Reading Ready for Air

This book I'm reading now is so familiar...

Page 47:
At three o'clock in the afternoon, Dr. Anderson comes in and moves close to the bed, so I don't have to turn my head to see her. But I can tell by her eyes, which hold none of the smile that they usually do, that something is wrong. 
"The baby," she says, "isn't doing well."
Donny reaches for my hand.
"Each time you have a contraction, the baby's heart rate drops. This is called deceleration. She isn't getting enough oxygen."
/.../
"Labour isn't progressing," she says. "I'm going to stop the Pitocin and remove the rice sock. I'm going to get you on oxygen and see if that helps. Then we're going to need to do a cesarean."
"Thank God," I say. "Thank you." Weeks ago, I never would have guessed this would be my response at being told I would need a C-section, this immense relief.

I remember that, too.

I remember how my midwife was standing by the printout of The Kid's heart rate and furrowing her brow, and how she then explained to us that each time I had a contraction, The Kid's heart rate was dropping. I remember the oxygen mask on my face, and the feeling of relief when they said that a C-section is due.

I, too, wasn't that bothered any more whether it was a natural labour or a C-section or whatever, all I wanted was for him to simply be out of me and safe.

Page 70:
"It's a phototherapy light," Kally says. "For the jaundice."
"Oh."
Donny squeezes my elbow, and I look at him. "Do you want to touch her?" he asks. He's smiling. Why is he smiling?
"Kate," he says. "Do you want to touch the baby?"
I nod then. Yes, I guess. The nurse, Kally, points to the sink in the corner of the room.
The sink is wide and metal. Foot pedals turn on the water. Donny presses the pedal with his toes, and squirts pink soap into my hands. 
"Lather two minutes," he says. "Rinse fingers to wrist, hands up."
Again, I look at my husband and wonder who he is, how he knows this. But I do as he says.

"Yup," I feel like saying when I read this, "I know this, too."

When The Man wheeled me up to NICU in a wheelchair so I could see The Kid, he'd been up there - with The Kid - for a while already and was familiar with how the procedures worked. He, too, showed me how to wash my hands, and how the antiseptic creams were supposed to be used. He, too, wheeled me to where The Kid's incubator was, and I, too, remember just sitting there next to the incubator, looking at it, and sort of phasing out until someone asked me if I wanted to touch my baby.

I remember sticking my hands inside the incubator and stroking my son, and how the nurse then said that it's enough for now, she needs to close the incubator again to keep my son warm. I took my hands out, she closed the little flaps, and then I remember just sitting there and not really knowing what else to do, apart from maybe being wheeled back to my room where I would get the expressing machine out again, and try to express some breastmilk again.

For the first few days, The Man was the one who was teaching me what to do with the baby, along with the nurses down at the maternity ward and up at NICU. Changing a nappy, feeding, holding, washing the feeding equipment - he'd done it all ahead of me and so there I was, a mother of this child, but apparently the one who knew what to do the least.

I felt a little... useless, like there wasn't anything I was capable of doing better than others, because even giving my son breastmilk - the stuff mothers are supposed to be useful for - wasn't working and so he kept on getting fed on formula.

***

I read this book and I'm not even sure if I can appreciate the literary beauty of this text because for all the images Kate Hopper is painting of her experiences, and her daughter, and her story - most of what I am seeing, in my mind's eye, is mine.







But I am also reading and recognizing that compared to a year ago, there is much less anguish inside of me.

Something has changed in the year gone past, there is some acceptance I've come to, and understanding. I remember my days in NICU and the emotion I am feeling the strongest is probably... nurturing. I feel like cuddling that experience in my arms and carrying it with me for how precious that part of our story is to me.

The Kid is... great. I mean, don't get me wrong, he is still two and therefore challenging at times, but even yesterday evening I was sitting on the floor in our living room and telling The Man how the things The Kid does now so often make me smile, and go, "Whoa."

I've developed a bond with this child - which I were so lacking back at the beginning of this journey - and as much as there is uncertainty in carrying a second one at the moment simply because I don't know what the future holds, the emotion I feel the strongest is trust, not fear.

I have immense trust in medical professionals in New Zealand and especially when it comes to pregnancies and childbearing, I feel wholly supported - which is... nice. Good. It's a healthy feeling to have.

1 comment:

  1. Maria, thank you so much for reading and for posting on my blog so I could find you! I'm so touched that my words resonate with you. I look forward to being in touch and following your story. Warmly, Kate

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