On the way to hospital at 4:45am the day of Rex’s induction, I remember that I didn’t feel him moving at all. This did not send me into a panic. You see, this was what I thought was going to happen. I knew that we would get to the hospital, they would put on the doppler and the baby would be gone because that is the kind of shit that always happened to us. We always got the short end of the fertility stick, so why not have this epic final fail to add to our list?
I thought about mentioning his lack of movement to the L&D nurses, but I figured, why cause drama before the real drama would happen? I climbed in the bed, and still nothing. While waiting for the nurse to strap on the monitors, I was mentally preparing for the silence that would fill the room, the look of regret on the nurse’s face, the moment of acceptance that our baby was gone.
You can guess what happened next. Of course, the room was filled with the sound of his heart beating away like a metronome just like it was supposed to. I was momentarily relieved, but by no means was I ready to declare victory. The rest of my labor was a bit of a blur once I had the epidural. I spent a great deal of time begging Mr. X for ice chips since I was constantly parched. I would have easily killed for a swig of the Diet Coke he had with his lunch but he knew enough to keep it out of my sight. Before I knew it, it was 5pm and I was pushing – still expecting the worst, but figuring that I might as well get it over with.
At 5:59pm, Rex was born, alive and perfect in every way. And that’s when things got even more surreal because I was officially outside of my realm of believability. I could have believed if something terrible had happened. I could not believe that something terrible didn’t.
I was simply shocked by the fact that I had a beautiful, healthy and very much alive baby and I was now expected to know what the hell to do with him. The nurses all acted as if this was the most natural thing in the world (because, duh, to them it is) and here I was thinking this is actually happening and I don’t know what to do. I also thought how incredibly ungrateful I must be to be having these feelings when I knew many women who had had that terrible outcome. I should be thrilled to have a normal, healthy baby.
In hindsight, I wish I had reached out to someone in that moment to explain how lost I felt, how utterly confused I was that the universe in its infinite wisdom had decided us to bless us with this unbelievably normal outcome. I wish I had asked what happens next? How do I deal with it? What do I do with this child? How do I accept that he’s here and I’m going to have to take care of him? How do I not feel so incredibly awful about having these feelings?
I didn’t, though. I was afraid to ask these nurses who knew so much more than I did about my child. I was afraid to ask my OB who while extremely wonderful and confident was also extremely busy and harried. I didn’t want to ask Mr. X because I didn’t want to hear that he was probably thinking the same things. I wanted to go along with the world’s expectation that we were thrilled to have a healthy baby. I was happy, but in a bemused-how-on-earth-did-I-get-this kind of way.
It took me a long time to get to a good place and accept all that had changed. I had to be very honest with myself about what I was feeling, be it good, bad, very bad and not allow myself to feel judgment for those thoughts. I had to recognize that I wasn’t letting anyone down, most of all myself, by having these feelings and that I was not being ungrateful for having Rex – I was being realistic about how it is to parent a newborn.
Once I hit those milestones, I was finally able to feel the utter and indescribable thankfulness that he was the boy who lived.