The OB said I needed oxygen because Hannah wasn’t receiving enough of her own. It was very difficult to breathe deeply with the mask over my mouth and the air was warm from the last exhale. I pushed a few times and Pete said he could see Hannah’s head. The OB asked if she could use the vacuum because Hannah seemed stuck. I could see her pulling and pulling, like she was trying to pull Thor’s hammer from the ground. The vacuum flew off Hannah’s head and the OB said she would need to cut me to get Hannah out. There was a squirt of liquid and Hannah slid right out into the OB’s hands. In one smooth motion she caught Hannah and placed her on my chest. Twenty minutes of pushing and we finally had our baby girl.
I can’t believe I didn’t cry. Hannah was absolutely adorable. She was wrinkled, pinkish-purple, and covered in goop. She cried and cried and all I could do was smile. I was hoping she could stay on my chest for a while but the nurses insisted that they needed to check her pulse-ox and weigh her. While Pam weighed Hannah and invited Pete to take a picture of the scale, my OB delivered the placenta and stitched me up. Hannah was 8.8 lbs and 2.0.5 inches long. Then Nara and another nurse cleaned up the aftermath. It’s a strange experience to have two strangers clean your baby’s first poop off your naked bosom and blood off numb nether regions.
Hannah was wrapped up and given to Pete. This was the first time he’d ever held a baby. I was so proud of him and thankful that he helped me through labor. This is when the day starts to fade for me. I don’t know if the hospital’s pediatrician evaluated Hannah while I was being stitched/cleaned or if it was done after Pete held her. She came in to inform us that she was fairly certain Hannah had Down syndrome. We were stunned and I immediately started crying. She said Hannah’s weak cry and low muscle tone were the suspicious traits. She explained they needed to do some testing to find out why her pulse-ox was so low because babies with DS can be born with several health issues.
The next few hours are a blur. When I wasn’t sleeping I was crying or staring at the wall. Pete was in and out of the nursery to watch the testing. The nurses urged me to try to stand up and use the bathroom so that I could see Hannah. I was still numb from the epidural and when I tried to stand I was light-headed. I was able to shuffle into a wheelchair and they took me and Pete into the nursery. I was able to hold Hannah and a nurse took some pictures of us. I felt like I was going to vomit so Hannah was put back in her nest and I was wheeled back to my bed.
We finally texted our friends to let them know Hannah was born. Pete went outside to call his parents to tell them about Hannah’s diagnosis. My parents were having a nightmare trip up from New Jersey. Their new car broke down, then the tow truck seized because of the cold. After a couple of hours of sitting in a cold car on the side of the highway, a state trooper picked them up and took them to an auto-body shop to get a rental car. They finally arrived around 7 pm, just as Hanna
h was leaving for the children’s hospital.
Shortly after Hannah’s departure, my parents and Pete left per my request. My fever was still high so my OB ordered a blood test to check for infection and a flu swab just in case my vaccine was ineffective. While waiting for the test results, the children’s hospital called to confirm Hannah had a heart defect and we would receive more information in the morning. I didn’t have the energy to react. I texted Pete with the news and finally shuffled to the bathroom to get ready for bed. My nurse came in to tell me I tested positive for the flu and could no longer stay on the maternity floor. I packed my bags and was wheeled to a regular floor. It was my second night with little sleep. My vitals were checked every two hours and I received shoddy postpartum care. In the morning I decided that I was leaving as soon as possible.