On Wednesday, April 30th, my coworkers threw a baby shower for me. Since it had been eight years since I last had a baby, a shower was needed. The only thing I had was a crib. I was woefully unprepared for another child. The shower was a good thing. It was needed. It was what we did for anyone having a baby, but little did they know how much I needed it.
When I came home from work on Thursday I was exhausted and not really feeling well. I was having sporadic contractions but I really wanted to sleep. We decided I would go to the hospital the first thing in the morning so my husband took the kids to his mom's house for the night. I figured they would pump me with drugs to stop the contractions like we'd done in the past. After all, my due date was another three weeks away.
Very early on Friday morning we went to the hospital and I was immediately taken to a room to get hooked up to monitors and sit around while they observed me.
My doctor was called in.
The baby was exhibiting signs of distress.
My doctor didn't mince words. She said she wasn't going to mess around with a baby in distress combined with my cardiac history. I needed a cesarean and I needed it immediately.
I didn't argue with her. She was right. I felt it in my bones. But I was terrified. I was literally shaking like I have never shook before. My whole body was trembling. How I managed to sign the papers is an absolute miracle.
Phone calls started flying out informing family and work of the impending birth. When I called the school, I said that Mary won the office pool, that stinker for her smartass bid coming so early.
Suddenly I was prepped for surgery and people were flying all over. I was rushed to the delivery room and had my arms and legs strapped down. Of course I complied, but I REALLY did not like that. The sheet went up to block my view.
My husband stayed there for the whole thing. He had studied to be an EMT and really liked the blood and guts part of his training. This was clinical curiosity on his part, getting to witness a real live surgery. Oh and being a supportive spouse and all that. Sure. I had to ask him to remove his glasses - I could see activity in the reflection. I'm not as curious.
My doctor talked about what she was doing as she proceeded, but I really didn't need to know. Just get it over with and fortunately she was quick and efficient. Evidently I have a lot of blood vessels requiring quite a bit of sautering. Again, information I didn't care to hear.
I felt pressure on my rib cage, like the doctor was resting her arm there. I found out afterwards that actually was my bladder or something vital that didn't belong there. I never really thought about the need to move parts, like your organs, out of the way, like literally outside of the body cavity.
And there was the baby, completely entwined in the umbilical cord. She carefully extracted him, continually commenting on the length of the cord - she had never seen anything like that before. It was sent to the lab to be measured, however, I always forget to ask exactly how long it was.
Let's stop for a moment here - the baby had been completely wrapped by the cord. There is absolutely NO WAY he could have been born vaginally. ZERO. We would have lost Ian and it was likely I wouldn't have survived either. My doctor saved both of our lives. I am eternally indebted to her.
As she started to pull him out I heard, "oooh your baby is so bad! He just BIT ME! I'm going to flip him over and spank him if he keeps that up!" I had to laugh.
He was officially born at 10:44 am.
Ian was rushed over to the baby table and they proceeded to do take apgars and clean him up. My husband left my side to monitor Ian's progress. He was three weeks premature and they were going to get him into the NICU ("nick U" or neonatal intensive care unit) immediately. Ian was transferred to an incubator and I remember catching only a glimpse of him as they took him out of the room.
I was cleaned up with all of my vital parts put back in place and my incision neatly stapled. ICK! I was taken to a private room, put on a morphine drip and slept for the rest of the day. Everyone got to see my baby before me so as soon as I was able to get out of bed and into a wheelchair, I was taken down to the NICU to finally meet Ian.
It's more than a little disturbing to see such a tiny baby hooked up to all of those wires, but somehow it didn't freak me out. I had already seen one of my newborns hooked up, not quite so much, but this wasn't foreign territory. He was in good hands. They were taking precautions.
Ian was diagnosed as Failure To Thrive, meaning he wasn't gaining weight properly. He was put on a feeding tube and still wasn't improving. By Sunday it was determined that he needed to see the big guns down at Children's Hospital. My gut said he just needed to be held and nursed, but they were the experts and he needs tests to make sure nothing is wrong. My OB had to give me a pep talk to get me on board with this plan.
Since this wasn't an emergency, the transport was arranged for midnight when there is less traffic. They brought his incubator into my room so I could see him off, all packed with monitors and blankets and whatever else was necessary for the twenty minute ride. I was very emotional and very alone. When they took him out I immediately called the one person I knew had experienced this pain, my mother. (and I'm tearing up as I type now) I was able to explain what was going on and then just bawled my eyes out. I can't imagine what I put my mother through, me crying and her unable to hold me on top of making her relive her own hellish memory of having a premature baby whisked out of her arms for an emergency. I had three weeks of this crap. She endured it for three years. My mother knew my pain very well.
I was released from the hospital on Tuesday and I was driven straight to Children's Hospital with a blanket bundled up and held close to my abdomen to keep my guts from falling out - seriously, post cesarean feels EXACTLY like your intestines are going to spill out on the floor at any second. I held them in place for nearly two weeks with that damn blanket. Anyways, me and my blankie hobbled out of the car and into another wheelchair so I could visit my newborn.
The staff at Children's is AWESOME. Clearly I wasn't the first mom to hobble into their institution. They were frank about Ian's progress or lack thereof. I looked around the NICU and saw all of the other babies, ones who had clearly been there for quite some time. Many were VERY sick and some were actively dying. It was a scary place to leave my baby. He was in good hands, but it was scary. And then I had to leave and go home to my other children. Every day I came back to the hospital to hold and feed my baby. At least I got to hold him. It was difficult with all of his wires and tubes, but they got him into my arms. Some moms in that room didn't get to hold their babies. I got to hold mine. He wasn't progressing like they wanted, but he was fine. I knew it.
They ran an upper GI on him. A month later I saw the bill for that little procedure, THANK GOD FOR INSURANCE because we didn't owe shit, but just for the consulting fees, not even the procedure, it was twenty THOUSAND dollars. TWO HOURS of consulting fees was TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Are they HIGH?
Finally it was determined that Ian was starting to thrive, just slowly and needed to be kept in the hospital for observation. They wanted him at five pounds before they would discharge him. Okay, does that have to happen at Childrens or can we move him back to his original hospital, just a couple of minutes away from my house?
Yeah, why does he have to stay here? Can't he be observed at the other NICU? Doctors looked at each other, they scratched their heads and then they shrugged their shoulders - why not? So after ten days at Children's my baby was bundled back up, loaded onto the ambulance and taken for another ride. I spent all day, every day at the hospital until Amanda and Keith got home from school. I held Ian and rocked him. I knew from college psych the curative powers of direct human contact. My mother had been a "cuddler" in that very hospital for just that reason. Human contact.
I wished I had insisted on this earlier. It was the right move and I felt it down to my very core. I believe we call this "mother's intuition." And I've got it. Don't question it!
In a matter of days, Ian was up to his necessary five pounds and was discharged. Just days before his due date, Ian was at home.
23 hours ago