BIRTHING BABIES

Subtitled
My Stories and I Lived to Tell Them!

While in Pennsylvania (I’m from SC) in early December, I sat reminiscing about all nine of my deliveries with my second daughter, who had just had her third baby – in the hallway on the gurney on the way to the delivery room – almost there but not quite.

She said, “Mom, you have to write a funny blog about your delivery and postpartum stories. You don’t always have to be serious.”

I replied, “Rebecca, I am not known as a funny person. I try to be, but how can I be when I can’t remember the punch lines to jokes?” I read this aloud to my daughter and her husband, and we all thought it was funny. I mean we laughed – at something I wrote! Maybe they were just being nice!

To all my friends out there who have heard the litany and watched from afar or up close, I apologize for the repetition, but I have lots of new friends in my life since my birthing days.

This is certainly not to minimize everyone’s normal deliveries and postpartum stories, and I’m sure some have been more exciting than mine (Alyssa Lancaster). I prayed for normal stories. Despite having 10 pregnancies, normality was just few and far between. What’s normal anyway? In fact, my doctor-husband says delivering babies is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror! LOL

#1 – At 8 months of pregnancy, I fell and broke a bone in my right foot. Therefore, I had the delightful experience of delivering my first baby with a short leg cast on. A few days later the orthopedist removed my cast only to then x-ray my foot and discover it wasn’t healed. He put me back on crutches and told me “no weight bearing” on it yet. My eyes are still bugging out at that news. I’m still asking, “How do you carry a newborn baby around and use crutches at the same time?” You don’t. You crawl around your house on your knees and carry your baby. This baby also had a bilirubin level that shot up into the 20s. Every day, then every other day for about two weeks, someone or I had to drive my baby to the hospital for a blood check. When I drove (with my left foot), the nurses came down to my car to stick her heel or draw her blood. That was back in the days!

#2 – This one arrived shortly after arrival at the hospital. A friend, Robbin Corn, drove me to the hospital because my husband was nowhere around. Robert did make it in time to deliver her, albeit in his camouflage clothes, because despite being two days past my due date, he went turkey hunting anyway. I promise I felt the first pain right as he walked out the door. Nevertheless, we had a plan in those dinosaur days called pre-cell phone archaism. If something happened and it did, I was to call the owner of the property who would go find Robert and his hunting partner. After my phone call, the property owner had to shoot off a gun multiple times while frantically driving around his land until my husband came running, gasping for breath and imagining me bleeding to death, out of the woods. I accomplished birth #2 without an epidural (kudos to me, I guess) because the technician convinced me #2 was coming very quickly. Three weeks after the birth of #2, she started projectile vomiting. At five weeks she weighed less than her birth weight; finally, she had surgery for pyloric stenosis at 5 weeks of age.

#3 – What a pleasant time of year to have a baby – November – or so I thought! This was #3. I had the same technician as with #2. Again she convinced me not to get an epidural because “this baby is coming soon.” Well, such technicians are not always correct and this time, sadly for me, she was far off the mark, but I listened to her. No epidural. Hours and hours and hours later, after the time-honored experience of agonizing, horrific pain, I finally had her, determining in my heart to never go without an epidural ever again! I told myself that my doctor husband will have an epidural waiting on me upon arrival for the next delivery!!! I wouldn’t care what anyone said!

So I had her on a Monday, came home on Wednesday, and Robert, who suffers from migraines, began to complain of a strange headache. Providentially, instead of calling his neurologist, he called his opthamologist on Thursday. It was the right thing to do because it was discovered that he was having his first glaucoma crisis. The pressure was in the 60s (normal is 10-21). Remember I just had a baby four days earlier, but I drove him twice every day for four days to see the opthamologist, who pulled every trick out of his bag to get the pressure down to no avail. Robert had emergency eye surgery on Sunday, which then required daily trips to the doctor for I don’t remember how long – a long time. Bless that doctor! Robert was his only patient for a week! The doctor had canceled all of his appointments in order to be the keynote speaker at an opthamological conference in California, but he stayed behind just for Robert. No wonder we love that doctor!

#4 – A May baby! I didn’t have to go through the summer! Plus, this is one of my more normal stories if you call Hannah “normal” although, quite frankly, I remember nothing, absolutely nothing about her delivery EXCEPT I know I got my epidural. I politely demanded it upon my arrival at the hospital. LOL It’s a good thing she looks like us, or I would question whether or not she’s our child because I just don’t remember.

Oh, Robert did have another glaucoma crisis in the other eye 8 weeks later. You know the routine!

#5 – A late September baby – all the way through summer, yay me, but the only thing abnormal this time – he was a boy!! Our first boy!! I know this account is very short, but the next 18 years were veerrrryyy looonnng! Just teasing – I love him so and am so grateful for who he is.

#6 – This story is in our book. Another late and hot September delivery – yay me – but another boy – on my birthday! I did have my epidural, but because they discovered he was breech they turned it off and increased the Pitocin – again – yay me! Oh, and he was indeed breech upon delivery – yay me! The story is long, and I doubt you are up for it now, so let’s suffice it to say this boy was born with laryngotrachealbronchial malacia and brain damage. After all these years I can still spell it. The diagnosis came in two parts – at one month and four months and only after a respiratory arrest and trips to every doctor known to mankind. An ICU moved into our house. #6 had a respirator for 10 months and a tracheostomy for 1 1/2 years – the longest 1 1/2 years of my life!!!!

#6 1/2 – A miscarriage! We could have been the Jackson Twelve. Some of my children reproved me for saying “1/2”, but my numbers will be off in this post as we have talked about nine children all of these years if I call him/her #7. You understand?

#7 – When I realized I was in labor with #7, I called Faye Bridges who met me at Robert’s office to get the other children. I sat in his office in labor for awhile until he finished a good day’s work and had seen all of his patients. (Where’s the red-faced emoji button when you need it? I wanted that epidural – yesterday!!) So the tv was on in my delivery room, and all eyes but mine, including the nurses and my doctor husband, were watching the 9-11 movie (remember those). They were watching that movie over their shoulders while I delivered #7 at 11:10 p.m. We still don’t know that #7 is normal (just teasing – again), but his actual delivery was fine. However, we were ready to get #6’s trach out, so ten days after I had #7, #6 was having surgery and in the PICU in Greenville for a couple of days, then home – trach free!!!!

#8 – After 3 boys, we went back to what we knew best and our normality – having another girl. We wanted another boy, but oh, well. LOL We built a house and moved in while pregnant, but otherwise all was well on the Jackson front. My children also reproved me for shortening Carla’s account, but, hey, she’s short, right?

#9 – Well, what can I say? What do you expect when you’re 44? Not being sarcastic here. It is what it is, and you all know we love him so. He’s Downs – with a major heart defect. Before he finally had open-heart surgery at two months, he and we survived near death experiences and multiple ambulance rides due to heart failure. Read our book!

So there you have the short version, but I can’t stop without some sort of spiritual take away. Here’s my punch line (oh, it’s not a joke!) – God is good – all the time; all the time – God is good! It’s the truth! You can believe it! Oh, and He’s faithful – faithful and true, and I still love Him (and every single one of these babies – just as they are). They are my babies and I wouldn’t send a single one of them back. I love being a mama!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!