Next month JJ turns 4. My delivery with him was so amazing that it was more than worth all the life-fighting it took to bring him into this Hell-hole of a society. He’s already older than Skas was by the time JJ was born. I wanted three kids. Actually, I didn’t want any kids but then I had one and I was like, ew, a baby. And then I was like…let’s have another! And then I was like, “Thank the good vibes we just have the one!” Aaaand now I’m back and forth again. I’m 32 years-old now, I’m about to start drying up. I’m running out of time to expand this family myself and then it’ll be up to my boys to do it and then, double ew, I’ll be a grandma! I’m only 32, I’m too young to be a grandma no matter how many silver hairs I already have!
Both of my boys almost killed me. Skas got stuck; the doctor was too old and shaky to get a good solid grip on the vacuum so it kept falling off his head and by the time he finally got the kid out, I had bled so much the doctor couldn’t find his way back in. A nurse stood horrified behind him, her face pale and her eyes wide as she watched the blood pour out of me. A second nurse stood beside the incubator, forgetting to give my baby the attention he needed. The old man between my legs dropped blood soaked rags on the floor beneath my bed. It was like a horror movie! And I just laid there in wonder, amazed at how much that baby felt like a really big wet and solid turd-egg coming out of my vagina. I just had a baby. And then there’s my mom “He’s blue! He’s not breathing! Do your fucking job!” And the room spun and the baby was out of the room and the doctor finally sewed me closed between my vagina and asshole. Isn’t giving birth so beautifully spectacular?
I almost bled out and that stubborn old man refused to do anything more than try to finish the job without help. Thank goodness he was more able than I thought but jeez…. Months later, after Skas and I both recovered from the surgeries we had (he had a pyloromyotomy at 28 days old and I had CO2 laser surgery to remove abnormal cells from my cervix) I began asking my family what they would do in a Steel Magnolias situation. If it was safest for them to not have a baby, would they still? No one suggested I stop having kids. My doctor, el Jefe, said it wouldn’t be a problem but I was still curious. I didn’t have cancer but I had HPV and it was to a point where my usually stern and cold doctor spoke to me warmly and said he would schedule me on a day when he wouldn’t be on-call. The whole situation made me wonder about the risks of all pregnancies. How many would take the risk? How many would be supporting of someone who chose to take that risk?
In my family, the answer is pretty simple. It’s not worth the risk. As if Stilla’s ability to continuously breed without limits was enough for the rest of the women in the family. It wouldn’t be worth the risk to lose me according to everyone. When I got pregnant with JJ I really wasn’t thinking about Steel Magnolias or anything other than how worried I was about being pregnant while I was going to school. I’m not a very smart person. I quit my job to go to school because, unlike most of the population, I cannot handle both a job and school. How would I manage school, a pregnancy and Kasper and Skas? I intended to just do it, just keep going forward doing what I needed to, whatever that may mean.
I kind of knew early on that this pregnancy was not right. I knew what I felt was different from normal pregnancy paranoia. I knew something was warning me. I didn’t ignore it but unfortunately I was ignored by my doctor, husband and family. You start to feel crazy. When you hurl up so much that you are overflowing the toilet and literally have to catch it and transfer it to another location to keep the vomit from going all over the floor, something is very wrong. And to still have everyone doubt you? Or when you vomit and save some of it to show your husband that it’s got a clear, smoky, charcoal look to it, “See, I’m not making this up?!” and you’re dismissed as someone who forgot she drank a Dr.Pepper (which I didn’t), you feel like you’re losing your mind. I had blinding headaches that seemed to stem from my neck. I was constantly dizzy though not alway nauseous. I saw big, black orbs obstructing my vision. I couldn’t feel my left arm at one point though I could move and control it. I just couldn’t feel it. And the smells. Everything smelled wrong, not bad but wrong.
And then I woke up 13 weeks pregnant on the floor, paralyzed on one side of my body. El Jefe wanted me to do a c-section when we discussed birthing plans months later but by this point I was not ignoring my instincts for even a second. My instincts screamed at me not to let them cut me open. I’ve always felt c-sections were too common; I feel they should be reserved for emergencies, not “easier” deliveries. I like to trust my body even when it’s weak and it was telling me it could handle having a baby as naturally as possible. So that’s what I did. I had a passive (fetal descent) delivery. I don’t know the medical terms for it but it’s a “new” thing according to my research a while back. It doesn’t seem like it could be new but from what I gather it seems like…
like centuries ago we turned away from real natural birth and turned it into a breathing and pushing exercise when that’s totally unnecessary in most cases. I’m not talking about holistics or water births or having a block party and pushing out a kid in the same room.
A “passive” delivery is essentially letting your body do everything on its own. Don’t get me wrong, I took the drugs, I took them all. I took the Cervidil, the epidural, the dilaudid and the muscle relaxers. I didn’t take the Ambien like last time, it makes me hallucinate so there’s a warning on my chart against it now. After you get all the meds, you just wait. In my case, because of the hemiparesis, I had a nurse there to keep my legs moving. I became insanely restless after the second drip for the epidural but couldn’t move.
El Jefe warned against natural delivery because he was unsure if I could feel and be able to respond to the need to push. A passive delivery delays the pushing and lets the uterus do most of the work for mom. They sat me up in the bed (these beds move into some crazy positions!) and put a mirror in front of me. I stared at the crown of my son’s head, I pet the soft tuft of hair while he was still inside of me. The nurses pet him, my mom pet him and I watched him in the mirror as he slowly began to wiggle his way through me. The nurses panicked, none of them had delivered a baby this way before. Something made me laugh and the nurses started laughing and I laughed harder and el Jefe walked in just in time to step between my legs and catch JJ. He was angry because I didn’t wait but then he saw the expressions, the smiles, the laughter still echoing in the room and he smiled.
I’ve been in enough support groups and discussions by now to know that becoming a mother after stroke is not an impossibility. Plus, I’ve already done it so I do know what to expect. El Jefe yelled at me when he asked when to schedule tubal ligation and I told him I wouldn’t be scheduling any such procedure. I want that third baby but I’m older now so the risks are higher; I’m a stroke survivor and I have NEAD as well as a nonepileptic convulsive disorder. One I do convulse but it’s not common and one is like frequent panic attacks that come out of nowhere and freaks me out. My Keppra helps me with the convulsions but so far nothing helps with the non convulsive attacks so I just “deal” with them. Having another baby means planning so I have to get off my meds, putting me at increased risk of seizure – not good for pregnancy. We’re way broke and I have very little patience with the two kids we already have but…I want one more! Do I? I’ve never planned for a baby. We obviously can’t afford one but have we ever really been able to afford one?
So now I’m kind of back to the Steel Magnolias predicament. There’s a lot of risk with another baby but….is it too selfish to want to try anyway? Probably.