I'll keep this short and simple. When I was 21 years old I got pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were extatic and broke. He went away to work for better money than our small town could provide, and I nested. A friend gave us an antique nursery dresser, my sister gave me year-one baby clothes. I found a midwife as I had no health issues and was not prepared for any pregnancy problems. I glowed. My hair grew like crazy; my nails could cut wood. I was eating as well as our income would allow and my husband, when he could come home from work every few weeks, was above board solicitous of my health. We looked like that crazy-healthy couple with a baby on the way.
I was in our outhouse relieving myself (preggo bladder) when I passed the mucous plug, though I did not know what it was at the time. It looked a lot like the normal vaginal discharge to expect during pregnancy. My low back hurt, but at 24 weeks in, my belly was pulling on my lumbar region and causing occasional pain. I had been cramping low around my belly and back, but again, pregnant! Heavy belly! First time preggers! I was working five hour days then at a cushy type job that nevertheless, had me on my feet for all of those hours. Back pain and heavy feeling belly made sense to me. I left the outhouse with a little trepidation concerning the discharge, but I had something to look forward to with my husband coming home for the first time in two weeks. He would be home in about three hours and we were going out to eat pizza. I was happy, longing for his touch, and starving.
He came home, we went out and had that pizza. I had the feeling of something not right ever since that afternoon and I called my midwife. I got her message machine and described what had happened including the cramping I was feeling. My message was flippant. Mostly, I just wanted my midwife to know all the details. This was my first pregnancy, after all. She called me back over my last bite of pizza, it was 8:45pm Monday, October 21, 2002. She said I needed to get to the hospital immediately, to drink as many fluids as I could on the way there, and to be quick. We lived a long way from the hospital, and nothing seemed wrong; we made it to the hospital in 1 hour 55 minutes—we were 110 miles away when she had called me back. My husband took this seriously. Upon arriving, I was met by my midwife who I never saw again. I was taken to triage, where the residing OBGYN inspected me and said my bag was prolapsed, my cord was previa, and I could not get up to go pee. I had to pee like a muthafukah; I had drank so many fluids, remember? A nurse came in and cathed me in front of my husband, several doctors, and I pissed all over her hand as she inserted. I felt pain like I had never known. The cath pain never left me as they never anesthetized me for the catheter. They said I was in labor, they did not know why, and all they could do was admin magnesium sulfate. If you've never had this, pray that you won't. It felt like I had a 500lb heated weight on my chest. I was overly hot and felt like I could not breath. At this point, I had been wheeled into labor and delivery. Before administering the magnesium, another doc came in and ultra- sounded me. I saw the baby within me for the first time. It was a boy. Neither myself nor my husband would admit until years later that we had both wished for a son (I had always wanted a little brother). At that same moment, my sister grabbed my hand and said right into my ear, "He's viable. It's okay, he's viable."
He wasn't. He never would be. He was born at 4:30 the following Tuesday morning via emergency C-section. They performed a "classical" Cesarean on me which would affect my future fertility adversely for the rest of my life. He was 25 weeks gestation, 1 pound 5 ounces, 11 inches long. He had dark brown hair like me, and when they pulled him from my womb he squealed—this is exact—like a squeaky door. I feel lucky that they did not general me. I'm happy they only localed. I was aware of everything. I was sent to recovery, my husband went to see his very tiny son in the NICU. Our son got held by me one time outside of the incubator. He opened his eyes, but could not see anything. He felt my warmth, but could not connect it to anything tangible. He was beautifully formed, but so terribly small. He died thirteen days after his birth. His body was swollen from all the drugs they pumped in to still the gram rod negative infection in his lungs. At death, he weighed 1 pound 10 ounces. He gained weight in drugs only. His small life was feeble and wretched. Whatever joy we felt in him we placed upon him ourselves. There is no science that can, currently, show that he felt, saw, or actually experienced anything on a conscious sensory level. The medical staff did nothing to numb him for pokes or intubations.
It took me about three years to begin to think differently about my first child's birth. In ten years I fully realized the truth. My boy's birth was not a "birth." It was, instead, an abortion with feeble hope attached. There was no real chance of his survival. The doctors and nurses thought they were being kind by telling me that he had a chance, any chance at all. They held their tongues as they continuously pumped drugs, fake food, oxygen, and humidity into a child too fragile to ever make it. In the 1930's-40's they would have allowed me to labor the baby out, morphined him up, and sent him home to die in my arms. As horrible as that might sound to you, I wish they would have done this in my instance. Instead, I watched a life try. I watched his small body arch off the incubator mattress in flailings I can not fathom. He did try to live, as all life will try. I felt, in some hopeful way, that he had a soul. He would have had a soul irregardless of his birth; spontaneous abortion in the car to the hospital (could have very easily happend) birth at home, birth at the pizza table. None of which he would have survived.
This baby, non-viable as he was, was born. I picked out the travertine headstone and my husband carved in the name and dates. While I can not regret meeting this life that was my son's, I do ask myself—what kind of life did he experience? Did he hear me signing to him? When he opened his eyes, did he see? His fathers big blue eyes? My dark hair? Did he hear?
Science has most of these answers. And towit, they are "no." He did not. Had my son "made it" as they like to say, he would have had every palsy known to man. His life would have been incredibly short and full of strife. I do not mean to negate those already living as or living with disabilities. I would have given anything to have my son live, disabled or not. But that is a mother's selfish thoughts.
My first pregnancy also brought some hardship onto me. Due to the classical cesarean section, my uterus was weakened. With any consecutive pregnancies, I could expect a ten percent chance of uterine rupture; death for baby in thirty minutes, death for me in an hour. My son changed my life. I have two children now that I love and adore. They both had to be delivered c-sec as I can not risk going to term. My tubes were cut and tied eight years ago when I was twenty-five. It was too risky for me to have more children. At thirty-one, I want more kids. I actually WANT them now. I can not have them. Not my own, not in the natural way. Not in the way I desire.
I will say it again: seeing my first child as I did was a blessing, but it was also a curse to us both.
This was not short. I tried. I went back and edited out, but mostly, I feel that I need to stay these things "out loud." I have a lot of family that would shun me for thinking this way. They see my first child's birth as a short passage into this world. I don't. He could have died in utero, in the vaginal canal, or just outside of my body. I had urea Plasmosis. I had a UTI. My body aborted a twenty-four week fetus.
Not that I think my writing would merit, but I ask that this be kept to Groupthink and not mainpaged or quoted. Please.