I left one huge cliffhanger eight months ago. Sorry about that. Shit (three babies) hit the fan (our life) and it took a while to get our wits about us. This post will be the last in the pregnancy series. From here on out I’m going topical instead of chronological. My sister Cean’s awesome illustrations will be replaced by my amateur photography. 2014, y’all. It ain’t pretty, but it’s real and it’s hard and it’s got moments that are really great.
So, where was I?
Oh yes. Same place I started—on a table, legs spread, waiting for big news from the land down under. It’s week 34 and conveniently I have started having contractions while inside the hospital at a doctor’s appointment. To make things a little more interesting, there’s a huge storm rolling in. It’s basically “Lightning Crashes” come to life.
A lot of things happen before the babies arrive, so let me give you the highlights reel:
1. Once inside Labor & Delivery, I get diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome. Just like that our “normal” C-section is out the window and instead I’ll be going full under while Matt waits inside the recovery room. Things are happening so quickly that I don’t even have time to react to that news before …
2. … a nurse comes in to shave my pelvis before surgery. If that sounds like the opening scene in a bad porn, allow me to oveshare that she does a really terrible job and a doctor later apologizes for my “accidental Brazilian.”
3. At 9 PM I get wheeled into a big white room with about 30 strangers in scrubs standing there expectantly. There are two NICU nurses for every baby that’s about to appear, which basically means the NICU is left to fend for itself while I deliver. At this point, with my lack of husband and pubic hair, I am about to cry. Luckily, there is someone there whose only assignment seems to be to pat my head and tell me it’s going to be OK. Then that someone knocks me out.
4. I wake up in terrible pain. I have no idea if this pain is better or worse than the pain of natural delivery. All I know is that I can’t stop shaking. I can hear Matt talking to the nurses, but it sounds like they’re far away. Later I learn that they got behind on my pain meds, and it’s really hard to get in front of the ball when that happens. Eventually they dose me up with an Ozzy Osbourne-sized serving of morphine. The shaking stops and the party begins.
I’m so out of it that I don’t fully realize that I’ve given birth. Matt shows me a video of the boys–little pink things yelling in outrage. I’m like, “Cool, brah.” I’m drifting in and out of a narcotic haze, having a far out time, but so overmedicated that I forget to breathe when I fall asleep and keep waking myself up. A nurse tells me I can go see my babies after they check my blood levels, but I end up fainting so instead I get a transfusion of blood that may or may not, according to the disclaimer, have hepatitis in it. By the time I am stable enough to visit the boys it’s 18 hours after the their birth and I imagine they are probably already scarred for life, hanging out in the juvie part of the NICU with matching neck tattoos that say, “Mama didn’t love me.”
When I finally do see them, I am terrified. They are small, red and swollen and there is an audience around me expecting me to love them instantly and powerfully. The nurses ask me if I want to hold one, but I am too weak and too overwhelmed, so instead I stick my pale hand through the isloette and hold onto Finn’s hand, crying like a very sad ghost. I know it’s Finn because Matt tells me, and because his name is on the isolette. I don’t know it’s him because I know him, and this bothers me a lot.
I am completely disconnected from this experience. People carefully lifted my babies out of my body while I was unconscious, recorded their names, washed them, fed them, swaddled them, and changed them. People celebrated their birth, posed for photos with them and updated their status with news of them on Facebook. I missed it all. There’s nothing I can do to change that, but this is feeling of being disconnected from them doesn’t go away for a while.
Here’s the great news, though. These boys are perfect and strong. They are breathing on their own, eating consistently and dwarfing every other infant in the NICU. When I look at the tiny preemies holding on for dear life around us, I am ashamed to feel anything but gratitude. We are some seriously lucky parents. Who cares that I have a 1 in 300,000 chance of Hep C?
To summarize: On June 13, 2013 Matt and I gave birth to three amazing boys—James Goodloe Brehony, Brandon Kelly Brehony and Finnegan Carew Brehony. They are upstairs sleeping as I write this, tangled up in blankets, fat legs sticking out at the bottom, dreaming blissfully of whatever it is babies dream of. Eight months on the other side feels like a lifetime. Every day is long and hard, but at the end of it, lying in bed, one of us always turns to the other and asks, “Do you still like them babies?”
Then the other one of us says, “I love them babies. They are wonderful.” And we’re not even lying.