Before my first child was born, I did a lot of “prep work.” I watched those “bringing home baby” shows ad nauseum, I took prenatal yoga three times a week and I went to birthing classes with my husband. When the big day arrived, I had a strange mix of emotions ranging from totally calm and ready to utterly terrified and panicked. So when my nurse said to me, after twelve hours of laboring, “Are you ready?”
I responded with “Yes!” but in my mind said,
No! Wait, I can’t do this.
My nurse, Amy, who also happened to be one of my best friends since the first grade, knew what I was thinking and promptly gave me a look like, Mare, yes you can.
“I’m ready,” I said with hesitant confidence.
As Amy dimmed the lights and began to prepare the room for delivery, I went inside myself. I remembered the deep, deliberate breathing I had practiced at prenatal yoga and as well as the “shot clock method” that my yoga instructor had taught me. She had told me to envision a shot clock in my mind, in between pushes, counting down from twenty-four, slowly and deliberately. We practiced it in every class, so on the day of delivery, it was second nature, and it really was one of the best tricks in getting through that day.
However, once the pushing began, the delivery became a little harrowing. My break-through pain began due to the posterior positioning of the baby, I started in with a fierce case of labor-related tremors, and I spiked a high fever all in a matter of minutes. I knew that all of those things would be a possibility, because I had seen them on the TLC baby shows and in my birthing classes, but I didn’t really expect them to happen to me, especially not ALL of them.
Then, the baby went into distress. Her heart rate started to plummet and I heard the doctor tell Amy that she saw meconium in the baby’s mouth, which I had learned was NOT a good thing. Then, a haze of time passed with words like cord and neck being used in the same sentence; again, not good. My fear took on an entirely new meaning at that point. It was no longer for myself, but for my baby girl that I so desperately wanted to meet.
At some point a team of specialists were called in to stand by to help my baby upon arrival, and even though my concern rose, I began to settle back into the faith that she was going to be okay.
Once I knew she was finally out, the first thing I needed confirmation on was if she was indeed a girl, or if I was going to be one those horror stories of painting a nursery pink only to find out the sonographer had made a mistake.
Quickly I realized that the baby’s sex was the least of my worries. They put her on my chest for only a fleeting moment and then she was taken away so that the specialist team could work on her.
“She’s not breathing,” someone uttered.
What do you mean she isn’t breathing?
I was not prepared to hear those words. Amy and possibly a few others tried to explain what was happening but all I could decipher was that she had a bubble in her lungs and though they didn’t lead on like it was life threatening, it wasn’t good.
I held her one more time, for a few brief minutes, before she was taken to the NICU where she spent three long days. The first time I was able to hold her, and actually try to nurse her, was almost twenty-four hours after she was born. Those were some of the longest, most emotional hours of my life.
Thankfully, my daughter Lily’s birth story turned out with a happy ending. So even though the delivery was not what I had expected or imagined, that day was one of the best days of my entire life. I am glad I did all the “prep work” before the birth, like prenatal yoga & birthing classes, because I think all of that knowledge helped me understand what was happening to me and to my baby. But in truth, nothing can prepare us for the miracle that is birth.
I am grateful to my dear friend Amy, to my awesome OBGYN and to the incredible doctors and staff of Rady’s Children’s Hospital who cared for my daughter Lily for those three days. Many women are not as fortunate as I am to have such amazing care, which is why I am so happy to be partnered with ABC and their Million Moms Challenge campaign that helps support moms and babies all over the world who need help and care.
Tell us in the comments what went through your mind when you held your baby for the first time, and by doing so you will help out the Million Moms campaign by helping spread the word. Your reply will enter you to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and a $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.
Please join the Million Moms Challenge and sign up today!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs October 17 to November 13, 2011. A random winner will be announced by November 15, 2011.