My daughter, Tatum Maris Reed was born Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 12:46pm CST. Weighing in at 7lbs4oz and 19.7 inches long, she came into the world at the Regional Medical Center of Memphis.
“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Now that our location is no longer a secret….returning to Memphis for Tatum’s arrival is one of the very best decisions of my life. Acting on the advice of my attorney, I made [strictly confidential] plans to leave California and arrange for a delivery in Tennessee. Doing so was no small feat as I was high risk and confined to bed rest– yet my wonderful doctor on the coast worked with me every step of the way and provided clearance for the mode of transportation we decided on as a team. To anyone who feels as though I deceived them by not being forthcoming regarding my plans– I’m truly sorry. It was imperative that I stayed under the radar until our safe arrival back east. Although I ask for your respect of my privacy during this time [meaning don’t bombard me with your questions], let me clarify some crucial matters: 1) I’ll be returning to Paso Robles in the middle of March. 2) Temporarily leaving Adam to ensure Tatum’s safety was one of the most gut wrenching decisions I’ve ever made and it’s too upsetting for me to discuss, even with those closest to me. 3) My apartment, Wanda, bills, and obligations in California have been handled throughout the duration of my absence.
I know my explanations are vague at best and most likely create more questions than answers….but I once again ask for your understanding that I’ve had to make some choices that are impossibly difficult and I simply cannot handle the agony of rehashing the details with all who are curious.
Two days prior to delivery severe abdominal and lower back pains left me paralyzed with agony. Despite a gut feeling that neither of these were indicative of labor, I knew something was seriously wrong. Upon my arrival in Labor & Delivery they confirmed that I was not in labor– zero dilation, no contractions, water unbroken, etc.– yet I am eternally grateful they went the extra mile and were determined to find the source of the problem. Blood and urine tests [complete with a delightful catheter] revealed that I had a severe UTI with ‘significant’ bacteria in my kidneys. Because of this, Tatum was considered high risk at birth, a distinction I’d already ‘earned’ with my anxiety and blood pressure. It is nothing short of a miracle that I was able to see a high risk obstetrician at the MedPlex on 2/20– where they honored her previously scheduled birthday– and I gave birth the following day.
Maris picked me up the morning of my delivery and we headed to The Med for my 8am check-in time. Ashley arrived shortly thereafter. Due to the impeccable timing of morning shift change, the relief worker was unaware that I already had my visitor….so I spent the three hours [they were a wee bit behind] before my surgery with two of the most important people in my life. Not only did they serve as a calming presence and manage to make me laugh despite the physical pain, they addressed the elephant in the room: Adam’s absence. We reminisced and told funny stories. Both of them miss their nephew so much. It was such a comfort to be around two of the people that know me– and Adam– best. They have been an unwavering source of support. I appreciate their love, compassion, honesty, insight, and friendship more than they’ll ever know. My family’s separation is only temporary.
Shortly after noon I was wheeled into the operating room where I was given my epidural. I cannot commend the anesthesiologists enough for their fantastic job. Throughout the entire procedure I was comfortable and coherent. Shortly before Tatum was actually removed, my blood pressure began to drop steadily….and they immediately injected epinephrine to stabilize me. Unlike my previous epidural I remember every step of the process– Maris and I talked [she was my ‘birthing support person and accompanied me throughout surgery] throughout– and I was able to touch my precious daughter as soon as she was born.
Seeing Tatum’s beautiful face for the first time caused the waterworks to flow. I’ve never been much of the crying type– especially not when the tears are joyful– but I cried and cried. My sweet little girl! She was so healthy and perfect and now I could finally hold her. It was completely overwhelming. Any new parent could write a novel on the indescribable feeling when you come face to face with your child for the first time….but those are memories I’m filing away to cherish in the solitude of my own thoughts.
Although she had ingested some fluid, which is not uncommon for C-section deliveries, after some brief suctioning [I’m not sure of the clinical term] all was clear. We were taken to the recovery area to bond. Our nurse dimmed the lights and gave us privacy until it was time for Tatum to go to the nursery. That’s when they discovered my blood loss.
I’ll spare you all the gory details but suffice it to say I lost way too much blood after the surgery. A second set of forms was quickly signed– a blood transfusion appeared imminent– and I began to seriously panic. Although I was not supposed to have any visitors in the recovery area they allowed me to bring Ashley in, and later my dad when he arrived. They tried to shield it from me but I could tell they were both extremely worried– my floor and bed looked like something out of CSI. I started to feel as though I was fading out [not in a dramatic sort of way, more like being depleted of energy and getting woozy] and don’t recall much. With my anxiety I knew better than to ask any questions. I still don’t know exactly what happened, though I certainly plan to find out, or how it was resolved. I do know that I received a very painful shot in my thigh and some medications. Thankfully a blood transfusion wasn’t necessary.
Once the bleeding had ceased I finally went to my room. My friend, Raquel [who is 31 weeks pregnant], arrived with her son, Reed. They brought me Chik-Fil-A and lemonade– a yummy treat. Dad arrived just as Tatum was wheeled in from the nursery. I’m so glad Raquel and Reed came by….it was nice having a little boy there [on a humorous note– Raquel’s husband is named Adam so she’s got an Adam and a Reed in her family too] and it reminded me how excited I was to see my son interact with his sister. As we oohed and ahed over Tatum, Adam called. He told me how much he loved me and Tatum, that he had seen the picture of the two of us after surgery, and said he missed me. Then he said that he knew I was at the ‘special baby hospital’ but he really wanted to meet Tatum– when could I come bring him home so he could meet Tatum? I lost it. In front of Raquel and my dad I started sobbing and had to get off the phone. One can only pretend for so long their family isn’t destroyed.
Tatum, you are my saving grace. I love you so much. You are SAFE. Nobody will take you like they took Adam. You are surrounded by people who love you and will protect you. Mommy needs to keep fighting for brother and then the three of us will be together.
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,