I'm sitting here with the baby monitor receiver next to me, listening for Andrew to wake up. I can't believe that he is one month old already. In some ways it feels like its been a long time, and in others it feels like it has just been a few days.
One month ago today…
I was moved from my Antepartum room where I'd been residing for the past 3 weeks to a Labor and Delivery Room at 2:00 am because the doctors decided it was time for me to have my baby after they reviewed the results of the growth scan ultrasound I'd had done on Monday. Tuesday the doctors got the results and came in to discuss them with me. First of all Dr. Flandermeyer, one of the residents, came in and told us the overview of the results. The baby's abdomen had mostly caught up to his head and legs, but his head and legs had not grown in the past 3 weeks. Now his body was measuring in the 31 week range, and we were just 2 days shy of 35 weeks. Later that afternoon, Dr Easterling, the attending OB came in and said, "We didn't like your ultrasound. It's time for you to have your baby." Matt and I asked when, and he replied, "As soon as we have a Labor and Delivery room available, so probably later tonight." We were a little shocked at the speed that things were moving.
Another resident, Dr Roemer, came in to talk to us that evening and explain some things, and then she said that she wanted to check my cervix to see if I'd dilated any further since it hadn't been checked since the day after I arrived at the hospital. She proceeded to perform what felt like the longest cervical check in history. She said, "I'm sorry this is taking so long, but I want to be sure, I think I feel a hand." I replied, "Hey, what a coincidence, me too!" Then I said, "I'm willing to bet that the hand you're feeling is smaller than the one I'm feeling." She didn't seem to share my sense of humor, she said, "The hand you're feeling is mine." Really???
At midnight, my nurse came in to start an IV and take vitals, and then tell us to get some rest, they'd be moving us as soon as a room was available. Two hours later, she was back with yet another new doctor. This time it was Dr Maserie. She was explaining things to me as we were moved into our labor room and telling me what was going to happen. She told us how they were going to induce labor. Instead of using a medicinal method like Pitocin or Cervadyl, they were going to insert a Foley Bulb. Let me tell you, any time they say "Insert" you know you're in for a good time. The bulb is basically a balloon they inflate to dilate the cervix and it can't come out until you're dilated enough.
After explaining this, they said that they had 3 other deliveries in progress that they had to get back to, and they'd come get things going for me as soon as they could, and then they left the room telling me to get some rest. Yeah, right.
At 4:00 am Dr Maserie returned and began my induction. She told me that the Foley Bulb usually works in 12 hours and in rare cases up to 24 hours. Needless to say, I'd been hoping for something a little quicker, but they were doing a slow induction for me to see how the baby and I tolerated it, and if either of us were in distress, they could stop it quickly and move to a c-section.
In my case, the Bulb worked its magic very quickly. I was contracting within the hour, and this time, unlike all the previous contractions I'd had but never really felt, these hurt! I had also started bleeding again as soon as they put the Bulb in. The doctor said we'd just monitor it and make sure it didn't get worse.
I kept on contracting, and gripping the rails of my bed, and breathing long deep breaths for the next few hours. At 8:00 am the day team came in. That is one thing about being in a teaching hospital, you never suffer from a lack of doctors. This time I had an attending, a couple of residents, and a nurse, and it was one of the smaller teams I'd been visited by. Dr Simmons, the attending, came in and assessed my situation and determined that it was time to remove the Foley Bulb. I was a little shocked that it had worked so fast, only 4 hours. My nurse commented that it was the fastest she'd ever seen one work.
As I ate breakfast (between contractions) I joked with Matt, "We should be able to knock this out by lunchtime." Well, after breakfast my contractions slowed down a bit, and thankfully so did the bleeding. When I wasn't bleeding, my contractions didn't hurt, when I was, oh boy did they hurt! And it was all in my back, which the doctor tells me is very unpleasant. Again, Really??? I hadn't figured that out yet. She also strongly encouraged me to get an epidural. I told her that I didn't want to get it too soon, and she told me there was no too soon, and just to get it whenever I was ready.
I decided to hold off for awhile because I wanted to be able to get up and walk around. So we got the portable baby/contraction monitor and I donned my very stylish hospital robe and off we went. I was allowed to walk around the labor and delivery hall, but no further because my monitor wouldn't work beyond that. So we made a few laps around L&D and then went back to our room. The nurse got me a rocking chair and then started my Pitocin drip. I sat in the rocking chair for the next couple hours while my contractions got steadily stronger and closer together.
The doctors were all very encouraged that I'd be able to proceed with a natural delivery. I wanted to believe them, but all along I just had a feeling that it wasn't in the cards for me and that I'd end up in surgery.
We kept at it all afternoon and evening. I ordered dinner (a cheeseburger, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed baby carrots, and tapioca pudding) because I knew that once I got my epidural, I was back on clear liquids. About and hour and a half after I'd eaten, the anesthesiologist came in for my consult and asked how I felt about pain control. I told him that I was highly in favor of it. He decided that we should just go ahead and do the epidural now. He left to get his supplies and returned shortly with the attending anesthesiologist and a cart with all kinds of stuff on it.
The epidural was the worst part of the entire labor and delivery experience for me. For most people it isn't too bad, but when one of your biggest fears is having your spine touched, having an epidural is about the worst thing you can imagine. I was also contracting frequently and painfully during the whole process and they had to stop every time I had a contraction, so it took longer than it normally would have. I was so relieved when it was finally in, for two reasons. One, they were no longer poking my spine and stabbing needles into it; and two, suddenly all my pain was gone. At this point I saw the name tag on the resident anesthesiologist. His name was Daniel. I pointed it out to Matt and said, "Good thing it's already on the list, otherwise we'd have to add it!" (We had narrowed down our choices for our son's name to our top 3. Andrew, Daniel, and Samuel.) However, once they were done and they went to get me back into bed, I began bleeding heavily. The doctors looked a little concerned by the amount of blood and decided to watch me closely. Over the next hour things did not improve and now Dr Maserie decided that it was time to consider a c-section. She said she was going to talk to the rest of the team and recommend it. We asked her what the time frame for that would be and she said, "About 30 minutes." Once again we were a little stunned at how fast things moved.
She left to talk to the team and came back a few minutes later and said they agreed with her and that they were going to start prepping me. The anesthesiologists came back in and starting pumping even more drugs into me, and the nurses came in with a whole bunch of gown kits, and gave one to Matt so he could be with me in the operating room. A few minutes later they were wheeling me out of the room. Matt kissed me and told me that he'd be in there in a few minutes.
As they took me down to the OR, I was praying. I just asked God for peace and comfort while I was in there, and told him that both my life and that of my son's were in His hands and that I trusted Him completely. Then I began repeating the words of the song "Always" that had been somewhat of a theme song for me during my hospitalizations and bed rest.
They moved me to the operating table and the anesthesiologists began making sure that I was numb enough and the nurses were making the room ready. Just as they were finishing the preparations, a monitor started beeping and the nurse yelled, "PAGE EMERGENCY, RIGHT NOW!!!!" Another nurse looked at the monitor and said, "That's Mom's heartbeat." The first nurse said, "NO, that's Mom's heartbeat," pointing at another monitor, "That's baby's heartbeat! PAGE EMERGENCY NOW!"
In that instance, my prayer simply became, "Please God, please God, please God." Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. The doors opened and a whole crowd of people flooded in. My two main doctors that evening were on either side of me, and Daniel, the anesthesiology resident who did my epidural was at my head. His attending counterpart was further down the table by Dr. Warner, the Chief Resident. I could feel some pressure on my stomach, but nothing else, and the next thing I knew, I heard Dr Warner say, "Ok, placenta is out." I started thinking, "If placenta is out, shouldn't baby be out too?" Then as I was feeling more pressure on my stomach, I heard a tiny little cry from somewhere off to my right. Daniel leaned down and said, "Do you hear him? That's your baby, he's crying." I said, "Oh thank God!" And then I began to cry. I asked, "Is he ok?" but Daniel didn't have any answers about my baby because he was not part of that team and he told me that a member of the NICU team would be over to talk to me soon.
A moment later, as I was still feeling lots of pushing and tugging on my stomach, and could hear muffled conversation between Drs Warner and Maserie, I heard Matt talking to me. He had suddenly appeared at my head, and asked me how I was. I guess I was still crying, and I asked him how the baby was. He told me that he was fine. Then he told me that the team was getting ready to take the baby to the NICU and asked me if I wanted him to stay with me or go with the baby? I told him to go to the NICU with the baby, and that I'd be fine. Dr Warner told me that everything had gone well, and that it was a record for Dr Maserie. From the time they began until the baby was out was less than a minute. A NICU doctor came to talk to me as the rest of the team took our son to the their unit. She told me that he was fine, and that he'd come out breathing on his own, but was having a little trouble so they were giving him some help. I honestly don't remember if they told me in the OR that he weighed 3 lbs 11 oz, or if Matt told me afterwards. I think I heard it in the OR.
Daniel came back to my head and handed my some little cotton pads to use as tissues because they didn't have any tissue in the OR. I didn't realize I was still crying that point. They removed my oxygen mask, and then another team came in to take X-Rays. Dr Warner explained to me that they usually do an instrument count before a procedure but they didn't have time, so they had to X-Ray me. It didn't become clear to me until about an hour later when I was back in recovery what that all meant. They worked so fast to get the baby out that they didn't have time to count their instruments before they started, so they had to make sure that they hadn't left anything inside me.
After the X-Ray, they moved me back to the gurney to take me to recovery. They put warm blankets on me, and I became aware of the fact that my entire body was shaking. In my recovery room, I asked for my phone and called my mom and my sister and told them I was ok. Matt came back to my room and told me that the baby was ok, and that they had him on a CPAP machine to help him breathe easier. He showed me a picture of our tiny little boy. Then he asked me how I was doing, and I told him that I was fine, but that I couldn't stop shaking and I didn't know why since I wasn't cold. He patiently explained to me, "Honey, you just had the most massive adrenaline dump of your life."
I asked him what he thought the baby's name was, since we had said all along we had to wait to see him to determine his name. He said that he didn't know. Then he asked the nurse how much longer I'd be in recovery. She said about another hour, so he went back to the NICU. He came back again and got all our stuff gathered up to move to my Postpartum room. He took the stuff down, and then met me in the NICU. They wheeled my bed right up to the isolette that contained my teeny tiny little son. I was able to open the little door and reach in and touch him. We stayed there for a few minutes and then Matt asked me, "So, what is his name?" From the day I found out we were having a boy, I'd loved the name Samuel. It means, "Asked of God, heard by God." I thought that name was appropriate in my case, because this baby was certainly asked of God, and the fact that he'd hung in there as long as he had told me that he'd been heard by God too. I was in recovery thinking about the names and still feeling that his name was going to be Samuel. And then, in that moment when Matt asked me what his name was, I looked at his little face (what I could see of it) and said, "I think he's an Andrew." I just knew that Andrew was the perfect name for him because it means strong and courageous and I knew that summed up my little fighter just perfectly.
Matt and the nurse, Lacey, exchanged a look and then Matt told me that when he'd been in there looking at him, Lacey had asked what his name was and Matt told her that we didn't know yet. He told her the 3 we had it narrowed down to and she said, "I don't want to influence your decision in any way, but I think he's an Andrew." Matt said, "That's what I think too, of course now Steph will come in and say, 'He's a Samuel.'"
And that is how our little Andrew Christopher came into the world.