July 27, 2011

Extra Precautions Taken

So Dave made a quick trip back home to pack his bag and pick up my bag. And he also stopped by 7-Eleven to pick up snacks.

If there’s anyone who needs sleep, it’s someone who is about to be the caretaker of a newborn. Trying to sleep in a strange place is no fun, especially with the excitement and anxiousness of knowing you are giving birth the next day. And then there’s the fetal heart monitor that wouldn’t stay in place. Every time the monitor couldn’t find Baby Jack’s heartbeat, it would beep loudly. This happened all night long. At first, a nurse would arrive to adjust the belly-monitoring belt and reset it with each beeping session. Then later, the beeping would occur and no one would check on us. Having watched nurses hit the reset button, I just started resetting the monitor myself. Baby Jack had been doing fine and our vitals were taken regularly, and at 3:30 a.m., all I wanted was to sleep.

A little before 6:00 a.m., we were moved to labor and delivery for the show to begin. I was hooked up to the IV and was pleasantly surprised that the meds didn’t burn when going in. I had complained earlier to my doctor that the worst part of Charlie’s labor was the burn of penicillin going in. It was so cold going in each time, and my hand hurt for weeks afterward. This time, however, was great and I didn’t even notice it.

Let me say that a good labor and delivery nurse is worth his/her weight in gold. We had a great one. She treated us like real people and was a great advocate. Case in point, that afternoon as contractions started to intensify, I was managing okay, but she told me that if I was going to have an epidural, I should do it now. She said there were a couple of people who were at the same stage of labor as me. With one of the anesthesiologists occupied with a complicated Cesarean, it might be awhile before another one could get to me once I was ready. So I’d better not wait until I really needed it. That's valuable insider information. Also, our nurse had small hands. You ladies know what I’m talking about.

The only excitement with Jack’s labor and delivery was that my epidural was completely different from the one with Charlie. With Charlie, I didn’t feel a thing. It was awesome. With Jack, the epidural dulled the sharp pain, but not the dull ache of bones pulling apart. The idea that an epidural might not stop all of the pain was news to me. (Surprise!) I started feeling pain across my thighs and then my back with each contraction. And then things got ugly as the aching pain just kept coming with no end in sight. I’m talking groaning like a dying cow ugly.

I think it’s that “no end in sight” thing that makes labor so mentally challenging. If the doctor could tell you that you’re going to be in moderate pain for 5 hours and then severe pain for 1 hour and then you’ll be done, you could prepare and deal with the pain. But when the contractions come rolling in a little stronger each time with no end in sight, it makes you grateful to have drugs in your spine.

An anesthesiologist came in and turned the epidural up a notch, which seemed fine for a little while. When the dull pain came back, he returned with something in a syringe and put meds directly in the line. When nothing gave me relief, a different anesthesiologist came in to assess the pain level and see if they needed to redo the epidural. Redoing the epidural was not at all what I wanted. I knew how still you have to be and now with these contractions, it was not going to be pretty. But I also knew that it might mean eventual relief.

While considering redoing the epidural, however, my saintly nurse suggested checking me to see how far along we were. She, of the small hands, checked me and laughed saying, “He’s right there!” She asked me to do a practice push and quickly told me to stop saying that it was delivery time. With that statement, I suddenly had relief from the pain! Knowing that the end was near, I could handle it now. See what I mean about that “no end in sight” thing?

My doctor arrived along with a neonatologist and a team of assorted assistants and nurses. Jack had tolerated labor well with no dips in his heart rate. But the maternal fetal doctor thought that there was some enlargement of his heart with possible pulmonary stenosis, so extra precautions were taken.

I literally pushed three times, and there he was. Which leads me to believe that he had been ready for some time and his low position was the cause of the bone-cracking aches. Jack gave a sweet and hearty wail--such a beautiful sound.

The medical team checked him out, and then Dave and I got to hold him. He was such a sweetie and looked so much like Charlie. Everyone remarked that his color was great. Some babies with heart issues come out blue, but Jack was just as pink as could be. I later learned that his Apgars were 9 and 9 which is fantastic.

They put him in his infant Pope mobile and wheeled him to the NICU to check him out further. And as luck would have it, Granny, Granddaddy, and Charlie had arrived just in time to see him before he went to the NICU.

Stay tuned for the next episode: Our NICU Stay

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