Mommy 4-1-1

Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

Callahan’s birth story: A long journey Sunday, December 14, 2008

At the end of my second trimester, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure by my obstetrician. He put me on partial bed rest and put me on medication. He told me if my blood pressure kept going up that I would have to be delivered early, but he was sure that the medication would help. So, for a few weeks I went twice a week to the doctor to get my blood pressure checked. Every check -up was going good, my blood pressure seemed to be under control and they told me they hoped for me to make it to 36 weeks.

On September 18, I woke up and felt like something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it , but something was different. I had a doctor’s appointment that day, so I got ready and my mom took me ( Cade had the car that day). I went into the office feeling fine, then she took my blood pressure and told me I needed to go to the hospital right now. My blood pressure was 170/112 ( just so everyone knows normal blood pressure should be 120/80). So, they sent me to labour/delivery where they put me on stronger doses of medication and told me they wanted to monitor my blood pressure for a few days. They sent me to mother babe because antepartum was full. The next day , a Friday my blood pressure wasn’t improving and they loaded me up on more medication and decided to give me steroids to help Callahan’s lungs mature in case they needed to deliver. Dr.Cooper came in that night and told me that I would have to remain in the hospital for the rest of the pregnancy and thought we could make it to at least 34 weeks ( at this point I was 29 weeks pregnant). So, I prepared myself for a long stay. Two days later I had a major spell and my blood pressure reached 180/113. They gave me emergency doses of adalat, a second medication to the blood pressure medication I was already on. It worked but gave me wickedly painful headaches. The next day (Monday) my blood pressure was still acting up and none of the medication seemed to be working. So, the obstetrician told me he was going to deliver me via C-section that night , so Cade and I had visits from the neonatalogists talking to us about what would happen when Callahan was born and what his stay at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit might be like. So, Cade and I sat there and waited for me to be delivered , scared and feeling not ready at all. The anesthesiologist came in and started prepping me, then a different obstetrician came in and told me I was fine and the baby was fine and that he was just going to load me up with more medication. I was like alright, thank goodness.

On the Wednesday, of all things my water broke and we thought well I guess this baby really wants to come out. The nurses told me that sometimes even if your water breaks you might not go into labour for weeks. So, we sat and waited and my blood pressure was somewhat under control. The next day, my blood pressure was up again and on the ultrasound that day, they saw that the blood flow to Callahan was being effected. So, once again they tell me we are going to deliver you today at 1 pm. Cade leaves class in the middle of an exam and gets to the hospital only for us to be told once again they are not going to deliver me. Now, as much as I wanted Callahan to stay in me and grow more, I was getting so frustrated with this back and forth that the nurse took my blood pressure and laughed and said it was so high she was not going to tell me and just let me calm down. On Saturday ( it had been over a week) , I started having very irregular contractions, but then they slowed down and eventually stopped that night. Sunday, the day. I went for an ultrasound that morning and normally they don’t do ultrasounds on Sunday’s because they have to call people in, but I was a special case . I went up to my room and waited for the obstetrician with the results. The doctor was taking awhile , so Cade decided to go home have a nap, some lunch and a shower. In the meantime, the doctor came in and told me that they had tried long enough to control my blood pressure and that it was starting to affect Callahan . He told me they would induce me the next day, if Callahan had moved back into the mobile, birthing position ( the previous few days he had been lying transverse, straight across). So, I phoned my mom and Cade and told them that I would be induced the next day. A few minutes later the nurse asked me to take a urine sample , and she discovered that I was leaking huge amounts of protein and that the blood pressure was starting to affect my kidney’s. She called the obstetrician back in and he decided that he would induce me that night. He came to examine me and said that inducing would be too difficult , and that they would deliver via-emergency c-section at 4 pm. It was now 3 :15 pm , and all I had was enough time to call Cade and tell him to get back to the hospital and my mom to leave church because I was going to have a baby within the hour. Cade made it just as they were walking me to the operating room.

Inside the operating room, they prepped me with a spinal epidural but just before that they took my blood pressure and it was 195/129. It was time to deliver that baby. So, they gave me the spinal , which in all honesty I was more worried about than them cutting me open . They then strapped me to the table, put up the sheet and let Cade come in. Cade was talking to me then all of sudden they said to him , do you want to see the baby come out? I was like what ?? I didn’t even know they had cut me open. At 4:08pm Callahan was born , letting out a few cries before he had to be intubated with oxygen. His cries were the most beautiful, most reassuring sounds I could have ever heard. My little boy had come into the world screaming letting everyone know he was there, even though he came 10 weeks early. I saw him for a few moments before they whisked him away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He weighed 3 pounds 1 ounce and was 16 inches long.

After they took him away (Cade had gone with him), they stitched me up and then wheeled me back into a recovery area, where they checked my blood pressure and put me on a drug called magnesium sulphate to keep me from having a seizure. It is an extremely strong med and you can only be on it for a very short period of time. They then wheeled my whole bed into level 3 of the NICU, where our little boy was hooked up to a ventilator and beginning his transition to what would be his home for 64 days in the NICU. It was amazing to seem him so small and tiny and that he was here, but it was also scary and extremely difficult to see my little baby hooked up to tubes and machines . After that they took me back to my room, where Cade was told he would have to go home, because I would need to have one on one care for the rest of the night. They had to wake me up every hour that night to check my blood pressure and all my vitals, and keep me moving. At one point in the middle of the night, I woke up to them putting nasal oxygen prongs in my nose, because the medication had lowered my blood pressure so much that my oxygen levels were dropping. I was so out of it though that I didn’t care, or was even that aware. The next morning I was told I could come off the Mag sulphate, and that I was ready to be moved from antepartum into the mother/babe unit for the rest of my recovery. I stayed for 5 more days before they discharged me. That was the hardest day and there were such mixed feelings. I was happy to be out of the hospital, but I was devastated that I was not leaving with my baby. Definitely not the birth experience I had expected.For the next 64 days, we spent everyday at the hospital with Callahan , watching him become stronger and progress and fight so he could come home. He had to learn so many things, that most babies develop in utero. He spent 1 and a half days on a ventilator, then 3 weeks on a C-pap machine and then four weeks on nasal prongs. He finally came off his oxygen in the middle of November and on December 1st he was discharged and finally came home with us weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces, a far cry from the 3 pounds 1 ounce he once was. He is at home , a healthy and happy boy and we are so extremely grateful.

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26 and 3/4 Weeks Thursday, July 17, 2008

Twenty six and three quarter weeks” said my doctor to the nurses at the hospital the night that Sara was born. That is how pregnant I was.

It had been a very quick and exciting pregnancy. I had just had my IUD taken out after three years and was trying to decide on what form of contraception to use next. The pill made me depressed and the IUD made me bleed all the time and condoms broke. I get pregnant easily so it wasn’t a surprise when I was pregnant again. I had three children at the time; ages 10, 8 and 4. But I was surprised to be growing so quickly and feeling movement at 10 weeks.

Before I went to the doctor I hit the library to see if I could figure out why this was so different. Polyhydramnios? Uterine tumor?

The doctor sent me immediately to get an ultrasound. Back in 1979, things were not as sophisticated as they are now and techs were not as well trained. But it was only a day later the Doc rang me to say,

“You better play the lottery, you are having twins!”

We were thrilled! Our families were thrilled and we started planning how to make our tiny three bedroom house bigger. I looked at twin strollers and picked out names. In those days the sex of the baby wasn’t easily determined so I had to pick 2 girl names, 2 boy names and one each that I liked over the others. I had Colin and Christopher, Sian Marie and Cesara, with Colin and Cesara as the top boy-girl combo.

I wasn’t told to take any special care, as twins are pretty common-place. I didn’t bleed or even feel more tired just got bigger and bigger. One day my mother in law said to me,

“You look like you are having a litter. Are you sure it’s just twins?”

I bought more maternity clothes when I was five months and went to a Halloween party as a pumpkin- the GREAT Pumpkin!

The babies never stopped moving. I had constant bumping and poking. In the middle of the night I could feel tiny elbows? knees? One night I woke up in tremendous pain and I struggled to get out of bed. The right side of my tummy felt paralyzed. I rang the doctor and he told me that it was just my muscles and bones stretching. It never came back and I asked him about it next checkup. His wife, who was his nurse, treated me quite rudely when I asked her.

“You’re having twins! Do you know how many women have twins?”

The kids were pretty excited especially the girls, Jenny and Lissa. Alex, being four was more interested in his Transformers.

On December 9th, 1979, the pain came back. It was excruciating. I called the doctor. He thought it might be muscle strain. Then I went to bathroom where my water broke, it was very bloody. We were at my in-laws having a birthday dinner for me.

We left for the hospital and were immediately whisked to the labor room. By this time I was contracting every ten minutes. The nurse put two heart monitors on me. One nurse, Donna was trying to find the heartbeats and noted,

“There are heartbeats all over you!”

By now it was pretty obvious that I was going to have babies that night. They called the neonatal hospital; Cornell Medical Center at New York Hospital. I was scared, for me, for the babies and my children at home if anything happened to me. It was weird, like slow motion inside of me but all around me things were happening very quickly.

Nurse: “Dona, when did you last eat?”
Me: “About an hour ago. I had roast pork, potatoes and birthday cake.”
Nurse: “Oh, great. Tell me you have a cold.”
Me: “I do.”
Nurse: sigh

My husband stayed by my side, clutching my hand as we listened to the noisy “boom ba boom” heartbeats of our babies.

It was decided that a c-section would be less stressful for the babies and I asked Donna to baptize them for me. She was Jewish but she understood. My husband was Roman Catholic and I am a Methodist so it was for his family I asked.

“Baby A and Baby B okay?” she asked. I was wheeled into the operating room where they told me they would put me under and wake me quickly.

When I woke I was still on the table and a nurse took my head and turned it.

“You had triplets,” she said, “See?”

I didn’t have my glasses on. I saw a blur of nurses and doctors hunched over a table.

Triplets? How did that happen? I was taken back to another hospital room where my pediatrician and obstetrician were waiting with my husband. I can’t remember any pain, I was alert. The doctor said the Team from NY hospital was there and they wouldn’t take the babies if there wasn’t any hope. I would be able to see them before they left. DR. P said that 2 of the babies were in good shape but one was not. Baby A, now Erinn, was lousy. It is a medical term. We named Baby B, Sian Marie and Baby C was Cesara. They put three baby wristbands on my arm. Each one matched the ones on the babies. They were identical girls having been in one amniotic sac.

They were born at 10:04 pm, 10:05 pm and 10:06 pm. It was now 10:45 pm. Dr P came and went and then stood close to my bed to tell us little Erinn (2lbs. 7 oz.) had died.

My thoughts went immediately to Sian Marie and Cesara and I closed my eyes. I saw two tiny girls in pink bonnets walking away from me. My daughters walking in front of me? Away from me?

I couldn’t dwell on it because the next thing that happened was I met my babies as they prepared to take them away. I heard the beeping noise on monitors. First, Sian Marie, tiny girl, black hair and the softest skin I have ever felt. I put my hand into her tiny one.

Her tiny mouth was open and gasping under all the tubes and wires. She was very warm and very pink. Cesara’s hands were waving all around so I touched her little cheek which was also warm and pink. They both weighed 990 grams (2lbs. 3 oz.). Then it was good bye.

The doctors from NY hospital gave us a booklet, phone numbers, they said to call us anytime to talk to the nurses and try to come down ASAP. We lived 60 miles away.

What a night. I was still very alert and I can’t remember if I slept. I talked to my kids the next day. Gramma C had told them they had triplet sisters but they now knew it was twins. I remember thinking, “Well, we have 2. Now what do we say? Are they twins? Are they triplets? How do we explain that?”

I don’t remember how I got through the next day. My husband came to visit and then went down to NY. He came back in the evening to report the girls were in very professional hands. The nurses treated him very kindly and told him to call night or day. I was jealous.

Each day my pediatrician would come in for a report and explain to me what was happening. Cesara and Sian were born on a Sunday and in addition to visiting me and being Mr. Mom, my husband was also ringing the hospital three times each day.

I seemed to recover very quickly. This was my second c-section and I realized the pain was so much less, maybe because my heart was in so much pain. We had 2 daughters to hope for and one to mourn. My three other children were home without me and as a mom; we always come last in caring for ourselves. But I was well cared for. The staff at St Luke’s was awesome.

Tuesday afternoon the NY hospital called my husband and urged him to come down. Sian was having some major issues with breathing and bleeding. He left immediately. Then an hour later they rang me to ask if he was on his way. He arrived there just after their call. This was before cell phones so I had to wait for a call or his return. My mom and best friend came to sit with me. When he got back, he had three pictures for me.

Polaroids of Sian Marie looking very red, blurry, covered with wires and white tape. Here was my daughter. He said he held her hand and talked with her, she looked at him, and he told her we loved her. She was alive when he left her. Then the Hospital called us and told us she had died just afterward. That was my two girls walking away from me.

But as I did with loss of Erinn I transferred all my hopes to Cesara, now Sara because she was too tiny for such an imposing name. She is named after my grandmother Sarah Jane Brooks and my husband’s grandmother Cesera who was called Sara.

Sara was progressing and her father had learned that her Apgar scores when she was born were 3 and then 8. She was a fighter!

We had a funeral to plan and thank goodness our family had some strong ties to the local funeral home. They went to NY to pick up Sian and we buried them in the same vault as their grandmother Cesera. The funeral home dressed them and my pastor and my husbands’ cousin, who was a deacon in the Catholic Church, along with my husband and our fathers buried them on the morning I was released. No charge.

I was so happy to get home and see my children. They helped heal me more than they will ever know. Isn’t it always that way? I knew telling this story would bring me to tears and it has. I will pause here to think about this some more and will continue in part 2 – “Sara Smile”.

 

My four kids Thursday, April 17, 2008

Filed under: Considering Motherhood,Delivery,Twins and Multiples — Kristin @ 9:06 pm

I have four children.  They are 7, 3 and 15 months (times two).  I have three girls and one boy.  While they have many similarities, they have their unique differences too.  My son is blonde and blue eyed.  The girls are all brown eyed (cue Van Morrison) and with varying shades of brown hair.  And each of their birth stories is unique.

I went into labor with Meg on Super Bowl Sunday, 2001.  I remember running into my parents at the grocery store and telling them I was having contractions.  I was so excited.  And nervous.  We hit my brother-in-law’s Super Bowl party, but left partway through because I was feeling awful.  Lots of contractions, and a horrible backache.  So we went home, watched the rest of the Super Bowl (my husband can tell you who played and who won but I don’t remember), and went to bed.  Never slept.  Contractions were 4-5 minutes apart.  I didn’t know what to expect, so we went into the hospital.  They sent me home.  Nothing happening.  Never slept.  Contractions started up again the next day, so we went to the doctor.  She told me I was 4 cm dilated and was going to admit me to the hospital.  That was a Monday around 2pm.  I spent the next many hours trying to get things going.  I had my membranes stripped (i.e. my water broken) to which the doctor said “hmm, I expected more” but nothing was really happening.  I tried the hot tub but it completely stopped my contractions.  I wandered the halls of the hospital for hours.  But, I had tested positive for Group B Strep and had to be hooked up to an IV, so I wasn’t going anywhere.  Sometime in the night the contractions got tougher to manage, so I first had a Nubane shot.  It worked enough to allow me to wander the halls some more trying to get that baby out.  But when it wore off, I was in serious pain.  I hadn’t slept since Saturday night, it was early Tuesday morning, and I had had enough.  I requested an epidural.  It was a nightmare for me while they tried to thread the needle.  I kept having contractions, the tech trying to thread the needle was nervous that he was hurting me, and they ended up getting a supervisor or someone to get the job done.  The epidural allowed me a couple hours of sleep.  I was awakened by the nurse at 6 to hear that while I slept my contractions ceased, AGAIN, so they were going to give me some Pitocin.  Two hours later I was ready to rock and roll.  But, I asked for a bit of time to wrap my head around the fact that I was about to become a mother.  She took two solid hours of pushing before she was born, but she was well worth the wait!  And of course, she likes to be punctual, as she was born on her due date. 

Drew was a completely different story.  He started testing my patience in utero.  I had several weeks of false labor with Drew.  I would go for hours with contractions four minutes apart, then not have them for days.  It was so frustrating.  We went to the doctor on Christmas Eve Day to be checked out because of the holiday weekend, and I was only 1 cm.  Nothing doing, again.  Christmas Day 2004 I thought for sure he was ready to make his appearance.  We ran all over creation visiting family and I had contraction upon contraction.  But nothing came from it, and the day after Christmas, no contractions at all.  A day later, nothing.  Then, on the 27th of December, the contractions started up again, every 4 mintues, for several hours.  Called the hospital and they told me to come in, just to be checked.  Called my parents, had them come to the house since we had an almost 4 year old who couldn’t just stay home alone.  NOTHING.  Go home and rest they said.  My husband did some work, I watched some tv, and went to bed.  About 3 hours later I woke screaming in pain.  I had really painful, couldn’t breathe thru them, contractions.  See, having an epidurual with Meg spared me these kind of contractions, so I had no real idea what was going on.  I hung around for a little bit longer, called my parents again (luckily they lived 2 minutes away at the time) and off we went.  I was still only 1cm when we arrived at the hospital (which was exactly 2 contractions from home-8 minutes) and they wouldn’t give me anything even though I was in obvious pain.  Why don’t you try the hot tub to ease the pain, they suggested.  Yes, the SAME hot tub that stopped my labor with Meg.  I got in the hot tub at about 5:10 am.  At 5:15 am I told Doug that I was pretty sure that the baby was RIGHT THERE and to get help ASAP.  He pulled the emergency chain, and I swear to you, it was like paratroopers invaded our little hot tub room.  Nurses and doctors came from every corner of the hospital it seemed, and they dragged me out of the hot tub.  The nurses doubted my statement that the baby was RIGHT THERE, but once the doctor got in the room, he said I was 10 cm plus 2 and to push on the next contraction.  Drew was born at 5:23 with 3 pushes.  It was the wildest ride!

Until the twins were born, that is.  At our hospital, twins are delivered in an operating room, just in case there are complications, but you labor in a birthing room.  I had a scheduled induction at 38 1/2 weeks, and again had my water broken at noon (I can tell you that having that done twice, either I had no amniotic fluid with Meg, or they did a bad job with her, because my water BROKE with the girls).  Then we waited.  I tried walking around a bit, but I was already 4 cm and huge, and uncomfortable, so I spent most of my time in the birthing room.  We had two nurses all to ourselves; they had no other patients that day.  We even had a male nurse, and I must say, I loved him.  He was truly wonderful to us that day.  I digress.  We didn’t wait long though.  Wait, let me go back and explain something funny.  We told our nurses about our two previous deliveries while we were waiting for them to break my water.  The resident who was going to be helping the doctor from our practice overheard us talking, and REMEMBERED US from 2004.  She was there when Drew was almost born in the hot tub.  The doctors and nurses had a pow wow, and decided to hold off inducing me until a scheduled c-section was complete in the operating room, in case things got out of hand again.  Glad they opted for that plan.  The broke my water at noon, and by 2 I was have some major contractions.  I was hooked up to every machine known to man~fetal monitor, IV, you name it.  I tried the Nubane again, but this time it didn’t help.  So, again, I asked for an epidural.  This time while they were threading it, I kept getting stabbing pains in my hip, along with horribly painful contractions.  I politely (nah, I yelled) told the doctor that he was KILLING MY HIP, and then something strange happened.  Annie decided that it was time.  I went thru two contractions feeling like she was coming right then and there and then again politely (nope, nope, nope, lots of yelling in pain) told them I had to push and NOW.  Upon examination they agreed that she was coming right then and I had to get thee to the operating room post haste.  My poor husband was hanking cords out of monitors, grabbing the IV and down the hall we raced.  I barely made it in the room and they got the bed pulled apart before Annie was born.  They whisked her to the table to examine her and she wasn’t crying, or doing anything.  I was freaking out because I couldn’t see her, the room was swarming with people (there had to have been at least 10 people there; so much for any vanity) and she was quiet.  I finally politely (you see the pattern now, right?) asked ordered my husband to let me see the baby.  She was fine, just surprised by her quick entrance into the world.  The portable ultrasound machine was brought back in to see if Izzie stayed head down, which of course she didn’t.  The doctors spent 11 long minutes trying to manipulate her from all kinds of angles and positions (internal and external) before she was head down and I could push her out.  I never did get my epidural, but I got two beautiful babies.

So my point is that if you’re thinking of having a child, you never know what’s going to happen.  I was terrified of laboring with Meg, and with Drew and the twins, I barely had time to think about it, and those final two births were without any epidurals.  You can’t have any preconceived notions about how it’s all going to work, because basically the babies are in charge and you’ll need to do what works best for them.  Be prepared, but don’t be disappointed if things don’t go the way you planned.  I know that I am grateful for healthy children, and that is the best I could hope for.

 

What to Expect When Expecting #2 Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Filed under: Delivery,Postpartum,Pregnancy — Dana @ 10:12 pm

It didn’t take as long to get pregnant with number two… Made me wonder if perhaps we weren’t a little overzealous to conceive number one. 😉

As men and women attempting conception over long periods will testify, sex can become utilitarian. (Again, I recommend the movie Maybe, Baby with Hugh Laurie.) It’s pretty inevitable that mechanics will win out over passion. But I deviate.

This story will be different coming from someone else. There’s a big difference between someone having a second child when their first is five years old and someone having a second child when their first is 2 years old. My scenario is the latter.

My second pregnancy was similar to the first except that I was much more exhausted during my first trimester. Perhaps it was because my first still woke me during the night or perhaps it was totally unrelated. Regardless, I had to take naps at work to survive. Colleagues started guessing the cause of my fatigue before I was ready to announce the news but that didn’t matter.

I didn’t gain as much weight this time even though baby was 2 oz heavier than #1. I was relieved because after you’ve had one kid, you realize the impact of getting it all off afterwards. On this note, recognize that it takes most women 6 months to a year to get rid of their “baby weight.” I carried 3 pounds over to my next pregnancy. Fortunately, this time, I’ve already attained my pre-2nd-pregnancy weight at 7-8 months postpartum. I’m hoping to get rid of those pesky 3 pounds leftover even though it won’t get rid of the stretch marks and droopy belly and breasts.

Don’t let anyone tell you that having children doesn’t change your body in one way or another. I have a friend who’s genetically-predisposed not to get stretch marks but she’s paid the price in smaller breasts. My mother gained weight during the breast-feeding period because she was always so ravenous. Breast-feeding is supposed to help you lose weight because you’re using calories to produce milk. Not everyone can afford private trainers to help get rid of pregnancy weight gain like Hollywood.

I was constantly asked what child #1 thought about having a baby around; a sibling. We didn’t bother going into great detail with our son because of his age; he had no clue what was coming. He would be turning 2 years old a couple of weeks after the baby was born. The situation may have been different had our first child been a girl. Girls love babies. 😉

The prenatal courses I took during pregnancy #1 informed you that when you start having contractions, it will probably still be quite some time before you deliver. Take your time, don’t rush to the hospital until your water has broken or you can’t handle the contractions. What they don’t really specify is that this advice doesn’t necessarily carry over to delivery #2.

I knew delivery #2 was likely to go faster. I guess once the birth canal has been breached (going outwards 😉 ), the way is paved for the rest of your deliveries. I had been having weak, random contractions for about 2 weeks. When they finally started coming more regularly, I waited for my water to break as it had with the first. The amniotic sac ruptured in a giant explosion of fluid with #1 so I was uncertain if it had really happened when the slight trickle came. When I got up and it was coming pretty steadily, I knew. My husband and I calmly prepared to go to the hospital, making necessary phone calls for care of #1, etc.

When women had told me that you forget the pain of delivery after each child, I didn’t believe them. But it’s absolutely true. It comes rushing back when you experience it again though! Every bump in the road, every turn that’s taken and every delay is agony.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have taken our sweet time getting to the hospital. I delivered within 45 minutes of arriving. Baby #1 had taken 7 hours. I had enjoyed the benefits of an epidural with number one and had planned to do the same with number two. Alas, there was no time! I felt every bit of birth #2.

Epidurals

I’m devoting a portion of this post to discuss the pros and cons of epidurals. For those unfamiliar with it, an epidural is when an anesthetist sticks a needle in between the vertebrae of your lower back for the purpose of administering blessedly numbing drugs. Depending on how good the anesthetist is, you shouldn’t feel anything from the waist down. A “patchy” epidural means you can feel a spot here or there.

During pregnancy #1, I had left the epidural option open. I was not automatically going to get one but I wasn’t adamantly opposed to it. When my first major contraction hit (right after my water broke), the first thing I said was “I’m getting an epidural!” It took awhile to get one due to no rooms being available (one of the cons of busy Canadian hospitals), but once received, I was sold. I was going to have an epidural for every subsequent delivery.

This experience in tow, I had not prepared myself for the pain of natural childbirth. In my (retrospective) opinion, this was pretty stupid. I’m not sure how one would prepare for it but because I had assumed I’d be pushing the baby into the world under the dredges of an epidural, I panicked when I could feel everything. My recommendation is to prepare!

My main memory is the impression that there was no way I was going to be able to push the baby out even though it wasn’t overly-large and I have ample birthing hips. 😉 The best advice the health providers around me gave was to divert my energy from screaming (just a little 😉 ) to pushing. It totally worked. It was, thank goodness, over quickly. I don’t even recall the famed “ring of fire,” which refers to the feeling accompanying a crowning baby.

My recovery after delivery #2 was incredible. I didn’t tear at all, though #1 had resulted in a second-degree tear. My mood was euphoric, I wanted to be discharged the same morning. After #1, recovery was slower and my mood nowhere near euphoria.

The ease of delivery #2 may have been only the result of experience but my conclusion was that epidurals aren’t necessarily the best way to go. My mom points out that she had all five of her children without. 😉 I can’t say that, given the opportunity, I wouldn’t get another epidural. Just a few things to think about, is all.

One of the pros to bringing a newborn home to a barely-two-year-old is there’s very little reaction. My son was quite indifferent to his new sister. We’ve been very lucky because he still rarely shows jealousy or malice. I’m not sure this is typical. Probably more of a personality thing.

Another pro is that child #1 entertains child #2! I recall how boring it was with one child at home. When it came to his entertainment, I was it. I’ve been lucky. My kids are usually content entertaining themselves. Still, when #2 is restless, nothing captures her attention like her big brother tearing around the house. She thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. 🙂

The unfortunate thing about having two children is that they don’t sleep at the same times! When #1 goes down for a nap (once a day), #2 is either awake or has a short or interrupted nap. All you want is for them both to sleep so you can too! Eventually, this evens out a bit.

The Gender Difference

So what’s harder? Boys or girls? Since I was blessed with one of each, I will share the differences that I’ve noticed.

When it comes to diapers, I think boys are easier. Sure, poop gets into the little wrinkles of the scrotum, but the delicate tissue that makes up girly privates can tear if one isn’t gentle enough and cleaning around in there is more effort.

Girls tend to be needier than boys. Translation: They require more attention. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of needy boys out there too. This is a general tendency that I’ve noticed talking to other mothers.

Bonding: It took me several weeks or months to bond to my son. It took days to bond to my little girl. I told my mother about this and she told me it was the same for her. She had had a girl first and so didn’t notice the difference until after she’d had a boy and then another girl.

 I’ve written this post over the course of several days so, unfortunately, I can’t remember everything that I was planning to share. If I recall anything later, I will add it on. If you have any specific questions, feel free to comment!

 

PPROM Friday, April 4, 2008

Many pregnant women have a fear of their water breaking in a public place. That’s what always happens to the pregnant women on TV and in the movies, right? I didn’t know that only about 10-15% of labors start before the onset of contractions. I was mildly nervous about my water breaking at work. All my coworkers are men, and I could see them being freaked out instead of helpful. If I’d only known that instead of being worried about where my water broke, I should have been more concerned about when. My water broke at 19 weeks gestation.

Nothing about my pregnancy had been easy or routine. I’d always had difficult periods, so I’d long had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. When I got pregnant after five months of trying, my husband and I were very excited. I still felt a bit uneasy, though, and wanted confirmation from my OB that everything was okay.

At nine weeks I went in for my first meeting with my obstetrician. I had the regular work ups and all of that, but my ultrasound is where things got interesting. While we could see a little blob (the baby) with a flickering heartbeat, we also discovered a bigger blob that was somewhat ominous looking. My OB wasn’t sure what it was, but suspected it was a twin that “didn’t take.” She took lots of pictures of the image, and said she’d send copies to a specialist she knew. We set an appointment for me to return two weeks later.

A few days later, my OB called me back. The specialist that she had consulted wanted more images. My OB asked me to come in sooner than scheduled, only two days later. I started to get nervous, because when does a doctor ever want you to come in sooner?

When my husband and I went in, the news wasn’t good. The bigger blob was still there. That meant it wasn’t a twin, as it would have started reabsorbing at that point. My OB ran a bunch of different scans on the mass that the specialist requested, and then tried to look at the baby. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get a good look at the baby because the mass was in the way. We could still see the little flickering heartbeat, but that was it. My OB feared that the baby wasn’t developing the way it should. She told hubby and me that she would send the images on to the specialist but that this was an abnormal pregnancy and that things didn’t look good. She told us not to get attached to the pregnancy because the odds were that I would miscarry. Obviously, we were devastated.

Two days after THAT appointment, my OB called. She said that the specialist she’d been consulting with wanted to see me in person. We were very happy about this since she is a Perinatologist, which is a OB that specializes in high-risk pregnancies. My regular OB didn’t deal with complications like mine, so we felt encouraged that we were going to get some answers about what went wrong with this pregnancy. I set my appointment with the Perinatologist for the following week.

We went in with pretty low expectations. The Perinatologist was very guarded when she started her exam but was quickly surprised when she discovered a perfectly-developed baby. We saw and heard the little heart beating, the little arms and legs, and we could also see the brain and the two tiny hemispheres that comprise it. She spent a few minutes making sure the baby looked good, and then she started looking around at the other things. She discovered that there wasn’t one mass in there, but two. One mass was inside the sac with the baby, the other was outside of the sac. After doing a bunch of different scans, she determined that the masses weren’t getting any blood flow, and that they weren’t connected to the baby or to each other. The doctor was fairly confident in her assessment that the masses were actually giant blood clots (they were about three times the size of the baby). The worry then was that the clots could attach themselves to the baby, the umbilical cord, or the placenta. If this happened, the clots could steal nutrients from the baby, and then there would be a whole new mess of problems. However, at that time, the doctor seemed encouraged by the fact that the baby was developing normally, and the clots weren’t attached to anything. She was cautious because in all the cases where she’d seen masses like this, there had only been one mass and I had two.

When we went back three weeks later, everything still looked good. The masses were definitely two large organized blood clots but they weren’t impacting the baby’s growth at all. We were so relieved that our ordeal was over. IF WE ONLY KNEW.

At 20 weeks I was scheduled to go in to find out the sex of the baby. However, I woke up in the middle of the night when I was 19 weeks to go to the bathroom. When I sat down, I realized my shorts were soaked with what I’d originally thought was sweat caused by a hot summer night, but was actually red colored. I looked in the toilet and dark reddish-brown liquid was EVERYWHERE. I called for my husband in a panic and we then called my OB. She said that since I was only 19 weeks, I should just come in in the morning. I wish we’d followed our instincts and gone into the emergency room. Instead, it was a long six hours until her practice opened. I got no sleep, and when I’d get up to go to the bathroom, reddish-brown liquid would gush out. I was so terrified I’d miscarried.

When we arrived at my OB’s office, my leaking had stopped. She couldn’t even tell there had been bleeding until she did a vaginal exam and there were small traces of blood. She said it looked like one of the blood clots had burst, but the baby and my amniotic fluid levels were fine, although she couldn’t rule out that my water had broken. She didn’t do a nitrazine test. I wish I’d known about them then. I was put on bed rest until the end of the week and sent back to the Perinatologist I’d seen at the beginning of my pregnancy. After a thorough exam, the Perinatologist was still not able to rule out amniotic leakage. She determined the fluid around the baby was slightly lower than what it should have been, and there was some blood in the fluid. The placenta was also not functioning as well as it should, so as a result, the baby’s heart was slightly enlarged from working much harder than it ought to be. I was then placed on bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy.

After that, I was seen by my OB and three other Perinatologists, including an extremely well-known Perinatologist in Los Angeles. The doctors all told us that terminating the pregnancy was something we should consider as they didn’t expect the baby to make it and if s/he did, there was a strong likelihood that he or she would have health problems.  My OB said to me, “I would be medically irresposible  not to to tell you about the option of terminating. You would be induced and deliver vaginally.” That idea horrified me. I couldn’t imagine going through that. I know some women make this choice, and I respect that. I just couldn’t do it. I’d been feeling my baby move at that point and that just wasn’t going to be an option for us. I said as much to my OB and she said back to us, “I understand. I just wanted you to know that you might not like what comes out.” I was stunned by her gall. It wasn’t like I was going to give birth to a murderous alien; I was pretty certain that a babywas going to come out. MY baby. We didnt care if she had health problems, we would love her how she came.

Her thoughtless words motivated me more than anything. I was so determined to prove her wrong, that at the end of this I would have my baby and he or she would be perfect.

We kept going with the first goal being 24 weeks. I was on extremely strict bed rest. I was only allowed to get up to use the bathroom. I could take a 5-minute shower if I sat on a stool. I had to eat 2500 calories a day to help my insufficient placenta. I drank GALLONS of water. I could feel my muscles tingle as they atrophied. My mind easily wandered.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything except my baby. I did tons of internet research, typing my symptoms into Google, and I diagnosed my condition myself – Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM). I had every symptom except I hadn’t gone into labor. Most women with PPROM go into labor within a week of their water breaking. I was more depressed than I’d ever been in my whole life. My wonderful family and friends did all they could to cheer me up. My husband took amazing care of me…I never would have made it without him.

I often worried that I was being selfish, that I was potentially allowing a baby to be born that would have painful diabilities, simply because I didn’t want to go through the pain of termination. I knew that the odds were against my daughter, and she would likely not survive the whole ordeal. But my husband and I decided that we were going to give her every chance possible. I just knew that I would spend my whole life wondering “what if” had we chosen termination. As strange as it sounds, we decided we’d rather have her die after birth than make that decision for her.

When we got to 24 weeks, I had a bag packed for the hospital but my OB decided not to admit me since I was doing well at home. It was nice to be at home, but I was devastated – I really wanted to be admitted so I could be monitored. I should have insisted on it, but instead I went back to bed. I was told to limit visitors to help prevent sickness. None of the doctors could believe I hadn’t gone into labor or developed an infection. At every visit, I had the nitrazine test and it always came back negative, which was SO FRUSTRATING because I KNEW my water had broken. It came out in small bursts, smelled sweet, and had an amber tint to it. I never leaked when I was at the doctor’s.

At 26 weeks, I had another appointment with the well-known Perinatologist. He did a sonogram, and managed to get the shot that had eluded us for weeks – there was a little girl in there. We were so excited – we knew who we were fighting for.

At 26 3/7 weeks, I got the flu and my temperature started to rise. I called my OB and she said to go by the hospital to be monitored. I was attached to monitors that watched the baby’s heart rate and checked me for contractions. A nurse took an initial amount of blood to check for an elevated white blood cell count (an indicator of infection), and then they started giving me cool fluids to help hydrate me and lower my blood pressure. After what felt like a million years, the hubby and I were finally left alone to sleep at about 12:45 am.

At 3:45, I went to the bathroom and started to feel a little stomach tightness. Worried I might be having contractions, I called my nurse, who came back in and hooked me back up to the monitors. While she was there, it was FINALLY positively determined that my membranes had prematurely ruptured. Despite the 10 previous appointments I’d had since I’d woken up bloody, I hadn’t had an episode when a doctor was present – until I was in the hospital.

Once the PPROM was officially diagnosed all hell broke loose!! I was admitted for the duration of my pregnancy. My doctor was called at home, and I was suddenly getting IV antibiotics and a HUGE shot of a steroid called betamethasone. I had another shot 24 hours later.(Steroids help fetal lungs develop more quickly before being delivered preterm.) I settled in with the goal of making it to 28 weeks. My hubby stayed with me as much as possible. We were so relieved that I would now be monitored. I had a private room and I got in touch with some of the other antepartum moms, some of whom also had PPROM. We took a tour of the NICU, which I HIGHLY recommend if it can be arranged. It definitely made the place less scary.

During the time I was in the hospital, I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I started to show the signs of pre-eclampsia (extreme headache, rising blood pressure), but never got far enough in the pregnancy for anything to be officially diagnosed.

After 28 weeks, my fluid started to take on a pink tint. The nurses and my OB were aware of the change but not overly concerned. I started to feel really uncomfortable. I’d have an occasional contraction but nothing regular. I was just miserable. Then, at 28 6/7 weeks, I leaked and when I wiped, the washcloth came back RED. I called the nurse, who took one look at it and paged my doctor. When she arrived I had a sterile speculum exam. It was the MOST PAINFUL exam I have had IN MY LIFE. It was determined that I was starting to transition towards labor, but I wasn’t dilated or effaced, so we decided to stay the course. A few hours later, I leaked and wiped away a huge bright red blood clot. I called the nurse, who paged my doctor again. For some reason, I wasn’t concerned. The exam had given me some security. I went to the bathroom while the nurse was out of the room and wiped away more clots. I flushed them, like an idiot. My husband wasn’t there but I didn’t call him. I really thought everything was fine.

While I was on the phone chatting with a friend, the nurse came back in and briskly announced I was going to have a C-Section RIGHT THEN. I went into shock! I called my husband, parents, and brother, and then I was immediately prepped for surgery. My husband got there as my epidural was being placed. I was shaking I was so scared. Since it was an emergency C-Section, I’d had lunch only a few hours before, which is normally a no-no. I was given a cup of  the nastiest antacid to help neutralize my stomach acids. The nurse told me I’d want to sip it because it was so gross, but I just tossed it back like it was a shot of fine tequila. I learned something in college.

 The C-Section didn’t take long and before I knew it, my husband and I were parents. I heard the doctors say, “she’s out,” and then I heard tiny, weak crying. Crying! It was the best thing I’d ever heard. They washed her and wrapped her up, and I was allowed a quick kiss before she was whisked to the NICU with my husband close behind. In recovery, we were euphoric. She’d cried! That meant she could breathe. Our happiness was short-lived, however, when a Neonatologist came in to see us. Our daughter was very sick, sicker than the hospital could treat, and she needed to be transferred to a teaching hospital a few miles away. We were so crushed. We knew she’d be in the NICU for a while but never anticipated she’d have to be at a different hospital than me.

I was wheeled into the hallway so I could see her little isolette roll by with the transport team. I waited in the hallway for more than an hour because the transport ventilator wasn’t providing enough air. I found out later that no one expected her to even survive the transport. She had to be hand-bagged the entire way. My husband left me to be with her. It killed me that I couldn’t go, too.  I had a lot of drugs, though, and I eventually fell asleep.

The next day, things got very bad for my daughter. My husband called and told me she wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t stand the idea of my daughter dying without me by her side, so I checked myself out of the hospital against medical advice. The nurses were so great, they did everything they could to help get me out of the hospital as quickly as possible. I was rushed the few miles to the hospital where my daughter was, and when I arrived, she stabilized. I went back to my hospital and checked back in so I could get pain medication and a bit of sleep. The next morning, things were worse for my daughter. I checked back out of my hospital, this time for good. My OB signed my discharge form, and then, knowing that things were not looking well for my baby, said, “If you don’t nurse, bind your breasts tightly and use ice packs.” I was so pleased that her tact was the same as always.

My biggest advice to anyone going through this is to follow your instincts. Get as educated as you can so you can make informed decisions. If a doctor is advising you to do something and it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Be your own biggest advocate, and most importantly, be your baby’s advocate.  Parenthood starts with pregnancy – you would give your baby every chance if she was born, so why not do all you can before she’s born, too?

It was a long road for my daughter (which I will write about in another post) but she made it. The best day of our lives was when we took her home from the hospital after 68 long days. The second best day of my life was when I took my perfect baby to see my OB so she could see exactly what “came out.”

 

In the beginning…

Filed under: Cesarean Section (C-section),Twins and Multiples — our bit of heaven @ 11:02 am

Welcome to the world of multiples!  If you have or are expecting multiples you belong to a great “club”.  This is about my journey, I will start at the beginning.

Two and half years into our marriage we found out we were expecting our first baby.  We were so excited and had big plans for our little one.  In Canada, it is routine for your first ultrasound at 18 weeks.  We were no different; my pregnancy had been running smoothly except for extreme nausea and vomiting.  I was told at the ultrasound clinic that I would go in and the tech would do all the fetal measurements first then ask my husband to join us.  I was so excited to see this little monkey because I had been feeling movements for about two weeks.  The probe was placed on my belly and the tech asked if I was sure of my dates.  I was, he then put the probe down and handed me a towel.  He said I’ll be right back and left the room.  I began to get real scared.  He returned in about two long agonizing minutes and asked for my husband’s name, I told him.  He left the room and I was left sobbing as I was sure I had lost my baby, my precious baby that took so long to conceive.  My husband joined my side and asked if everything was alright, I couldn’t answer.  The tech came back in and apologized for disappearing, that he needed to tell the front desk he would be awhile.  Why, what was so wrong that we needed extra time?  He turned the monitor and said, “You are having twins.”  Our tears flowed down our faces as we spent the next hour watching and learning all we could about our Baby A and Baby B.   

At my next appointment, my doctor told me that things were going to be different.  I was to have more appointments, ultrasounds, fetal stress tests, and a c-section.  Whoa, wait. A c-section? I don’t want one!  He put his hand on mine and said, “These babies will determine how they will come out.  Right now Baby A (the bottom baby) is breech and Baby B is transverse (on top laying side ways.)  They could reposition themselves, but it is up to them.”  

I carried the twins to 39 weeks and 6 days.  One day shy of the 40 week mark.  The twins didn’t ever change positions; they stayed breech and transverse the whole time.  They were born on a Friday morning at 10:58am and 11:00am healthy and screaming.  (My delivery was a little difficult and I will share that in another post.) 

About two hours after the delivery room was when I met my babies for the first time. I sat up on the bed and placed the babies between my legs.  I said to myself, “This is it.”  It was survival mode from that point on. 

Future posts will follow on c-sections, breastfeeding twins, and life at home with two babies.