I am home today. It’s a great feeling, but heavy too with the alien feeling of coming home no longer pregnant.
We had been weighing it, and we gave our babies names this morning. Since we hadn’t finalized them before this week, particularly not middle names, but just had a list we had been working on – they didn’t really have names in place and we initially didn’t feel it was right to force things to fit when they just hadn’t quite done so. Even though we were close to settling on the final cut, those favorites never made it to being their names. Their entire lives, we knew them as ”Baby A,” “Baby B,” “Baby C.” To us, those were their identities, much more so than anything on our short list. That’s how we had known them and talked about them. Still, ultimately we weren’t satisfied with their leaving their birth certificates – nor their memories – at basically anonymity. They are people. They are our children. So, we decided on a different route for names than what we had been planning.
For those who don’t mind the more “intimate” details, I wanted to write out the complete birth story while the details are still fresh. Somehow the delivery isn’t a difficult thing for me to relive. It felt good, natural and in control, and strangely allowed me to feel like my body had done something well even at the end, in spite of the rest of the disaster.
I declined pain medication, against the advice of the nurses, and I did not regret it. The labor pain was bearable, and I didn’t want to feel disconnected for even a second. The focused physicality of it was a welcome relief from the profound grasping helplessness of the emotions we’ve faced both before and after. The actual moments of delivery of each baby, because they were so small, were so easy that two of the three caught me by surprise. And, as Brendon said, it was remarkable how well the birth of each baby matched the personalities we had been able to see already.
Archer Key arrived at 8:25 pm. He was always the trouble maker. We knew it when he evaded the NT scan, again with the shared placenta scare, and I will always remember how silly it seemed when he was standing on his head for one entire ultrasound. Of course, he proved over and over throughout this terrible week just what kind of trouble he could cause. We were told that it usually took at least the second dose of medication before labor began to progress, so we were expecting a four hour lull after the first dose was administered at 6:15. Even though cramps became contractions by 7:30 and were coming less than two minutes apart by 8:00, I was trying to rest as well as I could at that point for what I thought would be a whole-night ordeal, and beside me, Brendon was trying to get a bit of sleep, too. The nurses were still going in and out of the room. During one of the times we had been left alone in the dimness, I had one contraction that started just like all the ones before it. I tensed up against the pain, and without any further warning – all within a matter of seconds – I experienced a heavy pressure, then the sensation of a foreign object, and Archer slipped out, quiet. I couldn’t bring myself to look, but I knew, and I pressed the call button to have the flurry of nurses cut his cord and whisk our trouble maker away.
Beatrice Key arrived at 9:53. She was the stubborn, shy one of the three. In ultrasounds she often turned away from the spotlight and tended to not let the techs get her heart rate very easily. She had hidden as well as she could while we easily determined the sex of her brothers. Hers was the longest labor. The contractions in between Archer and Beatrice were less regular than the first set. I did a lot of changing position, trying to find something a little more comfortable, which would only last a little while. I tried pushing early on, but then gave up until she decided to let me know it was time. The doctor had pierced her sac just after they had taken Archer out of the room, but it was about a full hour before the gush of her fluid washed out. It didn’t take long after that, though she was still the most hesitant and took a small bit of effort to coax out.
Collin Key arrived at 10:01. He was so easygoing. So cooperative. He was amiable during every ultrasound, happy to be measured and admired. He always seemed comfortable, though he did have the most room to stretch out, being at the top. Right after Beatrice had been removed from our sight, the nurses came back and told us she was alive and that we could hold her if we would like to. I had a moment with her, then passed her to her father just as I felt the first contraction with Collin. It only took about one or two more contractions and then he made his appearance about as unexpectedly as Archer had. Collin did choose to come while there was plenty of medical staff around, though. So very considerate of him. Then, the same as Beatrice, they took him away to clean him up, and brought him back to us while he was still alive. They brought Archer out to us last, so that we could hold all three together. We stayed with them until almost midnight.
Brendon was terrific the whole time. He was pretty shocked at Archer’s suddenness and was shaken for a few moments, but he stayed beside me constantly, holding my hands and looking into my eyes. He of course didn’t have the physical goal to focus on as an escape from the night’s immense grief. I deeply appreciate that he was able to be so completely present for whatever I needed, in spite of everything he was going through, too.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and who has offered their generous love and support throughout this whole thing. I am sorry I haven’t been able to thank everyone personally for their touching kindness, but both of us sincerely appreciate all of it. While it’s true that no words can heal the damage, the overwhelming expression of sympathy truly has been comforting. And thank you for allowing me to say what I’ve needed to say.