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.