Monday, November 19, 2012
I was reading through my previous posts looking for some info I had written about and was shocked to find there was not a single post about The Birth of Hanna.
I realized it didn't fall under any of the Reverb categories I had committed to writing to in December, and I was in a hotel room going through the end of a trial in late November and so, somehow, it just..fell to the side. Which was kind of sad. But!! I did enjoy re-reading the Reverb posts I had written. December was a busy month - as it is for most people - and so I'd quickly bang something out, then hit save and posted a bunch of them in a row to re-read later. One afternoon I realized um..i need to post these and I don't have time to re-read them, so up they went.
This morning, I re-read them. Some were pretty lame. I could have dug deeper, peeled some scabs off a bit more..But it's obvious I'm not ready for that. Some though, really made me smile (seriously, who else's life is completely altered by a single Zumba class??) some made me cry (ah, The Great Cheeseball Moment of 2010 ) and some made me realize I need to re-read those posts almost daily.
So..the story of Hanna's birth (some gory details at the end, I give you fair warning!)..
My cousin, Carlin is about 10 years younger than I am. But she is the eldest of three, and so we've always that kind of bond, Where only the eldest of three would understand our life issues;) We can go months, years without seeing each other, and then we just fall back into place. One day, she asked me to lunch as she had some news. She was thoughtful enough to warn me it was "good news" :)
Carlin is single. I don't know anything about her dating life. I know her life is full of friends, music, and adventures. That's all I needed to know. Sitting across from me, with a plate of sushi between us she drops the bomb of all bombs.
And how did I, the mature, older, at one time maybe considered cool, cousin react to that?
Ha-ha..ok really, what's the news?
No, really I'm pregnant.
Yep, ha ha you got me..so really what's the news?
No, really..she was pregnant.
The hows and whys are her story. MY story is that when asking her the million and one way personal questions that seem ok once someone has announced they have a human growing inside of them it came out she hadn't decided yet who to pick to help her deliver the little being into the world. Since this has always been on my bucket list, (and at my age my friends aren't likely to give me the opportunity) I half- jokingly volunteered. And I thought, she half-jokingly took me up on it. I mean, we have a bond, but she has closer family, and really much closer friends. I never for a moment thought she was serious until a few months later at my house when she commented "well your job while in the room is to..."
I'm REALLY going to be in the room?? You were SERIOUS??
I am not ashamed to say there was some screaming, and jumping up and down and perhaps hours, days..ok weeks of "i'm gonna deliver a baby" singing.
And then, as in almost every aspect of my life since my sister's death, court shit intruded in like ..well, like court shit always done. The end of the second trial would be falling right in around the due date. I have to admit, I struggled. A lot. I felt, for me, my sister(s), my daughter, my mom, I should be in court. I felt for me, my cousin, my future I should be in that birthing room. I prayed to all the Gods, Goddesses, Fates, and fake gods to make me not have to choose.
I finally told Carlin, that if I had to make the decision, my choice would be to be with her and she wasn't to worry about it. I did not tell her I would be doing enough worrying about it for both of us.
Last day of trial. Charges to the jury are made by both the defence and the Crown. I saw a picture of my sister's body, wrapped in a blue tarp and bungee cords, laying in a hole in the ground. I heard things from my brother in law I never thought I would ever hear. What little bit of tiny teeny hope I had left was gone. Hope for what? I don't know exactly - I just felt it blow out, like a candle inside my chest cavity. Just darkness. I cried myself to sleep in the hotel, waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict.
2 am - phone rings. Huh? The jury kept working through the night? No, can't be. Omg, Mom is hurt. Answer the phone you fool. "Hello?" "hi lisa, its linda (Carlin's mom). It's baby time". Holy crap. I am now about 2 hours away. Holy crap. Ok. Ok. I'm having a baby. No, I'm delivering a baby. Wait. Its 2 am. Jury will start deliberating again at 9 am. Shit. Ok, we have 7 hours to get this done. Let's do it!
I made it to the hospital in less than 90 minutes. And then........we waited. And waited. And waited.
As in 99.9% of times I've been in the hospital, the patient I am "there for" is perfectly fine. They have drugs. And a bed. I have nothing but a hard chair and a ticking clock on the wall. Do you know that as a birth coach you don't have to keep track of contractions? They have a machine for that now. I have felt pretty damn useless in my life many times. I am adding that day to the list.
9 am..jury starts deliberating again. Noon..no news, either on the baby front or the jury front. 4 pm - I'm getting really nervous. Jury might actually make a decision shortly - they'll want their free dinner to finish up the details, and come back soon. Carlin has stopped dilating. She is being her hilariously typical self with comments like "huh. i never anticipated having contractions IN MY ASS" and "I have never felt more dignified in my life". I suggest perhaps she lay off the drugs for awhile..she's got some hard work ahead of her. She replies "oooh iiii iiiee" which I have translated to "oh i'm fine". Only she has lost the ability to form consonants. Hrm. Nurse comes in and after a brief attempt at an update from the mom to be, cuts her off from the drugs. An hour later - no verdict, no baby. Another hour..no verdict ..no baby. I call the detective "inside"..he says the jury skipped dinner and are still going strong. Back in the hospital room, the nurse and docs come in to say that Carlin has passed the time she should have and is too tired now to deliver vaginally. "We" are going to do a C-Section.
They explain to me I'll have to "scrub up" and come into the operating room. Ok..side bar. I love Grey's Anatomy. Christina Yang and Bailey are my heroines. At the words "scrub up" I perk up. OH YAY BABY!! I'm excited!! They wheel Carlin away to prep her, give me my scrubs and tell me they'll be back for me soon. I pace. My aunt takes picture. I pace some more, watching the clock, watching my phone, and not for one single second am I letting myself think about my current situation. The nurse comes to get me, plants me outside the operating room and says "wait here, i'll just see if they are ready for you".
And that's when my guard goes down. I'm alone now. Ringer off. Silence. That kind of hospital secure area silence. And I realize..WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE??? Sure, I love Grey's..but I scream and look away at any of the gory parts!!! This is not ME. This is Mimi's job! Mimi did gory. Mimi did hospital stuff when family needed it. Not me. I don't do this. Holy crap, what if Carlin dies? She can't die. Not on my watch. Omg, I can't handle this. Shit, mimi, why are you dead? Why can't I feel you??? Where are you?? right, in a blue tarp, under a blue police tent. I can't do this. I'm going to pass out. Shit. Breathe. Breathe.
Nurse comes out, must notice the look of wild silent panic in my eyes and pats me on the hand.."Dont worry honey, you won't see a thing, she's under a blue tent". I know this was meant to make me feel better. But because of the previous 24 hours this just slammed into me, knocking the breath I had been holding for who knows how long out of me so hard I had to bend over.
The nurse says from somewhere far far away.."if you can't do this, say it now. Someone needs to be with Carlin, she can't be alone in there".
That did it. Mimi was alone. Michele died with no one who loved her by her side. Was buried with no loved ones mourning her. She was found alone, in the ground, under a blue tent by strangers doing their job.
Carlin would not die. And if she did, she would not be alone with strangers doing their job. And that little wee babe about to come into the world from under a blue tent? She should have someone who already loved her, sight unseen, able to talk to her if Carlin couldn't. History would NOT repeat itself tonight. I will be useful. I will not fail those I love again.
I'm ok...I'm ok..I realize I had better say this outloud before the nurse walks away.."Hey! I'm ok" i say a little too loudly;)
"Alright" she replies.."see that little grey metal stool by Carlin's head?" " Go sit there and try not to trip or touch anything".
Um. Said stool is about as wide as one of my calves. It is literally wedged between her head a stack of monitors and machines, entangled amongst dozens of cables and wires. Great. No one said there would be an obstacle course. I managed it though, and made it to Carlin..and it was true, all I had access to her was her head and part of her forearm. "Hey babe..you ready to have a babe?" "hrm. i'm ff-ree-zing" and I realize she is shaking. In the first room I would lay over her and "heat" her up ..here though all I could do was press myself on her forearm and around her head and hope for the best. Linda had given me strict instructions to take lots of pictures. The nurse had been clear - pictures before permission would get me kicked out. Ok..no pressure. Just breathe.
The doctor leans over and says to Carlin, "Ok honey, we are going to get this stubborn child into the world, are you ready? " Carlin said "sure..yep..uh huh..." And then I heard it. The phrase every surgeon in training longingly awaits.."Scalpel please". Ok..I can handle this.
Then I heard it. Flesh being cut by a scalpel is a pretty gross sound. However, as I was about to learn pretty quickly (like in the next 30 seconds) not as gross as the sound following the words "Suction". OMG. Seriously, oh my freaking god. "Breathe Carlin, just keep breathing" I say. Carlin of course is breathing fine. I am about to start hyperventilating. Either it was normal OR chit chat, or the doc noticed my eyes rolling back in my head, but she decided this was a good time to start a conversation with Carlin.
"So Carlin, have you picked out a name yet?"
"Sort of ..Hanna..Hanna for my boss who I love..it means Grace.."
"Oh that's a beautiful name..any middle names picked out?"
Carlin pauses, seems to get upset...I start patting her head..
"I don't know..I can't decide..I don't want to hurt my friend by not picking her name but I want another name too.."
The doc and I laugh at the same time and doc says "honey, my last child has 4 names - had to fit them all in!" I said "babe, i've got three..i think sammie has 4..i've lost count".
Things started getting busy under that blue tent at that moment and then..in what seemed like seconds, out into the world came sweet little Hanna. Silently. Ok I think..maybe that's what happens to C-Section babies. Maybe they don't cry. They bring her over to the baby table and start working away on her while I'm shedding some tears and holding Carlin's head, trying to sneak in some pics on my phone with no one noticing. Cry. Baby, please cry. Just cry. Then it happens. A loud "HEY WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON" kind of cry only a newborn can make. Carlin hears this and says "oh..oh..my..that's my baby". I'm shaking like a leaf, partly out of exhaustion, partly out of fear, mostly out of trying to keep my balance on that wee little piece of steel under my ass.
As they are working on putting Carlin back together again (literally) the nurse carries Hanna over and I have a moment of panic. Doesn't she realize Carlin is stretched out like Jesus on the cross? She can't hold the baby yet. Sweet little Hanna is placed in my arms. Oh my . I'm crying as I type this.
A new life. Full of hope, full of dreams, with no limits, no mistakes, just love. All of this, entrusted in my arms.
"Happy birthday sweet little Hanna, happy birthday my love. Meet your mama, you are the luckiest little girl in the world".
The doc leans over the blue tent and smiles..."So Carlin, I"m going to go tell your family about Hanna..do you have her name now that you've seen her?"
Carlin nods, looks away from Hanna to her doc and says..
"Yes..Hanna Jane for my friend..."
Carlin looks at me and says..
"Michelle..if that's ok"..
I lost it. The tears that were streaming came pouring out and the body that was shaking started looking like it belonged to an epileptic.
"whoa hey" says the doc "um..i don't know what just happened there, but you have to get a grip, you are holding a baby".
Right. A baby. Hanna Jane Michelle.
Somewhere..deep, deep inside that dark chest cavity of mine..a little tiny bit of light began to flicker. And her name was Hanna.