. That sounds crazy, but that’s kind of the only way I can describe it. That’s why I don’t know if the memory is real and we really did lay there for a very long time, or if my mind has just held that small bit and has stuck it on repeat forever. Because logically and in normal situations, at some point fairly soon after the birth, they take the baby for feeding (since it was advised that I not breast feed) but I don’t remember. The next memory I have is in the morning in a completely different room than the one he was born in. I think I sept for a little bit after they took him (I don’t necessarily remember that, I just know it from other people’s accounts of the night) and that at some point when the nurse came into the room and asked if I needed anything, I asked if she could bring him to me. I know a few select (authorized) friends came to visit. I do remember that when Melissa, Hillary and I believe Daniel came to visit, they had told them I was not there. This is because I checked in under an alias name (my Mom’s maiden name) and forgot to tell them that they needed to give that name. The nurse had come in immediately to tell us and when we figured out who it was (by her description) my Mom ran out to the parking lot to get them before they left. Other than that, I only remember vague details about people kind of coming and going, but nothing in particular. My next vivid memory is when my case worker came. I know that this particular memory I have told many times before and in detail. Of how she had come to give me the relinquishment papers. I was later told by my parents that she had told them she’d never seen anyone as strong in that moment, which I found surprising at the time because I didn’t think I was strong at all.
I’ll be honest, I started writing this blog today because I hardly slept at all last night thinking of all of these things… and this morning I thought if I wrote, I could get my thoughts and feelings out and it would help. Accepting and acknowledging my pain is the best way for me to then let it go and continue with my life. Right now I’m struggling to continue typing as it’s proving to be much more emotional than I thought it would be. It’s hard to describe something like this. Reliving the memories isn’t necessarily the thing I’m struggling with. I’ll just say that I really thought this year would be easier. This is the first time in 12 years that I am actually a Mommy on his birthday. I’ve finally been able to experience the sheer joy and awesomeness that is true Motherhood. I thought that because of this, maybe this year on his birthday and these “anniversary” dates, it wouldn’t affect me as much. It’s hard for me to admit because it’s so much easier to pretend I’m strong, but this year has been harder and more painful than almost any birthday that I recall, other than his first. The memory of these days I had with him and the day (13th) that I last saw, held, touched and felt him in my arms are always a little emotional… but this time, I’m finding that because I DO know now how it feels to watch a child grow, to hold her and kiss her and witness her changes and personality growth, I am so strongly, painfully aware now of what I have missed. I had nothing “real” to compare it to before, so the pain was simply missing the baby that grew inside me. Now, I’m feeling the true, very strong, very real pain of KNOWING all the amazing things that I did not get to see or feel or be apart of and the result is… again… indescribable. (It is very difficult to describe feelings that you’ve never before had to people who have also never had them…) All I know for sure is that what is also “indescribable” is the love that I have for Amelia and how grateful I am to have her. I know how it feels to miss moments in a child’s life and not be able to watch them grow. Because I know how this feels, that is why I cannot put into adequate words how grateful I am to be apart of this little person’s life and how blessed I am to be able to watch her be. That is why I can say with 100% honesty that I am grateful for all the moments that I have with her. I know that many women say that anyone who is grateful for ALL moments is either in denial or just trying too hard. For someone who has felt one of the worst pains that there is in the world, I AM grateful for the hard moments. Even in the frustrated moments, I can feel myself smile. I think too many people take for granted that they get to witness their children breaking things, or going through obnoxious, exhausting phases. People take for granted that they’re living LIFE with their children and that the very “real” things are the things that some people wish they had more than anything. A broken glass or colored on wall or stitches or hearing your kids fighting… I’m not saying that you should logically be standing there, listening to your kids scream and cry and say “aw you guys are so beautifully amazing!” but I wish for you to be able to take a breath and say “They are real. They are here. They are mine.” and be grateful. Not grateful for the negative or frustrating *thing*, but for the reality.