Of course, nothing went as planned. We were scheduled for an induction. I wasn't too keen on the idea of having my labor induced, but I cut my losses and took yet another blow to my birthing ego. The doctor was a bit concerned at the amount of fluid I had accumulated - better to be safe than sorry and avoid having her gush out, yanking the cord with her in the process. Seriously, I had about enough fluid to hold twins. My three year old would have had enough space to swim around in there! The doctor thought it was associated with my gestational diabetes. I thought I was going to give birth to a 10lb baby. Turns out we were both wrong, but I'll get to that later.
After having my water bag "popped" and experiencing several hours of the worst cramps I've ever had in my life, I still was not dilating. To top it off, the baby wasn't looking like she would be ready to make her way on out anytime soon. In the end, I was urged to have a caesarean. I cried the entire time - mad at myself and my body for betraying me during this critical moment.
On the one hand, it felt like an eternity before it was all over; yet, on the other hand, it also felt like it was over in a heartbeat. There she was, ripped out from me, crying, a beautiful baby girl. The trauma was overshadowed by this beautiful being that was created out of love. I remember her piercing eyes and that first scream that told me she would be a force to be reckoned with. I remember thinking to myself, "Thank goodness. She's got all her parts in the right place." I remember the doctor's words, "See. A healthy baby girl." Turns out we were both wrong, but I'll get to that later.
The doctors explained that she would be taken to another room for a short while. We would both be cleaned up, suctioned out, and whatever else it is that I'd rather stay hazy about. My husband would go with the baby and they would return in a few minutes so that I could hold her and feed her. I was anxious to hold her, but I waited patiently. After some time, I couldn't tell if I had entered a bizarre time warp where the minutes felt like hours, or if in fact hours had gone by. I still can't say for sure.
What I can say is that the look on my husband's face when he returned without our baby was a moment I would rather forget: it was one of sorrow, pain, and grief combined. He seemed to have aged a decade in that moment. I'm sure my face must have mirrored the same right on back when his words failed him and the doctors had to explain why I couldn't hold my daughter in my arms, not even for a moment, after having held her in my belly for over nine months. "When we were suctioning your baby, we discovered that there was a blind pouch in her esophagus. She has Esophageal Atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula, which means she'll need surgery. . . ." It turns out she also had a few other problems. There were so many confusing medical terms. It felt as if someone was praying over me in another language as I lay there recovering from the anesthesia. I remember repeating "Esophageal Atresia" . . . "Esophageal Atresia" . . . "Esophageal Atresia" over and over in my head. I had to remember so that I could run a search on my laptop as soon as I could, to make sense of it all in my own way.
About half an hour to an hour later, they wheeled me over to her. There we both lay, her in a snow-white-looking-shell of a bed in the NICU, and I in an unpleasant medical bed with wheels. I couldn't hold her in my arms just yet. I don't quite remember why, but then again, I'm still trying to recover the memory of this first visit. There are pictures and witnesses to prove that I was there and that I was able to touch her and hold her little hand in mine for the first time, but my memory fails me. I remember crying myself to sleep and going over every little detail in my mind trying to figure out what I did wrong during my pregnancy to affect her this way. I remember being sad, hurt, and angry that after months of being attached to this little being, we were forced into an unnatural separation from each other. I remember it was the memory of her eyes and her perfectly round face that finally gave me the solace to give in to the exhaustion and finally sleep.