Tuesday, October 11, 2011

With love to my middle daughter

I've gotten into a habit over the years of remembering the births of my babies on the evening before their birthdays. In the quiet house, after all the day's activities have settled, it's a sweet time to let my mind drift back to those births that I never want to forget.

Jaime Renee was my most difficult pregnancy. I was so sick the first trimester that I lost 10 lbs. Then, just as I was feeling better, we moved from SD to Tucson, AZ in the middle of the summer. There is so much to be said for youth and enthusiasm and it goes hand in hand with the words, 'blissful ignorance'. Our firstborn, Christy, was just 1 year old. We fit our worldly goods in one car with no air conditioning and towed a small trailer behind.

We found an apartment and settled in, except for that employment thing. Kevin had a horrible time finding a job. We were very close to the University of Arizona Medical Center. We qualified for very reasonable maternity care as long as we were willing to have residents as our doctors. I was just fine with that because I knew they would be more emotionally engaged because it's all new to them. And it was an adventure!

A few weeks after we moved into our new place, I started running a really high fever and started having contractions. The doctors decided to admit me because the high fever concerned them. It was the only time I'd ever been delirious with fever. And I was worried for the baby. And I was worried about leaving Christy with our new neighbors. We had no family around and were too new in a new city, new state, even new part of the country to know what to do or who to contact.

My high fever wouldn't break. The doctor decided it would be necessary to do an amniocentesis, a procedure to insert a long needle into the uterus to draw out some amniotic fluid. The fluid is then tested to see if there is something wrong with the baby. At that time, 32 years ago, it was a very new procedure. They had just developed sonograms and the screens reminded me of a fuzzy TV screen that lost its signal.

For the procedure, the huge sonogram was brought in. The head of the OB dept was there to oversee the residents. I had 4 resident doctors following my case at this point. Remember, it was only Kevin and me. Kevin was allowed to be by my head and he held my hand and comforted me. Standing over me was the doctor, unsheathing a very, very long needle. Kevin and I were really scared but we were strong until the doctor who was watching the sonogram stated, "A little more to the left, you don't want to hit the baby's head." That was too much for Kevin. He got really lightheaded and had to sit down. He kept thinking, 'That's MY baby's head!' I closed my eyes and prayed.

When they got the necessary fluid, the doctor held up the vial, shook it a little, said, "Cloudy...that's not good." and then left the room. The resident doctors stayed with us and explained that the fluid should tell them if the baby was causing the fever and if the baby was sick. They told us that healthy fluid should be clear. They left us with the comments that, should they have to take the baby then, the chances of a sick baby surviving that early were very slim. They told us we might consider names or no names, funeral or no funeral....things that had never crossed our young minds ever before.

So as we waited, Kevin and I clung to each other and talked to our baby. We truly were all we had. Our world had shrunk to the size of that hospital room. I'd been put in isolation in case I was contagious so it was lonely too. Time dragged by as we waited for the results and yet it flew by as we prayed that our baby would be spared.

The doctors returned with the news that the baby was safe. The fever was from my body, not my baby's body. There was also a warning given to us. The high, extended fever could have caused brain damage to the baby and we needed to be prepared for that possibility. Kevin and I just reeled with the emotions and information we were trying to process. But we clung to each other.

My fever finally broke after almost a week. I was finally was able to return to our apartment and to Christy. I still had the last trimester to go and was told to stay off my feet as much as possible. Christy was 1 year old. Well, we did the best we could. We found a church nearby and were warmly welcomed. Kevin finally found a job! But the job was 2 hours away, in Phoenix. The job started right away and I still had another month to go. Kevin could stay with his dad in Phoenix and look for an apartment for us. A wonderful family in the church came to us and offered for Christy and me to stay with them until the baby arrived. That was such a sweet example of being the hands and feet of Jesus. I was willing to stay alone but I didn't have to. This kind family welcomed us and gave us a real sense of security as we waited.

Did I mention we waited? For a baby who tried to join the world 3 months too early, when the time had come for her appearance, she refused to come. I had only gained 12 lbs the entire pregnancy (that included the 10 lbs I'd lost at first). I was going to the doctor's every day because I was classified as a high risk and they were very careful. At the doctor's office, these sweet resident docs would surprise me with something to eat, a burger, a milkshake, etc. They kept trying to get weight on me. I was so touched by their genuine care and concern.

I think the family I was staying with got more nervous each day I went past my due date. Kevin was 2 hours away but we were thankful he had a job. We could only talk every couple days because long distance was expensive. Christy was happy wherever she was and she charmed everyone. Then on Oct. 12, 1979, fourteen days after her original due date, labor began in earnest. I will always remember the ride to the hospital. It was about 5pm and we were fighting heavy rush hour traffic. We had no idea how long labor was going to take so this man and his wife rolled down their car windows and started yelling, "Mother in labor!! This lady's having a baby! Let us through!" And people responded! It took a lot of yelling and I would've laughed a lot harder if it didn't make me pee my pants!

We got to the hospital and I got settled into the labor room and waited for Kevin to come. I started praying he'd get there in time. No worries there, it was going to be a long labor. Back then was the age of natural childbirth so comfort was never an option. I walked as much as I could until Kevin arrived. Then he walked with me and I could look a bit more pathetic because I didn't have to be so strong. Finally I was put to bed and hooked up to monitors. That was when the trouble started.

Everytime I had a contraction, the baby's heart beat would drop, lower and lower. The doctors said the cord was probably around the baby's neck and was being squeezed during contractions. The baby was too far down in the birth canal to do a c-section. Then it was discovered that she was face up, not the correct position of face down. They couldn't turn her manually because of the cord being wrapped around the neck. So they put an oxygen mask on me and had me get on my hands and knees to relieve pressure on the cord.

At this point, the doctors told me I got to choose which doctor would deliver the baby. There were about a dozen folks in the room to observe the high risk birth. Any shred of modesty left when I was on my hands and knees with pains very close together and a gown that opened in the back. I can laugh about it now and it gets funnier the longer time elapses. At the time, I was trying to rip off the mask because I couldn't breathe and then the urge to push came over me like a large rolling wave. Then the doctors told me I couldn't push until the baby turned face down. I fought that urge to push as long as I could. I finally felt something and told the nurse to check me. She flippantly told me I didn't know what I was talking about. I grabbed her arm and told her SHE. NEEDED. TO. CHECK. ME. NOW. The nurse was surprised that the baby had turned!

At that point I yelled, "I'm pushing!" Then I picked out the delivering doctor and said, "The baby's coming!!" And boy, howdy, did that baby make a quick entrance from there!

The umbilical cord had been wrapped around the baby's neck 3 times! They carefully unlooped it and then they announced, "It's a GIRL!" Before we could hold her, the team of docs were swarmed around checking her out. We never knew exactly what they were looking for but as we waited, they got more and more excited. Those resident doctors brought our daughter back to us, handed her to us for the first time and then told us that she was perfectly healthy! Then they crowded around and asked us what we decided to name her.

We had decided on the name Jaime Renee. Jaime was for our friend Jim. Renee was the middle name of my best friend who had tragically died a year earlier. AND Jaime Renee in french means Love Reborn. We felt like we had a miracle baby in our arms. A little girl who almost arrived too early, who was thought to possibly have brain damage, but who instead, was nestled into her parents' arms. Each of the doctors touched her and said, "Hi, Jaime", or "Welcome to the world, Jaime". It was a sweet, sweet moment.

Jaime was ready to eat from the moment she came into the world. As she nursed, I examined her tiny hands and discovered she had a blister on her thumb, where she'd been sucking it so hard in the womb!

Kevin and I loved our new daughter and we clung to each other. Our friends brought in Christy to meet her new sister. Christy was 15 months old and was talking a bit. She came up with her own name for Jaime. She called her (sound it out) nnnnn...gong (and make your voice go up and down). Or just ask Christy now, I bet she'll be happy to tell you how she said Jaime's name!!

Oct. 12... 8:09pm.... 7lbs 4oz...19 1/2 inches long.... Welcome to the world, Jaime Renee.

Thanks to God for the honor of being chosen to be Jaime's parents. We have been so blessed.

Happy Birthday, Jaime! You are our Love Reborn!

1 comment:

Liz said...

I love Christy's version of Jaime's name. Kinda sounds Chinese. LOL!

What an amazing story of God's faithfulness!

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Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.