Monday, May 4, 2009

Liam's birth story

Liam's birth story starts at about 10pm on Monday April 27th. That was the time that we finally got the kids to bed. As soon as they were in bed Owen, Chelsea and I started going through boxes to find the 0-3 month boy clothes. We dug through every misc box of clothes we could find. In the end we only found about 1/3 of what I am relatively certain we had. Oh well. We washed what we found and called it good. Then I packed my bag for the hospital while Owen and Chelsea played Magic. Once the load of Liam's newborn clothes and a few things for myself was in the dryer, I got into the shower and scrubbed my belly with the special soap that they had given me earlier that day during pre-op.

Once I got out of the shower I had Chelsea use my camera to take a few pictures of Me and Owen together holding my belly. I will not be posting those here, cause I find them to be awful, but Owen loves them and thinks they are beautiful.

Then I sat there for a little while and watched them play Magic. I finally went to bed at around 2:30am. Owen never went to bed. He stayed up all night with Chelsea.

At 5:00 my alarm went off and I got up to wash my belly with the special soap again. At 5:30am I called L&D and asked if they wanted me to come in yet. They said to come on in between 6:00 and 6:15. We packed the van, and off to Madigan Army Medical Center we went. Chelsea stayed with the kids.

When we got to MAMC we were triaged in and put in a gorgeous birthing suite. Once again I was struck with jealousy as I came to the realization that I was denied the experience of giving birth the way God intended by a gross betrayal of my own body. They monitored me for a while and asked me if I knew I was having contractions. Nope. I had no idea. Thanks for the info.

One nurse came in and tried to place an IV line. She missed twice. (They left two wicked bruises for the record!) Then we waited around doing nothing for almost an hour while the "changing of the guard" took place (shift change). Once that took place the nurse from the day shift came in and placed two IV lines, one on the inner edge of each wrist. For those of you who don't know, IV's placed in the wrist hurt like a son of a gun! Then the Anesthesiologist came in and talked to me about what to expect. I wanted to remind him that this was not my first rodeo... but his name was Gary, and since my step dad is the coolest dad ever, well I just didn't have the heart to be rude to him in any way. He asked me if I wanted music playing during my c-section. I asked if he had anything by The Beatles. Owen is a huge Beatles fan and I knew it would be really awesome for him if our baby came into the world to The Beatles.

A little while later I was wheeled into the O.R. I was scared to death and all I could think about was that I wanted Owen and I was really mad at my mom for not being there.

Gary the Anesthesiologist turned on The Beatles and started prepping me to place my spinal. I have to give the man credit. It was the first spinal that didn't hurt so bad that I couldn't help but twitch and cry. I managed to sit still all by myself and not shed a single tear!

After I got my spinal, they layed me out and prepped me for my c-section. They used tape and other stuff to hold my belly up and in an out of the way position. Twice during the set-up they called a "time out" and did a verbal check-in to record that all was going well so far. Every time they did I would crack a joke about approving the time-out, in the same manner of a political candidate approving a commercial placed by there camp during an election. Eventually I was numb enough and all prepped. They brought Owen in and started cutting.

The weird thing about c-sections is that you can kind of feel what they are doing. It doesn't hurt in the way that getting cut normally hurts, but you can feel the pressure of what they are doing, so if you pay a little bit of attention, you have a pretty good idea of what is going on, even with the giant sheet in front of your face. You are supposed to tell them if it starts to hurt more that just the pressure.

Now normally c-sections go like this: (just an example using made up times)

10:00- place spinal
10:10- prep for c-section, including fully sanitizing the area of surgery (which kinda tickles for the record.)
10:20- bring in spouse
10:05- begin cutting
10:09- baby is out and cries for the first time. Dad is asked if he wants to move across room to where baby is.
10:10- Dad makes comment about Mom's guts (if he could stomach looking or things that it will not panic Mom)
10:20- Dad brings baby over to see Mom so that she will not start to get anxious. Mom kisses babies head and says something that is really more to calm herself that to calm the baby.
10:30- Uterus is back in place and sewn up. Everything else is being squished back into place so they can close mom up.
10:35- Mom feels something weird. If Dad is still in the room, he peeks over sheet to see that the doctor is using something that resembles a staple gun to close up the outer incision.
10:40- Mom is pretty much cleaned up. This part takes various amounts of time depending on things like how much mom bled.
11:00- Mom and baby are back in Labor room, bonding and waiting to be transferred to post-partum room.

That is generally how a c-section goes, barring anything called "complications". I had complications. See, I have fibromyalgia, and pretty severe adhesions. They are relatively common in people who have multiple c-sections. Mine were so bad that my timeline was more like this: ( I am estimating the times. I have no way of knowing the exact times that every thing took, just the estimations based on what the doctors were saying.)

8:00am: Taken back to OR to place spinal
8:10am: Spinal placed
8:20am: Owen brought in as they were beginning to cut
8:25am: Heard mumbled request asking for a tool that was in the room but had not originally been placed in the sterile field.
8:30am: Smell something that makes me think of burning hair. Ask Owen if he smells anything. He does. So he stands and looks over the sheet. Informs me that they are having to cut out and cauterize large adhesions. Says they kind of resemble ... "nevermind" find out later that he was gonna say strips of bacon. Thanks honey.
8:55am: Hear doctor say quietly that my uterus is freed.
9:07am: Hear cry. Liam is out and HUGE! 10lbs 8oz and 21 inches long! Owen goes across room to help with Liam. He got to cut the cord, sort of.
9:10am: OMG! I HURT!!!!!!!
9:15am: Gary starts slamming medication after medication alternately into my two IV's. He tells me what they are for as he goes, but I am to far gone in pain to hear much more than the fact that he is talking to me.
9:30am: I am screaming. Dear God in HEAVEN! Why does this hurt so bad? It has never hurt like this before! I think I am gonna be sick......
9:35am: Owen brings Liam over to see me. I am mostly incoherent. I remember Liam and Owen being there..... I have no idea what is going on or how much time has passed. The world is carved in red and purple and black and green. There is only pain and the need to throw up. I am holding the two IV poles to keep from flailing and having to be bound down for my own safety.
10:00am: The world starts to blur. I don't think I am gonna puke anymore. I am not even sure I can still breath if I cant focus on someone, any one's eyes, just to keep me anchored.
10:30am: I can feel them staple me closed. Feels just the way it always does. Kind of like getting your ears pierced, but only the pressure of it on one side. Like the earring goes in but doesn't exit.
10:34am: I am basically cleaned up. Where is my mom. I thought she was here.... Where did she go? Where is Owen? Where is Liam, Hell, Where am I?
10:45am: Back in the Labor room. I know that over the next hour people came in. I have the pictures to prove it. I vaguely remember Gary and his assistant coming in to check on me. I remember Sgt. Fredrickson coming in to visit. He was at the hospital for something else and thought he would come up and check on me.

Eventually (about 11:30am I think) Owen left. He went home to rest a little, and get the kids ready to come and visit me once I have been moved to post-partum. I slip in and out of being awake and nurse Liam. He was born pro! I had no problems getting him to latch on. Rachel the Midwife, whom I met one day while in incredible pain (the day they thought I might have had a blood clot in my leg) comes to check on me. While she was there, they decided it was time to move me. She helped move me. I held Liam, a nurse pulled the foot of the bed and Rachel pushed the head of the bed. On the way down the hall I was struck with a funny though. I really wanted my mom there, but for reasons never explained to me, she couldn't be there. I had a man named Gary there (my step dad's name) and a woman named Rachel (my sisters name) there was even a nurse named Rion on the hall (my brothers name is Orion and I think that is pretty close!) but at no point did I get any help from someone with my mom's name.

Once I was settled I called Owen to let him know that I had been moved and that he could come anytime he was ready. He said that the kids were tired and that he was gonna put them down for a nap. They would come when they woke up. It was only 1:30pm so I knew that they would be there around 4. At about 3 a new nurse came in. She was just starting her shift. She came to check and see if I had started bleeding yet. I had. She changed out my padding and started checking my vitals and Liam's vitals. She was just about to leave the room when I felt it. I had had this happen with Mikaela. I said a quick prayer that it wouldn't be so bad this time and then told the nurse (whose name I cant remember for the life of me....) that I was pretty sure that I had just passed a blood clot and had a large gush of blood. She lifted the sheet and check. She looked at me and I could see the concern in her face. Everyone who had looked at my chart knew that I had hemorrhaged with my last c-section and it looked like it was gonna happen again. She called in another nurse. This one was named Kim. I only remember her name cause I remember thinking that she didn't look like a Kim to me. Kim removed my sheet and started massaging my belly. Then I felt it. Like a levee breaking in a flood, her relatively gentle massaging had broken whatever was keeping the bleeding at bay. I was hemorrhaging, and badly. The next thing I knew, I had a room full of doctors and nurses. A doctor from the NICU came in and asked me if she could take Liam with her while they were trying to help me. I panicked. I didn't want Liam to leave the room. I needed him with me. I started crying hard and begged her not to take my baby, please don't take my baby away from me. If you take him away I will just die, I know it. I was bleeding bad enough that she took me seriously when I said I would die without him. She stayed in the room and looked after him for the next two hours as I hemorrhaged. Every time they thought they had gotten enough medication into my system to stop the bleeding they would all start to leave the room. My doctor, Dr. Heitmann never even made it past the nursing station. Every 10 minutes my hemorrhage would start to bleed again and for the next 20 minutes everyone would be holding me and trying to extract blood clots and giving me injections of coagulants to try to control the bleeding. Finally someone said "the OR is free. We can take her back in now if we need to. And just like that, it stopped. I had one more small gush of blood, but that was it. Just as they were preparing to take me back to surgery, God and the medication intervened and I was spared from what would have probably resulted in me having to have a partial Hysterectomy.

Now when I had started hemorrhaging, I had a moment of clarity and sent Owen a text to let him know I was hemorrhaging and that he shouldn't come with the kids till I told him that I was OK and it was safe to bring the kids. Once everything settled, sent him a text. It was 5:00pm. He got the kids ready and was there by about 6:00pm. The kids were instantly in love with Liam. They just couldn't get enough of him! They were very careful not to hurt me, but they climbed all over me and gave me lots of love. At about 7:30 Owen took them home. By 8:00 my I was clear of all the tubes and monitors except the IV in one wrist. I was able to get out of bed and go "potty". That night was calm and peaceful. Liam slept for 3 to 4 hours at a time and then would wake up to nurse for about an hour and a half straight, then would go back to sleep.

The next day was calm too. Dr Heitmann came to check on me in the morning. Some blood work was drawn. My red blood cell count was low but he wasn't worried cause I felt fine and it was to be expected given the circumstances. Liam and I spent the day bonding and cuddling and nursing. Owen brought Mikaela and Aeddon by in the morning after dropping Alexander off at school. Then he took them to the zoo. When Alexander got out of school for the day, he picked him up and took them all back to the zoo. I went for a walk around the hall. Owen brought the kids back in the evening and we all hung out for about an hour. Some friends we had made two weeks before came to see me at almost the same time. It was nice to have visitors. I was bored and lonely.

Thursday morning when I woke up I felt kind of off. Dr. Heitmann came in and said that as long as all was well, I would be going home in the afternoon. The lab tech had already come in and drawn up blood for labs. Breakfast came. The pediatrician came in and asked if I wanted to have Liam circumcised. Then he took him off to have that done. I got halfway though my food when I started to feel really bad. My head was swimming and I was seriously dizzy. I told the nurse how I felt and she went to go let the doctor know. I took a shower and tried to relax. Then my labs came back. My red blood cell count was low. Dangerously low. I had come in with 35 parts red blood cells per "unit measured" I was down to 19 parts per "unit measured". The relative frenzy started again. People started swarming in and out. The next thing I knew I was being given a blood transfusion. I had to get two units of blood. During the transfusion a Chaplain came to visit me. He took a very sweet picture of Liam and me cuddling in the bed, all snuggled up together. He thought I was a hoot. He looked up and realised that he had spent almost a full hour with me. He had only meant to come in and say hi. I had distracted him and he had stayed 45 minutes longer than he had intended!

As I was finishing up my transfusion,at almost 5:00pm, Owen showed up with the kids. It was so nice to see them. They were very concerned about the bag of blood going into my arm. I explained what was going on, and they were very mellow while the nurse took the iv out of my arm (she left the hep-lock in) Then we all hung out, went for a walk and hung out in the "day room". The kids drew pictures. I was tired and overly emotional. I loved having my kids there, but when they left I burst into tears. I didn't want to be alone in the hospital anymore. I wanted to go home.

I got lucky. My blood work results for that evening came in improved. That meant that as long as my morning results were good, I wouldn't need a ct, and I could probably go home!

I couldn't sleep all night. I was to anxious. What would be the results in the morning. That nights results were 25 per unit measured. It was the minimum number that the doctor said he would be "comfortable" with. If my count went down to much they would need to do a ct scan to look for a possible bleed. I was done. I was spent. I couldn't stand the emotional roller coaster any more. I just wanted to go home and be with my family. I didn't care what my red blood cell count was!

In the morning the lab results showed that my blood cell count had dropped again. It was down to 23... but since I was not "symptomatic" I could go home if I wanted to... or I could stay till the next day. I wanted to go home. Dr Heitmann came in and removed the drain that they had in my incision, and the ball got rolling for me to come home. I let Owen know that I would be home by 3:00 that afternoon. He thought I meant that I was going home AT 3:00. He showed up to visit unprepared. He didn't have the car seat. April was with him and she volunteered to stay with me and help me get ready to go home. I showered and changed out of my jammies and into my going home outfit. I started packing up my stuff. Then Owen and the kids showed up again and things really got moving. He got Liam dressed in his going home outfit and then finished packing up my stuff while I nursed Liam and filled out paperwork. Then the nurse inspected our car seat and we were off. Sort of.

We got halfway out of the parking lot when Owen asked me if I had the temporary birth certificate. I did not. He needed it for his leave paperwork, so we parked and April and I stayed in the car with the kids while he ran in and got the paperwork he needed from the records office. Then we left.... and went to his work. He dropped of a copy of the paperwork and then we headed off..... to Burger King. He had promised Aeddon BK before he realised that I was gonna be released before lunchtime. So we went. I figured it was no big deal since I could just sit the whole time..... Then we left BK.... and went grocery shopping. I sat in one of those motorized carts and helped as much as I could. Owen and April did most of the work. Finally we went home. I was tired but happy.

I was home. Home with my family.
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