Monday, December 27, 2010

Adoption Diaries Part 2- Birthmother "The Placement"

Despite the morning sickness (awful nausea) in the first trimester, I had a fairly easy pregnancy. I did swell towards the end of my third trimester thanks to the heat and humidity in late May in NC, but being uncomfortable towards the end was really my only complaint. I think I lived in yoga pants, tank tops, my brother's boxers, and sundresses for the last month! I spent my 18th birthday seven months pregnant with my best friend, Morgan. We went to Greensboro for a Carolina Hurricanes game and I remember being very uncomfortable in the stadium chair. It also felt like everyone was staring at me no matter where I went (they really weren't). I think I was ashamed of my predicament and judging myself based on my upbringing to not have sex until marriage, considering I lost my virginity to the father of my unborn baby boy. I also worked part-time at a local Real Estate Company and attended community college full-time double majoring in Accounting and Business Administration throughout my pregnancy.

As my pregnancy progressed it got harder and harder to keep up in school and go to work as I was so exhausted and uncomfortable. I'm very thankful that I had two very understanding bosses at work. They knew of my intent to place my son with an adoptive family and my parents for the most part were supportive without being overbearing. I was fortunate with school in that my quarter would finish just before my due date and barring an early delivery, I would be able to complete my semester before giving birth and have the summer off to heal and regroup after placement.

My due date came and went with my son. The wait was bittersweet. I looked forward to relief in giving birth, but dreaded that every moment would be my last with my son. My boyfriend at the time, the baby's father, lived in New England and was not around although we did talk on the phone often. We saw each other once during my pregnancy when I was five months along and just starting to get a belly. He flew down to visit with me for a long weekend with what little money he had. The plan for the birth, was for him to drive down when I went into labor and hopefully, he would make it in time. Then, he would spend time with me and our son in the hospital before we would sign the adoption papers and hand our son over to the adoption agency at discharge from the hospital.

Since I was overdue, I had to start going to doctors appointments every other day and get NSTs (non-stress tests) and extra ultrasounds to make sure the baby was still thriving and the fluid levels were okay. At one appointment, my mom was reading in the chair next to me, while I waited out the NST. At that moment, I felt my first contraction. Oh my gosh the pain took my breath away, I held my breath, turned beat red, and I began to worry what labor would be like. It turns out that it was just really early labor and perhaps the start of things to come as I didn't go into actual labor until a few days later. I went to my 41 week appointment and was told by my doctors that I was in early labor, so they sent me over to the Labor & Delivery unit of the hospital for monitoring. The baby looked great on the monitors, but I wasn't making any progress, so they sent me home. In the meantime, I had called my boyfriend to let him know what was happening and he decided to come down to NC. If I didn't go into labor naturally, I would be induced soon anyway.

He drove through the night to get to NC and it's a good thing he listened to his instinct and made the trip. Not two hours after he arrived I went to the bathroom and felt a gush as I stood up. I called my mother and she called my doctor. The gush was only about the amount of a soda can and then nothing more afterwards. I wasn't contracting yet, either, but the doctor wanted me to come in and be checked out since we lived about a half hour from the hospital. When we got there, I was monitored for awhile and come to find out my water sac was still in tact. I had what they called a "pre sac" that had burst instead, but I was far enough along (3cm) that they admitted me. Once I was settled in my room, I was sent to walk the halls of the hospital to try to get things to progress more quickly.

The pre sac broke at home around 10:30am Friday morning and I labored all day Friday. In the afternoon, I was started on Pitocin and I was also offered pain meds. I had hoped to go med free, but I had horrible back labor and needed a break with the long labor I was having. I tried taking the narcotics and they were awful. They did nothing for the pain, but made me nauseous and feel like I was in another world. I hated them so much that I vowed for my next birth it would be med free or epidural, but nothing else which is exactly what I did with Mariela. Finally, I was able to get an epidural and get some rest before I had to push. I slept for a little over an hour when I was woken up by the nurse putting an oxygen mask on my face. After that, there would be no sleep for me for awhile...the epidural was wearing off and I was in intense pain. The back labor was awful and every contraction left me in tears. The doctors tried to adjust the epidural to give me some relief, but I could get none. The baby's father slept through the worst of my pain (go figure!), but my mom was there holding my hand and coaching me through the contractions. She attended my birthing classes with me and was my official birth coach.

Finally, I felt the urge to push and started to push while lying on my side (with help from the nurse to roll from one side to the other since my legs were numb). Yup, I pooped the bed which is one thing nobody warned me about! I should've tried to go to the bathroom BEFORE I had gotten the epidural. I was having horrible back labor because my son was posterior or face-up and pushing on either side helped him to move down. I know I threw up during transition and I believe I pushed for close to two hours, and at 5:32am my son was born. I had a very specific birth plan that I had typed up for my doctor due to the adoption and not knowing how I would feel after giving birth and they were fabulous about following it. They asked if I wanted him placed on my stomach as was customary and I did. I think I cried harder than he did after the birth! I was a bundle of sadness. awe. I never knew I could love that instantly and that deeply.

My son was a big guy at 9 lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long at birth with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a dimple on his chin (from his Dad). He also had a strawberry birthmark on one of his knees (which would fade over time). Due to his size, his blood sugars were tested regularly while we were in the hospital and he tested fine for all of them. While I was moved from the labor room to the post partum ward, my son was sent to the nursery to be bathed and examined while I settled into my room. His father and I had just spent over an hour cuddling and holding him and just staring in shock at what we'd created. A "tiny" miracle. We named him Jacob Michael, which would be his temporary name until he was officially adopted and his new family changed his name.

Another thing that nobody told me while I was pregnant was how hungry and thirsty I would be after giving birth. I ate like I hadn't seen food in a month and drank to my heart's content. Whoever's idea it is to only feed a laboring mother ice chips should've been shot. I was happy to see that this philosophy has changed when I gave birth to Mariela! I was also allowed juice, popsicles, water, and ginger ale while I labored with her. SWEET! Okay, back to my story. While I was in the hospital I had a few visitors. My parents (of course), my closest friends at the time, my brother, and my social worker from the adoption agency. I think my older brother's visit was the hardest (my younger siblings did not visit as they were only toddlers at the time) as he was actually moving to Florida the same day I gave birth. Losing him as my support system was hard for me as we were very close and with the baby's father living in another state, I needed him to vent with at times.

On my final day in the hospital I held my son and stared at him for hours. I took pictures of him and the one thing I completely regret is that I didn't get a single picture of me with him as I was the one behind the camera. I used to cry about it, but alas there is no going back to change it. I did not feed my son, he didn't spend the night in my room, and I did not change his diapers. When we wanted to see him we walked to the nursery or would call the nursery to bring him to our room...they did not ask us to be involved as it was part of my adoptive birth plan. One reason, is that I didn't want to bond anymore than I had carrying him for nine months and also despite the fact I was a certified baby sitter and helped my mom out a ton with my younger siblings, having a newborn as a teen is downright intimidating. I was afraid I would break him! Our social worker arrived and while we reviewed the paperwork, we sent our son to the nursery one last time for his final examination before discharge.

The review of the paper work was a blur...partly due to my tears and partly due to all the thoughts running through my head. In the state of NC we had 20 days to change our minds and go to court to get our son back. During those 20 days, he would be placed in a foster home. He would not be placed in his final adoptive home until after the waiting period to avoid potential emotional turmoil on the adoptive parents in case we were to change our minds. I signed the papers through my tears. I was not sobbing or actively crying. The tears just fell. It was agony. I didn't think that I was strong enough to go through with the adoption. My parents had said their goodbyes to their grandson the night before, so that it was just my boyfriend and I there that morning with our social worker.

After the papers were signed, the nurse brought my son so that we could say goodbye. I kissed him and rocked him as I sat gingerly on the end of the hospital bed. How would I be able to let him go? I have no idea how I did it, but I said goodbye...not forever, but for now...and laid him back in the bassinet. As the nurse rolled him out of my hospital room for the last time I lost it. Literally. I collapsed in sobs on my hospital bed as the social worker held my hand and my boyfriend rubbed my back. My boyfriend was beyond himself...he felt he should be strong for me, but was having a hard time choking back his own tears. He wasn't nearly as vested with our son being that he lived 600 miles away and didn't experience the pregnancy like I did. After a time my boyfriend went to get his car and the social worker stayed with me in the room. I stared out the window weak, sore, and feeling totally deflated. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. In my head I said that I would give it twenty four hours and if I still felt this much pain- an agonizing emotional pain, like my heart had been ripped from my chest- that I would go to the courthouse and file a petition to get him back. That is what my counselor take it one day at a time.

Next installment: "Ever After"


~Jaime~ said...

Heather, you are amazing.

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