The day Katie was born, I was scheduled for a routine "check the size of the baby" ultrasound.
My mom had come with me to the appointment for that motherly moral support (and you can bet another peek at the baby yet to be born).
She held my hand as the technician cautiously maneuvered the wand over my petroleum-laden, very pregnant belly. The tech pointed out all of the fuzzy, black and white little baby parts and confirmed that I was having a girl. Even though I'd been through this numerous times before with this pregnancy and the other 2, I still found myself awestruck at being able to "see" my baby before she was born.
Of all the times I'd visited the radiology department, I never had a thing out of the ordinary happen. Never an awkward silence between the tech and myself. Never a "I need to check with the radiologist on this one", as the tech tries to keep a poker-face as she quickly exits the room, leaving you lying there wondering what in the world could be wrong. No, all my ultrasounds were filled with encouraging reports on the baby and his/her growth, followed by light chit chat on motherhood, kids, husbands, etc.
Until "So, you've got the E-antigen in your blood?".
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, well it says here that you tested positive for Anti-E. You are going to see your doctor right after this appointment so he will explain it all to you."
My mom and I looked at eachother quizzically as the tech exited the room with her poker-face. We gathered ourselves up, confirmed that I was to go directly to my OB's office immediately following this ultrasound (do not pass go - do not collect $100), called my husband at work and told him not to worry and that I'd call him after I talked to Dr. Andre.
Ever have that sinking feeling?
After having the quickest lesson on Anti-E (a relative blood "condition" to rh negative in which the mother's blood attacks the fetuses blood - usually detected around the 20th week of pregnancy with a triple-screen blood test and from then on the mother and baby are closely monitored for signs of severe anemia and fetal death) and a brief description on how it was found in my blood so late in the game (the nurse "accidentally" ran a test on my latest blood draw), it was decided that we were going to be delivering this baby...
"You mean I can't go home, get the boys back from school and..."
Now, this isn't good news for a borderline ecclamptic mother-to-be. I am sure that the doctor could see the numbers on the blood pressure monitor climbing. I called Brett at work and said "well honey, we're having out baby today - do you think you could get someone to cover the rest of your shift?".
The rest of the evening was spent in the hazy euphoria of the hospital. Gowns were donned, funny little plastic hats were worn and needles were inserted in various locations (some to administer fabulous drugs, some to take blood).
We waited and waited for a little "Playmate" cooler to arrive full of special mutant blood for me in case I needed it during the surgery.
My parents took care of getting the boys to our friend's where they would be taken care of and distracted for the evening. They arrived back to the hospital just in time to see me wheeled into the operating room.
The rest of the story is full of the pain and excitement of a typical c-section. A very loopy mommy lays on a flat surgical table, her arms strapped down away from her body like she might just fly away (and believe me, given the choice, I would have) behind a curtain as blue as the ocean. She feels the discomfort of the "work" her doctors (a team of them now) are performing but gazes in her husband's eyes for reassurance that everything is okay. She wishes he weren't so engrossed with the fact that her insides are lying on the sterile surgical field on the other side of the blue curtain, but that's okay it distracts her for a moment before the big event and any distraction at this point is well-received!
And just like that, a flurry of excitement and a wriggling, red, screaming baby girl is lifted up above the curtain so I could get a look at her. "She's beautiful" is echoed by every person in the room and the tears drip from the corners of my eyes as she is taken a few feet away from me to be cleaned up, weighed and examined.
A few minutes (possibly many, it is hard for me to recall as I was not wearing a watch and likely was unable to even read the giant clock in the operating room due to those fabulous pharmaceuticals) passed and Katie was bundled up and handed to Brett. At which point the power of her hold on her Daddy was forever cemented upon his heart.
I peered at her beautiful face as he held her before me. I breathed in her smell, her newness was intoxicating. I wished I could wrap her in my arms at that moment, but I still had some work to be done, so I had to wait as Daddy brought her out to meet her grandparents.
Later on we were returned to our room, where I could inspect every inch of her. Nothing can compare.
In spite of a lot of complications following her birth (we got to go back to the hospital and stay for 5 more days while mommy enjoyed the magnesium treatment and half-hourly checks for stroke symptoms due to her extremely high post-birth blood pressure), getting to know my new little girl was an extraordinary time. I could not wait to get home and return to normal (which didn't happen soon enough - I had to go home on blood pressure medicine which completely wigged me out, and I wasn't allowed to have too much stimulation or excitement, a bit of an oxymoronic situation if you ask me - I just had a baby and I can't be excited?).
But after my body was done rebelling against what had just happened, and the colic died down, I discovered that I had, right there in my hand, the most perfect little girl in the whole world.
And today, she is three years-old!
"We are together, my child and I. Mother and child, yes, but sisters really, against whatever denies us all that we are."
Happy Birthday Katie!