Monday, August 11, 2014

Penelope Darling: Birth Story

I can't imagine forgetting a single thing during those four days. I have been meaning to write it down as soon as possible, but of course, we have been fairly preoccupied. Our precious little girl came 3 weeks early, and it wasn't quite all smooth sailing, but it was the most incredible experience of our lives and I treasure those 4 days so, so much. David and I wrote down every thing we remembered from those days, its long...good luck!

We ended up moving rooms quite a bit due to the different issues that came up, and David and I both agree now that it's the easiest way to try to remember everything that happened, segmented by room. But before that, we had to actually get to the hospital.

At work on Friday, I felt more contractions that normal, and had assumed they were Braxton Hicks, which I had been having only a couple a day, at most, for a few weeks. I decided to start keeping track, just in case. I also had more swelling than normal. My feet had been swollen for a few weeks then, and had called my midwife twice in the previous few weeks to ensure it wasn't anything to be worried about. They told me additional things to keep an eye out for, and if they showed up, then I was to call them again.

I called my midwife late morning to tell them that the swelling had gotten significantly worse, that I was having more Braxton Hicks than normal, and most importantly, that I was bleeding a little bit. I had my weekly appointment with them scheduled for that afternoon at 3, and they were a bit concerned and wanted me to come in. 

David and I head in, and they take my blood pressure, which they do at the beginning of each visit. It was high, which surprised me considering it was usually "excellent." They took it again to make sure it was accurate, and it was. Then they checked me, and I was 1 centimeter dilated. This wasn't a huge deal though,  and I could have remained at that point for the next week, weeks, or more. It didn't mean labor has really begun. They took my blood pressure again at the end of my visit, and it was still reading the same. They told me to take it easy and we scheduled an appointment for that Monday so they could keep an eye on my blood pressure again. We left feeling much better. 

Saturday morning came around, and I woke up at 3:30 am with a strong contraction. By 4 am, I had already had a few more and started timing them again. By 6 am, I was having 1 every 7-9 minutes. I woke David up at that point, and decided to wait to see if they persisted. by 8 am, they were still coming on, stronger and closer. I called my midwife, and they, based on the contractions and my high blood pressure from the day before, agreed I should head to the hospital, just so they could check me out. We hop in the car and start driving to Vanderbilt. About halfway there I noticed they had stopped. No contractions for the past 20 minutes. I thought that was it, and it was a false alarm. I was embarrassed they would assume I had cried wolf. We continued to the hospital regardless, because we still had the blood pressure issue to consider and wanted to ensure everything was okay. 

Room 1: Triage 
Day 1, Saturday July 26: They initially put me in a room in triage, since we/they didn't believe I was in labor, instead I was just to be monitored. I change into my gown, they hooked me up to an IV, and put a blood pressure cuff on that took it every 15 minutes. I also got my first catheter...eek! Then they checked me, I was at 2 centimeters. Progress, but not full on labor by any means. I also still hadn't felt a contraction in a while, it had been nearly 45 minutes since my last one at this point. We assumed we would be there for a couple of hours while they monitored Penelope and I, and then would be sent home until she was ready to come, closer to her due date. But then the contractions started up again. Quickly they got to 5 minutes apart, stronger and stronger. Because of my blood pressure, they wanted to test me for a couple of different things, A nurse came in and started feeling around my stomach, she said she believed Penny was breach, and needed to do an ultrasound to find out. If she was, they were going to do a c-section. I didn't believe she was...I had a good handle the last couple months on where she was in my belly, what was which body part poking me, etc. Plus, at my appointment on Friday, the day before, they said she was in the right position. I wasn't really worried about it, but they did an ultrasound regardless. They checked me after 2 hours, I was 5 centimeters dilated. The nurse said "it looks like we're going to have this baby today!" They immediately wheeled me to a Labor and Delivery room. As they rolled me over, I saw my two sisters (both who live in town) in the waiting room, they looked so excited! David called our out of town parents, and they both headed to Nashville. 

Room 2: Labor and Delivery

Day 1, Saturday July 26: Things were progressing quickly, and my blood pressure continued to rise. We had planned on a natural birth, but my midwife and doctor explained that due to my rising blood pressure, the more uncomfortable I got and the more intense the pain, the higher it would continue to go. They gave me two options, get an epidural, which would ease the pain allowing me to relax and therefore should lower my blood pressure, or be put on Magnesium Sulfate. They warned me though that Mag can make you groggy and nauseous, effect your eyesight, and would do nothing to assist with the pain. If I had to take something, and they both were thought to help with my blood pressure, then the choice was clear, the one that would assist with the pain. I was progressing really quickly, contractions were 2-3 minutes apart at this point. The anesthesiologist came to our room really quickly, and eased my worry about having it done. She was so friendly, from Germany, and this was her last day there. I'm so glad we were able to have her. She administered the epidural, which initially worked great. I felt nothing, and was able to relax, and try to lower my blood pressure that way. Things continued to progress, and I still had the blood pressure cuff on my arm going off every 15 minutes. When it was too high, it would go off beeping to alert a nurse, and wouldn't shut off until they came in to check things out. It went off beeping every time it was checked, from when I arrived that morning, until that point. I eventually started to feel quite a bit of pain again, though only on my left hip. The anesthesiologist came back in and administered a higher dose. It numbed my lower half even more, though I could still feel pain in my left side. They continued to check my blood pressure, which had not gone down since I got the epidural a few hours before. Because the epidural hadn't helped with my blood pressure, they decided they needed to start me on Mag, also. It didn't take long for me to feel completely out of it, and I guess it wasn't hard to notice. I was also told that as long as I was on the Magnesium Sulfate (24 hours) I was not allowed to hold Penny unless someone was in the room with me, due to its affects. When I finally came off of it, David admitted he knew I wasn't all there, just in such a daze. Around the same time, the nurse asked if she could break my water to try and move things along, since I was at about 7cm. Labor progressed, I could still feel contractions on my side, and eventually started throwing up, thanks to the Mag. My eyes were starting to feel the effects also, blurry and dragging. Things kept progressing, and I had a second round of throwing up, a higher epidural dose, and rising blood pressure. I could comprehend everything that was going on in my mind, though. At this point, I hear a nurse say "her heart rate is dropping."

At this point I was in a daze, and a lot was going on, so here is David's memory of it:

The entire day I was living and breathing off of the heart rate/BP monitor. I was constantly looking over and checking Penny's heart rate, and Mckenzie's blood pressure. I too heard the nurse say "her heart rate is dropping", and look over to the monitor to see Penelope's heart rate go from 140 (where it had been all day) to 120... 110... 90... 80... 70, and within about 60 seconds the amount of people in the room doubled, and a doctor rushed over to us to talk. Initially he leaned down to Mckenzie to explain, but seeing that she was pretty out of it, talked to me instead. He said we had two options: If she was 10cm dilated, he could use forceps to assist pushing and get her out, or if she wasn't, we needed to do an emergency c-section. The nurse quickly confirmed we were at 10cm, and the doctor - who had initially assured me he was an expert at using forceps - handed them off to a resident (I guess it can be expected since Vanderbilt is a teaching hospital). Regardless, I was extremely nervous hearing the doctor walk this 20-something year old through using forceps for the first time. Once they were placed, two nurses and the doctor quickly starting to try to explain what Mckenzie will be doing. One nurse said "OK, we are going to do 10 second pushes, 3 in a row, followed by a rest. Push from your lower pelvis, using your abs, in sort of a downward pressure". The doctor quickly inserted himself and blurted out "just push like you are having the strongest bowel movement of your entire life, ready, PUSH". 5 or 6 pushes later, we were holding our baby girl.

Mckenzie here again: I push, not knowing if anything was even happening, really. I couldn't feel a thing, and was in such a daze. I look over towards David halfway through the 6 pushes, and it was just in time. I see his face just light up, and he says, "Mckenzie, she has brown hair, just like you!" My heart swelled more than it ever has before at that moment. A whole new reality of the situation overwhelmed me, it was incredible. I push 2 or 3 more times, and she was here. She made two of the sweetest cries, as they were bring her to me and laying her on my chest, then she was just so silent, looking everywhere, so curious. I cried harder than I ever had before. it was the single most incredible moment of my life. I had my sweet baby girl in my arms, finally getting to see her precious face, and my amazing husband with his arms around us both. We just soaked in every second of that moment. The nurse grabbed our camera and snapped some pictures, I am so incredibly grateful she did. I actually had no idea until I flipped through them when we got home. 

We both had tears streaming down our faces, I adore this picture so much. 

We actually were in that room for 2 hours before we had family come in. I am so glad we did, it was such a special time, just the three of us. It was around 11:00 before family joined us. We had all of our parents, and my two sisters there with us. I loved watching everyone meet her for the first time. 

Room 3: Overflow Recovery

Day 1, Saturday July 26:  It was a busy weekend at Vanderbilt, all the recovery rooms were filled, so we headed to an overflow recovery room. Our nurse was so sweet, she said she called ahead to make sure we got the largest room. David's dad and stepmom went out to bring David food, we hadn't realized that other than a slice of cafeteria pizza he had at around 5, he hadn't eaten since 7 that morning. They were so sweet to do that. They even snuck in a piece of cake for him, it was someones birthday, after all! So there we were, our first night together; David on a cot, Penny in her little newborn cart, me in my hospital bed, still hooked up to the blood pressure cuff, and still on Mag, which I would be on for 24 hours, still with my catheter. I also wasn't allowed to eat while I was on the Mag either (talk about hungry). My blood pressure cuff was going off the whole night, but it was still the sweetest. Penny was so good to us that first night, sleeping soundly unless we woke her up to eat every 3 hours. She must have known we needed the rest...she did too. A nurse came in every hour to check me for different things, mainly my blood pressure, and to see how the Mag was affecting was affecting me. Penny did have a bit of difficulty maintaining her body temperature, which meant lots of skin to skin (no problem!), this was all due to her tiny size. They took her temp once an hour, and while it took some time, she eventually got to a place they were happy about. 

Day 2, Sunday July 27: We woke up the next day, and were told we would be moving to Maternal Special Care, a room had finally opened up. They wheeled Penny and I over to the new room. 

Room 4: Maternal Special Care

Day 2, Sunday July 27: It was here that we found out that I actually had hypertension, and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, the very thing hanging in the back of my mind since my feet ballooned a couple weeks before.  I am glad they didn't tell me until the next day, it would have worried us all more, which wouldn't have helped. Our nurses told us that the best "cure" for preeclampsia (the high blood pressure was a result of having it) is giving birth, but that didn't do it for me. It was still just as high as it had been before. They wanted to keep an extra close eye on me in the Maternal Special Care unit, telling me to try to stay calm, and that visitors wouldn't be a good idea for the time being. I needed it to be relaxing, and calming, and to try to get it under control. None of it seemed to help. Overall though, it was a really great day. That evening, at 9:00 I was taken off the Magnesium Sulfate. it only took 1 hour for me to feel 100% like myself again, and down an ice cold chicken sandwich from McDonalds. I hadn't eaten anything in nearly 2 days....and it was the most amazing meal I had ever had. Once the medicine wore off though, I broke down, but with happy tears. I wasn't groggy anymore, and felt as if I got to truly soak in the fact that my baby girl was here, for the first time. It was just David, Penny, and I in the room (until the hourly checks for baby and I) and we had my hospital bed pushed right up to David's cot, I was holding Penny, and David and I were just soaking it in. It was a truly wonderful night. 

Day 3, Monday July 28: Today, they came in to take some of Penny's blood, to test it. They pricked her heel, and we heard the saddest cry we had ever heard. Eventually, they come back to tell us that Penny had jaundice. Her having jaundice in itself didn't worry me, I knew it was fairly common and easy to treat, but it was how it is treated that broke our hearts in half. They needed to put her under the ultraviolet lights for 15 hours. They asked if we wanted them to bring the light into our room so we could be with her, we both immediately said yes. They bring in the cart and light, and put her on it, naked, and with these foam goggles on. She was confused and scared I'm sure. She couldn't see us, was naked, and waving her arms around looking for something to hold onto. I was a mess, I don't think we cried so hard in our entire lives. We just wanted to scoop her up, plaster her with kisses, and wrap her up. After about 15 minutes, the nurse saw how it was affecting us (Penny still crying, the most she had in her short life) and realized it, of course, wasn't going to be good for me and my (still high) blood pressure. She suggested we bring her to the nursery. Initially we were both against it, but then we realized it would be better for her (there were 6 nurses in there, and only 2-3 babies) and better for me, health wise. They said they would bring her to my room (I was still unable to move at this point, being hooked up to several things and the affects of the medicine) every 3 hours so I could feed her. I asked David (he agreed) to go to the nursery with her to see what it was like. He also asked my parents to come to the hospital, I was such a mess. They came, I sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. Eventually I was able to calm down, once David got back from bringing Penny to the nursery and assuring me it was great. He said she stopped crying shortly after getting there, and the nurses were wonderful. He told me they were ogling over Penny and that she was in great hands. This all took place in the evening, that night they moved us to General Postpartum.

Room 5: General Postpartum 

Day 4, Tuesday July 29: We get moved int our new room, and 3 hours later, they brought Penny to us so I could feed her. I was so excited, I missed her so much. She could only be out from the lights for 30 minutes at a time. I fed her, soaking in every minute with my sweet girl. Then the nurses came back, she needed to go back to the nursery under the lights. And I broke down again crying (I know, such a mess). The nurse (one of my favorites from our time there) suggested I pump instead, so that every 3 hours I wouldn't have a meltdown (talk about hormones). I agreed (I didn't want too, but it made sense). So they brought down a pump, show us how to use it and instructed us to clean it after each use. This is where my husband just blew me away (yet again). He would get me up every 3 hours, get the pump set up, I would pump for 20 minutes, and then he would take it to the nursery, and feed it to our daughter with a dropper, and then stay up there with her, watching her and talking to the nurses for another hour/hour and a half. Then he would come back down (while I was sleeping) and clean the pump and its parts, sleep for maybe 30 minutes, and do it all over again, the entire night. He was incredible. I have never been more impressed and thankful that he is my husband. 

In the afternoon, David and my dad went out to get some non-hospital food for lunch, Chipotle! David needed the time outside of the hospital, and some normal food. It was just me and my sweet girl in the room for about 2 hours. Bella Baby Photography came to our room and took some pictures of Penny, they are adorable! The nurses told us where we each stood, I seemed in good enough shape to be discharged, at this point, it was all Penny. They needed to re-test her blood to see if her bilirubin's were down (jaundice) and they needed to see if she had gained any weight. She was born at 6 pounds, 2 ounces, and had dropped down to 5 pounds 9 ounces, nearly exactly a 10% weight loss. They said anything up to 10% is normal after birth, and that they should be up to birth weight by 2 weeks. Because she was so tiny to begin with, they didn't want to discharge her until they saw her gain some weight, just so they would know she wasn't loosing anymore. So over the last 24 hours we were feeding her until she nearly burst! This also helped with lowering the bilirubin's, which babies can poop out! So feeding as much as possible was a win-win. 

Later on, they came in to weigh her and take some blood so they could see if her numbers were down and good enough for us to be discharged. They weighed her, and she had gained 1 ounce, so her weight was in the clear! They took her blood from her heel, and the results would take 2 hours to come in. They also formally discharged me, so since I no longer needed any medical attention, they moved us to a Family Room.

Room 6: Family Room

Day 4, Tuesday July 29: They moved us to a Family Room at around 3:00, where it was equipped to take care of just Penny. It had a pullout sofa, mini fridge, etc. for David and I to hang out while she was checked up on. It was like a studio hotel room. We knew/were hoping we wouldn't be there long. As long as her blood work came back in the clear, we were going to be going home that evening. David napped, and I held my sleeping baby. at around 4:30, a nurse came in and told us her blood work was good, we were good to go home!

David went to the car to get the carseat, and I finished packing up our things. We put our tiny baby in the carseat, goodness she was so tiny. 

We hop in the car, my first time outside in 4 days! Penny's first time outside ever! We get home to my waiting parents, and some decorations out front. "It's a Girl!" and pink balloons, a "Happy Birthday" banner, and some newly potted flowers on the front porch. We get inside, and there are pink flowers on the table, a birthday cake for Penny (complete with a "0" candle) and some festive paper plates to match. It was surreal being home, being in the nursery we spent so much time in talking about when our girl would finally be in it.

Room 7: Triage.... Again

Thursday July 31: Things went great Tuesday night, and Wednesday. Thursday evening though, I took my blood pressure (David's stepmom was a nurse and had an electronic cuff on hand she had let us borrow the week before.) and it was really high again. David suggested I call my midwife, just to see what they would suggest. I do, and they tell me to head to the hospital, Triage. I get there with David and Penny, they give me another IV and monitor my blood pressure every 15 minutes. We were there for 3 hours, the first 2/2.5 hours, my blood pressure remained the same, high. I'm unsure what, but after that 2/2.5 hours, it started going down, and quickly! It got to normal shortly, it was so great. They were talking about putting me on Magnesium Sulfate again (NOO!) so this was truly an answer to prayers. They discharge us, and we head home, by now it is about 10 pm. 

It was an incredible 4 days, filled with a lot of curveballs and hiccups, but it was the best 4 days of our lives. 

No comments:

Post a Comment