Thursday, June 02, 2011
Part 2: Getting Her Here
(Stephen's sketch of me in labor)
I sat, I layed down, I walked around, I climbed up and down the stairs.. I did everything I could think of to make the contractions go away.. and they didn't stop. I tracked them on a my little note pad for 3 hours. They were never completely consistent but they were getting closer and closer together. 6 minutes, 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes.. the pain was getting more intense and I started to wonder if my verbal attempts to breathe through them might be mistaken for some sort of x-rated video if overheard by the sleepers upstairs. Finally I decided that this was something at least more real than the night before and called the doctor. The automated message told me that once again Dr. Cranky was on call. DANG IT. I hung up fast, waiting another agonizing 30 minutes and watched as the contractions became even closer together, averaging 4 minutes apart. I screwed up my courage and put on my big girl panties and called him back. I woke him up again, since by this time it was about 4:15 am. I told him the situation, pausing to breathe through yet another contraction, and he groggily told me to come on in again and get checked out. I hung up and struggled up the stairs to wake Stephen. He was wide awake in moments and we gathered the few things we had left to put into our hospital bag, he went and whispered to Mary (who was slumber partying on an air mattress in the girls' room.. and still is by the way) that we were on our way to the hospital again.
I continued to have contractions every 4 minutes on the dot all the way to the hospital.. ouch.. how did you do that in a cab L ?!?!? We waddled inside and checked back into the birth center. It took moments to let us know that we were there to stay this time. I even started throwing up.. not a big deal for me of course but just another sure sign that I really was in labor. The nurse was super nice and super quick and we were on our way to a labor and delivery room. Once we were there Dr. Grumpy arrived to see how things were going (for the record I really like this doctor.. in person.. just not a big fan of calling and waking him up). I was only dilated about 1 1/2 but things were progressing well so he went away again. Stephen and I were so excited to be on this new adventure.. I never even went into labor with the girls. He held my hand through the contractions and swore that I wasn't hurting him when I squeezed (later he admitted that I had dug my fingernails into this skin :). After another 4 hours or so the doctor came in and saw that I had not really progressed beyond that 1 1/2. By this point I was pretty exhausted. I hadn't really slept in 3 days and though the contractions were still something I could handle with smiles in between.. there wasn't much room to rest with them coming every 3 minutes. I decided was ready for an epidural... I just needed some sleep.. badly. I was still throwing up and now I could feel a slight headache starting to brew up there. Dr. H (as he shall now be known from this point forward) was old school and so could do his own epidurals and he came in about 20 minutes later to take care of it. Strange strange feeling, there was burning.. cold sensations.. pain that felt like I had been kicked in the back.. and most disturbingly a series of pops and cracks as he threaded the thing in there.. and then a warning. Only about 85% of these things actually work.. so .. cross your fingers. Mine was in that 15%. Sigh of relief. My lower half felt like it had been wrapped in a warm blanket. The contractions raged away on the monitor, rain pattered on the windows of our room.. Stephen opened his sketch book and started drawing.. and I slipped off to sleep. It was heavenly. The next time he came through I had dilated another 2! Since I was trying for a VBAC the fact that he epidural didn't seem to be slowing things down was a very good sign as that had been a risk of this pain reliever. I went back to sleep, encouraged. I woke about an hour later to some pain. The epidural wasn't working on my left side. I told the nurse it was fine since it wasn't nearly as painful as the full deal had been. But despite her best efforts to fix the problem they only got more painful.. another 3 hours with no sleep but I still felt good and rested from the nap I had taken while things were working properly. When Dr. H returned to check things we were shocked to learn that there had been no progress. He decided to let me go another hour or so and check again. He was looking a bit concerned since he has actually witnessed several uterine ruptures (along with my nurse) and he didn't want to take any chances. When he returned again there had still be no progress. The issue was that ever since my arrival at the hospital my contractions had never really regulated.. they were erratic from the start and that was not encouraging. He made the decision that we were headed for another C-Section. In his words "In Vegas you can bet the house and lose and still walk away.. but this isn't Vegas.. and we aren't better houses.". I had met with him several times during the last 9 months and each time I had agreed to follow his (or the other doctors in the practice) advice at all times if I wanted to try this VBAC thing so I didn't even shed a tear when he told me this news. I was prepared. I knew it was a risk and above all I wanted our little one to get here safely and not lose any important reproductive organs in the process. Within 20 minutes we were rolling down that familiar hall toward the OR.
The spinal was administered.. I listened while the nurses teased Dr. H about his approaching retirement... giggled when he drew a funny face on my belly with his surgical marker. Then Stephen showed up.. and moments later they told him he could look over the curtain and he watched her being born. As soon as she cried I burst into tears.. of course. The nurses exclaimed about what a big girl she was (7 lbs and 15 oz) and announced that she had a head full of dark hair. She was absolutely beautiful. They took her off to bathe her.. Stephen followed. The team started stitching me back up. I tried to go to sleep on the table.. I was so stinkin' tired at this point. Tired and relieved that she was here and that at 3:08 in the afternoon on May 23rd I had my 3rd daughter safe and sound. Soon we were on our way to recovery.. together! That didn't happen with the girls.
She was beside me getting her first real bath and when she fussed I talked to her from feet away and she went silent and looked in my direction. My heart soared. I shivered my way through the morphine and spinal wearing off.. I trembled my way through loads of questions and instructions I had heard before. Meanwhile Stephen hovered between the two of us. Dr. H came in to see everyone and apologize for the tiny cut he had made on her cheek.. the nurses teased him.. we assured him it was fine .. it was just a scratch.. and thanked him for delivering our daughter safely. Franky's nurse kept hovering around her bed.. she was listening intently to her chest.. she smiled and joke and laughed but underneath it all.. she looked concerned. She called another nurse in to listen.. they kept it light.. but still looked concerned. They had heard something funny in her chest.. maybe she had inhaled some fluid. They would just keep checking, sure she was fine. We all headed to our more permanent hospital room.
Franky was pretty sleepy but I tried nursing her anyway.. she was too sleepy to latch. No worries - Ada was that way when she was born too. We took a few pictures. 15 minutes passed. That baby nurse showed back up. She just couldn't get that chest sound out of her head and had come back to check her again.. and check her oxygen saturation levels with a hand held device. She checked once.. twice.. she got another device to check the same thing.. still not satisfied she assured us that sometimes the battery powered ones didn't work correctly and she was going to take her to the nursery to check her on another monitor. They would bring her back in a few minutes or let us know what they found out. Stephen was ready to go get the girls and Grammy. I told him it was fine to go.. I was fine and resting comfortably by now. He kissed me, smiled with those happy eyes, and left.
Soon after he left a nurse came in to tell me that they were still watching her in the nursery and weren't sure how much longer she would be there. I called Stephen to tell him he better take the girls for ice cream instead since I wasn't sure when she would be back in the room, we would postpone the girls' visit until the next day. I waited.. and waited.. and waited. Several hours went by. I am probably a little overly patient when it comes to hospital stuff.. I didn't want to bother the nurses. After all .. they had told me they would let me know as soon as they heard anything. I started to get anxious.. and cranky.. and a little worried. Shift change happened. The new nurse came to introduce herself. I asked her where my baby was.. she told me, in a friendly matter-of-fact sort of way, that she had been moved to the "Special Care Nursery" upstairs.. hadn't anyone been in to tell me that? No.. no one had told me that. Why was she moved? She didn't really know she had just come on duty. Can you please find out?!?!? Absolutely. She came back to let me know that baby Frances had been ADMITTED to Special Care. Admitted?? Why?? Still not sure.. something about an x-ray and her having trouble breathing. Nausea as I tried to keep panic from entering my mind. Can you please PLEASE find out what is going?? The PA on duty will be down in a few minutes to talk to you. She smiled and she was oh so friendly and helpful.. I couldn't get frustrated with her.. I didn't want to scare her by crying in front of her. I held it together, called Stephen to see when the heck he was getting back to the hospital. He announced he was just walking into the hospital. What is wrong? I told him I didn't want to talk about it on the phone... just come straight to the room and we can talk about it.
My resolve was cracking.. my voice was cracking.. by the time he got to the room I was in full panic mode and tearfully told him the little that I knew. Mom and Dad showed up to surprise us with beautiful roses.. I burst into tears at the sight of them and sobbed about wanting to know what was going on and wanting my baby. Ellen showed up with fresh strawberries. I pulled it together again. The nurse came to let us know that the PA would be in at 7:30 to talk to us. We all waited together. Tried to make conversation.. and waited. I showed them our beautiful daughter on the tiny screen of our Nikon... and we waited.