Birth Day

Birthdays or actual birth days are amazing.  They are a sign that God is great and blessings abound.  Ask any mother and she will tell you in great detail about the day her child or children were born.  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, she will never forget one of the greatest days of her life.  For me, I love swapping birthing stories.  They are always dramatic or filled with horror and delight.  The unknown and the known, the fear and the triumph.  Never would I have imagined that Mackenzie’s Birth Day would be bittersweet. 

I want to remember April 26th as one of the happiest days of my life.  Always.  A year later I’m still having trouble.  On Tuesday Mackenzie turns one, and I’m becoming more and more emotional.  It’s not the memory I want to have on her birthday, so I’m going to have it now.  A hope that as time passes, so will this one smudge on an otherwise phenomenal day.

Mackenzie Grace did not gracefully or quietly come into this world.  From conception she was a thorn in my side.   I had reservations before her conception, would I be well enough?  Would the morning or should I say all day sickness keep me in bed and away from Caitlin?  I was sicker than a dog, in bed, on Zophran, and miserable.  I should have known that this was not going to be easy. 

My labor began on Sunday, progressed into Monday morning and I arrived in my birthing room bed at 2am.  Back Labor was getting the best of me and I was begging for my epidural.  I got it and even got a booster an hour later, but alas, said epidural was not enough.  This was a complete opposite of my first labor experience.  I guess it was my penance for the easiest first time labor in the history of birthing babies.  Whatever it was I was in pain and not happy.

As the sun rose, my contractions increased the pain stronger, and by 7am push came to shove.  I was pushing and screaming and begging for someone to just “get this damn baby out”.  It was a birth that any Scientologist would have frowned upon, but I’m Catholic so whatever.

At 7:24 a.m., tiny, little, Mackenzie Grace entered the world.  With a cry that sounded like a kitten, the nurses weighed her twice to make sure she was indeed 4lbs 13oz.  Swaddled she resembled a football.

It was picture perfect.  So perfect she was immediately posted to Facebook.  I gave her a bottle to make sure her blood sugar was stable.  The grandparents and aunts and uncles held her.  I was tired, yes, but finally blissful.

It didn’t last.  Things were different this time.  I was having issues.  I couldn’t pee, my bleeding was off.  Abnormal clotting or something.  My uterus wasn’t contracting.  By 9:30 the nurses were pushing and kneading my flabby belly like bread dough.  I was continuing to bleed at such a rate that my bed linens were being weighed.  Ironically they weighed them on the baby scale.  Three bags of pitocin later, I was flat on my back, my bed lines in buckets, and panic on faces.
By 11am, after 2 failed catheter attempts, I asked my nurse to please call my doctor.  It had been up for discussion, but now, my pain had returned.  It felt like labor pain.  The baby was out right?  When the nurse returned and said that my OB would like to examine me in the operating room, I lost it.  My mom and I both, completely lost it.  My nurse tried to reassure me that it was just a precaution, but when the anesthesiologist returned to have me sign papers for local, I knew it was anything but.  “Please sign these.  Please select a next of kin.  We will be putting you out”.  Say what?  Are you kidding?  I just had a baby…. The BABY!

It was at this point that I realized that I hadn’t held by baby for hours.  I had been flat on my back.  I tearfully asked my mom, please bring me the baby.  She was laid next to me and I put my hand on her.  Whispering I told her that I’d be back soon; don’t give daddy trouble; and that I loved her.  Honestly in my mind I was also telling her that fraternity boys are heartbreakers; Daddy’s just overprotective; and her sister Caitlin was going to be the best friend she would ever have.  Was this something that I needed to do?  It was a moment of uncertainty for me.  I’m overdramatic in everyday life, but on this day, even more so. 

My husband kept it together nicely.  He was strong and stoic.  Naturally he is overly optimistic, so he was channeling the power of positive thinking.  It’s only been recently that he has admitted that this day scared the living *S* out of him.  The only time it seemed that it might not be the life he dreamed.  It’s something we don’t talk about much.  It’s like we both know what could have been.

On my way to the OR I had 2 requests.  Tell Caitlin that Mommy loved her, and please call Krysten to pray. 

I have to tell you that my friend Krysten is the type of friend most people say they are.  You know the ones that say “Don’t worry I’ll be there” or “I’d drop everything for you”.  She does and has.  She pulled me from a darkness that I didn’t know I was in after Caitlin was born.  She allowed me to be me, no matter how unhappy or disappointed.  She is faithful and when she prays God listens.  She also did something so selfless on that day.  She was just 4 weeks post partum herself.  After a c-section no less, she left her almost 1month old and her almost 4 year old, and came to the comfort of my mother.  She drove the 45 minutes to the hospital to sit with my mother in the waiting room while I was in the operating room.  I’m sure in her mind this was just par for the course.  To me it was a priceless gift.  I’ve never properly thanked her.  I wasn’t sure how.  I’m hoping these kind words will do.  When I think back on it I’m speechless.

I’m told I went into the OR at 12.  When I got to my room it was 3:15.  John was there with Mac, and as I entered the room, my mom and Krysten were too.  All I could say to Krysten was, “I’m glad you’re here”.  Her response, “I’m so glad you’re here”. 

Weak, tired and emotionally disoriented I was finally back with my baby.  The real story, the birth day story should begin here. 

The tears shed between me and my dearest friend Jaci.  She was shocked at my mother’s inaudible voicemail, rearranged her schedule and was at my bedside before 5pm.  With magazines and peppermint patties, we both knew the severity of the day.  Our tears and embrace signified no more alcohol laden late nights.  No more carefree days in the sun.  We were parents and it was serious, and we had so much to lose, and how quickly we had come to losing it.

The look on the faces of family members, who said they were coming to see Mackenzie.  Later my mom told me that they told her they had to see me for themselves. 

The day still haunts me.  The what ifs?  The could have beens?  I’m sure there are far worse birth day stories.  So many that mine pales in comparison.  For me, it’s something I will never forget.  Until that day, labor and delivery always ended the same.  Blissful images of mother and child.  Tearful dads, happy grandparents, flowers, and friends.  For a brief moment, I thought it might not be a happy ending.  And yes, if I’m being over dramatic in the truest sense, I learned a lot about blessings that day.    

My official diagnosis was a post partum hemorrhage.  An emergency DNC took care of it, and in the end I lost 2 pints of blood and a couple of hours.  It’s something I read about in the complications section of “What to Expect”, but I never expected it. 

This story has a happy ending.  My Mackenzie is beautiful.  And while I had a hesitation about a second child, I loved her instantly.  Any doubts left that early morning while holding her the first time.  Her birth day left me grateful, blessed, and alive.  It sounds funny, but pregnancy and delivery are a major event.  Physically and emotionally.  I think with technology, phones that do everything just short of changing a diaper, we forget that childbirth is tricky.  Nothing is guaranteed. 

April 26th will be celebrated as one of the happiest days, along with June 26th, and April 30th.  Days that signify change and love, blessings and challenges, family and life.  April 26th will also be a reminder of how quickly things can change, how lucky we are to be blessed. 

Mackenzie Grace has given me a great gift.  A second chance at motherhood.  Another reminder of unconditional love.  On her birthday we will shower her with gifts and love.  A very small return on all that she has given me and it’s just the first year.  I can’t wait for what’s to come.

Happy Blogging,


  1. Oh my goodness, you had me all teary eyed and choked up! The part "Honestly in my mind I was also telling her that fraternity boys are heartbreakers; Daddy’s just overprotective; and her sister Caitlin was going to be the best friend she would ever have."

    I went through something similar when I had my first miscarriage. I went into the ER because I was pregnant and bleeding. I tried to tell them it was kind of a lot of blood.. like a period. They just kept saying spotting is normal.. they wouldnt listen that it was MORE than spotting. I was back in a room by myself while my hubby was waiting in the waiting room with our two other kids.
    I was sitting there alone.. the nurse had just left, and I got this cramping pain in my stomach and then felt like a burst in my stomach. Then the "waterfall" of blood. I didnt know it was blood.. it felt honestly like my water broke.. but I was only 12 weeks along! I looked down to see I was sitting in a pool of blood. I was scared and started crying and tried calling for someone. I yelled... no one came to the room and the door was cracked open! But no one heard me.

    I had to get up.. I felt the blood flow down my legs and could still feel it rushing out of me. I walked to the door and yelled again for someone.. I didnt even see anyone around!
    Finally a male nurse comes walking by.. I said, please I need help! He looked and me and then down at the puddle of blood at my feet and then rushed away. I went to sit back down.. I was crying and half in a panic.
    The nurse who was in the room with me originally came back. Its sort of a blur but I know she cleaned me up.. there was so much blood everywhere. But she cleaned it up and had me lay down with a pad under me. She went to stay with my kids so that my husband could come be with me. But he had no clue. I thought she would have said something to him.. but he came in and seemed happy. When he asked what was wrong I couldnt even speak. I just cried and he knew.
    It was just a few minutes after that, that I passed out from the blood loss.. I was pale white and people rushed in to move me. My husband had to leave me for a while to get someone to come pick up the kids so he could stay with me. While he was gone someone was talking to me about what could have been wrong, and actually told me that If they couldnt get me to stop bleeding, I would bleed to death!

  2. Continued....
    WHAT?! Seriously.. and then he just walked away after that. I was alone again. I was still bleeding, I could feel it just pumping out of me. And all I could do was cry and think about dying. I wasnt afraid. I wasnt scared to die at all. I know where I am going. But all I could think of was my precious family. My kids growing up without a momma. And the fact that I was grumpy that morning and yelled at my daughter! And that would have been her last memory of me. I thought about the fact that I would never see them grow up and the fact that my son was only a little over a year old and he wouldnt even know me!
    When my husband finally came back I felt so relieved and scared. I didnt tell him what the guy said to me. But I just told him I loved him. And not to let go of my hand. Finally the doctors came back in and they did a vaginal ultra sound.. there was no baby. He had to nerve to question whether I was really pregant! I was just so sad, because I know that I must have lost the baby in that first gush of blood flow.. that same blood that the nurse cleaned up and threw away. MY BABY in the garbage! :(
    I was devasated. And all I could do was lay there. I could hardly move. I was so weak from all the blood loss. I tried once to get up to pee and I passed out again.
    I dont even know how long I just layed there on the bed waiting. It seemed like hours. And all I could concentrate on was the feeling of the blood still gushing out of me and wondering why? Finally another nurse came in and told me I was going to have a D&C. It stopped the bleeding of course. But I was so emotional and drained. From losing my baby and thinking I was also going to lost my own life... I just missed my kids and hubby. But I know my Baby (both of my miscarried babies) are in heaven waiting for me.

    Goodness, now Ive gotten myself all emotional. But I just felt compelled to share. Since it seems your experience was similar. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. Trying to hold back the tears here at work after reading this ... wowza, mama. Hugging you through the internet right now.

    (and I mean that in the least possible stalkerish and awkward way possible) ;)