Devastation

July 28th, 2010 by Jules Leave a reply »

It is 4 o’clock in the morning and it will probably be quite some time later by the time I’m done writing this blog. Why on earth would I be blogging at 4 in the morning and not sleeping? Because my mind is spinning in a whirling dervish of thoughts and my gut is aching. To put it bluntly, I am devastated. And honestly, it is not as terrible as it may sound. This devastation is actually quite a good thing.

Yesterday was the Spintunes round 3 listening party. For those of you who may not be in the know of what is Spintunes, it is a song writing competition. I am one of the judges for this competition. The challenge for round 3 was to write a sad song about a normally happy event: birth. Not only was it to be a sad song, but a real tearjerker. The words “happy” and “birthday” were not to be used.

Once the deadline for each round has passed, I host a listening party in ustream. It is an opportunity for every one to listen to the songs for (mostly) the first time before they are available to the general public for listen and download. And during this listening party, I am on web cam so that people can not only hear me but see me.

I had tweeted a few time prior to this round’s listening party that I was worried about having my cam on. I didn’t want to give away any reactions to this round. I didn’t want to let on in any way if I felt (in the literal sense of the word) that people met the challenge. It totally takes away from the judges not allowed to give any real type of feedback before our rankings and reviews go live. And if the songs did indeed jerk tears out of my eyes, well the jig is up.

For a brief moment, I had contemplated not having my cam on but then decided against it. I thought I would be able to distract my brain enough, through multitasking and throwing in happy songs for breaks, that there would be no emotional responses. I failed miserably at said distraction and broke in front of those who were in attendance. 1 song jerked tears. 1 song broke me. 1 song completely devastated me. It was all I could do to keep it somewhat together and not completely crumple over with emotional pain.

I was very worried about this possibility which became reality. I had a strong feeling that this round would be quite difficult for me to listen to. I had also strongly hoped that every one would fail miserably, leaving me to have to judge from an objective perspective instead of having to include the emotional perspective as well. In my first review, I wrote that if a song elicits an emotional response from me, that is a very good thing.

I have a very difficult time emoting. Strong emotions are quite foreign to me. I never know what to do with them when they happen. But I am always thankful when something aides me in achieving a significant dam-breaking flood of emotion. But I didn’t want to have the emotional break in this round even so it was the point of the challenge. Plus, it was a challenge that I strongly advocated be the way it ended up being.

This doesn’t make sense, does it? Let me see if I can explain this in an adequate way. It may be difficult because the flood of tears will not end and my gut will not stop twisting in knots of pain and sorrow. And if I do not purge, I think I may collapse in a heap on the floor, curl up in the fetal position and tremble with the ferocity of the Big Bang. Honestly, this is not a terrible thing. What I am currently experiencing is actually quite therapeutic. I am quite grateful for it all. Okay… I should explain and hopefully I do not break any rules I am bound by as a judge in the process.

This round hits way too close to home for two reason. I knew people would write (among other topics) songs about either losing their child at birth or about the mom dying during childbirth. I almost lost Kid2. When you are pregnant, you have all types of “what if” thoughts. At least I did. You want your baby to be healthy. You want to have an uneventful pregnancy. You want all of these things and more. But if you are the realistic type, like I am, then you think about the other things just in case. You try your best to mentally prepare yourself for all scenarios… just in case.

Well, there is no such thing as being prepared for it. Nothing can prepare you for that gut wrenching and heart sinking feeling when the doctor informs you there is something wrong with the baby. The bottom falls out of your world. The world become vacuous and fuzzy and speeds up and slows down and it is all you can do to remain calm and not want to die yourself. What you wouldn’t do to insure that your baby lives. Even if that means giving up your own life. Nothing is more important than the life you’ve chosen to grow inside of you. This thing that is technically a parasite, eating away at your resources, becomes your entire Universe.

I knew my children before they were born. They were my sun and my moon from the moment I had confirmation they were growing and developing inside of me. It was a bit of a trial to get pregnant. It was something I wanted more than anything in the world. All of my life I knew my most important job was to be a mom. That was going to be my major role in life. So when I was told there was something wrong with Kid2, I was devastated beyond words. It took every ounce of strength I had to continue through my day to day, doing whatever was needed to guarantee that he would experience his first breath and grow up to be a man.

Part of this involved possible surgery on his brain while he was still in utero. When I was told they may have to do BRAIN SURGERY before he was even born, once again it was all I could do to remain outwardly calm while on the inside I was a hot sick mess. The moment to moment living that I use to get through my Lupus became of the utmost importance for both my mental and emotional survival. Thankfully, over time, the problem in his brain started to correct itself (the problem would take quite a long time to explain. If you’ve read my book then you are familiar with it). We were told that he had a pretty good change of coming through the pregnancy fine. Of course we wouldn’t know for certain until he was born and they did CT scans and closely watched his development as he grew up.

And then came childbirth and he almost didn’t make it. After all the fighting and remaining calm and trying to be optimistic while remaining realistic throughout the pregnancy was almost for nothing. He turned quite frequently while I was in labour causing the cord to wrap around his neck three times. The last 20 minutes of labour and delivery, his heart rate dropped down to 40 beats a minute every time I had a contraction. At that point, my contractions were 2 minutes long and only 20 second apart. So for a good period of time, he was being strangled plus having a heart rate drop down to almost nothing for a significant period of time without time to recover.

When his head emerged from the birth canal, the silence in the room was deafening. I looked to his dad for signs of what was going on. All my doctor told me, in a calm yet very assertive manner, “Whatever you do, Do. Not. Move. Or Push. Until I give you the word.” I read the books. I’ve seen movies. Those are not the words you want to hear. Again, it was all I could do to listen to what he was telling me to do and not panic and kill my baby. Desperately, I searched the room for answers. Desperately, I held on to my own strength. Desperately, I fought so that my baby could breathe. I just wanted him to breathe. Silence. The most painful silence one could ever know.

Finally, I was given the go ahead to push. Only to have to stop again because his collar bone got caught in my pubic bone and my doctor had to do fancy manipulation to get him out without breaking him. Once again in a very calm yet stern fashion, my doctor ordered me to not move until given the go ahead.

These two instances were only moments long but they felt like an eternity. Time stood still. The world around me ceased to exist. All that was left was the pounding of my heart, the screaming in my head and the sick feeling in my stomach, pulsating, threatening to explode at any moment. He was out.

Why wasn’t he crying? WHY IS HE NOT CRYING? WHY IS NOBODY TALKING? SOMEBODY TALK TO ME!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BABY!?! Oh please God, somebody talk to me!! He is my baby, please, please, please, let him live. WHY IS HE NOT CRYING??? Oh God, no…

5 minutes later, after a lot of frantic motions from the doctors and nurses, he cried. It was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. Someone asked on Twitter tonight, “Can some girl please describe how you feel seeing your baby for the first time? happy? Joy? Victory? I’m not even a father….” My response, “Soul exploding joy. I don’t think it is really all that describable aside from saying that intoxicating feeling of being in love to the power of the speed of light to the power of infinity.” The moment Kid2 finally cried, when he finally took his first breath, it was as if I had taken my first breathe. The moment I knew he was alive, I was alive. I fell in love with him before he was even born and there he was. He was battered and bruised, had awful discolouration as a result of being cyanotic, had Klingon ridges and scratches which remain scars to this day. This made him quite ugly in many ways, but he was also the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes upon. He was a miracle.

So yeah… there is that. I don’t think I could properly explain the horror that is almost losing your child. I would have been devastated if he died. Based on my past attempts to prepare myself for the possibility of complications of pregnancy and almost losing a child and failing at said attempt, I don’t think I could ever prepare myself for the loss of my child. I can speculate. I can trick myself into thinking I am prepared for that event. But I do not think you can ever properly prepare yourself for that. And because I came so very close to losing a child I fought for, that I had planned for, I have the utmost empathy for any parent who was not as fortunate. And because of this, this round hits really close to home.

And then there is the whole losing the parent thing. Obviously I am still alive and my children didn’t lose me during childbirth. Their fathers will never have to explain to them those events. Their fathers will never have to remind them from the day they were born how much their mother loved them, even before they took their first breath. But my children do face losing me now. And this kills me.

I’ve written about this before. It is why the movies Stepmom and Finding Neverland leave me a hot sick mess. I don’t even want to begin to imagine what it will be like for them if the complications of Lupus rear their ugly heads and leave them motherless. It is why I wrote my book. So that they will have something, always always, to remember me by. I’ve left them my stories. I’ve left them love letters. I’ve done the things that fathers have to do with their babies when they are left motherless. And it breaks my heart. I’m not saying losing your mother at birth is the same. But it is relatable and as a result, I greatly empathize with both the parent left to tell the stories (I cannot count how many tears were shed as I was leaving a record for my children) and the children without a mother.

I think I needed this cry. I don’t think I have ever fully dealt with the emotions related to Kid2’s birth. I was so busy surviving and getting through the moment, I didn’t take the time to actually let it hit me. If I had done so… well I don’t think it would be good. I don’t know if I will ever fully deal with the emotions surrounding these events. Every time I think about the sadness of it, I feel as if I am doing the wonder and joy of it a disservice. I should be counting my blessings and not dwelling in the sorrow. And of course, that is what I do.

But every now and then, events will take place that bring it all back up to the surface as if it were my current reality. So I have to stop. Remember. Be thankful. All the while, allowing myself to give into the devastation.

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5 comments

  1. Joe Covenant says:

    You’re totally right.
    This is exactly why you shouldn’t be in view during LPs.
    And not just for the sad songs.

    #’sJoe’sOpinion

  2. Heather says:

    I’m sorry it was difficult for you, but glad you at least got some sort of catharsis out of the whole experience. I think it’s good to process through emotions, even if it’s years later (or as you were saying, it’s probably better that it’s years later in this case!). I even just ran across this article talking about the health benefits of tears! Apparently we have 3 different kinds, and the emotional kind actually release stress hormones!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-orloff-md/emotional-wellness_b_653754.html

    Thank you for sharing the birth story of Kid2. Glad you are both still with us.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jules.

    I didn’t for whatever reason say this in my story behind my song, and anyone who sees this here will probably think it unthinkable that I didn’t include it, but my own song came from something that happened to us. When our daughter was born, she didn’t cry. They put her in my wife’s arms for a moment, and they took her right away from us.

    We were those “prepared” attachment parents in my song, ready to having nursing and unending babyholding from moment one, and it didn’t happen. She was put into another room, behind the glass, and we didn’t know how long we’d have to wait before we could hold her.

    It wasn’t anything as serious as what happened to you or many others. She needed supplemental oxygen. We knew it wasn’t necessarily life-threatening, but it was still very much a limbo situation for us, and we were just told we had to wait to see how things went. And we spent those first five hours after her birth with her away, elsewhere, and us still just the two of us, like we’d always been before, totally different from what we thought things would be.

    We finally got to hold her after those five hours. And after a bit less than a full day after birth, they let her come into the room with us, and there she stayed from that point on.

    Though things for us aren’t nearly as dramatic as the way I wrote the song, I do at times think about that first day, the uncertainty, what lasting impact it might have had on our daughter. As parents, we regularly make mistakes, not living up to our own parenting ideals, and I’m abundantly clear that the impact of that on our daughter is our own and doesn’t have to do with those first hours. And when my head is clear, I am able to just be grateful that she’s around and that she’s pretty fantastic and leave it at that and not worry about expectations. But my head isn’t always so clear, and so it’s all too easy sometimes to dwell on what happened, and to judge myself, and to wonder what if, and so on, and so on.

    In the end, I can definitely, most definitely, empathize with what you went through, even though I can only imagine the extent of it since it was so much more than what happened to us. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, Mark, for sharing more of your own story. There was complication when I was born as well.

      As a parent, I don’t know if we can list or quantify these things. I’m one who believes pain is pain. We each experience it and deal with it differently. And it seems perfectly human to have the “what ifs”.

      Again, thank you for sharing your own story. I know why that would have been a difficult experience for both you and your wife.