The Clover and the Bee
Bee’s Birth Story and How I Became a Mom
All it takes to make a prairie is just one clover and a bee
The reverie alone will do if bees are few
Now that Bee is nine months old I find I cannot stop thinking about his birth. I spend hours I can’t spare reading birth stories online, sometimes feeling jealous, sometimes fortunate. I consider posting Bee’s birth, but we are a private family, and Clover isn’t allowed to put personal information online so I try to be a good example. Freezing at a soccer practice, (Clover always wants me to watch) with Bee nursing and doing off wrapped in a blanket, it dawns on me that if I use their nicknames we will have a Clover and a Bee, just like Emily Dickenson’s poem, and that as a mom I find myself spending lots of time in reverie. Mulling over our lives and circumstances, and the best way to raise my kids to be thinking, caring people. And I need to write this story, I don’t have time to write it, but until I do I can’t seem to get anything else done anyway. So here goes, it’s a bit long, but there is much to tell.
J and I were parents together long before we conceived Bee. We were parents together before we were married and only a few months after we began dating. J had married a drug addict, who he believed to be recovered, and who was pregnant at the time with his daughter Clover. Clover was born, and J adopted N, the son of the drug addict whom she had had out of wedlock with another drug addict. The drug addict, who was only taking advantage of him, spent his entire life savings and then some and left him for another man, which soon became a series of other men most of whom she took advantage of in a similar way and left in debt as she had J. That’s where his life was when we met. I had never married, had given up on the idea, loved my teaching job and the older couple I lived with, and planned to adopt at some point. We were just getting to know each other really, and hadn’t done much with the kids. We felt is was better if we were sure our relationship would work out to be a solid, lasting one before we brought the kids into it. As an additional complication, he had stayed married to the drug addict so she could use his insurance to get rehab, which she never did, but he kept hoping. J knew she was using again, but had to leave the kids with her whenever she would take them so he could work and crawl out of the huge debt she had put him in. Gradually it became obvious that the kids were neglected and endangered at her house, and she admitted that she was using heavily and promised to go into rehab, so J took the kids to live at his house full time, and since it was summer, asked me to help. Clover was 5 and N was 13. I would go to their house at 6:00 AM so Jay could go to work, take Clover to child care, then pick her up and stay until he returned at about 8:00 PM. N had his own friends and activities and was pretty independent although we paid the price for his independence later. I never slept there because we weren’t married and he was technically married to their mom.
Time went by, Jay got divorced and was given full custody, the addict never really reformed and spent time in jail, we got married and I threw myself into raising the kids. Clover and I tightly bonded, N and I did not, he became more and more difficult and eventually went to live with his grandparents. With the daily nightmare of living with an out of control teenager finally over, we were able to sell J’s house and move to a beautiful 11 acre property in the country where I am much happier, and with our life coming together and the financial picture slowly improving, and neither of us getting any younger (J 50 and me 35) we decided to try for another child. I loved Clover with all my heart, and had tried hard to love N but knew, no matter how much I cared, how many birthday parties I held, backs I scratched, dinners I made, etc both kids would never stop wishing they could be cared for by their own mom. Not only that but while J was glad to be out of the horrible abusive relationship he had been in before and while I know he loves me deeply, I also knew he wish he could be with “the mother of his children”. In fact he had had a hard time withdrawing financial support from the drug addict even though the kids were living with us, even though he knew all the money he gave her went for drugs, because she was ‘the mother of his children”. In frustration I once said, “Fine, then make me the mother of your child since I do all the care taking of the ones you have now anyway” but that was no longer my frame of mind when we actually decided to conceive. I just wanted a baby, as I had for years. We considered adopting, but were still traumatized by N’s behavior and I just wanted for once to be loved by someone who didn’t wish I was someone else. (My parents had wanted a boy, my older friends who I lived with and helped out before I met J wished their son would be as willing to help them as I was, and then I became a replacement mom. Yes, I know step-moms aren’t supposed to try to replace the mom, but if the mom is missing, somebody has to be the mom, so what else can you do?) So, we decided to try for a baby.
I knew the instant I got pregnant. It was the best sex we ever had, and after, as J slept beside me, I could feel the magic begin. I was queasy three days later, though never really sick, and stayed that way for the next several days. I took a test before my period was even due and joy of joys it was positive. My pregnancy was fairly easy. The queasy feeling was gone by 6 weeks and was never unbearable. While J was happy at first, he soon panicked a little, Clover’s mother had been extremely mean and abusive to J and N during her pregnancy and he dreaded going through it all again. It had been a complicated birth ending in Cesarian and he had been frightened and felt inadequate as a coach. He was also afraid that I would die and he would be left to cope with raising both Clover and the baby. Knowing this we decided to hire a doula, and I was reassured by her presence and support, but sad that J couldn’t fully share my joy in the changes taking place in my body and anticipation of the changes to come. I was also afraid that I would be mean unknowingly as the hormones increased, but in fact the hormones weren’t so much a problem as my exhaustion. I was up at 5:00 to pack lunches and prepare for the day, teaching full time, then driving Clover to her activities most evenings, then home to cook supper, put Clover to bed, prepare for teaching the next day, and finally get to bed myself hopefully by 11:00. Weekend were spent taking care of the house and farm and splitting logs, as we heat with wood. It was a cold winter and I had to split into May, with a June due date. I did get crabby some. As much as I love Clover, I said at one point to Amy, the doula, that there is a reason women shouldn’t go through their first pregnancy when they already have a child.
On the doula’s recommendation, I found a group of two doctors and four midwifes who practice natural childbirth, are committed to being as noninvasive as possible, and have the lowest Cesarian rate in the area. I decided to use a natural birthing center that is part of the best hospital in the area. I wanted a home birth, but we live 45 min from the closest hospital and given my age I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Plus J was frightened enough, and I knew a home birth would add to his anxiety which would cause me to be anxious about his state of mind. At ten weeks I heard the heartbeat, one of the most thrilling moment of my life.
I had the usual ultrasound at 20 weeks. I hadn’t felt the baby move yet and was concerned, though my belly was growing nicely, but there it was roaming all over and scarcely holding still long enough to get a clear view. The tech said I wasn’t feeling movement due to the placement of the placenta, and there was nothing to worry about. I opted not to find out the sex, but loved seeing that little face. When my ovaries were filmed I felt a little pain on the right side, but not on the left. Two days later, after getting out of the car at school my right side was in the worst pain I have ever felt and I was frightened, thinking something was wrong with the baby. I called my Dr and got an appointment but wasn’t going to tell J until after I knew what was going on. I didn’t think I could handle his panic on top of my own fear and terrible pain. I was at work and vomiting every few minutes, shaking, lightheaded, and the secretary pointed out that there was no way I’d be able to drive myself to the Dr. and insisted I call J. He left work immediately and came and got me, it turned out I had a kidney stone. I got a shot of pain medicine and felt better within about 30 minutes, though I was pretty loopy. J took me home and put me to bed, then spent the rest of the day getting my meds, picking up Clover and driving her around. He was great, and I realized I can count on him no matter what. I took it easy the next day, but the day after that I was out chopping wood and though I never saw it, I know the movement helped and one of my trips in to use the bathroom I passed the stone, because I felt the release of something that had been stuck. I figured I could handle labor as kidney stones are reported to be much more painful. The baby started moving soon after and I loved feeling that.
I had another stone at 30 weeks, but this time we knew what it was and just went to the GP for a pain shot. I had pain pills from the last time I had never used, but couldn’t keep them down, the shot didn’t work as well as before, this stone was bigger, and I continued vomiting. I stayed home from work the next day. (I had never called in sick in 15 years before the kidney stones.) I had a regularly scheduled OB/midwife appointment that afternoon, by which time I hadn’t passed any urine for about 36 hours, was swelling and getting confused. J had taken off work and stayed with me both days, between driving Clover around and meeting her needs, and he took me to my appointment. I happened to be seeing the senior Dr. and he took a quick look and sent me to the hospital. I was put on an IV and a catheter was inserted but no urine, so the nurse thought she had made a mistake and called another nurse to try again, still no urine. I was having considerable kidney stone pain at the time, and still vomiting, and the catheter insertion was a rather unpleasant experience to say the least. Finally the nurses were both convinced that the catheter was in right, and gave each other worried looks. All night nurses kept coming in and increasing the level of IV fluids, checking the empty catheter bag and drawing blood. Finally around morning I began to produce urine. When the Dr came I learned that the blood work had shown my kidneys were barely functioning, and he said he was surprised I had remained coherent. And to think that if I hadn’t had an appointment I never would have gone in! I was impressed with the Dr.’s care and caution, he hadn’t guessed my blood work would be that bad since I was able to walk and was only mildly confused, but had he not acted I’m not sure Bee and I would be here. The care I received was excellent and I was sure I had chose the right team of doctors and midwives and the right hospital in which to give birth, I still wanted to use the natural birthing suite, but liked knowing that state of the art care was across the hall if we needed it. I passed two stones that week, and it took be a bit longer to bounce back than the time before.
The time from my second stone around Easter, to the end of the school year was the most difficult of the pregnancy, the hospital stay had taken a lot out of me, my legs remained swollen, I was big and tired from not sleeping well and being on my feet teaching all day. At one point I developed an itchy rash all over my feet and ankles, turned out I was so swollen I was having a histamine reaction to my own fluids! Pretty funny for someone who has no allergies. I remember counting the hours until bed, starting at 7:00 when I was leaving for work after being on my feet for two hours making breakfasts and lunches I would find myself saying, “In 15 hours I can get back in bed” At this point I also felt myself drawing within, the baby was kicking constantly and I had a hard time focusing on anything outside my body. I felt bad that I was becoming less attentive to Clover, I had been all hers for five years, and now suddenly just couldn’t be. In retrospect, I think that helped prepare her for the addition of a baby to her life, which she has handled beautifully, but I had a lot of guilt at the time. All in all my pregnancy wasn’t bad, the kidney stones were the only complication and the only severe discomfort, and eventually school ended and I could get off my feet some and my due date was just around the corner.
About two weeks before my due date I discovered upon standing, that the chair I had been sitting on was soaked. I thought my water had broken and was concerned because I wasn’t having contractions. I knew that if my water broke and I didn’t go into labor I would eventually have to be induced and I didn’t want that. I wanted to just wait and see, but J wanted to get it checked so I agreed, it hadn’t broken and we went about our business, but the large amounts of discharge continued so I was constantly soaking maxi pads. I felt dumb, but less so when I went to my next appointment and the midwife thought my water had broken based on the amount of fluid, but again it was just discharge.
The day before my due date I had another appointment and was one cm dilated, that afternoon I was sitting at the pool while Clover swam and I felt the first “real” contractions. I had had Braxton-Hicks which could be pretty strong so I wondered how I’d know the real thing, Amy assured me that they would have a beginning, middle and end and be regular. They were, but about 10 min apart so I just waited until Clover was done swimming. Amy had said that storms bring on contractions and on the way home with a big thunderstorm approaching they became strong enough that I decided I didn’t want to go out again that night and asked J to take Clover to her 4-H meeting. I had made a big pasta salad already for supper, so didn’t have to cook. I called Amy and let her know what was going on, she said it was early yet and I should take a bath, then we should go to bed as usual and try to get some sleep. The bath was uncomfortable, I was too big to get underwater, and then found I couldn’t get out. As I wriggled around trying to get out of the tub I felt the baby turn and the contractions moved to my back. I tried to sleep but the contractions were just too uncomfortable and more thunderstorms rolling in seemed to increase them. I wasn’t comfortable lying down and would jump up out of bed and breathe hard every time a contraction came. I timed a few that were two minutes apart and called Amy at 2:00 AM, she assured me it wasn’t time if I could still talk through the contractions and I should try to relax, I remember saying, “What if I fall asleep and don’t realize when it’s time and wake up have the baby in the bed and it’s gross and J freaks out?” She assured me that wasn’t going to happen. I settled down, still couldn’t sleep, got up and packed a bag of snacks for the hospital (my other bag had been packed for days). I was starving and everything looked delicious, so I snacked and packed, and finally went back to bed, and managed to sleep a few hours.
The contractions were still strong but irregular the next day, Amy came out to the house and spent hours rubbing my back. J took Clover to her friend’s house where she was to stay for the delivery. Then spent the rest of the day working on the farm with my cousin who had been staying with us and was leaving the next day. J had made a beautiful CD for me to listen to during labor. Amy thought it was important for me to rest not having slept much the night before. I had Jay bring up the bag of snacks since I was having bloody show and looked a mess and didn’t want to go downstairs with my cousin around. It was by day the strangest assortment of foods I have ever seen, but I found some things to snack on. I explained to Amy about packing it in the night and she said,”When it’s really time to go to the hospital you won’t care about packing the food bag.” I was still at that point very focused on logistics and making sure everyone had what they needed. Whenever my family goes anywhere I tend to be the one to pack snacks, jackets, change of clothes etc to be prepared for any circumstances and I simply couldn’t let go of that. With Amy helping me relax the contractions slowed and I was able to sleep a bit. She kept rubbing my back and we listened to a beautiful CD J had made for me to listen to during labor, everything from Bach to Smashing Pumpkins and including all the songs that had been important to us while we were courting, and the music from our wedding. Amy said I had the best labor music of any of her clients. Around suppertime, she said it wasn’t happening today and asked if she could go home. I agreed, she called the midwife on call and asked if I should take a pain pill I had left from the kidney stones to try to get some sleep. She was concerned about my endurance level as I had been contracting for over 24 hours with little progress and had been unable to rest much. The midwife agreed, Amy left and per her instructions I had supper with J and my cousin (We asked Clover if she wanted to come home but she wanted to stay with her friend) jumping up several times during the meal for a contraction as I still couldn’t handle them sitting down, took a hot shower and a pill and went to sleep. I was up at 2:00, repeated the shower and pill and slept again until about 4:00.
Amy’s suggestion for the next morning was to get checked by the midwife to see how dilated I was, so we took my cousin to the airport and went to my appointment. “5 cm, go home and wait until you can’t stand it and then go to the hospital.” It was getting a bit old, and I almost said, “Look, I can’t stand it now!” but didn’t. Clover had a 4-H event and her friend’s parents couldn’t take her to it, plus she had left her book at home. I had gotten permission for her to make it up later, but she was nervous and wanted to get it over with. After a few phone conversations with her and another attempt at sleep, I arranged for a friend to take Clover to her event and decided that we should drop off her book and proceed to the hospital. When I told Amy our plan she wondered if I was really ready to go, saying that I must not be in active labor if I was thinking about Clover’s 4-H book. I just couldn’t relax at home at that point, I think if I had been planning a home birth I would have been very comfortable laboring at home but I just couldn’t relax knowing that I still had to get to the hospital. I was afraid I’d wait too long and have the baby in the car, remember it’s a 45 min drive, plus J kept asking me what the plan was, not trying to stress me out, but of course I had no plan other than try to have a baby so it was hard to answer that question. Later he told me that he was having contractions himself that day, which touched me. So we packed the food bag again, loaded the car and headed off. I kept thinking of more stuff I wanted so we had a very unwieldy pile of belongings by the time we left. We dropped off Clover’s book and arrived at the hospital late afternoon. The natural birthing nurse was occupied so I had to go to labor triage where I was monitored and checked. I was only at 5 1/2 and pretty disappointed I hadn’t progressed further, but not concerned, just figured I’d get relaxed and make more progress.
Amy joined us in triage, and the midwife called and said she’d come and break my water. “She will?” That didn’t make sense to me since I had been hearing that if my water broke I was then on a time frame because the natural birthing suite couldn’t keep me more than 24 hours after my water broke. Amy said I could ask to wait, but soon after we got settled in the room it broke on it’s own. I was standing by the bed and Amy was working on my back when it broke with a huge gush and practically flooded the room. And I had just put on clean underwear! But it was a great feeling and one of the moments of the birth I remember fondly. There was a second smaller gush with the next contraction and I said, “OH, it broke again!” the nurse laughed and said more would come with each contraction. I didn’t like being wet in the cold room and the contractions were getting stronger so I said I wanted to get in the tub, since I was planning a water birth. This may have been my 1st mistake, I forgot that the tub sometimes slows labor, and I wish someone would have reminded me. That warm water felt so good and I was really relaxed and comfortable. I stayed in the tub with Amy working on my back for several hours. At one point they had me get out and sit on the toilet, but I was wet and cold and those few contractions were hard to take. I started to loose control for a few minutes and then said, “Was that transition?” it wasn’t, just a good contraction. After a few of those I wanted to get back in the tub and did. The nurse checked me and said I was at 9 cm and could try a few pushes if I felt like it. That was my next mistake. I did feel like pushing, as in I had been at this for over 48 hours and was ready to push the baby out, I didn’t realize that when I was ready to push it would be an overwhelming urge, not just a feeling that it would be nice to move things along. So I pushed, I liked pushing because it gave me something to do, and I pushed for quite some time, then the midwife came and checked my dialation and said I was still at 5, swollen, and needed to stop pushing. I was crushed, and she suggested I get a shot of nubain. I didn’t want to, but she said it was my best chance at avoiding a Cesarian. I wasn’t really worried about a Cesarian at that point, but I sure didn’t want one so I made my next mistake and agreed to the nubain. That may work for some people, but I don’t handle certain medications at all well and nubain is apparently one of them. It did knock me out for a coupe of hours but I woke up confused, disoriented and in worse pain than ever. J was rubbing my back, but ever so lightly up and down and it was terribly annoying, I wanted that firm pressure Amy had been putting in just one spot, but I couldn’t find the words to tell him so. I kept trying to make him stop but couldn’t express myself at all and Amy appeared to me to be floating up by the ceiling and didn’t come down to help me. Finally I managed to sit up and look at the clock, 6:00 AM, I had gotten the nubain at 4:00. That brief rest was not worth the horrible feeling I had waking up. I was nauseous from that point on and later began vomiting which I think was from the nubain as well.
Amy told J to lie down, took me by the hand and led me to the bathroom and we labored together with me sitting on the toilet for a few hours. That was good, I needed someone to take charge at that point and quit asking me what I wanted because I no longer knew. I learned to breathe through the tougher contractions at that point. After a few hours I got back in the tub and labored there a few more hours. J was stuck sitting on this little plastic chair and his back was killing him and I was worried about that, and how tired Amy must be getting, and about her kids and Clover, I never did get to the point that all I was focused on was my labor, I guess I am just too used to meeting everyone else’s needs to focus entirely on myself. I got out of the tub at around lunchtime, tried to eat but it all came right back up, J left to to feed the chickens at home and came back with food from my favorite Lebanese restaurant, but I was too sick to even think of eating it. At some point while he was gone the nurse decided we should try nipple stimulation and brought a breast pump. That just hurt, but didn’t make the contractions pick up any. I was beginning to realize that the 24 hour mark was approaching and they were going to throw me out of the natural birthing area. I asked that they wait until J got back and that the midwife check me instead of the nurse so we had a consistent idea of if I had dilated or not since the night nurse has misread and started me pushing. I wish I had also insisted on trying nipple stimulation with J, though I’m not sure if he would have been comfortable enough to try it. He hadn’t touched me since his attempts at rubbing my back which obviously weren’t helpful, and he hadn’t wanted to have sex at all while I was pregnant. Now having had the experience of breastfeeding, I know that nipple stimulation with a pump doesn’t produce a let down nearly as well as nursing your baby so I wonder if the necessary hormones would have been better produced with my husband. But I didn’t know that then and after the nubain I never was again able to think straight and remember my options. So J returned, the midwife checked me and I hadn’t changed much from 12 hours prior. I was thrown out of the natural birth area.
I didn’t want a wheelchair, I might be a failure but at least I was going to walk out under my own steam. The families waiting in the common area looked at me in sympathy and I could imagine them thinking how much better at birth the person they were supporting was. The other side of the hospital was like another world, sterile, bright and loud. I was to be put on pitocin and I figured that if I was already a failure and since pitocin would make my contractions more painful I might as well get an epidural. I was pretty exhausted at that point, having been in labor for 72 hours. I regretted that decision as soon as the anesthesiologists arrived, There were two of them and they both kept shouting directions at me at the same time. I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying and told them, “You guys need to take turns talking if you want me to hear you” It was something I say at school all the time and as soon as I said it I burst into tears, I didn’t want to be in the middle of all that confusion and commotion, I wanted to quietly, privately birth my baby. J was supposed to support me for the epidural but clearly had no idea what to do, so Amy came up and took my hands and said something, the needle went in and Jay went down in a crouching position, as soon as I saw that I was back in control of myself, “Honey, are you going to pass out?” No he was fine, and I was done feeling sorry for myself. I asked Amy to rub my back some more until the epidural kicked in and as soon as it did I fell asleep. I slept until about 1:00 AM except for waking up a few times to throw up. At some point either the nurse or midwife decided I was fully dilated and 1:00 AM was the time assigned that I start to push. I had no feeling below the waist at that point except for a tiny spot on my left side. It was hard to tell when I was having a contraction but after a few I could tell from that spot, but I couldn’t feel where to push. It was as if I was trying to push with muscles that didn’t exist. Amy had one of my legs and J had another, I tried to follow directions and do as they said but had no idea where the lower half of my body was. After a short time they told me to go back to sleep and they’d try again an a few hours. I was happy to comply. The next time they tried J was asleep and Amy held one leg, the nurse the other, I think there was also a bar to hold on to, they kept saying I wasn’t pushing, or wasn’t pushing in the right spot, I still had no idea how or where to push. Then the midwife said she had to get the Dr, to try to straighten the baby’s head which was crooked, and for the first time I realized I might not have the baby vaginally. I asked Amy if the Dr was going to suggest a Cesarian and she said if he couldn’t get him straight he would. At some point I had began calling the baby “He” although we didn’t know the sex and everyone else followed suit. The Dr straightened him, and I pushed some more but still no baby. The Dr said the vacuum extractor wouldn’t work, he could try forceps if I wanted but doubted they would work either, at that point I realized it was all just putting off the inevitable, and since I had heard plenty of forceps stories I didn’t like, thought we might was well just do the Cesarian. If asked again, having experienced a Cesarian I might ask the Dr to try, but after Bee was born the Dr told J that the forceps wouldn’t have worked anyway as there was no room to insert them between the head and the pelvis.
J woke up and I was wheeled away, he was sent to change, there was again a lot of fuss and commotion and I was scared, he said he’d be with me in a moment. In the OR there was really loud rap music playing which I hated, I had hoped the first thing the baby would hear was J’s beautiful CD. There were many people in masks all loudly talking about what they had done the night before. I told myself that what was the biggest day of my life was just a routine work day to them, but I couldn’t help feeling bothered. The epidural was increased and I was moved on to the table and strapped down with my arms out to my side as if on a crucifix. I was really scared then, and wanted J bad. I picked out the midwife from all the masked faces and asked her to tell me what was going on. She said I was being shaved and washed. The Dr began poking me and asking if I could feel it, mostly I said no but there was still the one spot where the epidural never took effect. I knew that if I said I could feel it they would knock me out and that then Jay couldn’t be there and I wanted him so bad I almost lied, but didn’t think I could take being cut in that spot so I admitted yes I could feel the poke. The midwife said she was so sorry, they would have to put me under and I said, “You know, I almost don’t care anymore” Almost, not quite. Then I remembered how scared J had been that I would die and looking around I thought there were way too many people in the room. “Somebody go out and be with J”, I told the midwife, “He’s going to be really scared” for a minute the masked people stopped talking and looked at me like I was nuts, “There’s people out there” the midwife said gently and I went to sleep.
The next thing I remember was strange man telling me to open my eyes and look at my baby. Jay was there too, I later learned, but I couldn’t move my head so all I saw was the stranger with the baby. Jay says I said, “Oh, hi, honey” I remember saying “You’re beautiful, are you a boy or a girl?” The stranger said, “Tell her” and then he said “You have a boy” Later Jay said the man had asked him to tell me the sex, I guess that was the one detail of my birth plan that someone tried to follow, but J was too choked up to speak and the man told me. I think he was the anesthesiologist. J also says they were there earlier and told me I had a boy and I just said, “That’s nice” but I don’t remember that at all. I remember being surprised the Cesarian had worked and the baby was actually born, I figured they’d have still something else to try. They took the baby away and told me to go to sleep but I couldn’t breathe. Actually I could, it was just the epidural finally working that made it seem like I couldn’t. I begged to be sat up, so I could breathe better, and the anesthesiologist did. He asked if I had a sore throat, which I did, and he said that I had been hard to intubate. My dad had had surgery a few times before he died and he was hard to intubate as well, and the Dr in the nursery told J Bee was hard to intubate so I guess it’s genetic. I asked where J was and the anesthesiologist said he was with the baby, but he could get him if I wanted him. I did, but I wanted him to be with the baby more, so I said, “No, that’s right that he should be with the baby.” I couldn’t remember the boy’s name we had picked out.
Soon Jay and Bee were back, and I was allowed to hold him with help, I tried nursing but we were both too groggy. The time spent trying to intubate me had meant that Bee was pretty anesthetized as well. I think his Apgars were 1 and 9. Bee was put on the bed with me and Jay sat beside us I kept saying dumb things, I had assumed we were having a girl since we already had a girl and since older men are supposed to make girls. I wasn’t sure if I could raise a boy so I told J he had to potty train him, and that I didn’t want him to give him any toy guns. After a bit we were wheeled to our room and put in bed, which was scary because I thought they would drop me. Jay called Amy who had left when it was clear I was having a Cesarian and she couldn’t be in the room with me, and called Clover to tell her she had a brother. Bee had a little bed beside mine, and J left to get Chloe who had been at her friend’s for 4 days. I called my mom and my friend, then slept a little. Bee woke, and I figured out that I could raise the bed to the height of his bed and pull it over to get him out. Every time a nurse came in she’d put him back in his bed, and put my bed down, and push his bed away, and as soon as she’d leave I’d raise the bed up and pull his bed over and get him out again. All I wanted to do was hold him. Jay and Chloe came back around supper time and my friend Nancy came. I tried nursing but still no luck. The next day there was a constant string of people in and out, a Dr came in and said that Bee needed to latch on because he was Combs positive, because he had a different blood type from mine and was loosing weight. I thought all babies lost weight after birth, but I asked if I needed to supplement with formula though I didn’t want to, and the Dr said no. He was a staff Dr, I had chosen a pediatrician that didn’t have access tot he hospital, but didn’t think it mattered since we’d be in the natural birthing wing and only there overnight. Boy was I wrong. That night the nurse kept waking us up every hour or so for vitals, 1st mine, then his an hour later, then meds for me, then it was time to nurse and so on. I was so tired and so was Bee, neither of us could figure out how to nurse, but finally he latched on and nursed about a half hour.
I thought all was well, but then the following morning when I was thinking we were headed home a lady Dr. came in and said Bee was still loosing weight and needed to go to the NICU and be fed with a tube. I was shocked, thought that made no sense and said “Can’t I try bottle feeding him before we do something that invasive?” The Dr reluctantly agreed and there I was, colostrum dripping, and soaking my nightgown, giving my baby a bottle of the foulest formula I’ve ever seen or smelled. I called J who was dropping Clover off at camp and said, “Get over here now”. I was really loosing it then, my milk was coming in, I couldn’t nurse and couldn’t stop crying. After failing to give birth I was dammed if I was going to fail at breastfeeding. A very officious nurse was keeping track of every milliliter Bee drank and kept saying she would take him and feed him for me if I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t handing my baby to anyone but J. Finally he arrived and took control of the situation, much to my relief. The head Dr, from my practice came in and took one look at me and asked when I’d last had pain meds, I wasn’t sure and realized I was in pain, the officious nurse had been so busy trying to get Bee put in NICU she forgot to give me pain meds. I think the Dr, who next to J is the kindest man on earth gave her a hard time about it and she was really hostile after that. He also showed us how to feed Bee with a dropper so he wouldn’t get nipple confusion. Jay had a rather hostile phone conversation with the lady Dr and it turned out she had never actually examined Bee, just looked at his numbers on her computer. J was livid at that, Bee was alert and had latched on the night before, and presumably might again if we could practice in peace, yet I wasn’t allowed to try to breastfeed for more than 10 minutes, then he had to take a certain number of cc’s of formula, he had to do this within 20 min so the feeding time didn’t exceed ½ hour and then he had to eat again in two hours, no more, no less. If we didn’t follow the rules he had to go to NICU.
I called Amy and asked if she’d come and help me learn to breastfeed fast. She thought the whole thing was absurd, but came later that day. Poor Bee couldn’t possibly eat all that formula that fast without spitting up, which he did a lot that day. J started pouring the formula down the drain and telling the nurse Bee had drank it. I was so glad he was there and taking charge, he hadn’t been really able to help me with the birth, but I had Amy so it was OK, and he more than made up for it that day. My friend had gotten me a recommendation for another pediatrician, but she hadn’t gotten the name to be until after I was in labor and I felt it was too late to switch. That Dr had privileges at the hospital which the Dr I had chosen didn’t, and I needed to get rid of that evil staff Dr., who by then I was sure was simply filling a quota for NICU. I called the new Dr. and he agreed to take Bee as a patient. He said we still needed to supplement, but it could be after 30 min of breastfeeding and just as much as he wanted. He sent his partner over to see us the next morning and we were released that day. The last thing that happened was so sweet, the senior Dr from my practice came in to give me a final check, Bee was nursing as he had been most of the night, and the Dr., though not a young man at all, got down on his knees on the floor to retape my incision from below without disturbing Bee. I knew I had the right Dr. though I didn’t like the hospital. It is still the best hospital in the area, but like most hospitals it is owned my a huge corporation and the doctors, midwives, and nurses are bound by numbers and rules. That is why I had to leave the natural birthing area exactly 25 hours after my water had broken, and why the staff pediatrician was able to make a case for Bee going to NICU when there was no need. Amy later told me how right we were to keep him out of there, she had heard that once babies get put in NICU the staff Dr.’s insist on test after test and you can’t leave or your insurance won’t cover the bill which by then is so huge you could never pay it. There is definitely a business end to being born.
It was wonderful to take Bee home, to rest in my own bed with him beside me, and a cool soft breeze wafting up from the creek.
I wonder if maybe I could have had a home birth. Since all my dilating before pitocin happened at home, I wonder if I hadn’t had the worry of getting ready to go somewhere and could have just relaxed at home if I could have done it. Or perhaps, Bee was just too big for me, neither his dad or I are big and I wonder if he was too big at birth because I had tried to follow the rules of eating a certain number of calories while pregnant instead of listening to my body. The calorie recommendations are probably intended for much bigger women, I’m 4’11” and weighed 105 before I got pregnant. I wonder if the weight Bee lost that caused all the fuss was just him getting back to the size he was genetically meant to be, as the son of two small parents. I don’t blame the Dr or midwife for my Cesarian and I’m not altogether sure it was unnecessary, but there are the niggling doubts. I want so much to have another baby, I loved being pregnant and loved labor until I had to leave the natural birthing suite, I want a chance to try again and not make the same mistakes. J says he could never go through that again and I’m so sad it was not the beautiful experience I wanted it to be for him and me and Bee. I am so grateful to Amy for being there with me all that time, I would have been terribly traumatized if not for her, but all in all it was a positive experience for me.
Amy said something the day they wanted to put Bee in NICU, she said that I was becoming a mom and that following your own gut about what is best for your child, despite what others, even Doctors, tell you is how you become a mom. Freezing at soccer practice the other day, Clover gave me a little wave, not one that anyone else could see because it just isn’t cool to wave to your mom during soccer practice. I remember another soccer practice, just after I got pregnant with Bee, when as she was leaving she called to the coach who must not have seen we waiting, “It’s OK, there’s my mom!” She doesn’t call me mom to my face, so I was filled with much joy, but that wasn’t when I became a mom. It was the day I told J that if he left her alone with the drug addict again, after we knew she was in danger there, I would report him to Children’s Services. I didn’t know if he’d be angry enough to leave me over that, but it didn’t matter. All that was important was Clover’s best interest, not J’s need to believe his child’s birth mother wouldn’t hurt her despite evidence to the contrary, not her mother’s feelings, nothing but my child’s well being. That day, five years before I was pregnant, was the day I became a mom.
So we are a family and a good one. Clover is a wonderful big sister and adores her little brother, Bee is 10 months now and as cute as can be, crawls really well, is learning to stand and says a few words. I work at school only enough to pay Clover’s tuition and spend the rest of the day with Bee. We can’t really afford this and I am trying to find some kids to teach from home, but on the whole life is good and I am so glad to have both my kids.