Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gavin's Birth Story

How appropriate that the prompt for Working Mommy Wednesday was to share a birth story - something I was planning to do since Gavin is turning 6 on Friday!

Where to begin? I guess we'll start when I found out I was pregnant. After going through some extensive, invasive testing to see why we had lost Ella so early (18 w), the consensus was it was a "fluke" and that subsequent pregnancies would be "fine". I was blissfully ignorant, and therefore not stressed, when I found out I was pregnant again in March of 2004. I mean, I was stressed (I was going to have a BABY!) but not worried that something would go wrong.

At 14 weeks I had a high risk ultrasound. Everything looked great. We were having a boy!

At 16 weeks I had a regular OB appt, and the nurse noticed a note on my file that the high risk Dr's wanted me back for another u/s. At 17 1/2 weeks I was back at high risk, where they were pretty miffed - they had wanted to see me back at 16 weeks, but apparently someone dropped the ball at my OB's office.

It was an 8 am appt. The u/s tech did her thing, then asked us to wait for the Dr in the exam room. I started to get nervous - last time they just sent us on our way. Dr. Mahone came in and explained that my cervix was starting to funnel, it was almost completely open, and that emergency surgery was the only option. I didn't have time to think. I couldn't say no (well, I could but then we would surely lose the baby). I hadn't eaten breakfast which meant I could go in to the OR asap. There were risks - of infection, of breaking my water.

I often wonder what would have happened if I had actually gone in at 16 weeks and things looked fine. Would they have seen me again? If not, would we have lost Gavin too? What if things just looked kinda bad, but not dire? Would I have gone on bed rest at that point and decided not to risk surgery? It's hard not to let my mind wander down that path. As it turns out, things worked out.

I was out of the hospital the next day and on bed rest at home for 5 days. I returned to work half days, and worked from my couch the other half of the day. I had weekly u/s at the high risk office. My third week back to work, I was allowed to bump my hours up to 6 hours a day. Then things started to look worse. I got a laptop and was on full time bed rest at home and worked from my couch.

Three weeks into home bed rest I woke up bleeding and we raced to the hospital at 5 am. I remember thinking "24 weeks. This is it. At least he's viable. We have a chance."

Turns out it was not my water breaking. One of the stitches from surgery ripped loose. Unfortunately the bleeding caused some pre-term labor. I was admitted to the hospital, and put on drugs to try to stop the activity. After a couple days I realized I wasn't leaving the hospital anytime soon. People started cooking meals for Chad and he and my mom and friends all rallied around to visit me and keep me upbeat in the hospital. I remember I was worried about money - my job only paid 4 weeks of disability pay. A girl that I worked with at 801 Steak & Chop brought her sister to see me - she had a preemie (26 w) 5 years earlier, and hospital bed rest. It helped to know what to expect.

The days, and then weeks ticked by. After two weeks we finally found a drug that worked. If I made it through the weekend, I would go home! With a drug pump and monitor, but at least I would be home. And water broke, sealing my fate of not getting to leave. I was 26 weeks at this point. The goal had been 32 weeks. But now, every day was a victory. I was given steroids to help his lungs mature, taken off the medication that was reducing my amniotic fluid (and therefore the pressure on my cervix). Fortunately the break was a leak and not a gush. An u/s indicated there was sufficient water left, so they decided to continue to hold off delivery.

This is it. A week later, at 26w6d, I started feeling pain unlike the pain I'd had since entering the hospital. I just knew it was over. I started to spike a fever and the risk of infection outweighed the risk of prematurity. We moved to the delivery suite and my mom was called to the hospital around 10 pm.

As it was, once they finally allowed me to deliver, he didn't come quickly as I anticipated. I moved to the delivery suite around 8 pm. I could not have an epidural. I was in tremendous amounts of pain due to back labor. I curled up on my side and tried not to move. I couldn't look at anything around the room or it would overstimulate me or make me sick. At one point I told my mom and Chad "Don't look at me, don't talk to me - just leave me alone!"

Yeah, I'm pleasant like that when in massive amounts of pain! Throughout the night I was given a couple doses of fentanyl - which was great but slowed down progress and wore off quickly.

Then after 9 hours of slooooow progress, I was dilated to 6cm but Gavin was so tiny that's all it took. The Dr. was not in the room, the NICU team was not in the room and I just remember screaming "he's coming". I was in complete panic mode because I knew the nurse could deliver a baby, but I knew it was critical that the NICU team be there to get him on support immediately. A dozen nurses flooded the room, got in my face, told me to breathe and do not push. Everything from there on out is pretty much a blur. Everyone got to the room that needed to.

And just when you think the story can't possibly get more mother passes out. Imagine this circus of wimps: Chad is right by my head with no line of sight to "anything gross" and my eyes are squeezed shut for the same reason. My mom, who has a history of fainting in medical situations, and insisted childbirth was different, gets dizzy as I start to push. She gets behind Chad's chair and drops to the floor. Chad moves to the recliner in the corner of the room so a nurse can get to her. And I have my eyes shut tight and no idea what I am doing since I never went to childbirth class. This is the circus into which Gavin enters the world.

The Dr. says "look down and see your baby" as his head comes out and I just yell "No I don't want to!!". I finally open my eyes to see my mom dry heaving into a paper bag. The baby is on the warmer being cared for. Chad is opposite me in a chair with a sheet covering his head (again, so as not to see anything "gross").

They wheeled my bed over to the warming table and let Chad and I each hold a hand as they intubated Gavin. Born at 5:35 am 8/27/04, at 27w0d gestation - 2 lb, 5 oz and 14 1/2 inches long, and feisty as can be. He was trying to pull that tube out from the start. I looked into his tiny grey eyes and then he was tucked away in the isolette and transported to the NICU, Chad in tow. My mom couldn't stay around long - on top of everything, she was moving houses that day!

So suddenly, everyone was gone and there I was, alone in the delivery room. No bassinet, no pictures of the happy family, no one teaching me how to nurse. Just....silence. This is not how it's supposed to be.

And that is Gavin's birth story.....if you missed last year's birthday post about our NICU experience (or just want a reminder of how far we've come!) you can read it here.


Julia said...

oh my gosh. wow. circus story is right!! thanks for sharing. preemie stories are always so miraculous to me!! happy birthday Gavin!!

Funky Mama Bird said...

Holy moly what a story! And happy birthday to Gavin!

Anonymous said...

I'm still embarassed.....Gamma Jamma

MoDLin said...

Oh wow, what a whirlwind! We all have a picture in our mind of how birth is going to be, but life has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. I'm so glad feisty little Gavin made it through the NICU experience and now is celebrating his 6th birthday. Way to go big guy!

Thanks for supporting the March of Dimes. Please join us at Bloggers Unite to Fight for Preemies on November 17th, Prematurity Awareness Day.

NovelTeaMommy said...

Tears and laughter. It's what a good life is made of, and this blog post brought them both to me as well. Quite the trip you had there! You are one of the stronger people I know, and now I have a little piece of the why : )