This is the picture that saved my life. This is Mackenzie at a few hours old. My brother took this picture. I'm not sure I'd even been down to the NICU to see her yet. Not because I couldn't physically go, just because I was in a state of denial emotionally. It wasn't supposed to be like that. You are supposed to get pregnant, wait 9 glorious months, then have a baby and then go home with baby. That's not our story.
We got pregnant really easily. My pregnancy with Mackenzie was great minus my semi-high blood pressure which made the doctors nervous. I thought they were crazy. I felt fine. I took the test for preeclampsia twice and was admitted to the hospital once. The first test was negative but I never found out the results of the second test because my water broke at 33 weeks. It was shocking to say the least. I remember asking the nurse what it could be if my water didn't break when I was admitted and she said sometimes the baby can sit on your bladder. I PRAYED that I peed my pants (there's a first time for everything). Of course we all know I did not pee my pants. I went for an ultrasound and we called everyone we could.
The morning of Sunday January 10, 2010, I was all alone in my hospital room ("go home", I said, "nothings going to happen") and my stomach started to cramp. I was scared that something was happening to the baby. So I called the nurse and she came in and put me on the monitor. She gave me a little button to push when I felt pain (it looked like a Jeopardy ring in button) and I pushed that button every couple minutes, sometimes every couple seconds. There were no "normal" contractions. No one believed I was in active labor. The day nurse came on and told me I was having gas pains (can you get an epidural for that because I wanted one!) and I stayed on the monitor. The resident doctor finally came in and I was 5cm. 2 more than on Friday when I was admitted. She decided at about 8 am (after about 4 hours of me being in this state) that I should go over to the delivery rooms (from my postpartum room). I asked my husband (who arrived just in time) to call my parents and they wheeled me down the hall.
There is no good description for the pain you feel in labor. I tried to be as nice as possible but its hard to smile when you want to kill everyone you see. When I got to the labor room, I went to use the bathroom and felt the VERY strong urge to push. The nurse from postpartum pulled the red emergency cord (hi you're a nurse right? and theres about 10 in the room that's 1 foot away right? then is this really an emergency?). I got in the bed, the resident checked me again (10 cm! yes I was just 5 2 minutes ago down the hall), everyone was whizzing around me, the nurse from the labor room kicked out the resident doctor for freaking out and we were ready to go! My doctor finally got there and Mackenzie was born at 8:30 am. They put her on my chest and she cried. It was wonderful. Then they showed her to me again when she was all cleaned up and she was taken away. Once I was all cleaned up and given some juice and breakfast I kind of forgot that I just had a baby. I still kind of felt pregnant. Since I didn't have an epidural there was no evidence that a baby was just born AT ALL in that room.
Once I was moved back to my old room and friends and family started to visit, I was letting them all go down to the NICU with George. I'm not sure when I finally went down there. I felt like it wasn't really happening and I didn't really know how she looked. Maybe I was afraid that she was going to be so tiny and scary with all her cords and iv's.
It is the worst feeling in the world to leave the hospital after you've had a baby without a baby in your arms. I knew she was going to be okay but I wanted her to be okay with me. It is terrible to see your child have a feeding tube put in and hold her arms down while they do it or have an iv in her head or struggle in any way. But your very first child? It makes you question everything. The walk from the parking lot would make me angry. The color and pattern of the tiles on the floor made me angry. Why did we have to do this? Some nights we would leave and I would cry the second we walked out of the NICU doors until after we were home.
This is why I went for the physical that found my cancer. Because even though they told me that there wasn't a reason that this happened I needed to make sure that I was healthy enough to have another child. When you have a child that is born early or sick or both you question yourself as their mother and wonder what could you have done better or differently. I seriously checked my karma log to see what I did or didn't do in my life that made me deserve this.
I write a journal to Mackenzie pretty much every week telling her what she did new or where we went or anything exciting that is going on. I started it the day I found out I was pregnant. I always felt a little bit bad or maybe guilty that I write to her a lot about how she is the greatest and shes the one that made me a mother and how I'll always be so grateful that shes my baby because what will the other kids (God willing) think when they read it? Will they think I don't love them as much? But now I can tell them, without her, there wouldn't be you. Mackenzie saved my life.
I still believe that everything happens for a reason. You don't always get to know the reason at first. Sometimes you really have to look hard. But now we know. Without going through the experience (and to me, trauma) of Mackenzie being premature we would have gotten pregnant again without even thinking about it and we would be having a much worse discussion a year from now. I am so lucky.