Tuesday, July 24, 2012

June 2, 2012 - A Day I Will Never Forget

I feel like I should apologize to everyone for not blogging sooner. I don't have an internet connection at home, so it's hard. But now, we're at the beach, Colt is on a walk with Uncle Nate & Aunt Kelly, and I have the ocean to look at & listen to. I have been journaling this whole time, just not on the computer. So I'm going to write straight from there because those details and emotions are raw & true from those exact moments. So here we go.... :-D

It's Friday June 1st. Colt and I are home along and I'm tired. I've been having contractions for the last week or more & I'm just worn out. But... nonetheless... laundry is out of control, my house is a wreck, & Colt needs a playmate. So I've got work to do. My thought process is, "Spread it out... Do chores. Rest. Play with Colt. Rest. Drink Water. Rest. Do more chores. Rest. Rest..... Rest..... Then rest again." I fold some clothes, then lay down on the couch with Colt at around 11:30 or so. To my surprise, Colt falls asleep (that never happens). So... I'm taking off with this opportunity & putting him to bed so I can take a nap myself. To my surprise again, we both sleep until 1:30 or later. Now, since it's well after lunchtime, I put Colt in his highchair for some old-fashioned PB&J (YUM!). While Colt is eating, I go to the bathroom.... (I'll skip some of these next details for our readers of the male variety).... I decide, "Hey. It's Friday at 2pm, the weekend is looming, and I've got more than enough evidence of potential labor. I'm gonna call and check in just in case." I call and ask for Dr. VonHoene, she's gone for the day. But I get my favorite receptionist... She patches me back to the attending doctor. After hearing my symptoms, he says I should come down and get checked out. OIY!! That's not exactly what I had in mind. I mean come on! I live at the Lake for crying out loud & I'm going to the hospital in Montgomery... But okay, I'll come. So, I call Jarrod & fill him in. He's indifferent, as usual. :-) I decide that I should get a shower, get a quick bag packed for me & Colt & take him to mom's before I head down. So, I deliver Colt to mom's, and go to retrieve Jarrod & we head down to the hospital. I'm having some belly pain still, like I've been having for the last few weeks, but I'm starting to notice that the pain is migrating to my back (same as my labor with Colt). I get to the hospital, get registered, (yadda, yadda, yadda) they get me into bed in triage. Ann Marie is my nurse's name & she seems to be older with a long, grey, braided ponytail. ( I want to remember & share every single little detail) She hooks me up to the contraction monitor, then tries for Gideon's heartbeat. Well... He's a turkey & was having way too much fun with all this contraction business to lay still for her. He wanted to play! :-) So... we knew he was still with us & doing fine with all the kicking, so we just skipped monitoring him, which was fine with me. Then came in a doctor ("Dr. PinkHeadband she will always be to me because she had on the same pink headband on that she did when we were there for Katie's labor just a little over a week earlier.) She checked me and said I was 1cm dilated, 60% effaced, & -2 station. I'm not too surprised. She says they could see the contractions on the monitor at about 3 minutes apart (even though I'm not feeling them too much). She says she thinks my cervix is 'on the move' but she wants me to hang around and get checked again to see what's going on. The only problem is she's going home and Dr. Phillips is coming on. Dr. Phillips has a blond ponytail & a necklace with a pretty crooked heart on it and her wedding rings. She is SO SO sweet! She checks me after the hour is up... no change... Time to go home. Well, we swing by Ruby Tuesday's in Milford for dinner & I get my usual - steak, medium, and mashed potatoes (not the best I've ever had, but that's okay). So, we head home. I drop Jarrod off at his car and go to mom's to get Colt. I'm tired, and huge, and I just want to sleep. So I get home, get Colt in bed, and get myself in bed around 10:00-ish. AAHHHH... My nice, comfy bed! I doze off right away, TV & all. I tell Jarrod I love him, he says he loves me too. And I. am. out... Little did I know, in less than 12 hours I'd be holding my precious boy.

I sleep between 10:00 and 2:00, waking a few times (just like the nights prior: need to visit the restroom, can't get comfortable... you know ladies, the late pregnancy norm). Then, after 2:00am, I can't sleep anymore. No way. I'm having continuing labor symptoms & my contractions are starting to move into my back. After a couple hours of this sort of thing and having my contractions exclusively in my back, I decide it's time to call the doctor and see what they think. So, I call at about 3:30am and the operator can't get in touch with the doctor on call. So, I hang up and tell him that I'll call back later, I wasn't going to get Jarrod and Colt out of bed at this hour anyway. So, I try to lay down. My lower back is screaming for mercy every two and a half minutes, so there is no way that I was going to be able to go back to sleep, as hard as I'm trying. I look at the clock and it's 5:00am. I decide I'm in enough pain that I'm going to try and call again. I don't know how much more of this I can handle, and I know that I have a 50+ minute car ride ahead of me. I get the operator again and he recognizes my voice. He tries for her again with no luck. He tells me to call back in 15 minutes or so, because she most likely is in a procedure of some kind and can be reached afterwards. Okay. During those 15 minutes I decide to time my contraction s on the stopwatch on my phone (brilliant by the way). The were,on average, about 45-50 seconds and about 2-2 1/2 minutes apart. And boy were they painful! So I call back and FINALLY get to talk to Dr. Phillips at about 5:20-ish. She said she felt fine about me coming to get checked out again. I was adamant about her checking me, since she was there the night before. I asked her what time her shift was over and she said 8:00am. I told her we would be there before she left at 8:00.

So I start getting ready things ready to go. I called mom around 6:00 to let her know what had been going on and what the plan was going to be. I wanted her to be there with me, so I wanted her to start getting ready too. She, of course, agreed. We loaded Colt up and got in the car to head out at about 6:37 :-) (I know this specific time because I sent mom a text message as we were pulling out to of the driveway, to which she responded, "My Mt. Dew isn't ready yet... ACK! ... My mom and her 'coffee' LOL) So we start on the road, and I am having some SERIOUS contractions!!! We get to mom's, drop off Colt in his carseat (as in, we didn't even get him out. We unhooked the seat and carried him into the house still in the thing... I didn't care... I had to get to Dr. Phillips!) Dad came out, gave my hand a squeeze, and told me that he loved me and would see me soon. Then, finally, we were off again. Mom was behind me helping me through my contractions, reminding me to breathe, rubbing my shoulders, doing anything she could think of to comfort me. As we were riding, Jarrod was teasing me (yep, still happens even when I'm in the dark throws of labor, lol) and Mom kept saying,
"SMACK HIM!! This is your opportunity to smack him!" Looking back, it was funny. Looking back!

We get to the hospital... FINALLY! Jarrod drops Mom and I at the front door and I tell her there is no way that I am walking all the way to that elevator, she's going to have to wheel me up. So she does. And, of course, I'm having contractions the whole way. A guy named Muhammed (I remember every detail, even the guy's name that registered me) was at the registration desk. He gets me all situated and as he's working I ask him, "Do you know what time it is?"
"7:49" he says.
"Good! I need to see Dr. Phillips before her shift is over at 8:00!" I reply.
After he's finished, Mom wheels me back to triage. The nurse there is Jo (She was kind of short-ish, dark complexion, dark hair in a ponytail). She was very direct and business like, but nice at the same time. It was pretty obvious, I think, that I was in active labor. She had to help me out of my clothes, into the hospital gown (there was no way I was bending down for any reason whatsoever) and got me all hooked up to all the monitors and everything.  She tried, just like Ann Marie, to find Gideon's heartbeat, with no luck. I promptly told her not to worry too much about it, the same thing happened last night. Dr. Phillips came in right after I was in bed to check me and another nurse came in to look at Gideon's heartbeat on the ultrasound since we couldn't find it with the monitor again. Initially, while Dr. Phillips was looking at the ultrasound machine, I thought his pulse wasn't there. I even asked her, "Is he already gone?" But he wasn't. He was still with us. She showed me the beating on the monitor: 143 beats per minute. That strong little heart of his was still pumping. Then Dr. Phillips checked me and I was praying for at least 1cm, at least 1 just so I know I haven't been doing all this work for nothing... Well... Prayers answered... I was 6CM!! (gained 5 whole cm overnight!! WOOP WOOP!!) 90% effaced! and +2 station!!! Praise the Lord! I get to stay!!!

The rest is quite a blur. My contractions were just so so bad that did not care what they did to me. I didn't care what they stuck me with or who did it or what the outcome would've been, I just wanted Gideon out of me. Jo go my IV going, while I was having, yet another, massive contraction, and Jarrod was telling them about me being gluten free and having low blood sugar sometimes. At this point, I'm just laying there trying to get through the pain.

Next thing I know, I'm like a car in a nascar pit crew or something. They hook me all up and get me into the hall, out of triage and into a "real room." It really was like in the TV shows or something, LOL). We're in the hall and right after another really bad contraction, I tell Jo, "The anesthesiologist can come anytime!" To that they reply, "He's on his way honey." :-) I get in my room and they all lift me and put me over to the other bed.

 My wonderful nurse, Kate.
I don't actually remember "meeting" her "formally", but this is where I know my relationship with Kate, my nurse, started and I remember loving her right away. Just about as soon as I got in the room, Scott came in. Scott was the anesthesiologist that did my epidural with Colt and Jarrod really liked him a lot. Man! Was I glad to see him!! He was super friendly and did a SUPER good job with both boys!
 Before he starts, though, my contractions are out. of. control!!! I ask Kate, "Can I 'criss-cross' my legs?"
"That would be perfect." She says.
"Can I hug you?" I ask. (There was a CNM in my room when I got my epi with Colt and she hugged me and I remembered how much that helped.)
"Sure." :-)
She hugs me for a long time, through a couple more contractions, while Scott's back there doing his thing, telling me everything he's doing, "Cold spray." "Little sting" "Little squeeze"
"SHUT UP!!! I don't care what you're doing! I just want the pain to stop!!!" LOL!!
(That last part was just all going on in my mind, not out loud, lol)
Back to reality: The whole time I'm in pain, Kate is talking me through each contraction, telling me to breathe, and man was I trying! It's just so hard to breathe through those stupid things!

After I get my epidural in, I have 2 or 3 more contractions, but they lessen in intensity with each one, until they're gone. Then Dr. Phillips comes back with a slew of people (extra nurses, extra residents, a first year medical student, and more). She comes to check me and she's sort of getting the room ready, people are buzzing all around and I'm telling Kate that I really have to use the restroom (and I really did). I don't remember if she didn't answer me, or if she said, "Not right now." or what, all I know is nothing happened. Well, while they're buzzing around, doing their thing, I feel this HUGE gush and I can remember sort of seeing it spray like upwards almost. I realized my water was breaking. And breaking. And breaking. And breaking... I'm telling you, it gushed forever! There was like a 5 gallon bucket's worth (an over exaggeration of course, but it really was a lot). And so they had to change the bedding. But before they could get to that, I just.... well... pee'd. I couldn't help it. I told them I really had to go! (And I had to go a lot too! lol) (Sorry if that's TMI for you... I was just sitting here thinking that might be kinda gross, but oh well... That's what happened, lol).

Now... Dr. Phillips comes over to check me. Much to my surprise (because it's only 8:30-8:45 or so) I'm 10cm and 100% effaced... Ready to go! We decide to sort of let Gideon progress on his own and come down, so we wait 15 minutes or so (or that's what it seemed like to me anyway). This is when I notice all the people. There's Dr. Phillips... 2 other residents: Dr. Steiner & another Dr. ...A first year resident: tall, goofy looking, student guy... 4 nurses: Kate, Jo, from triage, Kori (Katie's nurse, which was so cool by the way), and another short wavy haired lady (I wish I knew her name)... The "attending" doctor: he was short-ish with a brown zip-up hoodie and scrubs. He was really quiet and just stood in the back by the sink.... That is a total of 9 medical people (that I can remember). Plus my mom, Jarrod & I. That's 12. Twelve people in my room to welcome my precious Gideon! How cool!!

The next 3+ hours are also a blur. It went so fast, but was so perfect, all at the same time. I hope I can recall it all properly.

At some point before I actually gave birth, I told Kate that I was feeling some sharp pain-like stuff, that I couldn't really describe "down there" ... She asked me, "Is it in your butt?"
"No, not really." I say.
"Is it in your 'hoo-ha'?" She asks.
"Yes!! Yes, it is in my 'hoo-ha'! I reply. :-)
"Is it stabby?"
"Hahaha! Yes, yes it is sort of stabby."
(I love Kate, she is so wonderful. The perfect personality to match mine for this whole ordeal!)

Once it was actually time for Gideon to come, I gave like three little grunt-like pushes for Gideon and he pretty much came out on his own. Right away, they put the clip on his cord and someone (I don't remember who) cut his cord, and they handed him right to me, all grimy and all. I asked if he would ever take a breath, and they said no. I didn't let this deflate me. I just decided to enjoy what I had. Kori listened for his heart beat right away. HE WAS ALIVE!!! :-) Then they got a clean towel for him to lay on and a hat (which was WAAYY too big for him). We wiped him off a little and I remember telling him he was a stinky boy. :-) Then Kate came back after a few minutes to listen to his heart beat again and that tough little guy was still fighting. Not breathing, but that little heart was beating away! I asked her if I could listen and she said yes with that quirky little grin of hers that I love. :-) And I heard it. I heard the heart of God's precious Gideon beating here on this earth. That is one of my most fond memories of that day and a sound that I will NEVER forget. The sound of life from my son, who had such a short one. Wow! Praise the Lord for a memory as cool as that!

All photos provided by Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Hezlep Photography.
While all that was going on, Dr. Phillips was working on me, finishing the birthing process (totally oblivious to me). Shortly after that, I believe, (this part where Gideon is in my arms is all so blurry, I'm afraid I won't remember it all) I asked Kate to go ahead and weigh him. He weighed 2lb 2.6oz. My small little guy. He really was tiny and I'm so happy that I have so many pictures of him. My Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) photographer - Lisa Hezlep - was simply amazing! She took all sorts of candid shots while my family and I were holding and admiring him. And she interfered and took him for posed shots too.

Gideon Wayne McGinnis

She was the perfect cross between 'out of your face, let me interact with my family and son' and 'here, let's put him this way to get this awesome shot' ... It was amazing to watch her work in the midst of, what would have been to the outside world, a sad situation. She was amazing and I can't thank her enough for all her hard work. Not only did she work hard for us that day and capture our day perfectly. But she worked hard editing all these pictures for us to have for a lifetime.

Thank you Lisa. Truly. You are an amazing woman and I am indebted to you.

At some point, my family starts to arrive. Dad comes with Colt. Katie arrived at that same time. Grandma Vieson and Aunt Amy come sometime in there too. Then, later after that Kelly came with Andrea and Taylor. And Kathy came too. Everyone is sad. Everyone except me. I don't know, I just couldn't find sadness in that day. Not even after we went home. I was so happy to just have him and hold him and look at him and kiss him. I, of course, was sad at some times, but I would say 95% of my day was spent in happiness and I think my family would testify to that. 

When Dad came in, he was very sad. We kept saying to each other how perfect Gideon was.Then, Mom and Dad take a turn holding him for a few minutes, and then Katie takes a turn. Then Kathy gets there and the front of her pants are all wet. I remember asking her, "What happened?!" Turns out, she had brought a big bag of things for Colt and had spilled the apple juice on her leg somehow. It was so smart that she had that because I hadn't been smart enough to remember that.

At this time, I'm calm. I'm collected. I'm very peaceful. I don't know how that happened, but so many people and preachers talk about God's amazing grace, unspeakable joy, and indescribable peace. Yeah, yeah, yeah... I believe all that, I always have. But there is no way you can truly know what that really is until you go through something like this and you feel God wrap his arms of grace around you. The peace is... intense. That's the only word I can think to describe it sufficiently. I don't know how I got it and I certainly don't know why, but I'm so thankful for it because now I'm able to look back on that day with true happiness. True, true joy. My Gideon was perfect, the time is heart was beating on this earth was perfect and God's grace and peace on my heart was BEYOND perfect! (If that's even possible).

Sorry... got a little bit off track there... Back to my story:

Later in the morning Kate and I gave Gideon his bath. He was very very stinky. Kate brought two little tubs, one for soapy water, and one for rinsing. I remember talking to him like I always would any of my babies and telling him we had to get clean and how stinky he was and things like that. Just interacting with him like I normally would.

Kate and I cleaning him from head to toe :-)

 I was so touched that Kate took such extra care to get his hair all clean.

Speaking of hair... LOOK AT ALL OF THAT!!
He got his footprints beforehand, and they left a little mark on the little tub. :-)

Gideon getting his footprint tak

After his bath, he smelled SO much better and his little head full of hair was so clean. MAN! He had so much hair. I'm so glad we got so many pictures with him without his hat. His hair was definitely one of my favorite parts. It was so dark and so full! I just always wanted to look at it. :-) I'm so thankful that I went through all that heartburn now :-) just like I was with Colt. :-)

We visited with him a little longer, then Kate and Kori took him to get dressed in his "Little Brother" outfit. He was swimming in that thing just as much as he was swimming inside of me (talking about having all that amniotic fluid, then such a tiny baby). 

He sat in the bassinet for a while under the warmer while I filled out his birth certificate paperwork, which in hindsight was such an awesome blessing to be able to do. I had been told around 11:00 that I could go home whenever I was ready. By this time it was probably 12:00 or 12:30 and I was getting close to being ready. 

To any anencephalic moms out there: It's okay to spend however much time with your baby that you want. There is no such thing as too much or too little. It's whatever is right for you. For me, I didn't need that much. Some moms spend the night with their babies and that's all okay. Whatever feels right for you IS RIGHT!!! Don't let people try to sway you. Do what feels good in your heart. You're the one that's going to have to live with your decision for the rest of your life.... Follow your heart.

We were waiting because I wanted to talk to a lactation consultant and ask about pumping and donating. She took a long, long time to come up and then once she did, she didn't seem to have any idea what she was talking about. So... it was a total waste of time, but not totally, because I got to spend more time in the presence of my Gideon. I didn't hold him the whole time (again moms out there... To each her own... do what is right for you), but I didn't feel like I needed to. I was totally content with how much I held him. 

Kisses for my Gideon

I have NO regrets from that day and I don't EVER want the devil to creep in and try to change my mind about that. The whole day was perfect, I did everything with Gideon that I wanted to do, I told him everything I wanted him to hear, and I loved him as much as I possibly could. I have no What if's, I have no regrets.

With that being said.... then came the hard part. Saying goodbye. I had all my papers filled out. It was time. It was about 1:00-1:30-ish and we were ready. We were all sitting/standing around talking and visiting and Jarrod signaled to me that it was 'time.' He knew how long was just enough, and he was right. It was time. Time to say goodbye. (One of, and maybe my only, unpleasant memories) 

So, mom and dad were already over at the bassinet and I went over with them. I felt his skin again, it was so soft and still 'squishy' -- we weren't sure how fast death would come over him. I touched his little button nose. I looked at his tiny feet & his sweet little hands & that middle finger that just wouldn't lay straight.  I remember so many people talking about trying to memorize every detail. And that's what I was trying to do. Through all of this, mom and dad are standing with me and then I feel a hand in mine. Jarrod had walked up behind me and put his other hand on my shoulder. He has no idea what this meant to me. No idea. 

Then, I bent down and talked to him, through my tears, one last time. I wanted him to know how much I loved him. How much I would have loved him had he been able to stay. How much I will always love him even though he can't stay. How much his daddy and big brother will always love him. How much his big brother would've had so much fun with him. How we would be the best parents to him that we could. And how I would think about him everyday (but I still wanted to be honest), then I quickly corrected myself and told him I'd try to think of him everyday and if I didn't, I still loved him very much. I don't think I'll have trouble with that though. I told him to tell Grandpa Barthel I said hi, but to not let him work him too hard. :-) Then I kissed him, I looked at his hair again, touched his nose, kissed him again, and turned away.I was done. I didn't have anything else to say, and I could've stood there kissing his head and nose for the rest of my life. But I knew it was time to go. I knew if I didn't do it then, that I never would, because in all seriousness, who ever wants to do that? Walk away from your son, never to see him on this Earth again? No one, no one wants to do that. It is totally unnatural. As I turned away, I hugged everyone. Each for a very long time. Kelly, Katie, the little girls, mom, dad, Kathy, then finally... Jarrod. Jarrod held me for what seemed like hours. He just hugged me and let me sob. (I love this man)

They loaded up my wheelchair as I tried to begin to contain myself, and Kate called another doctor in to stay with Gideon while we left (which, in hindsight, that was so thoughtful and sweet of her, to get someone to come in and stay with Gideon's body... just another reason why I love her so much).  She loaded up the memory box she had made for me that had all of Gideon's stuff: footprints, lock of hair, hats, extra ankle bracelets (again, super thoughtful), any paperwork we needed, and I'm sure there were other things that I'm forgetting about right now. This is when I got a little twinge of pain, I remember thinking to myself: "Man, this really stinks, leaving here with a box of mementos instead of a baby." I didn't like that. I didn't like that one bit. But, it had to be done. I had to leave. And I had to leave Gideon behind. 

So, they wheel me out of the room, into the hallway and we're waiting for Kate and looking for my phone (only to realize that it was in my pocket all along). Then we realize that under our feet was really sticky.... Remember the apple juice on Kathy's pants? Yeah... She must've spilled it here.  So, Kate comes, the doctors tell us goodbye and we head out. I originally thought that was going to be really hard, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. You see, I've been working on this process and preparing for this day since we found out about anencephaly on January 31st. I didn't have an empty carseat to look at, or an empty nursery to go home to, nothing like that. I wasn't in pain anymore, and Gideon is with Jesus. What more do I need? (I want to always remember the peace I felt that day. The intense peace that only the Holy Spirit can give. Amazing.)

We go down the elevator and as we were walking out, I gave Kate the address for my blog and she helped me into the car with my ice pack (which was for my epidural entrance sight, and felt AWESOME!!). She leaned down and gave me a big hug and I remember telling her, "I really want to tell you that I love you because I really feel like I do." And I do, really. I mean... How could I not? She helped me and spent time with me on one of the most important and most memorable days of my life. She was God's special, brilliant give to me that day and A. I will always be thankful that she did everything she did for me. B. She will always hold a very special place in my heart! So everyone else loaded up and we took off. 

This day was so amazing in so many ways that I cannot begin to go into all the details of all the blessings (and I've been writing for so long, I feel like you're probably holding your eyes open trying to finish this story). I just want to take a few minutes to glorify our Almighty God for being with me and being merciful to me on that day. He was in total control and did everything in His way and in His time. I cannot stress enough how true that was. Everything from my water breaking on its own, to Gideon's heart beating, to him being born at 33 weeks so that I wasn't able to donate anything... All that was so comforting to me.

Colt giving Daddy hugs

   Our family of four

Kate holding Gideon

Hands on our Gideon

Gideon's precious, tiny little feet

Thank you so much for joining me in the story of my sweet Gideon's life. He was surely a blessing to me. I hope he was a blessing to you as well..... I intend to continue blogging about the following days and recounting what I can. I just want so desperately to help any anencephalic moms out there that are nervous or scared. I would LOVE to talk to you and be your sounding board, be someone you can talk to who has actually been there. Please email me... I WILL email you back and answer any and all questions you may have. (jennymcginnis31@gmail.com)

Thank you again & God bless you.