Tuesday, October 16, 2012

24 months later - 10.17.2010 - the birth story

I know, I know. How long does it take? Apparently  a long long time.

It was a beautiful early autumn day - a Sunday. We had been out the previous, much hotter day, shopping at Kohls, and I had remarked that I could not feel the baby moving very much. This was not unusual. I never felt all the exciting kicks and karate chops that I read about on others' blogs. I felt movement, but never anything spectacular. I wrote it off as everything about my pregnancy not being normal and the placement of the placenta. But I had had a wonderful non stress test the previous Thursday and baby had got full marks for moving around. So it was a bit odd. I went to bed the night before, Saturday - in the spare room where my train-like snoring would not disturb anyone but me ( and baby!) and worried about the lack of movement. I think I used the Doppler, so I knew that she was alive and her heart was beating. That was good. But I drank cold juice  and waited for somersaults and there were none, so by Sunday morning I was beginning to be uneasy and considering calling my midwife. I tried the Doppler again, and the heart beat was fine. So again, I knew she was alive. I really didn't think that there could be any reason why she could be in danger if her heart was beating, and I had no idea about the risks of  the later stages of  pregnancy. I was of the belief that the longer she cooked, the better she would be. I don't believe that anymore.

So it was with some embarrassment that I called the midwife and told her I was not feeling so much movement. I followed up that statement with, "but I got top marks on my non-stress test on Thursday." I also told her I had heard the heartbeat that morning. She told me that I should go into labor and delivery. I think this was around 11am. I asked her if I should go now. She said, go soon.

So I had a shower, took the dog for a walk down the block, and soaked up the sunshine. I really remember that walk. Something told me that I wasn't coming home that night, and I really enjoyed being with our surviving dog, Dylan, and just enjoying the easy pull of only one leash and the slow meandering of both of us around the block. He was disabled by something growing in his lung and we would later find out he had some thing going on in his brain that caused seizures.  I was fat and swollen and pretty out of breath. I know I got a shower  because I figured it might be a while til I got another one, and then Susan made us eggs and hash browns  ( yes, I was told later by the nurse that wasn't a very diabetic friendly meal, but I enjoyed it and it was my last one before Isobel was born and I was on forced starvation for a day because of the magnesium.) We knew it was important to go to the hospital but we certainly weren't hurrying.

I don't remember for definite but I have a feeling we stopped off to get a decaf latte on the way. We were really taking our time. I am not sure when we got there. Maybe around 1pm. They were expecting us and it was a familiar scenario as we had been there when I had bleeding around 16 weeks and then just a few weeks earlier on the tour, when I had seen the one room with the bath tub in it  that you had to be lucky to get. I had made a mental note in my mind to try to call ahead to grab it if I ever went into labor. Hah!

Everyone was telling me before this (well the midwives and even the OBGYN were ) that I could very well go into labor myself and have  a "natural"birth,  - or at least I could "try" despite the huge fibroid near the birth canal (which had conveniently moved out of the way at my last ultrasound),  gestational diabetes, history of a myomectomy, advanced maternal age, etc etc. I never believed it for a minute.  I had always thought I would have a vaginal birth - I even wanted a water birth, but after all I went through to get to having Isobel and with all the complications I wanted a  live baby and as fast as possible. I understand that the risks to the mother in a C section are greater than in a vaginal birth but I just couldn't see myself pushing Isobel past my huge fibroid and I was frightened of a late term still birth. I asked for a C-section, but the OB didn't think it was warranted and said that it would be considered "elective". I couldn't afford an elective C section, so I just prayed that it would become clear as time went on that a C section was medically necessary. Later that day, when I met with the midwife, she said that she had been describing my case to the OB on call and listing the plethora of complications that I had, and  it was then that she realized that there was no way I was going to be going into labor or doing a vaginal birth. It took a while but they finally saw things my way.

When we got to the hospital and got checked in, we were in a room very similar to the one we had been in when I was 16 weeks and bleeding. I don't remember all the details, but I was put on the monitors and I could hear the heart beat on the speaker. It sounded fine. A doctor came in and did some kind of ultrasound to find out what was going on with the movement. She told me that baby was not in danger but something was not right and it would be best to get her out today. I said that I was fine with that. They talked about a C section and I was secretly thrilled and very relieved. The OB from my practice who was on call and did the C section almost apologized that she was suggesting a C section. She said, doubtfully, "well you are not dilated or effaced, but we could try to induce you and see how you do". I said er, no, thank you! I really just wanted to get Isobel out as soon as possible and with the least distress to her.

The midwife who was on call wasn't my preferred one, but she turned out to be really great and proved her mettle to me. Even though it was a C section she was there in the operating room with me the whole time, and first she held me while I got the needle in my back to start the epidural.  Susan didn't get to come in until I was lying spread eagled on a like Jesus on the cross, except I was lying flat on my back and tilted to one side - apparently to ease blood flow to the heart. I was introduced to the anesthetist who told me to let him know if I started feeling faint or nauseous. Having the epidural was so strange. I felt like my whole body was heating up and floating away. I did start to feel nauseous while the surgery was going on and he dialed down the meds which stopped me from feeling like I was going to puke. The surgery felt like lots of tugging. And pulling. I pushing. I don't remember much and I couldn't hear a lot. Susan tells the story that they had to pull her out of my pelvis as her head was stuck there. As they pulled her out they said,"Chord wrapped round the neck one, two, three, four times." Then she came flying over the top of my stomach and into the hands of the nurses who were at the ready with the warmer. Susan got to cut the chord for  the second time - the doctor cut the chord as she came out and the midwife snapped lots of pictures for us, they wrapped her up  and then I got to meet her. It felt so surreal. I didn't feel ready. I wanted her to come, but I had no clue what to expect and I felt so unprepared and quite detached from the experience.  I smiled and was glad, but I still felt weird about the whole thing.

As soon as I was stitched up and was wheeled into recovery the midwife helped me to get Isobel to latch on and try to suck some colostrum. I had no clue what I was doing. My sister came in and we realized she didn't know the name. I told her and I think she was pleased. Isobel Emily. Isobel just because we liked it and Emily because it's Susan's beloved  french grandma's name. Susan was there with us until it was time for Isobel to go up to the nursery and she went with her while I stayed down in the recovery room to wait to get transfered to the mom and baby unit.

I am not sure when I realized that Isobel had had a very narrow escape. The reduced movement was probably from the chord being wrapped around her neck. A vaginal birth would have been disastrous. No one really said much about it, except the previously preferred midwife, who said it was a good thing I listened to my intuition "or there might not have been a baby." Hmmm, not something you want to say to someone who was begging for a c-section and has just gone through major surgery and is feeling, well, tender. For the longest time afterwards I was so relieved that I had gone with my gut and reported the reduced movement, but I was also really really upset and wondering what would have happened if I had not sounded the alarm. It seemed so arbitrary and such a fluke that I had listened to my intuition and she was okay.

When I talked to the RE yesterday about plans for a future pregnancy he told me that my fibroids are large, that there could have been reduced blood flow to  the baby because fibroids act like a parasite and suck up the blood and nutrients. He also said that the placenta could have been compromised because of this and the gestational diabetes.  He said it was possible I could have not had much feeling of movement throughout the pregnancy because of the fibroids being in the way in the wall of my uterus. I feel like the OB did not take me seriously throughout the pregnancy and I am just glad that things worked out the way they did. I had no idea that if a baby's heart was beating she could be in trouble. Which is what happened to Isobel. She was tethered by her chord that was wrapped around her neck and she had nowhere to move or room to go. Thank God that she is ok. I am grateful, deeply grateful that she is ok.

Happy Birthday, little one. You are two and we are three. Love Mamas!

Next time: the first twenty four hours of being a mom: hospital room mommy-dom, magnesium and room service.


Fran said...

I'm so glad to FINALLY read this post!! And most of all that all went well of course. Yes listening to your instinct is always a god thing to do. Happy birthday little Isobel!!

Pomegranate said...

Wow. What an intense story. I am so glad things went as they did and Isobel is a happy, healthy toddler. Isn't it amazing how much of this process is chance and luck? We happened to be on the unlucky side of things for a while, but it all worked out in the end.

Can I ask what practice you went used? If it was the same one as mine, that will settle my decision of whether to switch for #2.

Anonymous said...

Man, that is one stressful birth story. I didn't realize Isobel was in some trouble in the womb. How scary! So glad you trusted your Mama instinct. Happy birthday, Isobel and Mamas!

What else did you find out re: TTC #2???? Inquiring minds want to know :)

It Is What It Is said...

Wow~so glad to finally read about your delivery. I inquired about how often the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck and my MFM said it happens in 30% of pregnancies. Even if they know, via u/s that the cord is around the neck, they don't always require a c-section, which surprised me. Good thing you went with your gut.

Thanks for sharing.