I’m sorry, this one won’t be pretty. I lost too much of that night already and I can’t lose any more of it to the vagaries of memory. I have to get it down in writing, what I remember so I can have Shannon fill in what I can’t. So, I’m just going to start writing until I have to stop. Maybe I’ll clean it up later, add in more as I think of it. Maybe I won’t.
I’d had a chat with the doctor that morning about the pain I was having at night. The day before he’d chalked it up to an irritable uterus…not uncommon with the ruptured membranes when there isn’t as much fluid to help cushion the baby and there’s more pressing on the wall of the uterus. He kindly fussed at my reluctance to take vicodin. I’d been starting the night with just my sleeping pill at midnight, then when that wasn’t enough to get me past the pain, I’d take the vicodin an hour later . I kept hoping that the sleeping pill would relax me enough that I could sleep through the pain because I hated the way the vicodin left me in a fog the next morning. That Wednesday night, I decided to listen to him. I took the vicodin at 9 when the pain really started and waited for it to put me into a drugged sleep like it always did. At midnight, I asked for the sleeping pills because I was still wide awake and still in pain. I may have dozed off. I can’t remember now. At 1am, I woke Shannon up from the couch where he was sleeping and paged the nurse because the pain wasn’t going away; sharp, stabbing muscle pain…not menstrual cramp-like…not even when comparing them to my curl-up-on-the-floor-and-hope-to-die menstrual cramps. This was not unlike the pain I had during the gall bladder attacks. Deep breathing didn’t work, panting didn’t work. I remember telling the nurse that it was an 8 or 9 on my pain scale. Then, I lose a chunk of time. I have a vague impression of other nurses being there. Then, it seems like it happened instantaneously but that’s impossible, but the doctor was there. Not my doctor, one of his partners. I’d met him several times. I remember there being several people in the room. I have no idea what Shannon was doing, where he was. All I do remember vividly is the doctor doing a manual exam and in the midst of trying not to get away from him with all my strength thinking, “This man has the biggest hands I’ve ever felt.” I have the feeling I may have yelled in pain. I thought I heard him say, “I can feel the head.” The next thing I remember is an anesthesiologist telling me he was going to put me under in just a minute. I could feel plastic wrap being put across my belly. I asked if Shannon could be there. I remember the plastic mask being put on my face. Then, nothing.
Shannon tells me that after the doctor did his exam I kept insisting I needed to use the bathroom and refused to go anywhere until they let me. The doctor agreed to my “request.” I got out of bed, was helped to the bathroom, and used the bathroom on my own. While I was in there, a gurney was brought into my room to take me for an ultrasound. The mechanism that raises and lowers the gurney was broken, so they couldn’t get it any lower than just above waist height. The configuration of the room prevented them from getting it all the way in the room, so I was in the bathroom with the gurney between me and anyone who could help me. Shannon has told me they urged me to use the railing, which was down, as a step but I kept refusing and instead climbed up onto the bed myself with them pulling on my hands. I was taken down the hall for the fastest ultrasound ever which confirmed that Lennox was in the birth canal and Zoë was transverse at the top of my uterus. We were then swept off to surgery. I have no memory of any of it.
When I woke up on Thursday, I’d been moved to a different room because my original room didn’t have oxygen and, as we’ve learned is common for me, I don’t breathe well after surgery. In the hours I’d been asleep, Shannon had moved all of my things and put them in almost exactly the same places. The only differences between the rooms were a different picture on the wall and a slightly different placement of the window (the blinds were closed, so I couldn’t see the different view yet). It took me awhile to work up the courage to ask why the room was different. Shannon told me what had happened, and then went to go see the babies. I slept most of Thursday. My mother arrived. Shannon showed me photos of them both and tried to explain everything that was going on with them, but none of it made any sense to me. The day seems very compressed in my memory, like it passed in a matter of minutes. Morphine does that to me. I do remember very clearly being shaken awake in the middle of the night by several nurses who were putting ice packs under my arms, on my groin, and telling me to roll on my side so they could put a cold mat under me. I kept arguing that I’d had surgery, I couldn’t roll over, why where they doing this? I had a fever and they needed to bring it down. I thought I demanded that they call Shannon, but apparently I never said it outloud. Then, they wrapped my hands and feet in hot wet towels and left. A while later, Friday morning, a nurse I liked very much woke me up again so I could go to radiology. They wanted to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia. My left hand was cramped from holding on to the button that controlled my morphine so tightly. She and one of the women from radiology and one of the patient care techs spent an incredible amount of time trying to get a gurney in so I could move over onto it. They finally got me down to radiology. I was in the xray room when the nurse came in and said she had to take me to the NICU. Something was wrong with Lennox and they wanted me to have a chance to see him. She let me use the phone to call Shannon. All I could tell him was “Get here now.” In that one phone call he found out his wife had had a fever high enough to require ice packs, possibly had pneumonia, and his son might not survive until he got there. I was rushed off, still on my gurney, with my oxygen tank and IV of morphine and antibiotics, for my first visit to the NICU, my first visit with my children. Lennox’s nurse had been afraid that his heart rate was dropping so low that he wouldn’t make it and wanted to make sure we got to see him. By the time I got there, he was better. I got to see him and Zoë. Shannon arrived with my mother.
That’s how I remember the birth of my children and their first two days.