Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bittersweet Birthday

My baby turned eight yesterday. Her birthday is always bittersweet to me. I celebrate the wonderful, beautiful, joyful child Quinta is. Oh, how I celebrate that! But there's always a little regret on this day that there will be no more children born to us. Even now, as I approach my 47th birthday, that regret is there.

Quinta's pregnancy was my sixth. The others had been difficult; with dangers for Mom and Baby, so our approach was super-cautious. When I began spotting at 12 weeks, I went on bedrest. Saw the obstetrician every two weeks with an ultrasound every month. That got us to 36 weeks, when a minor placental abruption and fetal distress called for an emergency c-section.

I got a spinal epidural, so I was awake during the procedure. Her birth was uneventful; she was whisked to the NICU to be taken care of, accompanied by her daddy. I was feeling terrible. I could feel tugging and hear intense whispering of my surgical team. Then I felt heat and blackness at once over my face as I heard someone say, "Hang a unit of blood!"

"It's a miracle she was ever pregnant at all." The gentle assistant surgeon's voice was the first thing I heard as I came to consciousness. Then my own Catholic doctor's voice as she leaned over me, "It's gone, Lisa. We had to take it." She was talking about my uterus. My womb. Gone. My first reaction? Relief. I've regretted the circumstance ever since; but the first reaction was relief.

We had talked about the possibility of this happening. Four of my previous pregnancies had ended in abruptio placentae; with this latest abruption...the more abruptions a woman has, the greater her risk of placenta accreta, where the placenta will not detach from the wall of the uterus. This was indeed what had happened to me. I fainted from blood loss caused by trying to deliver a placenta so deeply embedded into the uterine wall that it was pulling the uterus inside-out. I only needed two units of blood because they responded so quickly to the need, getting the diseased uterus out. I woke as they were examining the uterus, which was so full of endometrial scars and fibroid tumors that it was indeed a miracle I had ever been pregnant.

God gave me six miracles; yet I regret not having more. A dear friend once accused me of "collecting" children. Is that what I'm doing? Not loving each of my miracles enough because I want to accumulate more? I don't think so. I don't have "baby fever" each time I hold the tiny blessings my friends have. It's just when Quinta's birthday rolls around, so near to my own birthday, that this regret creeps in to lessen the joy just a bit. Bittersweet.