July 10, 2015

Your Story: Zachary

Zachary David Bland.  05/29/15.  8 pounds, 7 ounces.  20 inches long.

If you would have told me that one short yet loooooooong year later I would be writing the birth story of my live baby, I don't know what I would have done.  I wish I could go back and tell that Tina that this would be our next chapter, our happy ending AND our bright new beginning.  I wish I could tell her that the sadness of losing her baby may never go away or fade, but that she would get stronger and able to live with it and around it.  I wish I could tell her that things would not always be so sad or look so depressing.  I wish I could tell her that in a years time, she would be holding her rainbow baby...that she would be tired and emotional, but completely head over heels in love with him.

This is the story of Zachary's birth.  It was a long time coming.  My pregnancy seemed like the blink of an eye, yet while it was happening it dragged along like one tedious and anxiety ridden ride.  Looking back, I had a really great pregnancy.  The only problem was my head - the fear and the anxious days and nights, the tears that would come when the dark thoughts would take over.  Physically, it was really ok.  I was hardly sick in the beginning, I never really felt that huge or gained that much weight, I never got too swollen or retained much water.  I had the diabetes and the high blood pressure, but honestly that was all very manageable and both of those issues have resolved themselves for now.  My docs seem to think I may always struggle with those problems, but for now I am ok.  Mostly by the end I was just tired.  I loved being pregnant when I could feel him moving and those days that I felt confident that this baby would make it, that my body would win this time.

The night before my C Section was a little rough.  We went out to dinner to Bertucci's, but I barely ate.  We tried talking about what Zachary would look like, we tried talking about other things, we tried talking through what would happen the next day...nothing really helped.  Sitting there in that restaurant, I remember thinking that I couldn't handle the stress and the emotion of it all.  I didn't want to live through another baby dying.  I knew that the chances of something bad happening were actually probably very small, but still...when you live through it once, it's hard to not think about it.  After our pizza came and I ate like a bird, we paid our check and headed home.  

I remember that night being strangely normal for us.  We talked with our families about the plan for the next day, we packed our bags, I vacuumed our room while Dave did some chores downstairs - we wanted the house to be clean and ready for us when we returned home, I think we watched some TV but I honestly can't remember what it was.  Fixer Upper, I think?  I went up to take a bath and got in bed to watch Big Bang (our nightly ritual) and Dave come up and rubbed my feet and back.  We prayed and prayed.  I was surprisingly tired, and I think I was asleep by midnight.  I slept through the night, I don't even think I woke up to pee, it was a miracle.  

The next morning, our alarms went off at 5am.  It was the day!!!  I remember the excitement running through me, taking over the stress and the fear like waves.  I was going to meet my baby!  I got in the shower and sat there for about 30 minutes, praying and listening to United and just trying to visualize me in recovery with Zachary and my family all around me. That picture, that happy vision, got me through the whole thing.  If I focused on that, everything else sort of melted away.  Dave got up and got ready, we did some last minute things around the house, then we fed and kissed Frodo and were out of the house by 6:45.  We had to be up at the birth center by 7:00.  

The day was perfect.  It was sunny and the skies were a beautiful blue.  I remember seeing the sunrise over Route 24 as we turned to go the Upper Chesapeake and thinking that it was so lovely, and I told Dave that I thought that was Jackson's sign...telling us that we were going to be ok that day.  Dave put on the song "Rest in you" by United and we prayed some more, and by the end of the song we were parked in the garage and ready to go in.  

I told Dave I didn't think I could do it.  He, once again, threatened to drag me in there, that he would if he had to.  We were having our baby that day!  We walked into the birth center and had to sit while someone else checked in.  Mom and Dad came early to sit with us, and finally we were ready to be admitted.  It felt so surreal, and I pushed out the memories of when we had to do that same process knowing we wouldn't be bringing a baby home.  Then, the lady that checked us in said we were to go into triage.  I kissed mom and dad and told them I'd see them soon, the stress on their faces was obvious too - they knew I'd be ok but the fact that I was going into surgery was hard for them.  Mom said she wanted to be right there, in that room, with me as much as she could be while I was going through it.  I told her to go home, to rest.  She had barely slept the night before, and Dave was with me, I had to convince her we'd be ok.  I told her I'd need her to be awake and alert for Zachary, because we'd both be very tired and someone would need to hold him all afternoon;)

As soon as we walked into our room, our nurse popped in.  Jesus has a very funny sense of humor, because it was the very same nurse that checked us in when we had Jackson.  The nurse we didn't like, that didn't acknowledge our baby's death and who asked us a ton of questions as I was choking on tears and trying to grasp the fact our baby was gone.  Dave looked at me as if to say, "I will go and get us a new nurse immediately."  When she left the room briefly I told him no.  I said that we had her for a reason, and I was willing to see that reason through.  I am glad I did.  This time around, she was as sweet as can be.  She was calming and peaceful, and reassured me every step of the way through the prep, the surgery and the recovery.  I'm glad we had her and have a better memory.

Dave and I in triage, prepping for surgery...

Another nurse came in to help with the prep, and she did my IV this time around (with Jackson, my nurse that needed redeeming had to stick me about 8 times to get it right!  Thank goodness someone else did it this time)  For a C Section prep there is no room for modesty!! They mad me strip right down in the gown but flipped it all the way up to shave my tummy and surrounding areas, feel the baby for position, strap me to a monitor and a bunch of other things.  That was just the beginning of me understanding that when you have a baby, everyone is really all up in your business.

Dr B came in and we reminded him, per his request the day before, to check Z's head position in an ultrasound to make sure he was still head down (since he had flipped back and forth within a week!) so it was really sweet to get to see him on the screen just about an hour before we met him in real life.  I remember Dr. B saying something like, "See ya real soon, mom!" as he was moving the wand over my belly.  

The anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself and talk me through what would happen in the OR.  He was really sweet, and had a really thick accent, maybe Russian or Ukrainian?  He totally reminded me of someone on Alias!  We asked him some questions and then he told us he would see us in the OR.  All too soon, 9:00 came around, go time.  My nurse came in and had me get up and wheel out my IV.  Dave had his own "nurse" to help him prep and guide him down to the OR.  The problem with c sections is that your husband can't go in with you at first.  I had to walk down that hallway and into that room with my nurse, without him by my side.  They all assured me that he would be in there in about 10-15 minutes, but that was a looooooong time to go without him, especially with all scared I was, on top of how jittery I get in hospitals.

I have never been in an OR before.  It was terrifying.  A small room that looks like a box, cold, no windows, with the scariest machines and tools around.  As I walked in there, guided by my nurse, I burst into tears.  All the nurses in there swarmed around me, helped me up on the table, and the one OR nurse came and put her arms around me and stroked my head and back and told me to cry it out until I relaxed.  The anesthesiologist came in and got started right away, these people don't waste anytime.  The mood of the room was happy, and relaxed, and that helped me calm down.  They all were wondering why I was so stressed out, so I told them...last year I lost my baby, he died.  They all comforted me and told me they were sorry, but that this baby was alive and well, and I'd be meeting him soon.  As the doc put my spinal in, the sweet nurse kept her arms around me.  I hardly felt a thing, just a pinch and then the slight cold sensation running up and down my body, and then my legs went numb.

Within a minute, I was laid out on the table, the blue screen was up in front of my face and my arms were laid out in a "T".  I asked if Dave could come in yet and they said not quite yet.  Dr. B came in, all in his surgery garb and flashed his badge at me so I knew it was him.  He comforted me and told me that Zachary would be out soon!  They prepped my belly, I felt some tugging, they hadn't cut in yet but I guess they were feeling for the baby and rubbing that surgery stuff on there.  I started to feel sick and the docs rushed to get more meds in me, and the nausea passed quickly.  The doc told me that was very common.

Dave in his outfit!  Waiting to come in to the OR

Finally, Dave was allowed to come in.  He was all decked out in his protective garb.  I felt the meds coursing through my body.  They started the surgery, and sort of talked us through some of it.  I didnt feel anything, thankfully.  I always had this fear I'd be the one to feel it.  I kept asking Dr. B if Zachary was ok, if he was alive.  I think I may have asked it a dozen times.  Each time, they all said he was.  Dr B even said once that he was fine, but they were trying to find the rest of him, lol!  He was so far up in my belly, they had to vacuum him out I think, which I didnt even know they could do in a c section.  In hindsight, I am glad we elected to have him this way, because he would have never come out of me even if I was induced.  It would've taken 40+ weeks for him to come down far enough to be birthed the regular way, and with all my risk factors, that may have been too late.  God was always watching out for us.  This was the right decision.

Me, scared but ready.  Let's do this...

I felt some serious tugging and pulling, and my body was moving around a lot but again, I didnt feel much else.  I became very nauseous two other times during the whole process, and they fixed that quickly.  Dave told me afterwards that one of those times was very scary, but he didn't tell me at that time.  He was watching my vitals and my BP dropped crazy low, and I lost a ton of blood.  The doc told us after that I lost twice as much as normal for this type of surgery, but that they got it under control right away.  That was the reason for me feeling so sick.  

I kept saying out loud, "I just want to hear him cry!" and finally, at 9:42, he did.  I heard a nurse yell, "Happy Birthday!!!" and I even looked over at the digital clock on the wall and saw the 9:42 as they announced it.  He came screaming into this world, just as I wanted.  Dr. B popped him over the screen and yelled, "Hi mom!  I'll be right back!!!" and my first words were, "Oh my, he is so gross!!"  Everyone laughed.  Z was covered in blood and all that normal birth stuff, but that first peek of him was the best thing I'd ever seen.  Dave kept saying how he was so cute and so small, 8 pounds and 7 ounces, and I told him to go...go over there and be with him as they cleaned him up.  

He's here!!

All cleaned up

I could hear Zachary screaming and the tears came running down my face.  That cry was the most perfect sound in the world!!!  I had a baby!!  He was alive!!  Again I asked if he was ok, if he looked healthy, and the nurses all said he was healthy and just the most beautiful thing ever.  His APGAR scores were 8 and then 9, basically the best we could ask for.  I saw Dave round the corner back to me and he was holding him.  He put Zachary right up to my face and I kissed his cheek as he screamed, it was the most beautiful and surreal moment of my entire existence.  I just met my son face to face for the first time.  It's all I have dreamed of this past year.

Daddy holding him for the first time

They had to fix me up a bit before I could hold him, so Dave sat with him by my head for a few minutes.  Then, the nurses came over and unbuttoned my gown so we could do skin to skin and they placed him on my chest for the first time.  Z was finally calm, sleepy, and it felt like the most natural thing in the entire world, having him lay there on me.

Our first pic with Zachary

Getting him out only took about 15 minutes, but stitching me back up took longer.  I think we were done all of that by 10:30, they transferred me over to my bed, and wheeled me to the recovery room.  I was surprisingly awake and aware, and all too eager to get my hands on Zachary again.  

The next few hours were a bit of a blur.  Dave went and got Ashley and she came to meet her brother.  They gave him his first bath while I took pics from my bed.  My parents came back, Dave's mom and Grammy came back, and Jonathan and Krystal.  Everyone fell in love with him immediately, who couldn't?  We told everyone to meet us back in the room in a few hours, I had to stay in recovery to be monitored.  They all went to get lunch.  The lactation consultant came in and I breastfed him for the very first time.  It was so wonderful, it breaks my heart that we couldn't keep it up like that, but at least we had that sweet memory.  He needed a lot of help latching on and staying latched, but after we got it he stayed there for about 45 minutes.  It was perfect.

Our first family pic.  Don't mind my swollen arms and face!  Surgery will do that to ya!

Ashley and Daddy giving Z a bath.

Recovery from birth with Mommy.

When it was time to move to my room, we asked which room we would be in so we could tell our family.  My nurse told us, "14".  We looked at each other.  Room 14 was the very same room I gave birth to Jackson in, I'll never forget it.  Again, Dave asked if I wanted a different room and I said no.  This was happening for a reason.  God wanted us to have a happy memory in there, and maybe even give Zachary a sweet connection with his angel brother.  Just like God wanted us to give that nurse another chance.  I'm glad we didn't argue about it, because my memories of that day are sweet and wonderful and I wouldn't want it any other way.

We got into our room and our families returned.  Everyone gathered around Zachary's bassinet and took turns passing him around.  He did great, no crying at all that day and endured the baby passing game beautifully.  As everyone was together and holding him and talking, I took that mental snap shot.  It was the picture I had visualized in my head all week, of my family and I rejoicing together, drinking in this new little being and all being euphorically happy that he was finally here.  My body did it this time around, it was healthy enough and strong enough to build this baby and get him here safely, all with the help of God and lots of prayer!  A new baby is such a joyous occasion, and a baby after a loss is somewhat of a heightened experience.  Zachary is someone we have waited a long time to meet and hold, and there he was finally, here with us and ready to take us on the most amazing adventure of our entire lives.

My world!

Proud Janou and G Pop

Aunt Krystal and Uncle Jonathan

Grandma helping with a change of diaper

We love you Zachary, and the day you were born is one of the happiest memories all of us will cherish forever.  Your birth was a miracle, you are a miracle.  All that anxiety and fear, all those sleepless nights and wondering if we would make it...it was all worth it!  God got us all through it!

It's hard to believe that woman have healthy babies all the time, hard when you've been through what we have gone through, but this is the norm, not that.  Our docs and team were awesome, and I am so happy we stuck with them and trusted them with Zachary and my well being.  I couldn't have asked for a better experience, or a better birth story this time around.  I'll remember it and cherish it for the rest of my life. 

The next few days after his birth were a little rough, but that is another story for another time! 

Z and I, earlier this week...

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us our Rainbow baby!!!

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