Monday, March 1, 2010

...and Birth Story

Today is Nov 13, and my little girl is 10 months old.  If you check out the date stamp above, you'll notice that I meant to write this post quite some time ago.  I figure I've procrastinated long enough.  I didn't put it off because I didn't want to write it, but more because I knew it was going to take a while...

On January 12, I worked in the morning and then left to pick up Darren.  We headed to the doctor for our last growth scan before meeting our little one.  The doctor wanted to have one final appointment to check her out, and then we would schedule our induction date.  Our two and a half hour drive to the doctor was uneventful, and when we got there it was just a short wait until we were brought to the u/s room.  We'd had this tech before (she was the one who first noticed that something didn't look right with Claire's heart), and we chatted with her as she got started. 

I was watching the measurements, but my head must have been a little foggy that day.  The tech said that she was measuring behind, and I kind of brushed her off saying that her arm and leg measurements were always 1-2 weeks behind.  She said she knew that, but that today ALL of her measurements were coming up between 33-34 weeks, and that I was 37 weeks along.  And all I could think to say was, oh that's not good!  The doctors knew that the blood flow through her cord was restricted, but since we'd made it this far in the pregnancy with no growth restriction, I thought we were home free.  Darren and I exchanged an uneasy look once the tech left the room.

We were joined by the doctor.  We'd seen her quite a few times by now, and she was one of our favorites in the practice.  She did a quick u/s, checked the measurements and said 'lets go have a baby'.  Even though I knew she was going to say that, there was a moment of stunned silence.  I asked her if it was possible for us to go home and come back in the morning.  I wasn't prepared to have a baby that day.  Things weren't cleaned up at work, we had no clothes, no diaper bag, no car seat.  We were not prepared at all.  She said, no, that with the baby's measurements she was telling us she needed to be born, and that she wouldn't forgive herself if anything happened to her if we went home.

We had a general idea of where the hospital was, but the u/s tech got us directions as the doctor called the hospital to let them know we were on our way.  Once we got in the car we started making all of our phone calls.  We called our parents and friends, who were waiting to hear when our induction date would be.  Instead, we got to tell them all we were heading to the hospital to have a baby.  My heart was racing, my palms were sweating and I'm pretty sure my voice was shaky.  I was both excited and very nervous.  Nervous to be induced, nervous for labor and nervous to meet our baby. 

Google's directions failed us, and it took us almost two hours to get to the hospital.  As we drove in circles, we joked that it was a good thing I wasn't in labor or I would be having a panic attack by this point.  We made it to the hospital, went upstairs and the nurses got us settled into a room.  A doctor, one I hadn't met before, stopped by briefly to confirm that I did want to be induced, instead of heading right for a c section.  I told her that was correct, no c section unless I had to.

As the nurses were getting everything ready for the induction, we told them that we were pretty sure that our baby had Ds.  We told them that she was loved and wanted, and we wanted our delivery to be a happy event.  The nurse didn't really say much, just a quick acknowledgement as she did her job.  I was a little put out that she didn't seem to be on the same page as us, but the nerves for what was coming outweighed my irritation.

The nurses got an IV in and started me on Pitocin.  The baby was still high and I wasn't dilated at all.  They wanted to make sure she could tolerate contractions before they gave me anything to help me dilate.  By this time my mom and dad had arrived.  The Pit dose was increased every 15 minutes, and even though I had no pain at all with the contractions, the nurse was calling them moderate.  At about 10pm the doctor said we'd given the baby enough time to show distress,and since she didn't, she could tolerate labor.  By now I was starving as I hadn't eaten since breakfast.  They wouldn't give me anything to eat earlier in case I'd needed a c section right away.   The basic sandwich I got for dinner had never tasted so good!

My parents left and we waited for the nurses to come back with the stuff for my cervix.  They finally got back with it a little before midnight, and we settled in for some sleep.  A half an hour later the room filled with people.  I hadn't been asleep for too long and was very out of it at first.  Two nurses were helping me sit up and roll over, a third was giving me meds in the IV and the fourth was calling the doctor.  Claire's heart rate had dropped into the 50s and they were trying to reposition me and get it back up.  The med they gave me made me shiver uncontrollably, and between that and the nerves, I was a trembling, crying mess.  I was terrified that we were going to lose her, but they were able to get her heart rate back up and stabilized.  Since she was stable the dr decided to wait until morning to try anything new.

Needless to say, we didn't sleep much after that.  I stayed on my side, watching the monitor, and barely moved all night.  I don't think I slept more than about ten minutes.  I just couldn't take my eyes off her heart rate monitor.  In the morning, she wasn't any lower and I still wasn't dilated.  They gave me a small dose of Pit, much less than I'd had the night before, but her heart rate dropped again.  It was obvious by then that the induction wasn't going to work, so they put us in line for a c section.  At this point her heart rate was stable, but I really just wanted to get her out, where I could actually see what was happening with her. 

It was finally our turn for surgery.  We had a plan worked out that Darren would be in the OR with me for the surgery. Once she was born, he would stay with her, and my mom would join me in the OR and in recovery.  We reminded the drs that even with all of our ultrasounds, we STILL didn't know our baby's gender, and I wanted Darren to be the one to tell me. 

We got to the OR, and between the cold room and my nerves I was shaking.  The NICU team was there waiting.  The dr got the epidural in, they got my nausea under control and then we were ready for surgery.  I don't have any idea how long the surgery actually took, but I don't think it was too long.

And then, the baby was out.  Darren, through his tears, said it was a girl, it was our little Claire.  She was crying, Darren was crying, and so was I.  They held her up so that I could see her, and then took her to the NICU team so she could be checked out.  And all I could think about  was the fact that I was sure she was going to be a boy.  I didn't know what I was going to do with a girl!

Darren was with the NICU team as the were looking Claire over, and I heard "babies with Down syndrome...".  And even though we pretty much already knew, I hated that the confirmation came while I was still on the operating table, without any anybody by my side, and before I'd even held her.  When they brought her to me, I looked at her sweet face and loved her, but I was also looking for Ds.  And I just couldn't really tell one way or the other.  She didn't look any different to me than any other new baby.  I do remember thinking her thumb looked a little funny, but I couldn't pin down what was different about it.  Since it looks totally fine today, I think it was just stress.

Claire and Darren went to the NICU, and my mom came into the OR while they finished the surgery and took me to recovery.  The worst part of the c section was that my baby was finally here, and I couldn't be with her.  I got the shakes in recovery, and even though I was exhausted from no sleep the night before, I just couldn't doze off. We finally made it to our room upstairs, and started getting visitors.  Darren's parents, my parents, my sister and our pastor all filled the small room.

Finally, around 6 pm (Claire was born at 10:24 am) I was able to go down to the NICU and spend some time with my girl.  My best friend and her husband had just arrived with our clothes and car seat, so Darren took me to the NICU, and then went back to our room to visit with them.  I was able to spend an hour with my girl, just drinking her in.  Talking to her, loving her.  And that alone time was the perfect ending to a hectic, nerve-wracking, but also a most amazing, wonderful day.

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