Sunday, February 13, 2011

And Baby Makes Seven

My first three babies were born in the hospital. Their births were relatively easy, though many years later I realized that they should have been even easier. A laboring Mom needs to be able to get up and move around, not be attached to monitors and unable to move much. Laying flat on your back? Come on now; who thought that one up? It goes against the law of gravity. I should have been able to walk, to roll over, to squat, and to even turn over and get up on all fours. They call it natural childbirth, but really, there is nothing natural about it. My third child had shoulder dystocia. Many years later I realized that if I had been allowed to get into a different position, she would have moved and emerged much sooner.

Fast forward. My tubes were cut, tied, and burned after child number three. After almost 13 years, my husband told me he wished we could have more children. I had always wanted at least one more, so I immediately began looking for a doctor. I was fortunate to find whom I believe is the best doctor in the state I live in. Many people not only come from out of state, but out of the country to go to him. I was told I had an 85% chance of conceiving. I had my reversal in January of 1999. I became pregnant six days after my surgery. (For more info, visit

During my infertile years I became aware of people having their babies at home. Both my husband and I decided that if we were ever blessed with more children, that they too would be born at home. When I became pregnant, I set out to learn all I could about pregnancy, labor, and birth. I've written about those births, so I won't go into it here other than to say I will be forever grateful to God for allowing and enabling me to birth that way.

After the birth of my youngest son, in May 2003, I assumed I was finished having children. I was going on 41 and being the mom of little ones was not nearly as easy as it had been in my 20's. I knew I could still have them, but I really didn't think it would actually happen. In October of 2007, after several months of showing no signs of fertility, I noticed my hot flashes had stopped... and I was feeling pretty queasy almost all the time. I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. I had mixed emotions. I was 45 and felt like I was just too old to be having another baby. My three kids that I still had at home kept me on my toes and I couldn't imagine adding another to the mix. My husband and I weren't getting along too well at the time, either. Just what was God thinking?

I felt awful through the first trimester. I started to feel better during my second trimester, but it didn't last long. I had pre-hypertension for the past several years and by month five of my pregnancy it began to skyrocket. I knew there was no way I could have this baby unassisted so I hired a midwife. I saw her a total of two times. Before the third time she was supposed to have come out, I got very sick. My husband says my skin was a pasty gray. I think we both thought the end was very near if I didn't get to the hospital. I called my midwife and she agreed that I needed to get to ER. My baby wasn't due for 6 weeks, but I knew that once I checked myself into the hospital I wouldn't be coming home until the baby was born but I wasn't prepared emotionally to take that step. I also knew that if I went to the local hospital they would end up transferring me to a particular hospital I did not want to go to. So I stayed up much of the night, praying and packing, before heading off in the morning to the hospital of my choosing.

Midwifery is illegal in this state, so I refused to tell anyone at the hospital who my midwife was. None of what I was going through was her fault; besides, I had hired her late in my pregnancy. I know I was looked at as being very irresponsible, but if I had been going to a doctor, there wouldn't have been any difference. I had done my homework. I know most births are relatively easy and could be handled by the average 8 year-old. I also had the foresight to get help when I realized I needed it. I was admitted almost instantly and hooked up to a Magnesium-Sulfate IV. It brought my blood pressure down to a not so dangerous level and the next day they took me off of it. Unfortunately, my blood pressure went right back up. Within a couple days it became obvious that my baby needed to be delivered, or we both could die.
Much of my memories of my time in the hospital are somewhat distorted. The mag/sulf drip, though benefiting my blood pressure really messed with my mind. I saw bugs that weren't there. I heard voices and I had strange dreams. I thought that I was being held hostage and that I would never be allowed to leave. My husband stayed with me for a huge chunk of the time, but when he would leave (usually to get our other children to visit me) I was in a state of panic. Time seemed to drag while he was gone and I was so afraid he wouldn't be allowed back in.

When the decision was made to have my surgery, I had to wait what seemed like an eternity. I was not allowed any food or drink and I remember being very thirsty. There were a couple more urgent C-sections that kept bumping me back, but each time they thought I would be next. It was very frustrating. Finally, it was time to go to the operating room. I don't think I was ever so frightened in my life. The room felt so cold. It seemed so dirty and I remember wondering if abortions were also performed there. (I am sure they weren't; it was a Christian hospital. I am also sure the room wasn't dirty.) I was relieved to see the anesthesiologist had gray hair, and remember telling him so. Everyone else seemed so much younger than I was, and it was a strange feeling to put my life in their hands. I felt like I was turning myself over to a bunch of kids.

The epidural was extremely painful. I can't even describe how bad it felt. I remember leaning into a woman, I don't know if she was a nurse or doctor, and holding onto her tightly, trying not to fall or pass out. She was covered in tattoos and definitely not the sort of person I would seek out for support. I don't remember what she said, but I do remember that she was very kind.

After the epidural was administered, my husband was allowed in. I was draped with a sheet, while he stood beside me. I think he was holding my hand, but I am not totally sure. I felt like I was laying on an incline, with my head down and my feet elevated. It was a very strange feeling. Then the doctor came in. I remember her talking to my husband but I don't remember anything specific. I do know he was watching as she made the incision. She cut me horizontally, but the baby was breech so she had to make another, vertical, incision. She pulled the baby out and announced that it was a girl. That part came as no surprise. The moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew it was a girl and what her name would be.

At 4:02 am on May 30, 2008, Abigail Luthera Lillie was born. She was 17 inches long and weighed 4 pound and 7 ounces. She spent the first week of her life in NICU. I was too weak to visit her much the first day or so. I was retaining a lot of water and could barely stand because my legs were so puffy and numb. My husband was the one to go to her and feed her. This was very difficult for me; I did not want my baby on a bottle.

When the mag/sulf cleared out of my system, I started to function better. The swelling in my legs went down and the feeling in them returned. I started walking to the nursery whenever I could. I couldn't always hold my baby, because she was in an incubator. At feeding time though, I could take her out. I began to breastfeed her. When I wasn't with her, I was pumping, so that she could still be given my milk. She only took such tiny amounts from my breast or the bottle so most of the milk was administered through a tube that ran down her nose.

I was told that we needed to rotate breastmilk and formula. I disagreed but knew I had to obey while she was still in the hospital. She came home when she was one week old. I quit giving her formula but I continued to pump, since she still wasn't taking in a whole lot at a time. I would feed her by both breast and bottle. The bottle was so much easier for her. Finally, when she was a couple months old, I weaned her from the bottle.

I have been amazed at how my little princess has grown. She is still small for her age, but smart as a whip. Surprisingly, I never once thought about the things that could have been wrong with her because of my age. My husband did, but it never crossed my mind until after she was here. I did expect her to be slow since she was forced to be born so early, but she has either been right on time or way ahead of what is considered normal.

She is almost three now and I still feel so blessed that she is in our lives. It was a rough and rocky start; something I would never want to go through again, but I am so thankful to God for blessing our family with this precious child.

Abigail: Beloved of the Father
Luthera: Mighty Warrior (her great-grandmother's name)
Lillie: Life (her grandmother's name)
But we just call her Allie, which incidentally, means of nobility.

Allie shortly after birth.
Allie today.

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