My first baby is 15 today.
It was something I had waited for my whole life. I’m not sure if I was just “born to be” a mother or if I inherited the desire from my mother and her family. My grandparents raised 5 children, eventually had 20 grandchildren and still counting have over 30 great-grandchildren with at least 2 great-greats thrown in. On top of that they became foster parents, mostly to newborns, and loved over 80 children in their home in a 20 year period. There was ALWAYS a baby to hold in my family. I knew how to change a (cloth!!) diaper by the age of 8 and could give a bottle and rock them to sleep with ease. My definition of holding a newborn would be PURE LOVE. So, I was more than happy to be pregnant – my dreams were being fulfilled.
At 21 I had grown to my full height of 5 ft but barely weighed 100lbs – most people would have placed me in the mid-teens. I remember wearing my regular jeans (likely a size 4/6) to my 20 week ultrasound and feeling fat. Technology wasn’t near what it is today and we weren’t able to see the baby’s gender. 2 months later I barely had a belly and was still working a full-time retail schedule. Most of my customers didn’t have a clue I was even pregnant. I went in for a routine 28 wk appt and mentioned a bit of spotting to my OB even though I wasn’t the least bit worried. The cramping I had been having for a few days I had chalked up as normal “growing” pains. She took it more serious and a few minutes of monitoring showed contractions 5-8 min apart. She drove me across the street and admitted me to L&D herself. An IV for rehydration and a nice shot of a medicine called terbutaline stopped the contractions but the bad news was that I had started to dialate. I stayed over-night and was sent home with strict orders to stay in bed for the next 6 weeks. I think the OB was really frightened about a preemie so she kinda over-did on the meds. I was finally allowed out of bed at 34 weeks and didn’t have the first contraction. My MIL had basically moved in with us just to take care of me. That she did VERY well, I had books and movies to my hearts’ content … and a nice clean apartment to bring my baby home to. I also had good cooking and gained over 40lbs that last trimester. By 40 weeks I was MORE than done with this pregnancy and mostly sat around and cried. My body was completely out of shape and exhausted from my weeks in bed and let’s face it …. being pregnant is ALL about the end. Here I was …. at the end and still had no one to hold. I was really leaning toward having a baby boy and had told several people my feelings. Just 5 days before she was born though I had the most vivid dream. I was holding my daughter and my heart was full. That’s when I started looking for girl names.
Mid-march was approaching quickly and the weather here in GA was beautiful spring. Betsy took me out for a picnic lunch on Wednesday. I wore shorts and we had sandwichs and chips down by the lake.
The flowers were in full bloom and I couldn’t think of a better time to bring a baby into the world. We had set an induction date for Friday morning and I remember thinking that by week end I would be holding a baby out in this glorious sunshine. Little did I know that nature had a different plan.
Friday morning, March 12, I picked up the phone at 5am as I had been instructed. Seems that L&D was full, something about a storm rolling in and the barometric pressure dropping. I called every hour all day long. NO FOOD!! NO DRINK!! and NO ROOM at the inn…. by supper time I was beyond miserable and the news was scaring us all to death. My MIL and I made the executive decision to drive on over to the hospital about 6pm and when we got there they put me in triage. I was actually contracting and had a small water leak … YAY!!! I get to stay. The weather kept getting worse overnight and the snow started falling just as March 13 began. I was left to labor on my own overninght and my water fully broke around 4am. They started pitocin to “enhance” the contractions around 7am which is when I got the very planned epidural. My body worked fast and by 10am I was fully dialated and ready to push. The snow had not stopped falling and the view out my birthing room was a bright white. The Storm of the Century ….. Blizzard of 93 …. power was off in most of GA, roads were completely shut down and the hospital was beyond capacity. Not really what I had pictured just days before.
OK…. it’s finally time for birth. OR so I thought. Noon rolled around and I’m out right exhausted at that point. I’ve had nothing to eat since Thursday night, I have no muscle tone from the bedrest and I’ve been contracting for 18 hours. Around 1:30 the doctor was called in to perform a forcep delivery. My mother and Betsy were taking turns at my side … I didn’t know that the other one would go out and have a good cry in the hallway, evidently seeing a daughter in pain is almost as painful as doing it yourself. My mother told me MANY years later that she almost passed out when they delivered Brittney and she honestly thought that the baby was dead. They had turned all the machinery down so I didn’t know that the heartbeat was dropping into the 20’s the last 30 min or so, I did know that the NICU team had been called in but was a bit busy to rationilize it. My mother said that when the head finally came out, bruised and oblong, the doctor took the forceps and the baby’s neck stretched like silly putty. No one even thought to look for the gender until the baby started peeing right up the doctors arm…… IT’S A GIRL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brittney was a healthy and pink baby girl. She had a bit of dark hair and the most beautiful skin. She was 21 inches long and 7lbs 1oz …. on the small side for a 42 weeker but boy am I thankful – no way was a bigger baby coming out of me!!! They did whisk her away to the NICU for a thorough check but she’s was back in my arms and at my breast by supper time. The weather had not improved throughout the day and we were all stuck at the hospital. My mother and Betsy slept on gurneys in the hallway of the outpatient wing, I’m not sure if they had a meal the whole time they were there. We were able to go home on Monday morning. Brittney HATES her going-home outfit which was a pretty aqua sleeper – she says it’s boyish. I’m sure those grandma’s would have gotten her a beautiful pink if they had been able to get to the store.
That’s the end of the traditional birth story but I’m going to add just a few more things … kinda personal and TMI so don’t feel obligated to read beyond here.
First thing is that I want to encourage nursing mothers to be open about nursing. Now, I’m not saying go out and flash your boobs to the world but don’t be ashamed or embarrased about feeding your baby. No one in my family breastfed. Fifteen years ago, it wasn’t the norm by any means. What to expect when you’re expecting was a new book and even it had chapters on both formula and breast … equally as good. NOT that formula is bad, it’s great for those who need it and it was a HUGE help to me with Brittney, a necessity I wish I hadn’t needed (I will get to that next). When I was 13 a lady in my church had a baby and she nursed her. Now this was 23 years ago when EVERYONE used a bottle. I would walk down to her house and help her with the baby every afternoon and watching her nourish her baby was the most amazing and beautiful thing to me. I determined in that moment to feed my child that way. I didn’t do much research because this lady had said it was natural and the way God designed it. I honestly believe this is one of the biggest reasons that I never had any “issues” with nursing. I never had anxiety about it – it was the natural way – I just did it and loved it. And then it suddenly got taken away from me.
Post-partum with a first baby is hell. Not that it’s much better with subsequent children but my body was DONE IN. The birth itself had put a huge strain on me, an episiotomy that ripped plus the whole trauma from the forceps. The nurses kept saying that the swelling was bad and they sent me home with wonderful ice-packs. 5 days post-partum I was really hurting … around lunch time I realized that I hadn’t been able to pee in a few hours and decided to mention that to Betsy (who was still staying with us…I’m SO THANKFUL). We decided to call the OB office and had to wait on them to call back. By the time we had talked to the nurse, decided I needed to be seen and got to the office (with newborn in tow), I hadn’t peed in close to 10 hours and was running a fever. Evidently the swelling had gotten too bad and I was developing a serious infection. I went BACK to the hospital and was admitted – thankfully they allowed Brittney to stay with me. They put a catheter on and kept me overnight AGAIN. I went home with that stupid catheter and had to wear it for 5 more days until the swelling finally went down. FINALLY my body started to heal.
By 9 weeks post-partum I was getting back to normal and ready to show off my baby. Betsy had reluctantly returned to her life in TN and I decided to spend a week at my mother’s house. I hadn’t been feeling GREAT yet and had been treated for an UTI the week before but it didn’t stop me from driving 20 min to see a high school friend. While there I got extremely nauseous but didn’t want to mention it to my friend (I mean, who wants to say to someone…. I just puked in your toilet, I may have a virus – hope you don’t get it…). I loaded up the baby and headed home. I got to the closest gas station and had to stop at a pay phone (yeah, that was way back when…… what did I EVER do without a cell?????). My brother, only 16, had to drive up and get me – after stopping 3 times for me to puke we decided it best to go straight to urgent care. Brittney was hungry and starting to cry, my brother didn’t get my natural love for children, I don’t think he had even held her at this point, but he was all she had. They rushed me back to a room where my temp was 104 and I was vomitting constantly. I had severe pain in my side and since I was still fairly post-partum they didn’t want to do ANYthing there and referred me to the hospital. They called an abulance which I refused and my older brother got there about that time to drive me on to the hospital – leaving the 16 y/o in charge of the baby, thankfully he was able to drive her back to grandma quickly. I can’t tell you many details from there. HOURS later they finally found the kidney stone stuck in my tube just over my right ovary. And when I say stuck ….. they measured it at 1/2 inch in diameter and spindly (think asteroid). They were giving me massive liquids to try and push it out. They did surgery the next day and blew it up into smaller pieces which they went in and removed. I was in the hospital for 5 days total. Since the whole thing had been an emergency we didn’t really think about the details. The hospital I ended up at didn’t even have a maternity wing so they hadn’t even heard of a breast pump. I think someone brought me a hand held thingy at some point but told me I’d have to dump it all anyway. I was motivated only to relieve the pressure and horribly depressed that my nursing days had been stripped away. Thankfully Brittney did resume nursing 2 weeks later when I was off the meds but my supply never built up enough to sustain her. I was able to “comfort nurse” her until 9 months and finally just gave up. There is SO much I know now that could have helped me then. They did say that the kidney stone had been caused from the build-up of urine in the kidneys that week after she was born. I actually had numerous stones that I passed over the next few months. Lesson learned …. when I gotta go – I go!
I will try to add pictures (of the baby, not the stone!) this evening – no such thing as digital back then either. LOL. How can it be 15 years already?? People tell you that kids grow up too fast …. believe that because I’m saying it now.
5 days old, smiling at grandpa!
Just now: Brittney looking at her baby book for the first time! Now THAT’s a moment to make a mother cry. She’s reading the letters I wrote her when she was born.
still looking for snow pictures…