Saturday, January 27, 2007

Catherine Marie

Today would have been our first baby's 30th birthday. Unfortunately, she never got a chance to live. Catherine Marie was born and died on this date in 1977. It was a normal pregnancy, till the very end. I had no problems while carrying Catherine, and she was quite active inside me. She could kick a plate right off my stomach with tremendous force for such a small one. I was so excited and happy, and looking forward to this little child to have to love and raise up to adulthood. But things didn't turn out that way.

My husband was in the Air Force at the time, and we lived near the air base in a town called Jacksonville, right outside of Little Rock. We used a doctor recommended by the air force clinic, and I am really regretful now that I did not choose a doctor at the University Hospital in Little Rock. Our baby might have survived if I had.

A week before going into labor, I had some bleeding. My husband rushed me into the clinic to be examined by my doctor, and he blew it off. Said that happens sometimes and not to worry about it. Little did I know that there was something far more serious going on. It was my first pregnancy, I was far away from my folks and family, and I was very young and trusted doctors to know what they are doing and didn't question his opinion.

A week later, I went into labor two weeks earlier than my due date. They had me walk the hallways to stimulate labor. They did an x-ray of my abdomen (which I found out later was dangerous to do because of radiation). It was a long, long and difficult labor -- 26 hours. In the final hours, I was on a bed in the labor ward and they gave me something called "twilight" that didn't really relieve pain, but was supposed to make me forget I was having pain -- it didn't work too well. I felt like I was in some kind of a surreal nightmare. The heart monitor that was keeping track of the baby's heartbeat sounded weird...the heartbeat didn't sound right to me. A nurse was sitting on a stool nearby, eating cake that someone had brought in to celebrate one of the nurse's birthday. I remember saying to the nurse "that sounds funny, is my baby alright?" She put her cake down and came and listened with her special stethescope, and she said that things sounded fine. I pointed out that the baby's heartbeat sounded weird to me on the machine. The nurse told me "oh, we don't go by those modern contraptions" and continued to eat her cake.

Things got worse. The heartbeat started getting worse. A doctor came in and looked seriously at the monitor and began shouting orders to get me into the delivery room and then gave me more of that twilight stuff and threw my husband out of the labor room and would not let him attend the birth as planned. I remember waking up off and on, and hearing a jumble of voices...then in a blur (I didn't have my glasses and am very nearsighted), I saw a nurse carry a bundle over to a corner of the room and others crowded around and there was no crying baby....I kept trying to say "how is my baby?" but nothing would come out. They wheeled me to recovery...still no baby. When I started to get my speech capabilities back, I slurred..."where is my baby, I want to see my baby...where is it?" and a nurse brushed back my hair and told me to rest....I KNEW something was terribly wrong.

Then a doctor came in and told me. I heard bits and pieces of what he was saying "the cord was around her neck, had been for some time"...."labor caused cord to strangle her"....

After I was taken back to my room, and was more awake, reality hit me. I was angry...angry that the goddam doctor a week before didn't take the warning sign of the bleeding seriously. X-ray results that were taken upon my arrival at the labor ward revealed that the cord, being around the baby's neck had pulled the placenta from the wall of the uterus. Most likely if she would have lived, she would have been brain damaged because of that.

My husband had to disassemble a nursery we had prepared so I wouldn't come home to that. I was like a crazy person for weeks. I had wanted that baby so much.

I now have three other children, despite difficult pregnancies. That is because we moved back up north and chose the best high risk hospital in the Chicagoland area.

Some told me it was god's will. At the time I tried to tell myself that too, but now that many years have passed I now find that reasoning very absurd. Why would a god play such a cruel joke as to give someone a baby, and then rip it away. As years went by, I came to realize there is no god pulling puppet strings, making bad things or good things happen. The reality is that doctors fucked up. Plain and simple. And I had three live children afterwards because I was under the care of excellent physicians and specialists at one of the best neo-natal facilities in the country.

What I have found is that baby could not be replaced. Despite having three beautiful children, I can never forget the one that is not with us. I celebrate and remember her birthday every single year.

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