We have two October birthdays in our family -- Lincoln’s and Anne Marie’s. Lincoln will be 18 in a couple of weeks. I remember the day he was born as clearly as I remember the day Anne Marie was born. We were living in a little bunkhouse on a ranch east of Bartlesville. The night before Lincoln was born we went to Murphy’s to eat. Already he was nearly two weeks overdue (Brandon started calling him The Great Procrastinator), and we went home that night wondering if tonight would be the night. At about 2:00 in the morning I woke up with contractions, and shortly thereafter Brandon and I drove to the hospital in town. Lincoln was born about fours hours later, at 6:38 a.m., and by 10:30 a.m. we were back home snug in our little bunkhouse. Later in the day Brandon planted a baby Colorado Blue Spruce in the front yard, and throughout the day friends and family stopped by to see newborn Lincoln.
Anne Marie’s birthday was a little different. I was going to be induced on Thursday, October 15 (which, ironically, is national Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day). The night before, Brandon and the kids and I went to Northpark Mall. We ate at Chick-Fil-A and walked around the mall. As I was walking I kept thinking that I wasn’t sure I would make it through the night -- that she might come on her own. But she didn’t, and one year ago this morning Brandon and I drove to Parkland Hospital, which delivers more babies each year than any other hospital in the nation. We checked in at about 6 a.m., but the nurse didn’t start my Pitocin drip until about 9:30 a.m. Our hospital room was old and a bit dreary, but all of the nurses were very nice and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. Once I was all hooked up, my contractions started but weren’t too strong. Brandon and I just sat in our room talking and waiting, and I passed the time texting Ginger on and off throughout the morning. Our pastor came up from Edmond to be with us, and my parents were also in the waiting room eager for Anne Marie to arrive.
All of my previous births had been natural, but when my doctor in Edmond had talked to me about the possibility of inducing he warned me it would be different from my other births. I remember him saying, “You’re probably going to need an epidural.” He was right. Later that morning, after my water broke, my contractions were really strong and really painful and I definitely wanted an epidural. I have read stories of mothers who were desperate for an epidural during labor, but until Anne Marie, I just couldn’t relate. Because Anne Marie’s heart rate was fluctuating, they also had to stop my Pitocin for a while and I was only dilated to about a 5. I knew there was no way I could make it without an epidural. I was ready for the anesthesiologist. Now. She finally arrived, got everything all set up, was ready to start, and then ... got a page and had to leave. I remember thinking, "Who could possibly need her worse than I do?" Brandon was even more frustrated and agitated by the whole thing, pacing in the room and repeatedly going out into the hallway to see where she was.
A short time later she returned, and before long I finally had my epidural. I had heard stories about “good” and “bad” epidurals; apparently this was a good one. They started my Pitocin drip again and I was able to sleep on and off. About and hour and a half later, I was at a 10 and the doctor (along with about 10 other people) was there ready to deliver Anne Marie.
I remember being excited and so scared. I had been waiting for this day for months, and yet all of a sudden I wasn’t ready. I wanted to see her, and yet I knew once she was born things would be different. In utero she was perfectly safe, but I knew that after she was delivered, when she tried to take her first breath, she would no longer be safe. Right before she was born our doctor told us that she was going to let me hold her for a few seconds before she whisked her away. I was so thankful for this. I had feared that I wouldn’t get to hold her or really even see her. But as soon as she was born the doctor handed her to me. Any mother knows what that is like -- pure heaven. But about five seconds later I had to give her up. I knew this was going to happen, but I still wasn’t ready for it.
She was taken over to the other side of the room, where a resuscitation team was waiting to work on her (see photo at right). I could barely see her, but Brandon was able to stand there and watch what they were doing. I remember seeing the nurses and doctors squeezing the bag and I kept asking, "Is she okay? Is she okay?" I couldn't tell if she was breathing or not. Finally she was "bagged" and ready to be taken to the NICU where she would be put on a permanent ventilator. It would be several more hours before I would see her again.
Like so many of our days in Dallas, it was one of the hardest and best days of my life. I will always remember her birthday and the details of that day. I remember being scared and sad and excited. I will always remember our obstetrician, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. I wasn’t her “regular” patient, and had only seen her a half-dozen times before Anne Marie was born. Yet she went above and beyond the call to make sure I had the best birth possible, and I did. After Anne Marie was born and I was admitted to the hospital, she continued to go out of her way to take care of us. I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Anne Marie was born. The memories are so vivid that in some ways it seems like yesterday. And then there are times when it seems like so long since I've seen her newborn face.
Happy birthday, Anne Marie! I can only imagine what it must be like to celebrate your birthday in heaven. We are celebrating here and remembering the day you were born. The first time we saw your beautiful face and felt your soft skin. You are a gift to us and your days with us don’t seem like nearly enough. We think about what you would be doing if you were here. We wonder what you would look like and what your one-year-old personality would be like. One day we will see you again. That is God’s promise. Happy birthday, sweet girl. We love you and miss you, every second of every day.