It has never been a secret that the character of Zarabethe has been patterned off of and influenced by me. Through her I have done many things: I have gone on adventures, defeated foes, experienced life in ways I might not be able to in reality. I have also used her as a vessel for my own issues. Insecurities about relationships and motherhood, the difficulty of life, intricacies of family, my own feelings of anxiety. She is, and probably will always be, a vital part of my life.
Seven months ago, as my life took a drastic turn to the right and then diagonally, I found myself mirroring her again.
You see, even though I had taken away Zarabethe's ability to have children in a violent, horrific way, I always intended on giving it back. That was to be the point of Scepter Two: righting a wrong that I felt was too harsh on her. She made some bad choices, but I should not punish her forever because of them. I might not ever be able to finish Scepter Two, but here's a spoiler: she gets the dragons curse cleansed from her completely, heals her body, and goes on to have three more healthy children. I give her a power back that I never should have taken away.
It was in that path that I inadvertently followed Zarabethe again. I was done having children. And after the horrific betrayal and incarceration of my then husband, I had no intention of bringing a child into the world again. How could I, knowing what could possibly await them?
In the words of Jurassic Park, however, life finds a way.
I found out I was pregnant shortly before having to uproot my entire family by myself and move to another city and start over our entire lives. The timing could not be more horrible. I had to work. I had no husband, although the father was supportive. I was still fighting for my children and my life to return to me, and I was still working in justice for my daughter's. Hard choices had to be made. Essentially, I would not punish a baby just for the inconvenience of existing, but priorities took over. I would still work. I would not take it easy. I would hide it from the world and especially inmate, for as long as possible and by any means necessary. And then, if a baby could endure through the rigorous pace I would put it through, I would welcome he or she with open arms.
so things progressed. I accomplished everything I needed to in the parameters I had set. The baby stubbornly clung to me and grew, although slowly. I was the smallest I had ever been while pregnant. I continued full lifting at my job until 23 weeks. I bound my belly and sat in court dates, with no one the wiser until a sentence was made. I hardly gained any weight. But the baby held on, strong and active and obviously a fighter, and so I accepted that he or she would be staying with us, and made plans. I purchased supplies and made lists. Boyfriend actively helped with these things and we made plans to merge our families before he or she was born. I found solace in traveling the path of secrecy that Zarabethe had traveled before. She had done it, and I was doing it, and it made me feel stronger than I had ever been.
What I had forgotten though, was how close Zarabethe had come to death through her stubbornness.
At 27 weeks I had to quit working because my body was trying to go into preterm labor. This I managed, because boyfriend (who I shall from now on call Viking) had gotten a much better job in anticipation of baby and we could scrape things together. So I took over the role of summer childcare in the house: my seven, his two, and my two nieces. This I threw myself into, but I could tell that my health was not the greatest. Family members caused me stress that I couldn't seem to shake. Even a little bit of walking and moving made me feel bad and gave me contractions. I stubbornly.pushed through it, reminding myself that it was my 8th child and my body was just tired. Almost too late, I realized that my blood pressure was elevated much more than I though it was and my body was literally not handling being pregnant very well.
As a staunch supporter of homebirth and natural childbirth, this was a difficult pill to swallow. But I decided it was best to put aside dreams and seek out help, just in case.
Once again I over estimated myself and nearly did not get help in time.
Wednesday, July 12th, I woke up at 5am when Viking came in from work, and I felt awful. As much as I had put aside my body's shortcomings and tried to ignore what was going on, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was very, very, wrong, and it was past time trying to deal with it myself. We arranged childcare and went to maternal triage at a local hospital that I had already decided would be my backup.
My blood pressure, when I was admitted, was 203 over 125. Normal blood pressure is half that. The staff treated me with dignity, and fought the blood pressures for a few hours, but it was obvious that there was only one option left. Deliver the baby as soon as possible, or risk not going home to my children at all.
Tests were run. Baby was small, even for 33 weeks. She was a girl. She was very healthy, but it was I who couldn't do it anymore. I agreed to my first surgical birth and preparations were made.
My blood pressure was through the roof the entire time. I was reminded suddenly not of Zarabethe with her first labor, scared but strong. I remembered her late term loss of Kalibose. And while I knew in my heart that the baby was okay, I suddenly realized how NOT okay I was. I had risked my life in my stubbornness. The baby would make it out if surgery, but would I? I had no time to prepare for this. All I could do was choke back tears as I made sure that the baby's name was spelled correctly before I was taken back, in case I didn't have a chance to fill out the birth certificate later. there was no time to kiss my kids goodbye. No time to make a phone call, or write a letter. they had taken my phone away in an attempt to get my body to calm down. All I could do was try not to cry.
Therein is the folly of being Zarabethe. I was strong, but at what cost?
I made it through surgery. Isidora Hazel was born yanked from her mother's womb while I was nearly knocked out (anesthesia did not take well and I felt too much, they had to give me a medicine to make me forget). I did not hear her first cry. I woke up as they were stitching up the last layer. I felt every needle poke, but I was coherent enough to ask to see her. Viking stayed with me the entire time. He said she was born strong and crying. He also said that after I finally lost consciousness my blood pressure went down and I made it through surgery well. I am grateful for his account.
She is right now in the NICU. For 33 weeks she is doing very well. They anticipate a 2 week stay and she keeps making leaps and bounds. It has been harder to get my health back. I had no surgery complications but my blood pressure has been difficult to control. I have had to stay 2 extra days in the hospital, and as of right now, if I make it all the way through the night with no breakthrough high blood pressure spikes, I can go home tomorrow morning. I will go home on several medications and follow up appointments, with a large scar on my lower abdomen and a humbled heart. And Isidora will come home later. But we will endure. She has a warriors heart and I will take the time to heal and male a space for her.
Tonight I got to hold her for the first time. I did not want to give her back, and she wasn't really happy to return to her nest of wires and artificial warmth. Soon though.
Please welcome Isidora Hazel, tiny warrior princess. She was 4 lb 7 oz and 18.5 inches long, born at 33 weeks, 4 days.