I'm back! I've been on a bit of a blogging break. My mind has been so many other places lately...I mean I'm 31.5 weeks pregnant! That's crazy.
Anyway, today I am so excited to share the birth story of a little guy I get to see 3 or 4 days a week. Make sure to read all of this story because it definitely is intense! Thanks for sharing, Stacey!
Broden is a miracle baby in so many ways (and if you know me, you will hear about all of ‘em!) but originally it was because he had the temerity to be one of the 0.1% statistics in the birth control failure! My husband and I decided to take a much-needed mini vacation to Las Vegas in August of 2008. I remember playing a penny slot machine, when all of a sudden it started making a lot of noise…a number appeared on the screen that kept increasing, and I grabbed my husband’s arm and said “Um, what is that? What does that number mean??” LOL. $1100 later, I was walking around Las Vegas feeling a little bit smug that Lady Luck was smiling down on me…it turned out she was giggling all right! What happens in Vegas most certainly does not STAY in Vegas!
One really great thing about the age we live in is the abundant source of virtual information that we can have 24 hour access to- the internet. I began reading and researching everything there was to know about pregnancy…to be candid I think I overdid it. Though quite knowledgeable, the over-exposure to all the possible complications caused me to become a little bit OCD. Additionally, I discovered an interesting phenomenon: complete strangers would go out of their way to tell me all the people they knew who had miscarriages, abnormalities, and premature labor. As a result, I had a constant nagging worry that I wanted to see the baby for myself to see that he was ok.
At 3 months, our nuchal screening tests came back with possible abnormalities, so we elected to have a cvs test done. Thankfully, the results of this test came back normal, and we discovered we were having a boy way before the usual 20 weeks.
At about 5 months, it was determined that I had Gestational diabetes- apparently it was pretty severe. I had to go to a dietician and completely change my diet. I remember that I carried that little piece of paper with how to figure out the amount of carbs everywhere that I went…in addition to my blood test kit…and my insulin….and the needle I had to use to inject it into my stomach, annnnnnnnnd the constant endocrinologist appointments…
One side-effect of gestational diabetes is that the fetus often grows large and too fast. Extra glucose crosses the placenta which causes the little one to produce extra insulin, and thus the bigger baby. Though really- Broden starting measuring large from the very first ultrasound. Since the gestational diabetes was so advanced, the pregnancy was considered high-risk. As a result, I think we had more than 7 ultrasounds total- we in fact were becoming quite blasé about seeing our baby on screen!
Around 30 weeks, my doctor wanted me to go into the hospital twice a week for “Stress tests.” They hooked up monitors to my stomach to measure contractions, baby heart rate, and activity level.
A couple weeks later, my husband and I traveled from Seattle to Manzanita, OR for Easter. We stopped every two hours so that I could get out and stretch my pregnant legs. The trip overall took about 6 hours. Upon arriving in Manzanita, I definitely had a set of kankles going on! A coupe days later we drove back to Seattle. By the time we got home, the swelling had taken over my lower extremities and I was very uncomfortable. Within a few days, I had gained over 20 pounds in water weight. At this point my legs were so swollen that I could barely bend my knees. My skin was actually tearing a little due to the amount of edema present! I stopped in to see my doctor, where she advised me to stay on bed rest with my legs resting straight up, propped up by a wall. A few days later I went into my Dr for my normal weekly checkup. She noted that my stomach was still measuring quite large, but assured me she would not allow the baby to get larger than 10 pounds before she induced me. I remember choking on my piece of gum-10 pounds!! As my Dr was standing up to go, she asked if there were any other concerns on my mind. I hesitated and she pressed me to say anything on my mind. I told her that I was still leaking a lot of fluid every day, more than I had been before. I was really uncomfortable telling her this, you see, as a few weeks before I had come in to the Dr office concerned that I was leaking fluid. My Dr wasn’t there, and unfortunately I was treated rather poorly by a nurse who told me I was over reacting! My Dr asked if I would like to have the fluid checked for amniotic fluid, and at first I said no. I think she read the misgivings on my face and decided to check it anyways. I finished dressing, and waited impatiently by the door, mentally going over my work day and all the stuff I needed to do. My Dr opened the door, and had a funny expression her face. “So…um that actually did show to be amniotic fluid. “ She said “Oh. Ok," I replied absently, still lost in thought about meetings and deadlines, scanning my Blackberry emails. She tried again. “So, go ahead and head over to the hospital and I will see you later this afternoon.” As her head started to withdraw and the door began to close, I held up a hand. “Wait!” I said. Her head reappeared. “Go to the hospital??” I squeaked out.
“Yes,” she smiled.
“To the hospital?” I repeated dumbly. “As in, to have the baby?? As in, do not pass go, do not collect $200? I am not leaving there until I have my son??”
My dr smiled tolerantly at me and simply said “Yes, Stacey. I will see you in a few hours.”
I left the office in shock, and sat in my car for a few moments. I called my husband Steve, who was on his way into work. He assumed I was rushing to the hospital to get checked right in, but since we only lived about 10 minutes away, I persuaded him to meet me at our house so that we could pack the bag together and only have one car at the hospital. I remember time slowing down for me, and feeling very calm and purpose-filled as we joked about what items should go into which bag, and what could be left behind. On the drive into the hospital, I sent an email to our work (my husband and I work for the same company), explaining that I was going into labor and I would be delayed from work for a bit, but that I was bringing my laptop with me to the hospital. LOL. I was about 34 weeks at this point.
We arrived at the hospital and were checked in, and set up in a room. Since my Dr estimated that my amniotic sac had been torn for at least 3 days, I was immediately put on a regimen of antibiotics. Additionally, I was also hooked up to glucose due to the gestational diabetes. Lastly, they began pumping me full of Pitocin to stimulate contractions. There went my birth plan, right out the window! I had planned on no drugs (though open to an epidural), and I wanted to be as upright and physically active for as long as possible. Instead, I was to be in bed and hooked up to IVs for the next 40 hours. Like most everyone else, I was hooked up to the contraction belt so that the nurses could monitor my contractions and baby activity level. Since I had an amniotic fluid leak, they very seldom checked my cervix due to increased risk of infection to the baby. My contractions did not show up much on the monitor, and I soon discovered that was because I was having back labor. I remember being self-conscious about the pain though, and feeling like I was being a wimp because it was starting to get too intense to breathe through it. Finally, my dr checked my cervix to discover I had progressed all the way to 8 cm dilated without drugs! I felt an intense sense of relief that I wasn’t such a weany after all, and readily agreed to have an epidural.
The epidural was actually the scariest part of the entire experience for me. A pretty, younger Asian lady came in and explained to all of us in the room that she was an anesthesiologist. She had me sit up in bed, with my giant, swollen legs hanging over the bed while she poked and prodded at my spine. I started to cry silently, partially due to this position lodged a kicking fetal foot underneath an old broken rib injury, and the overwhelming fear that a stranger was trying to insert a giant needle into my spinal cord. I remember that I was increasingly disturbed that this “kid” with a needle was chatting amiably and quite loudly about mundane issues as she attempted to re-do the first failed attempt. I spoke up, voice trembling, and said “With all due respect, if you would please just concentrate on the needle in my spine I would really appreciate it.” LOL. Shortly thereafter the epidural was successfully inserted and life became exponentially better! I could still feel a deep-seated pressure feeling, but no more pain. I was dilated to 9. After a couple more hours of pushing, I was starting to fade pretty fast and not feel very good. The dr once again checked my cervix again to discover I was back to only 8 cm, and I had a fever of 103. I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of relief when the Dr finally said she was going to get us ready for a C-section. I felt like I had been in labor for a month, and was sooo thirsty from my fever.
The C-section itself seemed fairly quick and uneventful. When they transferred me from my hospital bed to the operating table, I started to giggle because I couldn’t move from the waist down to help them. Steve was allowed to sit right at my right ear, as long as he didn’t get up and move around. The lights seemed very bright, and I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. The anesthesiologist continually adjusted my oxygen mask, after nonchalantly explaining that I had stopped breathing on my own a few times.
Shortly after 1am on April 24th, 2009, the doctors produced Broden Gardella, 8lbs 8 oz over the C-section curtain for my brief inspection. I remember thinking that he seemed so big! The nurses took him away to clear his air passages, etc and I turned to my husband and said “Is he ok? Does he have all the right parts? Can you go count his fingers and toes for me?” I turned my attention back to the tugging I felt from my abdomen region, as 2 doctors were sewing me closed. To their amusement, I told them it looked like they were tossing a giant salad, since all I could see were their arms moving up and down.
Broden and I both had to stay in the hospital for a few days. Since he was premature, he had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for testing and monitoring, and to of course get the obligatory jaundice taken care of. Overall, he was healthy and normal.
The definitive moment where I realized that all the worry and stress of hoping my baby was ok was indeed NOT over once the birth happens. Now all the work really was to begin- keeping him alive and healthy! We are so blessed to have this little guy in our life. I had no concept of what maternal love could ever be, it is something you have to experience for yourself…it feels very primal, like a mama bear protecting her cub. It is amazing that a 0.9% chance turned into
My. Whole. World.