So on the 17th, I go in for a scheduled checkup of bub’s heart rate / movements etc, and for my blood pressure to be monitored. I thought hey, I’ll be in for a couple of hours, and then Rhys and I could go run errands to make things easier for me while the bun in my proverbial oven bakes a bit more.
I end up not going home at all, and am instead admitted to the hospital, because, long story short, I’m having a c-section the next day; because Brandon’s lack of heart rate variance plus my blood pressure deciding to shoot up to something insane (I think it was 160 or so over 110) that had them decide “OK, it’ safer for you and baby if baby were born.” I was also starting to show signs of pre-eclampsia trending, so they decided to head that off at the pass. I’d also had a cannula in again for fluids. I really, really hate the things at this point, and I hope that I never need them again after I birth the baby.
Rhys hurried home to grab a few things for me (clothes, my pillow, a book, and my statue with the expectant Virgin Mary) so he could still make it back by the maternity ward’s visiting hours. While he was gone the head of the special care / NICU named Mohammed came to talk to me and gave me the warnings and cautions and hopeful words and trying not to get into hospital jargon when I interrupted him, smiled and said I was a preemie baby myself, and was born at 28 weeks at a hospital with no NICU, and I knew most of what he was trying to tell me. He looked relieved and said that well, Brandon’s chances were much, much higher than mine were back then, and that I could also likely have him home very soon if he rallies and matures fast enough. Then he also added that premature babies tend to look rather thin and not like full term babies at all. After that I was transferred to Maternity ward, where Rhys met up with me.
We were told that we were likely to get into theater in the early morning, ‘if all goes well,’ so Rhys went to sleep while he could – both of us figured he could use it – and was back 7 am. I was told not to eat anything past midnight, so one of the things I did was to make sure I ate as much as I could, stocking up on strength and… I had a feeling I’d need it.
Anyone who’s known me for a long time will know that NOTHING ever goes smoothly or as planned with me. I mean, we’re talking about someone who’d only been discharged from the hospital a couple of days before and told “We’re not worried at this point and there’s no need to monitor baby constantly.” Uh huh. Naturally on this trend, we actually didn’t end up in theater until LONG after lunch on the 18th. By this point I was ravenous, plus multiple blood samples being taken had me craving meat dishes like a crazy thing. I wanted the baby born so I could eat. That said I urged Rhys to have lunch at the Subway really quickly.
When we were finally told we were going to theater we cheered. Rhys got scrubbed up to go with me. We found out that there had been two emergency cesareans before me – one a baby who got stuck while being birthed – eeeeek!!!!!!!1 – and a couple of accidents that required the patients being airlifted in. We’d figured we’d have good reasons to be bumped down the queue anyway and since it was our turn already we had no complaints.
The anesthesiologist was very good getting my spinal block in; I barely felt anything more than a pressure on the spot. Once that was done, Rhys was allowed to come into the theater. Everyone remarked at how tiny I was, and how easy this made me to move around once I’d gotten legs numbed up. Myself, I was quite surprised at how calm I was given that I’d been all KINDS of jumpy about ever having surgery.
Rhys and I wanted to see – well, given where the cut was going to be I wasn’t going to see the actual cut but I was keen to see my baby born. I think we weirded out the doctors quite bit, and they went with ‘no, it would be too disturbing.’ Amusingly one of the younger anesthesiologists there, sitting next to me whispered that I could probably see a blurry reflection off of the big reflective light above my belly. I guess she figured out what I’d actually wanted to see. XD
They did talk out what they were doing while they were doing it though; overall the actual cut to birth was about ten minutes; counting putting in my spinal block, that was twenty, give or take a few minutes. Feeling them poke around my womb was weird. Most of the time though, it just felt like someone was shoving my lower half around trying to make my gravid belly wriggle like jello.I deeply apologize, but that’s how it felt.
About halfway through that I started having a bizarre craving for lollipops. The big, spirally round ones that you get at candy shops and fairs, and peppermint sticks, hard sugar candies and more.
I held my breath as I felt them take out my baby, breech birthing him. For the length of another breath, there was silence, then that blessed, blessed first cry. I worked HARD not to tear up – I really wanted to be able to see him! The senior obstetrician held him up briefly; I saw baby butt, legs and …equipment, and a glimpse of part of an angry infant face. I remember squeezing Rhys’ hand really hard, I was so happy. Then I told him to go with our son while he was being weighed and such, because he couldn’t decide between staying with me or going. “Go, go, go,” I said. I could not remember if he was allowed to take the camera in or not.
I was allowed to suck on ice cubes at this point, which was really, really good. I felt thirsty and my mouth finally stopped feeling dry as the ice melted in my mouth. Rhys came back, carrying our son, who was warmly swaddled and cleaned up, and very much fast asleep. I didn’t get a chance to really admire him though because they needed to get him into an incubator as soon as possible.
The next 40 minutes were spent both cleaning out my womb and stitching me up, whereupon they moved me onto a gurney and to the recovery room to wait for my legs to regain enough movement again to show I was shaking off the spinal block, a lengthy process that took more than an hour. I was allowed to have a frozen juice stick and then later, a coffee while waiting, because all I could have for a while were liquids and extremely soft foods; which is what I ended up with on my tray when I got returned to Maternity. They were basically a blended creamy chicken soup of some kind, jello, custard and something else. I wasn’t going to be able to see Brandon that night, and Rhys coaxed me to sleep and I’d see him the next day. So I did.
I got to visit him the next morning, wheeled in on wheelchair. I was a little surprised at how small he was… and how perfect he looked. He had chubby, round little cheeks, a full head of hair, perfect little long-fingered hands with the tiniest fingernails, and even his toenails were there on his minute little toes. Contrary to all the usual expectations, he looked like a full term infant, only tiny. I could football carry him in my whole arm! I tried putting him to breast and he did latch on but I had no milk and very little colostrum. He seemed happy with what he got though. I was happy to be able to hold him at last. There was lots of good news too – he was breathing completely independently and hadn’t needed any help from birth, and he was quite feisty and wriggly – he liked to wriggle himself down one side of his incubator, often removing the monitoring tags stuck to his belly and chest in the process. Other than that, he was ‘happily a very boring baby with no medical issues to take care of.’
The next day, he was game to just ‘nuzzle’ – which is what they call latching on but not getting any milk, it seems. They put in a feeding tube – that’s what that green wire like thing is at his nose – so he can be fed without being woken up and disturbed from sleep every three hours. Since my milk or colostrum hadn’t come in yet, Rhys and I decided to allow him to be fed formula. I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding, because breast milk is best for babies, but I’m not one of the ones who have near fanatical devotion to ‘breast milk only, all natural’. Supplementing a baby’s feed time with it isn’t a problem. My painful lack of much colostrum though had me worrying. Brandon was starting to become jaundiced, but that’s normal for babes and I wasn’t worried. They put him under a UV lamp.
The third day had me be affected by what they call ‘third day blues.’ Basically my hormones were coming off the pregnancy setting and I was suddenly, almost insanely depressed. I was in a lot of pain; I’d torn stitches trying to get back into bed the first day they had me trying to move around more (they put in a little platform for me to climb onto first, that made it possible for me to get into bed) and I was crying at the drop of a hat. Rhys was away most of the time because of work and I was upset that I couldn’t have my baby sleeping next to me like everyone else in the ward. I was going nuts a the thought that I couldn’t have milk and Brandon wouldn’t have the opportunity that his elder siblings had. It lasted well into the fifth day, but I was able to encourage my milk to come in.
Speaking of my milk, that’s actually no longer a worry. My boobs are back into epic modes of production and I generally am able to try extract a feed or three. The biggest amount was when I was able to extract six feeds worth of milk. I’m down to maybe two to four. Brandon seems to have thrown one of the only real crying fits he had when the doctors tried to give him the standard preemie first meal of 3 ml of milk. He ‘got right mad,’ the nurses told me, prompting the doctor in charge to say ‘just give him the full feed for his size!’ which is 33ml then (he’s up to 35 ml now.) My biggest problem is trying to keep up with the feed schedule they have, because its’ every 3 hours. @[email protected] It takes me about an hour to try get as much milk out of my breasts as I can because any longer than that and it hurts too much to try extract. I haven’t gotten the left one as empty as the right and I’m hoping that will change soon.
Brandon for his part, has the most fascinating and varied expressions I’ve seen on an infant before. He smiles in his sleep… but when he’s awake he has interestingly intent gazes around his environment, which his nurses report that he also did when he was lying in the incubator. He would periodically wake up, and instead of crying, he’d lie there and look around with his big, big eyes (which are a dark blue-gray color at the moment, and I hope he will keep!) both curious and frowning at the same time, then go back to sleep. He sleeps a lot right now. Anyway, one evening Rhys and I were holding him and enjoying the fact that he was staying awake for a while, when he suddenly started frowning as he looked around. He had his eyebrow raised again in perfect imitation of Mr. Spock, while somehow managing to look vastly displeased with whatever it was he was staring at. He had his face turned toward the doorway so Rhys and I were quite curious.
For the time being though, I need to get some rest. G’nite all.