March for Babies

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Expectations, Great and Otherwise

I don't know what I expected from pregnancy. I never imagined I would have the opportunity. After so many cycles ending in that stick with the single line I was absolutely dumbstruck by seeing two. Knowing it had been the result of the IUI I still looked quizzically at that double line and asked, "How did that happen?" I didn't really believe it then, or when the nurse called with the news of a positive beta, or when the nurse called with the more than doubled beta. I still wasn't really convinced when I got the quad screen or when we rolled in for the 20 week ultrasound. We could visibly see her moving all over the place on the screen but I couldn't feel her moving so it mentally and emotionally felt like I was watching someone else's home movie. What I need you to understand is how totally surreal the entire pregnancy seems to me, not just now that it is over, but the entire time! I was JUST starting to get used to the fact that I was pregnant with my growing belly and increasingly swollen feet when it ended. I did not bond with the baby in my uterus. I was barely able to accept the fact that she was there in the first place. I thought about having a little girl in the summer and the thought pleased me but mentally and emotionally I did not connect those thoughts to what was happening inside my body.
My water broke at 11:30am. Azure was born at 11:50am. In those twenty minutes we were asked repeatedly if we wanted extraordinary measures taken in order to save her life. In my shock and muddled thinking I was rendered speechless. I could not give them an answer. I had questions to ask such as: At 24 weeks and 3 days can she make it? Will she suffer? Will she suffer later due to her development outside of the womb instead of inside? Will she be in pain? I needed to have a discussion with someone explaining things to me so that I could make the best possible decision for the welfare of the baby. I still did not think of her as my daughter. She wasn't real enough yet. The thing is, there was absolutely no time for that discussion to take place.
Seeing her in the isolette in the NICU she barely looked like a real baby. How do I know this is my child? I did not experience labor and childbirth and bring forth into this world a bouncing baby girl. I had a traumatic experience with pain and fear and a voiding of something from my body (I never even pushed) and then T and I were left in a room alone and I was no longer pregnant and we didn't have a baby and I couldn't wrap my head around what the FUCK just happened.
I had specifically not had any expectations about what the labor and birth should be like because I wanted to relax and go with the flow. If I had a plan and things went another way then I might have been disappointed and I did not want to look back at what could possibly be my only birth experience with regret. What I had hoped for was to deliver her, probably with the aid of an epidural, and within the first hour after birth I wanted to do kangaroo care. That is to say, place her skin to skin on my chest and let her know where my breasts were just to get her used to the idea that food could be found in that general area. As it turned out, I wasn't able to hold her until she was three weeks old and the kangaroo care came much later at almost five weeks.
Azure had her immunizations Friday. I didn't think she would even have enough muscle tissue yet in order to get the shots but they assured me that they use a very small needle. Saturday she was "naughty" which is nurse speak for "she hasn't been breathing well and hasn't been pooping and has had more residual milk in her belly and isn't doing so hot right now". This was one of those days when I was not allowed to hold her, too much stimulation.
I look at that little girl, sleeping in her bed and I now realize she is my daughter. She has my nose and she is blonde like me. Those things however do not make her my daughter. She is my daughter because I am there for her. I care for her. I love her and I am making decisions for her. Are they in her best interest? I hope so. I assume so. The biggest decision was already made. We decided to have them save her life.
I feel that all these things have been one big selfish act on my part. I wanted a baby. I wanted to try medical assistance to get pregnant before moving on to adoption and when things came to a head I held my tongue and kept my questions to myself and was grateful that my husband told the medical staff to do what they had to do to keep the baby alive. Yes Rach, I too find it amazing that should I still be pregnant right now I would be able to make the decision (CHOICE) to either continue or discontinue my daughter's life. I wonder if she would have been better off if we had just let her go. She wouldn't be struggling to do basic things right now like digesting, breathing, keeping her heart from stopping. Simple things like the sound of my voice, the light overhead, the gentle rocking of the chair or the supposedly soothing touch of my hand can be overwhelming to her. We are her parents and we had the CHOICE to let her live or die. I can't say for sure whether we made the right decision or not but I am glad we had the right to choose one way or the other. According to Tertia's post the other day babies in South Africa born below 2.2 pounds are not given oxygen support from ventilators. Azure would have died in that situation and it would not have been our choice, the choice would have been made for us.
I sat in the nursery at home Saturday night to pump. I looked around at the bookcase filled with toys, books and videos, at the changing table covered with clothes, diapers and skin care products and at the swing which is all set up holding a teddy bear no bigger than the girl who should be sitting there instead. I looked at that empty room and I felt sad that things didn't turn out the way they were supposed to. They weren't supposed to be this way. There I was pumping my breasts which would not have been possible had I not had a baby and yet, there was no baby. I was holding plastic bottles instead of cuddling my newborn. I do not yet feel like a mother and I do not think that I will feel like a mother until I get Azure home with me and I am the one responsible for her care. I will not feel like a mother until I no longer have to ask permission to hold her (Saturday and Sunday permission was denied), to bathe her, to change her diaper or give her medicines that she needs.
I did not have any expectations about what motherhood would be like, but I never expected it to be like this.

26 comments:

Sam said...

Just a lurker here to say that your post was heart-wrenching. I think of you and your little one all the time and send you my thoughts and prayers.

Cat, Galloping said...

no one expects this. i'm sorry you are living it and i hope you get Azure home really soon.

Anonymous said...

I am still thinking and praying for your family and little Azure. I am so sorry that the path you are on is so different from what you (we all) hoped for. I hope she continues to grow and thrive and gets to come home soon to you.

StacyG

Well-heeled mom said...

I check on you every day for news on Azure, and hope she is doing better. I can't even imagine what it must be like watching her fight. She is strong, even in her tiny body. I do know what it's like waiting, though. Not being able to care for your baby. The disappointment, perhaps, of how you came to be a mother even though you didn't know what to expect. My son is adopted and came home to us at 10.5 months. I was so in love with him through pictures, but what I got to hold was an 18 pound baby that someone else had cared for all that time. We did get to enjoy a lot of milestones with him, but he was not a tiny infant. Some part of me will always want that and wonder what it's like. I hope Azure continues to thrive.

Heels said...

I agree with sam. Your post was heart-wrenching. God bless your daughter and God bless you and your husband as you wait and watch and hope and participate when you can.

I thought of you and of this blog yesterday as I sat down to write a difficult note to friends who suffered a late pregnancy loss.

Becoming a parent, and having that fundamental soul change that goes along with it, without having your child at home with you is the cruelest blow imaginable.

I hope that your dear, precious girl is home with you soon.

ThreeBees said...

Heartbreaking. . .

Just love, and prayers, and many good thoughts for you and Azure in hopes that she'll soon be in your arms in her room at home.

chris said...

I'm sorry you're going through this and have to ask yourself these questions.

Please know that there are a lot of people out there who might not comment but are praying for you and your family.

Heather said...

I feel such a connection with you because my edd was also June 6, but June 6 of 2005. My babies arrived on April 19, so not nearly as early as little Azure, but they had to put in some NICU time just the same. My daughter, in particular, had many of the same issues Azure is dealing with now as far as getting overstimulated, forgetting to breathe, etc. I'll never forget those feelings of anger, sadness, and most of all, helplessness. Please just know that I'm thinking of you and praying for you. And that when she finally comes home, there won't be a mom anywhere more happy and more proud of her "new" baby, her little fighter, than you.

Tertia said...

What a powerful post. It really moved me.

I am hoping with all my heart that every thing works out wonderfully, for all of you.

Sending you all my love
Txx

Erica said...

I'm new to reading your blog, but I wanted to let you know that I am one of those that is praying for you and for your daughter.

Miss W said...

Oh, Blue. That is exactly how I felt through it all. Know that you are not alone in feeling this way. I think I began to really feel like my son's mother while in the "developmental" pod of our NICU -- the area where the babies are stable, able to be cared for by their parents, held at well, etc. Thinking of you!

jv said...

Dear Blue, after reading this post I am compelled to delurk - so here I am. I have been reading you since when Azure was born, and went all the way back in the archives to learn your story. You are a really amazing person. You're so graceful and so strong. I am thinking about you and I check in almost every day to see how Azure is doing and how you guys are holding up. Sending you all my good thoughts.

Billie said...

I vividly recall having the exact same feelings. Even as my twins (also born at 24 weeks and 3 days) approach their second birthday, the NICU days, and the turmoil of emotion following my babies' birth are never far from my mind. I am reading along on your journey and wish you and Azure all the best.
Billie

What's Meant to Be said...

I stumbled upon your blog a while ago and check for updates. I'm pulling for your little girl and for all of you.

lagiulia said...

Your post was so honest and, well, true. When you said, "I do not yet feel like a mother and I do not think that I will feel like a mother until I get Azure home with me and I am the one responsible for her care. I will not feel like a mother until I no longer have to ask permission to hold her (Saturday and Sunday permission was denied), to bathe her, to change her diaper or give her medicines that she needs," I think you articulated what so many NICU moms have felt/feel. I'm thinking of you. Please know that you are not alone in your feelings.

amy said...

Sitting here and crying. Crying because another mother has to go through this. Because you, your husband and your daughter have to go through this. Because your writing is beautiful and honest and true. Because that is exactly how I felt, and still feel.

We think about you every day and hope that you are having more ups than downs on your NICU roller coaster. Hoping you will all be home soon - together.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, honest post. As a mother of two boys (6 and 4), I sometimes wake up and wonder how we got here and question my feelings of motherhood. I can't imagine how difficult it must be entering your motherhood under such difficult cirucumstances.

I'm so glad you chose to believe in Azure's ability to thrive and I sincerely hope she continues to fight and grow. Keep up the good work. You're an awesome mom already even on those days you doubt yourself.

-Peggy

Rach said...

Wow, thanks for the insightful response. I'm impressed.

We were with our little one only 2 weeks in the NICU, but it seemed an eternity.

Thinking of you and checking for updates often.

Milenka said...

I can't even pretend that I can imagine how hard this has been on your family. Every time I read a new post, I am overwhelmed with pride. I'm proud of you for hanging in there through it all, and I'm even more proud of Azure for fighting. I look forward to the day she can come home with you, and I look forward to the post where you tell us that you finally feel like a Mother because you've been one for so long in my eyes. *hugs*

Julia said...

How eloquent. I wonder how many of us actually find motherhood the way we expected.

I think we all do the best we can with what we can. We make choices based on our heart, gut, and any medical information we can get our hands on. In the end, the only one to say whether we did the "right" thing is our own heart.

I think of Azure all the time. I hope this difficult time passes quickly and you find yourself in your rocker, overwhelmed by the joy of finally having her home.

Nancy J. said...

Just wanted to give you some encouragement....we have 3 little ones in our family, all born at 24 weeks (1lb 3oz, 1lb 6oz, 1lb 8oz!!)and they are turning five in July! They had some rollercoaster times, but all in all, they are fine, just some residual catching up to do! But they are well, and alive and happy...so hang in there...this, too, shall pass!

Julie said...

This is dead. Bang. On.

We didn't have to face the whole idea of heroic measures, but everything else you mention takes me right back to where I was a year and a half ago. Your eloquence captures it all so heartbreakingly perfectly.

It was when Charlie was in the NICU that Paul and I realized that what made us parents wasn't genes but being needed. Azure needs you, and once you can begin fulfilling the majority of those needs yourself, I think you'll gradually come to feel like a mother in some of the ways you expected to. I don't know if the feeling of being different because of this kind of experience goes away, because mine hasn't yet, but for me, the rest of it has just taken time.

Damned agonizingly slow time.

Thalia said...

Blue, what a beautiful and thoughtful post. I can only imagine what it's like to have this baby who is not yet really yours. Do you think part of having not completely bonded yet is you protecting yourself given all her ups and downs?

I do hope that you can get back to a point where the kangaroo care works wel for her, and that it's not too long before she can come home.

Alex said...

Thank you for this beautiful, frank post. I think it will mean a lot to many different women no matter how we reach motherhood. I know it did to me (I am adopting, so will probably face different specific issues but some of the same fundamental ones).

I hope Azure will be home with you soon.

Ollie said...

That was the most honest and heartfelt story I've read in a long time. I am really looking forward to the posts when you get to bring Azure home and start to feel the things you did expect of motherhood.

Rachel said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you.
(Just think, Azure is going to read all this some day and realize just how loved she is.)
Rachel (in NYC, no blog)