I couldn't fall asleep the other night.
And it wasn't because of Lena. I'm not sure what triggered it. It might've been that I realized yesterday that I'm going back to work on March 10--What should have been Luke's 18 month birthday. It might have been because last week, I found out that Jeff lost all of the pictures from Lena's birth and delivery somehow on his phone. The only ones we'll ever have of that event--gone. And then it made me think about how I'd feel if we'd lost those of Luke.
Obviously, I would feel much, much, much, MUCH angrier. And sad. And hopeless.
I feel like thoughts of Luke have taken a back seat in the past 2.5 months. They're not gone. But with a newborn, it's understandable that my brain is somewhere else. It's completely focused on the growing, needing baby in front of me.
Thoughts of him have come rushing back in the past couple days. And I sort of went down the rabbit hole of emotions. I thought about delivering him again, and I thought about how horrible his birth was...In retrospect, with perspective...How incredibly traumatizing it was to deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia.
I Googled it again...like I have so many times before. And frankly, every time I read about it, I still don't understand how I lived through it. Every article I read about it mentions potential "fetal or maternal demise." Many of them--from journals of medicine--talk about how it's literally an obstetrician's worst, unforeseen nightmare in the delivery room. That it's frightening to even a seasoned OB. That it's unpredictable, and can turn things south SO easily. It's listed as an "obstetric emergency." And? THIS only happens in about 1% of deliveries. It's like I won the shitty lottery of possible birth stories. The odds of stillbirth at 39 weeks are less than 1%...And then we added ANOTHER 1% chance onto THAT.
I lived through all that. And I still don't really understand how.
Then I think about the what ifs of that scenario. We didn't have a great idea how big Luke was in the womb. We had no clue what was coming with his delivery. What if he hadn't already died before delivery? Would something have happened to him then? At that point? What if he'd been born alive...but then gotten injured because of the shoulder dystocia, that we were given a baby who could grow up with cystic fibrosis? Erb's Palsy? Paralysis?
I could have been the mother of a baby who was paralyzed at childbirth. He could have died DURING childbirth. I could have had a post partum hemorrhage and...I don't even know. Thinking about it blows my mind.
I think about all these things, and then I look at Lena. Who's perfect. And somehow, I'm fine too. And I think about my OB, who, the more I think about it, I probably had more of an effect on than I initially believed. She told me once that our delivery with Luke had given her PTSD, and I think now I've come to understand why. Not only did she have to deliver the news to me that my baby had died inside of me at 39 weeks for no foreseeable reason, she then experienced what might've been one of the worst possible deliveries she's ever had to do. I feel like we have a relationship that not many patients have with their OB.
I remember blacking out somewhat during labor, and that moment when what seemed like every nurse on the floor came rushing into our room to help her deliver Luke. I had no idea what was going on, and it was my first delivery. I had nothing else to compare it to. One nurse pushed Jeff aside, and was literally on top of me at one point, pushing from my pelvis. I knew it wasn't good, but the only thing I knew was that I had to get through it so that I cold meet Luke. So that we could finally meet that boy that we'd waited 9 long months to meet. Even if he was already gone. And I held on for that.
And now that I know more, I realize what we may have been subjected to after his birth, if he'd been alive. Our lives could be so different. I always picture Luke as a perfect, healthy baby. Who doesn't picture that for their child when they're pregnant? But what if he wasn't? What if he was disabled from all of that? It's entirely possible.
It's also entirely possible that none of that would have happened during delivery because had he been alive, he may have helped himself out. He would have wanted to find his way out...And maybe he would have been just fine.
But I'll never know. That was the moment my life was at a fork in the road. One where Luke had died, and the other where he could have lived. I suppose there were actually more forks in that road. I could have died. He could have developed paralysis later down the road. But none of those sideforks ever came to be. We hit a dead end.
In a way, I feel like I dodged a bullet. I can never know for sure, but it's possible. Not that I would love him any less had he been paralyzed. But the thoughts about what could have been...I don't even know.
So now I sit here, with Lena. Both my OB and my MFM foresaw the danger in another delivery for me, and insisted on a c-section this time. And I can't thank them enough. I trusted them in their decision for me from the beginning, but the more I read about what happened to me, the more thankful I am.
Thankful that this is where I'm at right now. Thankful that this birth was the exact opposite of Luke's. It was calm and beautiful. There was no panic. There were happy tears. There was relief.
I hate that I'll never know what would have been for him, but because of him, I'm here, now.
And I'm thankful to have had and held him the most.