Your birth story starts way before you were here, back in summer of 2010. I found out I was pregnant and was thrilled. I wanted to have our third baby around the time I was 35, and my due date was May 17th. What’s that? Your birthday is in September? I know, dear one, your birth story starts with a birth story that isn’t even yours.
We had taken a 2 week road trip early that summer and then to Idaho in August to see your dad’s grandparents and I just didn’t feel right. So descriptive, I know. I was having palpitations, specifically trigeminy and bigemy. Really, they are just cardiac nuisances. My first ultrasound was fine, but I had a small subchorionic hemorrhage where the fetus implanted so we did heart rates at the doctor office every week and then another ultrasound at 12 weeks. I went by myself. I shouldn’t have gone by myself. The baby had no heart beat and would either miscarry or I would need further intervention. I was hysterical.
Why is this part of YOUR story? I spent a few months after I miscarried in a gray place. Maybe having a third was the wrong idea. Maybe this wasn’t meant for us. Maybe the arrhythmias were a foreshadowing. I had people tell me it was a sign from God. A sign to stop. and still I wanted, and yearned, for our family to welcome one more and be complete. but i was scared. I did not want to lose again. My doctor told me to wait three months, we got pregnant with you after two.
In my first trimester I got sick. I spent a week at home, went back to work for a day and was out for nearly 2 more weeks. I had H1N1, a flu that was killing pregnant women. I have asthma. Flu + asthma don’t play so well together. Did I mention that it was during Chicago’s Snowmageddon?? I was on two hefty antibiotics for pneumonia, for a total of 21 days and steroids for a total of 28. I was on albuterol nebs and steroid nebs 4-8 times a day. At one point, I asked my grandmother how her deceased husband was. I was not right in the head. At points, i felt that I was going to lose you, that you didn’t stand a chance in the sea of drugs you were living in, and that God tried to tell me, and I selfishly didn’t listen.
I would kid with people that you were going to come out with chest hair because of all the steroids but underneath I was scared. I have seen terrible things that can happen to babies in utero. When you were born, would it matter that I could breathe when I was sick, or would I regret everything? In a sense, I was happy I was considered a high risk for advanced maternal age and got ultrasounds all the time to reassure me that you were growing normally. I lost 17 pounds while I was sick and only gained back 15 until you were born. I was worried that everyone was right, I shouldn’t have tried for you.
That Spring, your great grandmother, Alice, became suddenly ill. Heart-breakingly ill. When she was in and out of lucidity, she looked at me sitting at the foot of her bed and saw me with a baby. A baby girl. Fat and pink cheeked and laughing. She said she couldn’t wait to hold you. I blink back tears thinking about it even now. I told her that she really had me believing that I was going to have a girl and she better send me a sign if you were a boy. Shortly after she died two yellow orioles, female and male pair were flitting around in my backyard. Now this isn’t entirely strange except that I never seen orioles before in my entire life outside of photos. I took it as a sign that my grandma was right I’m having a girl. For some reason birds have always represented something to me and also to her. Days after that, I found out I was having my third boy.
You, like Quinn, were breech. You moved and rolled so much in there. I finally came to terms with having my first c-section and it helped slightly with planning for care of your brothers. We showed up at the hospital at 8:30 after dropping them off at school and did the usual q&a session with the nursing staff. I was on monitors because I was still having an abnormal heart beat 28% of the time. Now we learned with breech Quinn that they would do an ultrasound before we went to OR and when she came to do one…you were transverse.
Now we were faced with the dilemma of waiting for delivery, inducing and hoping you would complete your turn, or having a c-section that may be not needed. I am fairly certain that my OB did not want to do a c-section that was not needed. I am completely certain that this same thing happened with your brother and he turned after my water was broken and I had to have an internal version. I did not want to recreate that event ever in my life again. We voted c-section.
ORs are frigid. I am a super control freak so of course I was nervous and anxious, in which case I pull out my weapons of choice, sarcasm and humor. I don’t think the anesthesiologist was amused. I hated getting the epidural. I have some weird spinal anatomy and she was having a hard time getting it in the space and it was painful, and the whole time you are supposed to have your back arched like a cat, but you really can’t do that because you are pregnant. I laid down and started to feel numb from my diaphraghm down which really makes you feel like you can’t breathe. I hated that feeling. My doctor didn’t make me get my hands tied down thankfully. I promised I wouldn’t try and bust through the sterile field. I got oxygen and FINALLY your dad got to come in. I don’t know how women birth alone. It makes me sad just to think about it. He was there for all three of you boys.
I cannot adequately describe the feeling and have anyone understand it. It would be like trying to describe the color gold to a blind man. I had sensation through my spinal block, but nothing terrible. When she cut into my uterus, she surprising told us that you were breech again and we had made the right decision. What a relief that was to hear. and then you were here! I saw you above the curtain, so tiny and pink and clean and made your dad follow you. Go, go, be with him.
And there I lay. helpless. I couldn’t see you, but I could hear you. And I couldn’t do anything. Your oldest brother had his umbilical cord around his neck so I didn’t get to hold him right away either, but I could see him. I felt so terrible Asher. I continued to lay there for more than 30 minutes, splayed open because my uterus was hemorrhaging. I immediately got two shots in my upper arms of something to stop the bleeding and they started Pitocin. You were in the recovery room with your dad before they had even started to sew me back together yet. I laid there sweating profusely because of whatever that medication was and wondering how soon the mother/ baby post-birth bond window closed.
When I finally got to recovery, I instantly held you and took in your newborn smell and touched your delicious fingers and nose and feet. You were here. and ours. and seemingly fine. You were our tiniest baby, around 7 1/2 pounds and we had forgotten how tiny and helpless newborns were. No one could come into recovery for over an hour because they were afraid I would have to go back into the OR. Your body temp was down and we did skin to skin contact while I tried to nurse you.
After that is a blur of brother visits and gramma kisses. You were so long and lean that you had problems with your body temp. You roomed in with me and we did skin to skin every night. Asher, you have been such a God-send to us. You were our smallest baby, but have the most spunk and humor, and continue to be unpredictable every day of your life. Happiest two year birthday to you Asher Marcus Pritchard. May you always feel the love of those around you.