Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to Ann

Today is Ann's birthday - I wrote about the week leading up to her birth - 2 posts ago.

I concluded that post with "I did go to the hospital that day and Ann was born at 1:58 pm on February 1, 1981."

Here is how it all went down.

After being up all night I called Dr. Aulds and he said to come in. I have a picture Charlie took of me; I'm on the phone with Dr. Aulds and I'm holding a watch which I had held all during the night, timing the contractions.

Anyway, in Ann's baby book I wrote:

Charlie and I drove to Huntsville at about 8:00 A.M. Very relaxed trip. Contractions were mild, yet 5 min. apart.

Well, that's all correct - I had called my mom in Evergreen to tell her I was going to the hospital. I can't believe we had not prearranged for them to be there. It was a first for Charlie and me, and their first grandchild, so none of us really knew the best plan for the situation. They were about 5 hours away - in South Alabama. Our plan was that we'd call when we could - there were no cell phones. I think they didn't want to travel and get too far from a phone. So - as I was leaving the apartment Mom called back just to hear my voice one more time - she asked me how I was feeling about it all - she always remembered this more than I did - I told her it felt the way Christmas morning always felt - that kind of excitement.

Anyway - we got to H'ville - they did admit me - when I'm in H'ville I can still see the entrance and I remember all of that so clearly - so - upstairs in labor and delivery - It was all so different then - not these private rooms where women and husbands bed down as well as other family members. I was actually in a labor room along with another girl - but a curtain separated us. I do remember after I changed into my gown and was waiting on a nurse to come back in, sitting on the edge of that narrow gurney - and looking down at my large belly and having such a heightened stream of consciousness - talking to myself saying, "Well, Elizabeth - this is it - you're in labor - this is what you've thought about so much of your life - and wondered about - you're here and you're going to have a baby". It was all very surreal -

They had whisked Charlie off to get "gowned up" for his assisting - and they brought him back and the nurse came back - I was attached to a fetal monitor - all was well - the poor girl next to me was hysterical - she sounded much younger and alone - I wanted to get off of my gurney and go help her with her relaxing techniques - if she knew any - She was fighting everything and begging for a C-Section. The medical staff didn't sound very helpful either - I've always thought about her and wondered about her situation - So final check before Dr. Aulds went into surgery for a C-Section - I was 7 centimeters and doing good - I remember telling him I was beginning to really have to concentrate on relaxing during the contractions. I was wincing mostly during a contraction - but still - nothing was gripping. He left me with my nurse, named "Fanny". "Pat" was the other nurse who would come in all along to check with Fanny about my progress. (incidentally - I had opted for no pain meds - nothing - not out of some brave, heroic reason - mostly out of having fears that are greater than what I anticipated regarding labor pains - labor pains just seemed more natural than meds that would make me so dopey or epidurals that would paralyze me - I have so changed my mind about epidurals - that's later)

What seemed like not a very long time, after Dr. Aulds had left, the look on Fanny's face seemed like alarm. She was sitting on a stool, keeping an eye on the fetal monitor - and she looked concerned. I asked, immediately, what was wrong; she said she wanted to change the position of the gurney. She lowered my head and raised my legs. Nothing helped. She was watching the baby's (Ann's) heartrate and it was slowing down dramatically with each contraction. She began to give me oxygen. Still - nothing was helping. She called Pat in, who said she was going to break my water so she could attach something to the baby's head to monitor better. Still no improvement. All of this was happening so fast. Almost all on top of each other. It seemed that Pat and Fanny recognized a situation - that with every contraction Ann's heartrate was alarmingly low - She had been fine, but as the contractions got more severe, Ann got worse. So quickly Pat was applying an antiseptic to my very swollen belly and telling me and Charlie ever so quickly that "she had NOT gotten Dr. Auld's permission, he's in surgery, but we're preparing you for a C-Section". Everything had been going at breakneck speed - but when she said that word, C-Section, everything stopped for a second. for a ten zillionth of a fraction of a second my thought was, "I'm going home, I don't want to play anymore". I was the person who WAS NOT going to have a C-Section. It was NOT an option. I just had determined, "I won't be that person who has a C-Section." But then I came back to what was happening and they were ushering Charlie, in his yellow scrubs, out for a while, and they were giving me all kinds of little instructions and wheeling my gurney out of labor and I was headed for surgery. Things happened so quickly, and Ann was in such distress, that they called Dr. Aulds out of the C-Section he was doing(another surgeon had to sew up that lady) and into my situation - and I was in the operating room so quickly - I'll never forget how quickly people were moving. It was if I wasn't even involved. All attention was on Ann. Eyes were wide, expressions were in alert estate, I heard someone ask if the mother had had any food, to which I answered NO - it was all at breakneck speed, something was placed upon my face and it all stopped.

(What I didn't know - was that when they opened me up, the cord was so tight around Ann's neck that they had to "cut" the cord while she was still in my gaping uterus, in the amniotic fluid. I guess it was like untangling something that was so very tight - like a thread - and they pulled her out and couldn't get much of a response. Her apgar score was frightenly low and the second apgar score barely made it - I was asleep - I also didn't know - that while I was asleep - Charlie was waiting for what seemed like an eternity - and he was able to see her shortly after she was born - still lethargic - but alive -and still very messy from the birth - and the doctors just told him they would have to "wait and see". Charlie was very much alone and I was asleep)

This is what I woke up to:

"Wake up Mrs. Rhodes, you have a girl."

I think they said it the second time and I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw, and I can't forget it, is the standard clock on the wall which said 3:00 p.m. sharp. My ears were still hearing, "Wake up Mrs. Rhodes, you have a girl." At that moment it would seem, but I'm not saying that I did, but it seemed that my spirit floated out of my body - I can still feel the way it felt and I later thought about it that that was the way Heaven would feel and that I would no longer fear the unknown of death. I have the assurance of eternal life, but the unknown is what I am always a bit angst about. Anyway, my elation and thrill were so much at the thought of having my little girl, that it seemed as if my spirit expanded beyond my body. And my eyes were staring at the round black and white clock on the wall which said, "3:00 p.m.". I'll never forget it.

I have to go and stay with Ellie and Luke now and will continue this story tonight.

Ann is going to the hospital on her birthday and I have to keep Luke and Ellie.


Stephanie said...

Elizabeth! We are sooo excited and praying for all of you!! I am so glad you are there to take care of the children. We love you!! Love, Steph & Erik

Hollen said...

How exciting about Ann! :) Praying for you all! Have fun with Ellie and Luke! :)