The Three Births of Aurelia Claire
"It’s close to four in the morning and I am awakened by the sound of my daughter crying. I slowly emerge out of a sleepy haze, rolling over to get out of bed. I pick my baby up out of her bassinet and try to comfort her. Her cry is loud now, reverberating across a silent house, her pink mouth wide open, waiting for me to feed her. For a moment I just want to drift back to sleep. Sweet, blissful sleep. I am then reminded of how just two weeks ago I longed so badly to hear her cry, and I would have traded every night of sound sleep just to hear her voice.
It’s the sound we all hold our own breaths to hear, as a new baby enters our world and takes their first breath. My daughter struggled with hers, even after she let out her first glorious cry. For some reason we still don’t understand, her lungs never fully expelled the fluid inside them. She was born gasping for breath and we didn’t realize it at first. Everything about her looked alert and perfect, I couldn’t believe how flawless she was, not a wrinkle or imperfection.
I caught her myself after 10 hours of labor, 30 hours of water being broken, and 48 hours of no sleep. I pushed her out with a strength I didn’t think I had left, while on my hands and knees. I had already tried the relaxing birthing tub and every other position in the book, but her head was stuck, until that final, raw and real moment. My midwife and birth team rushed to cover the beautiful wood floors with towels as Aurelia slipped into this world and into my arms.
I held her for an earth-shattering hour or so, the last time I would hold her until a week later.
The events after her birth were a gut-wrenching blur. Pure joy followed by overwhelming panic. She wouldn’t nurse, and showed signs of distress. She was given oxygen and a phone call was made. I got stitches. I rested in bed in the next room while medics wheeled in with the proper equipment to give my daughter the breath that she needed. It was storming hard outside, dark and foreboding. I couldn’t go with the ambulance, I wasn’t strong enough yet, I could barely stand. So my husband went. They rolled her into my room to say goodbye. I stood on shaky legs, holding onto the bed post, my vision blurring and blacking. I saw my precious baby hooked up like a science experiment, a pure, precious child inside of a machine with wires and tubes everywhere. I collapsed back on the bed sobbing.
No. This wasn’t our story.
I had just birthed a nearly nine pound baby with nothing to slow down the pain but my breathing. I have avoided hospitals my whole life, always gone “the natural way,” always assuming my body was fine and that it would fix itself. I believe very deeply God heals and protects. I rejected medical advise when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and opted to keep it in check myself through diet and exercise, which worked brilliantly. There were no complications and I was once again considered low-risk.
This NICU, this wasn’t our story.
I felt like I was in a bad dream when I finally arrived at the hospital. My father-in-law pushed my wheelchair through the endless maze of hospital corridors. I watched several cops run by us to a group of people standing at the end of a hall watching a man who was broken to pieces, yelling through his tears, “They told me he was alive!”
No. We didn’t belong here.
I was supposed to be enjoying the suite-like relaxing birth center, taking an herbal bath with Aurelia, eating a pancake breakfast in bed with my new, complete family.
We arrived to the hospital room with Louvier on the door, and there she was, hooked up to so many machines, sedated and far away from me like she never left my womb in the first place.
the constant mechanical beeping reminds us
of these fragile lives
who came to earth to soon
hanging in the balance
a few numbers
but the will to live is strong
it echoes through halls
if you tune out the dark
and choose to hear it
Everyone we met in the hospital had far worse stories than ours. Most couples had preemies who had been there for months. They had been traveling a long, hard road, and there seemed like no end to it. My heart broke every time I walked down the hall and heard the cries of those tiny infants, who often had no one to hold them besides busy nurses and an occasional emotionally frail parent who drove from a long distance away and could barely keep up with their lives back home.
I was humbled, every time I began to feel bad for myself. I know you can’t really downgrade your own pain by comparing your circumstances to others, it is still the most difficult thing I’ve ever been though. But I quickly saw the stark black and white difference my attitude and perspective made in my mood and my overall sanity.
Gratefulness became my lifeline, and as days passed there was more and more to be thankful for.
My baby got better every day. Every single thing they tested her for came back negative. There was no bigger issue, no abnormal development or defect. She was indeed perfect, she just had a rough start..."
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