I wrote a post the other day explaining why I have such a hard time in October. If you read it, and read down to the comments, it explains a lot of why my behavior has been so strange as of late. I'm also just plain not feeling well. Something is up with my heart again and the shortness of breath is beyond dealable for the moment and it was suggested by my cardiologist that I use my oxygen machine whenever I get short of breath or have any kind of dizziness that doesn't immediately go away after sitting down. Here's the thing, I take meds that make me dizzy all the time, so sometimes I put it off. Yesterday, I realized both my portable tanks are empty and I'm out of clean 50 foot tubing and cannulas so I have a whole new bullshit deal I have to handle for the week. Yesterday, I had a bout of hiccups (I know, seems really lame and benign, right?) but if you have a cardiac history like mine, you know hiccups that just won't go away are a bad thing. Especially when you have a pacemaker lead laying right next to your vagus nerve. So I spent most of my day laying in bed hiccuping with my oxygen on. I also had a fight with my mother the other day about her belief that I use my heart complications as an excuse not to do things and how my depression is strictly caused by overtaking my pain meds. Really, that's not what this post is about, but I had a few things to get off my chest today so to speak.
The title, let's talk about that. I posted about losing babies. I wanted to post a little deeper about My son Mac. MacKenzie was a very wanted baby. We had planned for him, and he was to be the only one of my children without the MLM initials because his middle name was Zane after my late brother. His name would have been the same no matter his gender, but he was indeed a boy. The day my water broke, I felt "off". I blame so much of this on myself because at 19 weeks I still did not have a regular OB/Gyn. The previous experience had marked my soul forever and I was afraid. I was constantly afraid that something would go wrong. I believed with all of my being that once I'd made it past that first trimester, we were safe. That there was no way I would lose the baby. I never thought of fetal viability age, or amniotic infections, or any possibility that I wouldn't stay pregnant past that first trimester, once I'd passed that hurdle.
I was so wrong. My older children and I were sitting watching television that afternoon and I had been achy/crampy and just felt plain weird. I'd had a bit of a cold a few weeks before, but I was totally over it, and at that point I had quit smoking (I quit as soon as I knew for sure I was pregnant that time and never smoked again). All of a sudden a felt a little pop and a gush and my brain couldn't understand what had happened. With my two older kids, my water had never broken on it's own, in fact, my oldest was almost completely in her sac as she slid out. It was something I'd never felt before and I was confused. I sat a moment and asked my son to bring me a towel, and he had no idea why so he brought me a small hand towel from the kitchen. I must have looked scared out of my mind, because when he came back with it, he asked me what it was for. I told him I thought my water broke, and like a scene from a movie, he asked me if I wanted a new glass of water. I told him no honey, I meant my baby water and he broke down into tears. He knew what that meant. He was so young, only 8, but he knew that meant something was very very wrong. We called his dad to come home. My daughter sat there stunned. By the time my husband got home I'd called my mom and she got there within minutes of my husband. We didn't know what to do. We were all in a panic. I was afraid that the baby would just fall out. In retrospect, I know how dumb that sounds, but I was. I was afraid if I stood up, my baby would just fall out of me.
My family decided that since we were so far away from the hospital, that we'd call an ambulance, and they got there pretty much right away. The did a scoop and run and got me to the ER so fast I don't even remember that trip. My husband had followed behind in the car and my parents stayed with the older kids. Once there, they did a quick exam to discover my cervix was completely closed and still thick. They didn't have any clue what was going on, and they hooked me up to a contraction monitor. I was contracting as if in labor, but remember my belly was tiny, I was only 19 weeks. They did the test to determine that my water had really broken and of course it had, they also did a ton of blood work and an ultrasound. That first ultrasound, he was moving and still very much alive. Alive and with no cushion of water at all. I had a temperature of 103. They debated on what to do. At one point, they even said to send me HOME! I thank the Goddess that is not what happened though. After several hours in the ER I finally got moved to the Labor and Delivery floor. They did so many ultrasounds, they kept checking to see if he was alive, and if I was regenerating water. Evidently there are cases with pinhole leaks where the baby can be carried to viability.
They hooked me up to monitors, but kept losing his heart beat and every time they did I'd panic again. They hooked me up to IV's, antibiotics, anti-emetics, mag sulfate, fluids. They kept checking my cervix because they couldn't get the contractions to stop. And they never did. But they also never got strong enough to do anything. They kept checking to see if the baby was alive. They came in to counsel us about end of life procedures, about the hospitals weight limit for resuscitation and how no one was sure due to my gestation if the baby would meet them. As it turned out, we didn't need to worry about it, but I was of a mind to decline anyway. I felt that those efforts would be better spent on a baby with a higher chance of survival. But that last ultrasound showed no fetal heart tones. My baby was gone. And I had to finish laboring. They gave me a drug called Methergine, because your uterus doesn't have pitocin receptors until after the 20th week and it wasn't making my contractions work. The Methergine made me throw up about every twenty minutes for the duration of the labor. They gave me some demerol for the contractions until they could get me an epidural. Strangely, my only effective one.
Once we knew he was really gone, they stopped treating me like I was a mother and began to treat me like a patient. They no longer checked my cervix for changes. They no longer asked me if I needed anything. They left my husband and I alone in that room to process what was happening to us and to grieve. And finally, just after 1 am on October 1st 2004, I pushed with everything I had left in me and out slipped MacKenzie Zane Mead. We never got a lock of his hair because he didn't have any yet. I couldn't bring myself to hold him, but my husband did and wept until his tears ran dry. His skin was transparent, and he was so tiny. I remember his face, it's forever etched into my memory. When all else is gone, his face will be there. They let us look at him for such a brief time because I hemorrhaged and needed to be taken care of so I wouldn't die. The placenta had attached to some scar tissue and came out in pieces and when it was finally all the way removed I continued to bleed profusely to the point that they had the transfusion ready for me, but by some miracle of the universe, the bleeding finally slowed and I was "ok".
It took them hours after to find me a room that wasn't on the maternal floor. In those hours we listened to new lives enter the world, and happy parents and happy families while our hearts were breaking into a million pieces. I didn't understand how I could have loved someone so much that I'd never met. But even though I'd never met him, I'd felt him move inside me. He had a name and a family that wanted him greatly. He was no less my son than Morgen or Maxwell or Memphis. They kept me in the hospital for 4 days to be sure I wouldn't start to bleed too much again, but I think part of it was to make sure I was dealing ok with it. I wasn't, but I put on a good show.
On the way home, we went to the pharmacy to have my prescriptions filled and the lady behind the counter congratulated me on my new baby (because of where the prescriptions had come from). I told her he was dead and had to go wait in the car until they were done. When we got to the house, I held my children, I cleaned the chair and I tried to move on. I didn't want to do this again, I didn't want to risk this pain ever again. I never wanted to put my kids through it, or my husband through it. I grieve still. Every day I remember that I have a little box with nothing more than his memory. I touch the outfit that he wore, I look at those two polaroid pictures and I hope to some day have the money to tattoo his little footprints on me (something I had hoped to do for his birthday this year but just couldn't afford it). I miss what could have been.
But I thank him. I thank him for paving the way for his brothers after him. Had I not gotten so far along with him, I probably would not have been able to carry Max or Memphis. (That's a whole other story in itself that maybe I'll explain another time.)
When I look at the two youngest, I wonder if Mac chose to come to me to give me the strength to carry his brothers. If there was some greater purpose in his loss, or if it was just some awful twist of fate. Either way, I remember him with love, and I remember him with each breath I take. When I get frustrated with Phizzy at bedtime tonight, I'll take a few extra moments to settle myself and remember what a gift he is. What gifts they all have been to me. I love them more than life itself, and that's the way it should be.
I may not be the best mother in the world, but I'm the best mother I can be.
Until next time...