Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Saw My Own Eyes

Finally, she's here! Liberty Rose was born on May 13th. I had 3 requests so far for some detail to be posted on the blog, so here is the birth story for those who are interested:

On May 12th, I started having labor symptoms around 11am. I called my doctor's office and reported the symptoms to the on-call nurse. The nurse indicated that she was not sure I was experiencing real labor and so we did not have to make the hour drive to the hospital/doctor's office just yet. This turned out to be a mistake. In hindsight, I should have been surprised by her comments. Every other time I called to report unusual symptoms, the nurse would say "it's probably nothing" but would also continue the sentence with "but please come in anyway so we can confirm." I should have considered it strange that she did not suggest that I come in anyway, but I didn't at the time. I called the nurse with a follow-up question about an hour later, and I was annoyed that she didn't remember speaking to me an hour before.

I did not sleep at all that night because my "false" contractions were 5 minutes apart and it's hard to get sleep for 5 minutes at a time. I woke up DH at 7am and told him to get ready to go. He just moved from the sofa to the bed and went back to sleep. By 8:30am, I was tired of having "false" labor and I called the nurse again. I begged her to let me come in to be checked now. I woke up DH and told him it's time to go. Again. I actually had to yell at him to HURRY! before he finally did. Our bags were already packed and we just grabbed them and left.

DH, his mom, and I made the drive and went to the doctor. The doctor indicated that I was at 7cm and my water had broken 24 hours earlier. This was an immediate concern because she had told me that if my water breaks she wanted me to go to the hospital right away, and if more than 24 hours elapses this increases the risk of infection to the baby.

We went down the hall to the birthing center and checked in. Providence Newberg Hospital is really, really nice. I would definitely recommend it if you live in the Portland area. My nurse's name was Sara. I could not have asked for a better delivery room nurse, and over the next few days I had about 10 of them, so I know I lucked out with Sara.

The anesthesiologist came to see me right away and I had an epidural. This was very helpful since I ended up continuing to labor for several more hours. I think I got the epidural around 11am and within an hour they had me start pushing. They told me to expect to push for about 4 hours. I was surprised because my friends had told me you only push a couple times and it's over. The nurses told me that is true for your 2nd and 3rd babies, but not the first. After about an hour of pushing, the nurses announced a change of strategy. They said that because I'd had an epidural, they would like for me to stop pushing and just allow the labor to progress naturally for a while. They said this was preferable but they would not ask me to do that if I were in pain. So I rested for an hour or two and then the pushing started again. I think I pushed for another 4 hours. It sounds stressful or boring, but it wasn't, at least not for me. Maybe for DH and mom, my coaches. But I was relaxed and just focused on the contractions. The baby moved along very slowly (obviously). Everyone said I was doing a great job pushing, but after 4 straight hours I was getting tired and also starting to get an acid reflux situation going on, so I couldn't push as hard. My doctor recommended that I let her get the "vacuum". I'm glad I agreed to it, because when the baby was born, she had the cord wrapped around her neck, one of my nightmares. If I had insisted on doing all the work myself, well, she was moving down the birth canal so slowly that I know the outcome would have been bad.

So it was just a few more pushes with the help of the vacuum that Liberty Rose was born. It wasn't really anything like TV. One of my friends had told me not to expect to feel like screaming like they do on TV, and I didn't. I also appreciated that the doctor and nurse did not act like bubbly cheerleaders. They of course coached me positively, but in whispers. To me it was a very calm and focused atmosphere. I don't know if DH felt the same way, you'd have to ask him.

They always tell you that newborns aren't necessarily "cute". That they look very bizarre when they come out and even then it takes a couple weeks for them to develop their cuteness. So when they put her on my stomach immediately after delivery, I saw her and my first thought was "oh, but she IS cute!" and I noticed her eyes look just like one of my own baby pictures. It was so amazing. She had lots of hair. They cleaned out her mouth and cut the cord, then took her from me for her checkup. They reported some respiratory problems and other words I didn't understand, but nothing too serious that they didn't think couldn't be solved. She was 6.5 pounds. After I thought she was going to be a big giant baby. Shows what I know.
The next day, DH had gone out for groceries or something and I was alone with Libby. She made a strange face and appeared to stop breathing, then gagged and vomited noisily. I turned her on her side and cleaned out her mouth and then called the nurse. The nurse listened to her lungs and said they were clear, and that other than an elevated heart rate, she was fine. She told me that babies eject amniotic fluid in the first couple of days, and this is normal although it appears very alarming. I was glad to know that, since she did it again a few hours later. DH was there and helped her to sit up and lean forward while he patted her back.

After 24 hours they told me that everything was going well and she no longer showed any respiratory problems. My doctor asked us if we'd like to go home, and we said yes, as long as everyone gave the all-clear. It was strange that they offered us this option because then everyone reacted with raised eyebrows when we said we WOULD like to go home now, thank you very much. It was a Friday. Our pediatrician made an appointment with us for Saturday.
When we took Libby home she seemed to like the car ride, and didn't even mind the bumpy road that leads to our house. She was awake and sort of social for a few hours, though regularly gagged and vomited. Between midnight and 5am she had many bouts of the adorable screaming that everyone warned us about. The only thing that would quiet her was feeding, so she fed quite a lot. In the morning, she gagged and vomited the entire contents of her stomach. She continued to vomit hourly, and refused to eat further. She seemed listless. We thought maybe she was just tired from the all the adorable screaming. But during another gagging incident we repeated the "sit up and lean forward" posture that we had performed while in the hospital, and that is when we realized that there is a difference between tired and completely listless. It was very sad, and even though our pediatrician appointment was still a few hours off, we just picked her up and put her in the car and left immediately.
We debated on whether we should proceed to our doctor or the nearest emergency room. Since DH is also an EMT he knew her symptoms were not acute and so we decided it would be ok to go to our pediatrician, whose office is also at a hospital.
We got to the doctor and asked to be seen early. Our doctor was not available yet, but his colleague was present and we were rushed right in to see her. The doctor examined Libby and Libby cried a very weak cry. She gagged and vomited once while the doctor was out of the room and we had to run and get her. Then the doctor asked me to try to feed her since she had not eaten for several hours. I demonstrated that Libby was completely uninterested in feeding. She took literally one drop and then vomited violently. She gagged so much that her airway was blocked and she was not breathing. DH performed first aid. The doctor became grave (she even swore dramatically, like on TV) and told us to check in to the hospital immediately. She was concerned about an infection (due to my water breaking so long before delivery) or a blockage (as indicated by the apparent inability to swallow food).
So we stayed at the hospital for the next 2 days. Libby was hooked up to an IV and placed on a heating table. The nurses told us to leave the room for this procedure. They said it would be too difficult for me to watch. I guess it is hard to put an IV in a newborn, and a dehydrated newborn is "almost impossible" according to our doctor. So we left for a little while. When we came back, they told us that Libby had slept through the procedure and one nurse commented that this did seem unusual behavior. Hm. DH went home to get a change of clothes. I said I would go with him, since I figured we'd only be gone a couple of hours. He asked me if I was sure. Yes. Really sure? I said, fine, I'll stay. I thought he was concerned that I was going to freak out or something and so I was humoring him when I agreed to stay. When he returned, I told him that the nurses at this hospital were mouthy, bossy, and generally out of line. I won't give examples, but trust me. Also, I'd had to press the "help" button once while he was gone (another gagging incident) and instead of sending in a nurse they sent in the receptionist who just stared at me like a deer caught in headlights until I yelled specific orders at her. After the incident passed she timidly asked me if she should call a nurse. I couldn't believe she was seriously asking me this question. We had gotten faster and more professional reactions from the receptionist and assistants in the doctor's office. I wouldn't recommend Willamette Valley Hospital in McMinnville for the birthing center. Although I had heard this previously, I didn't think it would be so markedly different from Newberg. Now I know better. Anyway, after simply relaying to DH that in the short time he was gone that I had found the staff behavior to be ranging from offensive to incompetent, he told me, "this is why I wanted you to stay." I was proud that he had such faith in my judgment considering my lack of medical background.
Over the next few days we ruled out blockage and infection. It was finally decided that Libby had excessive amniotic fluid, and possibly blood, in her stomach. This combined with her unofficially "low" birth weight caused her to be unable to digest food and she became dehydrated before she could expel all of the excess bad stuff. She finally expelled it all on her own so she did not have to have her stomach pumped or anything. After several hours on the IV she was able to wake up and feed without vomiting.
After our release from the hospital we returned to our pediatrician the following day. This time we were able to see our regular pediatrician. He was very pleased with Libby's now normal behavior and reported that she had gained a lot of weight back. He said he would call his colleague (the other doctor who had Libby admitted to the hospital) and let her know. He told us that she had been very upset and concerned about our little girl. I thought that was sweet.
Now our baby girl is one week old. We already wish we could slow time down. She's sleeping a little less and active a little more today, and the cutest little baby you ever saw.


babbling brook said...

Heather, This account is wonderful, so be sure to save it for Libby. Don't you wish you had this story of your own birth and first days on Earth? I would love to know all this about myself. I'm glad she is doing well now; I was worried about the "rough start" comment. Lots of love,

Ada Croft said...

Oh I'm so excited Liberty is born! I was pretty nervous reading the scary vomiting and not breathing parts but she's doing better now which is amazing! I can't wait to see her in person sometime because she is a BEAUTIFUL baby!

Love Ada

Kellie said...

Good idea to write all of this down for her (and you) to read years from now. I definitely wish I had done this more when Cate was small.


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