Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holding our breath- Aiden's "Birth" Story

Its now October 2012, and after revising baby Annabelle's birth story, I realized I never wrote one for Aiden. While I updated FB more often than I should have with the story of Aiden's rocky start, one of my recent goals is to keep a good record of our family on this blog. What better place to start than the past with Aiden's birth (did life exist before kids)?

Holding Our Breath- Welcoming Baby Aiden Into this World

Why did I title this post "Holding Our Breath"? Well, ever since Aiden's diagnosis of duodenal atresia and down syndrome, I felt like we were holding our breath for the next three months waiting for his arrival. The first 5 months of the pregnancy, like any other pregnancy, we was full of  excitement at the thought of our first child. While there is always a little worry about something going wrong, for the most part, we brushed it off as typical new parent anxiety. When we found out about Aiden's medical problem and diagnosis, everything changed. Starting at 28 weeks, I was in constant pre-term labor that had to be managed with medication and results in more trips to the Dr and hospital than anyone should have in their entire life.

Initially, they didn't expect me to stay pregnant past 34 weeks, or should I say our goal was to keep me pregnant to 34 weeks. After 3 amniotic fluid reductions, totalling 6.5 Liters (yes, liters) for the pregnancy, I had finally made it past 36 weeks. Our Dr at this point said they would not take any extra-ordinary measures to stop labor and my bedrest restrictions were lifted, being told only to "take it easy". At 37 weeks, Aiden was still double footling breech and my fluid was still very high. Our Dr decided that at 38 weeks, it would be best if we tried a version (manually turn Aiden so he is head down) and attempt an induction. If they failed to turn him around, I would have a c-section. In my head, I knew the version wouldn't work. It wasn't that I was being a pessimist, but I knew with all the fluid I had, and the fact that he had NEVER maneuvered head down, that it just wasn't going to happen. I did though feel better going into a c-section knowing that I "did everything I could" to try and have a vaginal birth.

The date was set for August 24th. While my regular perinatologist was not available that week, another perinatologist, who I had worked with a few times and was really nice, was supposed to be on duty for my version/induction/c-section. 

Once a date had been set, my parents decided to fly up for the birth and to help out. On August 24th, we all made the 40 minute trek across Portland to Providence St. Vincent hospital, which had a highly specialized NICU team. I checked in around 1 pm. The wing was almost completely empty, except for me. Shortly after, an IV was started and I was given a medication to stop contractions, which could interfere with the version. At that time I was told the perinatologist I was expecting was not there, and that a different OB was assigned to my case. I had met him a few times when I had been admitted for observation, but I didn't really know him and he wasn't very familiar with my case.

The version was very painful. Any woman who has been pregnant knows that any pressure on her belly isnt very comfortable. With 4 times the amniotic fluid I should have and 2 doctors putting their weight into my belly trying to find some sort of body part to maneuver was torture. After about 10 minutes of an attempted version, Aiden started showing signs of stress and decelerated heart rate and it was decided I would go straight to a c-section.

Right before the c-section, getting the spiel on what to expect. Me, pretty gosh darn scared.

Adam suiting up
At no time during the process of getting ready for the c-section was I "excited" about having a baby and meeting my son. I was consumed with fear and worry for my sons health. To be honest, I was scared I wouldn't love him when I met him, that I would only see the "disability" and not just the fact that this was our little boy we had been fighting for for 8.5 months.

The Drs scrubbing in for surgery

I was promptly wheeled into the OR where I was given a spinal. The spinal insertion was not so bad, but I wasn't in labor, as many women are. My legs quickly went numb and heavy and I was prepped for surgery. Once the drape went up in front of face, I really started to get scared. Its a really scary feeling, feeling so out of control of what is happening "below the drape".

My very kind nurse anesthesiologist talked me through everything going on but once I was in the OR, neither of the two doctors working on me ever spoke a word to me. They never told me when they made the first incision. What felt like 2 minutes later, they told Adam to get the camera ready. I asked the nurse, "Wait, they already started?" A minute later I could the feel the pressure of them pulling Aiden out, and Adam busily snapped pictures of him emerging. Then it was quiet and everyone got busy. I could hear them suctioning and Aiden gasping. The next thing I saw was Aiden's purple butt leaving the room. Ahead of time, Adam and I discussed that he was to follow Aiden no matter what happened. So I was left alone. I never got to see the son I had been carrying for 8.5 months and didn't know yet if I would instantly "fall in love" with him, as everyone told me I would.

Purple Aiden leaving the room

Aiden was taken into an adjoining room to be cared for by the NICU team. What I didnt know is that he did much better after just a few short minutes.

These pictures were the first I ever saw of my son... through a tiny camera viewing screen when Adam came back to my room, before I ever allowed to see Aiden in person.

Aiden's belly getting drained of excess fluid 

While I was getting put back together, no one gave me an update on Aiden. I kept asking over and over again and everyone seemed to busy to care or even respond to my questions. The doctors were fielding messages via speakerphone about other patients and creating their schedule for the afternoon. No one told me congratulations. My nurse anesthesiologist, who maybe felt bad for my situation, seemed to be keeping as busy as she could with other tasks and avoiding me as well. I have never felt so alone. Its hard to explain how empty and alone you feel after having your baby removed from you and being left baby-less and with no company behind a cold blue sheet.

After the surgery was over, I was taken back to my original room to recover for a few hours. I was re-united with my kind nurse, who called the NICU team to try and arrange a time to meet my son for the first time. Two hours later they wheeled my ENTIRE HOSPITAL BED down 2 stories to the intensive NICU floor, where I finally got to meet my son for the first time.

It was love at first site.......

I spent the following 2 days in the tiniest of recovery rooms. I feel lucky that I had met a few AMAZING WONDERFUL nurses who "mothered" me through the next few days. While I had a lot of hormones and a "birth high", I still found myself crying and having a very difficult time emotionally. Being in a recovery room, surrounded by other mothers who get to spend as much time with their babies as they want, was very hard. I knew ahead of time he would be going to the NICU, so the fact that I was alone in the recovery room was no surprise. But it was still difficult. I couldn't sleep at all, mostly from stress, but due to the fact that someone is always coming into your room ever 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. 

After 48 hours in the hospital and feeling pretty well physically, I demanded to be released so I could at least be home with Adam and my parents. While many people would have wanted to be in the hospital, closer to their baby, I felt like I could actually see Aiden more if I was released. It was very very difficult for me to be able to see my son. He was several floors away and I had to schedule it with the nurses around my medication schedule, and Aiden's schedule and ACTUALLY HAVE TRANSPORTATION SHOW UP! I was not allowed to walk there on my own, and had to have someone from the transportation (wheelchair) department come and take me. 

On the second night in the hospital, the baby in the room next to me was crying all night. My day time nurse had come in to say good-bye at the end of her shift to find me crying in my room. I missed my little boy and transportation had already told me they didn't have anyone that late at night to send to take me down to the NICU. Even though she was off the clock, the nurse insisted she wheel me down to the NICU, if not for me, than the fact that she want to meet my little boy. 

In the midst of some of the hardest times, you can meet the greatest people. 


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