Today, as if this moment (2214 PM PDT), Kid2 is 12. I know that I haven’t had babies in years, but when your youngest child becomes 12, the reality of that is even greater. At least for me that is the case. Since your youngest child will only turn 12 once, beginning another important phase in their life, I thought it would be kinda neat to share the story of his birth. This story is published in my first book. For privacy reasons, I edited out the names. If you want names, you’ll have to purchase the book .
Kid2, you have always loved to hear stories about you. The stories you love to hear the most are those of how difficult of a baby you were, stories where I call you the demon spawn. You love it when I tell stories of the struggles I went through to raise you into the person you are today. You also love to hear about the physical pain that you have caused me. Especially how you re-broke the rib Kid1 broke while I was pregnant, as a result of being big babies, in my little body, with very hard kicks.
Already in these pages, I have recounted some of the difficulties that were your younger years. I left out things about how you would get so angry, you would walk up to the hardest thing that was close to you and bang your head off of it with as much force as possible. Stories about your inability to self-sooth. If you were upset and we did not find a way to calm you down within 30 seconds, you would proceed to vomit, violently. Stories of how your emotions were so black and white. You were either very content or extremely angry or upset. You are still that way, but thankfully over the years I was able to teach you techniques to deal with these aspects of your personality. You love to hear the stories of endless specialist and infant development appointments, and later months of speech therapy. When you grow up, you will inherit the file folder with all of the reports from that time in your life.
I have also recounted some of the very wonderful things that make you who you are. You also love these stories. I am now going to tell the story of your appearance into this world. Without this story, none of the stories that make up Kid2′s story would be possible. Just like your brother, you were planned. I was going to get my tubes tied and had the surgery date booked but I decided that I was going to have at least 1 more child. 3 short months after making that decision, I found out I was pregnant with you. I am so happy that I made that decision. You enhance my life in more ways than I could express. Even during the difficult times, you have always brought me so much joy.
It was the end of a very long nine months. They were not long for the usual reasons women cite when they talk about their pregnancies. In fact, pregnancy and I got along famously. I did not have the usual negative side effect of pregnancy such as weight gain, morning sickness, moodiness, swelling of fingers and feet, having to go to the bathroom every 30 seconds, being up all night with a kicking baby and being uncomfortable, stretch marks and whatever else women complain about when they are pregnant. I was the healthiest I had ever been. What made it long was the fact there was something wrong with the baby.
When I was around five and a half months pregnant, it was discovered that there was swelling in the baby’s brain. No cause was ever found. There was talk of having to put a shunt into his head while he was still inside of me. What should have been monthly follow-up appointments, turned into bi-weekly appointments with an ultrasound during each appointment. We were given the sex of the baby so that we were able to pick a name and make arrangements in case the unthinkable happened. It was a very scary time. I wanted this baby so much. If I were to lose it, I do not know if I would have ever fully recovered.
So we went through the motions and prepared ourselves for the worst, just in case. After finding out the sex of the baby (which we already figured it would be a boy), we went back to the hotel room and started to think of names. Some of the names that we considered were [names removed] and [names removed] and many variations. In the end we decided on [names removed]. In my last month of pregnancy, we received some wonderful news, the swelling in his brain was starting to go away. By the time he was born, it was almost completely gone and we were told everything should be okay. However we (the doctors and the family) would not know what kind of developmental effect it would have until Kid2 was born and started to grow up.
I was due April 12, 1999. On April 11, I went into labour. Or at least what I thought was labour. We went to the hospital and to them it appeared I was in labour as well. Turned out, it was false labour which lasted over 24 hours. The following morning, my doctor arrived to see how I was doing. I was in tears. I had not slept at all the night before. I had enough of this pregnancy. Through tears, I told my doctor, “Every one says that he will be okay. However, the past few months have been hell. I have not slept in weeks. I want him out of me. I will not sleep again until I can hold him in my arms and see for myself that he is okay. Please get him out of me now. I cannot do another day of this, especially after being in false labour for over 24 hours.”
I am so thankful for the doctor that I have. He has been my doctor since I was 6. When my grandma was sick and dying, we did not want her to die in the cold environment of a hospital. We wanted her at home surrounded by loved ones. So every night, for the months preceding my grandma’s death, my doctor would make house calls and bill them as office visits as house calls are not covered. He taught my mom how to give my grandma her morphine shots and how to change her catheter. When my grandma finally passed away in the early hours of the morning, he came out to the house right away to write up her death certificate. He was always a phone call away. He was a part of my family. He was there for both of my boy’s labours and deliveries and has been their doctor since they were born. Because of our special relationship and knowing how much the issues with my pregnancy were torturing me, he decided that even so it was not normal procedure, as I was not considered overdue, he would send me to the obstetrician (as more than one doctor needs to sign off on an induction if the person is not overdue) and strongly recommend that they induce me as soon as possible.
The following day I met the obstetrician. I pled my case and he read the letter from my doctor. He reminded me of the extra risks that may occur when someone is induced too early. He told me how there was a good chance that it would end up in a Caesarian section. However, given the facts I was induced with Kid1 and the labour and delivery was quick and with no complications, I personally had no health concerns while I was pregnant, I would probably end up having to be induced anyway because I had a tilted cervix and it was unlikely I would go into labour on my own, and the mental and emotional stress that I was under, he approved the induction. He sent me across the road to see my doctor and we booked the date. He called the obstetrician, pediatrician to let them know when it was booked and made sure the extra nurses were on staff for the day of the delivery as required in order for me deliver in Duncan and not Victoria. On April 16, 1999 at 8 am, I was to report to the maternity ward and have the Oxytocin gel applied to my cervix. I was then to go home and wait. I would later return to the hospital at 5 PM and have my progress checked. I was not allowed to eat that day in case something happened and a c-section was required.
The gel worked quickly to soften my cervix. My Braxton-Hicks contractions were coming with increasing frequency and strength. I took a long hot bath to try and sooth the pain that my cervix was experiencing. The hours seemed like days as we watched the clock, waiting for the time to return to the hospital. We could not wait any longer so we decided to go to the Superstore and get some last minute things needed for the soon to be arrival of Kid2. Walking through the store became increasingly difficult, so at 4:30 PM we decided it was time to return to the hospital.
The nurses put me in the pre-labour room and hooked me up to a monitor to see if I was indeed in labour. They inserted the IV and prepped me for delivery. I was not in labour yet, but it could be at any moment. They called my doctor and told him I was waiting. He decided to leave the office early and check on my progress. I had not yet dilated even a cm, however there was enough room in my cervix to break my water. So at 5 PM, he broke my water and I instantly went into labour. Remembering how quickly I progressed with Kid1, he phoned his wife and told her that he would not be home for dinner. He informed her that he had just broken my water and that I was in labour and he was going to stay by my side until Kid2 was born. And that he did, except for the 20 minutes he needed to run down to the cafeteria and get a sandwich.
The labour started fast and hard. Like with Kid1, I went straight into transition. The contractions started at a minute and half long with one minute in between. I went from no progression to 6 cms in a couple of hours. However, something did not feel right. My labour went from front labour to back labour, back to front labour to back labour. My contractions were also getting longer and coming at a greater frequency quicker than they did with Kid1. Soon, there was less than 15 seconds in between contractions and they were close to three minutes long. I was unable to catch my breath and had no time to prepare for the next “OMG THIS [swear removed because of LENT) HURTS” moments. Even so my labour was “OMG THIS [swear removed because of LENT) HURTS” from the very first moments, I never once screamed and remained very calm.
Kid2′s heart rate also began to do funny things. My oxygen levels were doing funny things as well since I had no time for deep cleansing breaths in between contractions. The nurses told me that they needed to give me some form of painkiller. I protested very loudly. There was no way I was going to take drugs. Even after any surgeries I had, I never took heavy-duty pain medication. And I did not want the baby to be doped up. They urged me that it was in my best interest and the baby’s best interest to take something. I again reminded them that I had a natural birth plan and I was going to stay that way. I wanted to experience every little moment of this. The nurses said they could give me laughing gas. It will not cross the placenta and the effects will be brief, which will allow me to still experience the labour.
Reluctantly, I agreed. They gave me the mask and told me how to use it. They told me it was safe for me to use as often as I wanted and needed. It was very important that they got my breathing under control and that I had some form of relief in between the contractions. So I took one long, huge inhale. It was awful! Suddenly, my vision was blurred; I was light-headed and could not think clearly. I hated it. I was about to freak out because of the feeling. When I say freak out, I mean I felt as if I was going crazy. I did not like this feeling at all and it was causing me to want to rip my skin off and escape. I felt trapped and anxious. I told them there was no way I was going to take anymore and I would just work through the pain and try my best to find a happy spot.
It was at that point that I asked for my music to be turned on. I had brought with me two Sarah McLachlan CDs. From that moment on, they never stopped playing. Later on, playing those CDs was the only way to stop Kid2 from screaming during the numerous moments where just touching him would cause him to become stiff as a board and scream as if someone was murdering him. The next 30 minutes were some of the best moments during my labour. My sister massaged my lower back and stomach (the contractions were still shifting from front to back) while my doctor massaged my feet and Kid2′s dad massaged my hands. However, soon even music and massage was not enough to keep me in my happy place. The contractions had progressed to close to four minutes long and 10 seconds apart.
That is when Kid2′s heart rate quickly started to drop during each contraction. I was at 9 cms and had been there for about 15 minutes with no further progression. I was unable to take anything close to resembling a deep cleansing breath and panic started to set in. That is when the nurses yet again urged me to take something. They wanted to give me Demerol. I flat out refused. There was no way I was going to take a narcotic, especially so close to the finish line. A drug that was sure to cross the placenta and cause my baby to be stoned. That is when the nurses informed me of the joys of Fentanyl. Yes it was more powerful than morphine, however they would give me less than 1 cc in my leg and not my IV. It would not pass the placenta and I would not feel drugged or stoned. The effects would last very briefly but it would give me the relief I needed and that Kid2 needed in order to survive the last few moment of labour.
We were about four and a half hours in when it happened. They had just given me the first injection and finally I was able to breathe and smile in between contraction. Finally I was able to talk again. However, it did not have the effect they were hoping it would have on Kid2. I had another very hard and long contraction, his heart rate dropped to 40 beats a minute. When the contraction was over, it did not rise. He was stressed and something was seriously wrong. They could not wait any longer to get him out. I could not wait any longer to get him out. He had already started to descend into the birth canal and was putting pressure on my cervix. I was only at 9 cms but they had to deliver NOW! My doctor told me to push really really hard. On each push, he was going to force my cervix open. He told me this would be very painful. That was the understatement of the millennium! 10 minutes and several pushes later, he had forced my cervix to 10 cms. It was time for me to push for real.
At a couple minutes to 10 pm, we started the real action. A contraction started and I pushed down with all that I could. I could feel Kid2 move just that much further down. I rested for less than 30 seconds and it was time for me to push again. I pushed with everything that I had and that is when I felt his head deliver. Suddenly the room went very very silent. The 4 nurses, 3 doctors and Kid2′s dad barely breathed. I looked over at Kid2′s dad for some clue as to what was going on but amazingly he was calm. He took my hand and started to massage it as my doctor said, “It is very important that you remain still and do not push during your next contraction.” Terrified, I listened and fought every urge to push as the next contraction rapidly approached. You could hear a pin drop. Hours seemed to pass but it was only minutes. Then I was given the okay to relax and push again when I felt the next contraction.
Immediately, the next contraction came and I pushed. I felt the shoulders start to emerge. My doctor quickly said, “STOP PUSHING!” Fighting every instinct I had to push I stopped. It felt as if I was being ripped from my vagina all the way down the inside of my legs and along the bottom of my feet to the end of my big toe. My doctor informed me that Kid2′s shoulders were very broad and one was stuck under my pelvic bone. He was going to try and dislodge it but was afraid he may have to break his collarbone to finish delivering him. It was all I could do to remain calm and not completely freak out and cry. After some careful maneuvering, my doctor dislodged Kid2′s shoulder and the rest of his body just slid out. On April 16, 1999, at 10:14 PM, weighing 7 lbs. and 13 oz and measuring 19 3/4 inches, with red-blonde hair and blue eyes, Kid2 was born. However all was not well.
Kid2 was not crying. The pediatrician quickly grabbed him and put him under the warming light. The pediatrician, obstetrician and nurses tried to quickly revive him as my doctor delivered my placenta. I still did not hear him cry. My doctor checked my cervix and informed me, “Congratulations. Your cervix is intact. There is no bruising. And you did not rip. No stitches.” I was amazed to hear this news considering I felt as if I was being ripped right down to my toes, but it was not the time to celebrate. My baby was still not crying. Finally I heard the most beautiful noise ever. The sound of Kid2′s first cry. It stopped very quickly and once again he was not alert.
As the team worked on Kid2, my doctor informed me that when Kid2′s head was delivered, the cord was wrapped around his neck three and a half times. That is why my labour was going from back to front because Kid2 had decided to turn while I was in labour. Kid2′s dad went on to say he had never seen anything so amazing as when my doctor very quickly and quietly unwrapped the cord in what appeared to be warp speed. My doctor then shook my hand, told me that it was an honour to once again deliver my baby and he would be proud to do this with me at least 10 more times. I was built to have and deliver babies. Finally Kid2 was responsive and it was time for me to hold him.
He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and held. He was also the most ugly thing I had ever seen and held. He had very deep scratches on the side of his face, right beside his eye and mouth. To this day, Kid2 still has the scars. He was also black and blue from the bridge of his nose to the bottom of his chin and around his mouth. The doctor informed it was because he was cyanotic. That discolouration stayed for months. On top of the cuts and black and blue face, he had Klingon ridges. He had a bigger than average head (36 cms) and because he was in the birth canal for so long, instead of getting a cone head like most vaginal births, the plates had decided to overlap each other like a subduction fault line in the earth’s crust. Kid2 loves to hear how he was both the most beautiful and ugly thing when he was born, how he looked like a beaten up Klingon.
The days to follow were also very stressful. He did not nurse at all during the first 24 hours. I was engorged and in a lot of pain. He dropped over half a pound. When I brought my concerns to the nurses, they told me not to worry. Many babies lose weight in the first 24 hours and he had a pretty traumatic entry into this world. He is fine, he just needs extra rest. My worries were not relieved. I continued to watch him like a hawk. Something was not right. Over 24 hours had passed and he still had not eaten. He still was not waking up. He was still very drowsy. I repeated my concerns to the nurse. At this point he had lost close to a pound and they were now beginning to be a little concerned themselves. He needed to eat, if anything else. They told me to give him a bath as this should wake him up and make him alert enough to nurse.
We bathed him and he yelled the entire time. However, as soon as the bath was over, he was asleep again. No amount of poking and prodding would wake him up. He had not yet had his afterbirth blood work. He was not scheduled to have it until later in the day, but we had to get him awake and eating. The nurses called the lab and told them to send a tech right away. We were hoping the needle in his heel and the subsequent pain as they squeezed it to get his blood would be enough to wake him up. Again, he screamed as if someone was killing him but as soon as it was over, he was sleeping. It was very hard for me to remain calm and not panic. They ordered a liver test to see if he was jaundiced. Sure enough he was borderline jaundiced but his levels were not where he required treatment. We just had to monitor him closely.
Two days later, he was finally waking up and eating. He had lost more weight than they were comfortable with and even so I was so ready to go home and start my life with my new baby, they would not discharge us until he had regained a few of his lost ounces. Over the next 24 hours, he regained 4 ounces and we were able to go home.
Even so the following years would be difficult as we had to deal with a child with autistic tendencies, the months of stress and worry during the pregnancy when we did not know what was going on and the following issues during his labour and delivery, I would do it a million times over without changing a thing. I never once hoped or prayed that there was some magical pill or treatment to make these things go away.
Even during the hardest of times, Kid2 has been a constant source of humour and joy in my life. I have not even for the briefest of moments considered what my life would have been like had I decided to stay with my decision to tie my tubes and not have another child. He is one of my reasons.