Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tight Place Birth: Baby Z

This is the first image I ever had of Zoe.  I hadn't seen her yet in person.  A nurse brought this Polaroid to my hospital room.  I can't remember exactly when she brought it.  When I gave birth to Zoe, a team of medical specialists were standing at the foot of my bed, waiting to whisk Zoe away.  Zoe was born with an Apgar score of 2--which means she was born looking and acting basically dead.

The doula told me later that Zoe had to be revived, and that the cord had been wrapped around her neck three times.  I'm glad I didn't know this at the time.

In the first 24 hours of her life, Zoe had three separate seizures.

When I first touched Zoe, she was all hooked up like she was in this photo, except she was sleeping.  I squeezed her thigh.  I was so out of it myself, so battered by the birth, I couldn't even walk upright, but I would leave the hospital before Zoe would.

It sucks to come home from the hospital with no baby.  I can't even imagine what it's like for the women whose babies have died.  And we still didn't know what was wrong with Zoe.  She stayed at the hospital all week, enduring a battery of tests (EKG, spinal tap).  The docs were trying to figure out what had caused the seizures.  I visited Zoe everyday in her plastic compartment, after donning a gown and spending 15 minutes washing my hands.  I brought in my milk, which the nurses fed Zoe via a tube down her throat.  The neo-natal intensive care unit's a strange place, and Zoe--at almost 9 pounds--was huge.  And was hard to get the nurses to pay us any mind when I wanted to do something like hold her.  They had to approve everything.  It started to feel like she belonged to them, that she was leashed to the hospital.

We took Zoe home a week later.

At two months old, she was evaluated and referred to occupational therapy, which she had weekly for three years.

But all the sudden TODAY Zoe--born with an Apgar score of 2--is 14!!--not hooked up to tubes, not leashed to me or anything or anyone.  Her teachers only tell me the best things.  Zoe takes the subway alone and bounds through city streets in her still new Doc Marten's, happy, seemingly unaffected by that birth, which thinking back on it all now, seems like a small miracle.

1 comment:

  1. i didn't know zoe's middle name was helen. beautiful. one of my favorite names. where is it from. also, what a harrowing birth story. did you have any ptsd afterwards? i felt i did from my nicu experience with cecy.