Too Much Information
I got pregnant the first month we tried. He was planned, I took my vitamins and avoided any concerning foods. The pregnancy was uneventful. We thought we were prepared. Then, during Braxton’s 20 week ultrasound, the tech apparently had trouble imaging part of Braxton’s brain. We were sent to get more imagining done at a different radiology clinic. We were perfectly naive, and this didn’t seem too unusual to us. When the doctor came in to give us our results he did so in a non-concerning manner. The part of his brain called the cerebellum was rod shaped instead of barbell shaped. And they were unable to image the corpus collosum. I honestly don’t remember much more, other than a tightening in my heart that hasn’t gone away since. I rubbed my ever-growing belly constantly, maintained my careful pregnancy diet, completed my practicum working in a junior high, graduated with my bachelors of teaching, went to the ballet with feet so swollen I couldn’t wear my shoes by the end of the performance, painted the nursery, bought baby clothes on kijiji, and as far as I remember had a typical pregnancy. One Sunday at church we asked for prayer for our unborn son. Our obstetrician let us know about our options, fetal MRIs, other diagnostic tests. We declined. What good was more knowledge at that point? Baby Braxton was growing in me as best we could and that was that.
Three days before his due date Braxton made his entrance. Contractions started before dinner, I went for a walk, made dinner, they were irregular and gentle. Brock went to bed and I stayed up, bouncing on my exercise ball and resting in the dark, then showering and woke Brock up around midnight. It was time to head to hospital, the contractions were coming closer and stronger. A half hour drive into the city and through triage we waited. I was barely dilated and contractions, although steady, were about 5 minutes apart. I was told baby would be at least 4 hours, and then we were left and mostly ignored. They had those annoying contraction monitoring bands on me that were unbearably uncomfortable, and the contractions came stronger and stronger. I got louder and louder and more and more uncomfortable, much to the annoyance of my nurse. I went to the bathroom, just so I could be by myself to labour standing up without the monitors for a bit, and when I was checked on my way back chaos ensued. I was dilated, I was pushing (without meaning too, without even know that’s what I was doing…I was at the body taking over stage and was just doing what I felt I needed to do), there was meconium, I needed an IV (which I tore out before it was secure as a contraction hit spraying blood), they needed a monitor on baby’s head, too late for any drugs, rushed to the delivery room where more and more nurses piled in. I pushed when they told me to, I disappeared into myself and my baby and that primal state where you no longer feel pain or see your surroundings. I hear a countdown and shouting. Brock later told me this is a countdown until I need a csetion, counting down in seconds. Braxton is stuck. He told me that a nurse climbed on the bed over me pushing on my stomach, they used vacuum but baby is still stuck and can’t breathe and has his arm twisted up funny and needs out. Now. But all I remember is that then he was out. And it’s a blur of people doing things to baby Braxton on the other side of the room and I’m grateful that my mom and husband are there since there are now two of us needing to recover from the birth. I remember seeing baby Braxton for the first time and of all things noticing his chin first…it was just like his daddy’s.
The next couple days were more of a struggle than they should have been, announcing the beginning of the hardest years to come. Braxton wouldn’t latch. His head circumference was small. He arched back continuously. He was perfect to me. Different lactation consultants tried their hand positioning us (often literally grabbing me and trying to shove me into Braxton’s mouth as he arched away). They brought a pump and syringe. He drank my milk like a baby bird. After a long May long weekend in hospital we were discharged, with a pediatrician who wanted to follow us. We had no idea it wasn’t normal for a pediatrician to come introduce themselves at your bedside and want to follow your baby. We didn’t even know what it meant to be “followed”. We would soon learn, but first everyone seemed to pretend I was just a crazy mom imagining my baby wasn’t normal, and telling me we would have to wait and see what would happen to my baby.