Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Story So Far: You're A Preemie!

Dear Baby,

...or should I say, "Dear Trouble-Maker"?

Last Saturday I woke up around 5:30am, because our horrible third trimester heartburn was keeping me awake. I ate a little breakfast and sat down at the computer to go on Facebook. At 7am Daddy had just woken up for work and was going out on the balcony for a smoke. I decided to join him outside, because I was feeling a little overheated. Now, don't worry, I never had even one cigarette throughout our pregnancy. Not even a puff of Daddy's smokes. The day I found out I was pregnant with you, I stopped cold turkey. Also, I always sit far away from Daddy when he's smoking, so we don't breathe in any second hand smoke. Anyway, I stood up to go outside with Daddy, and I felt a little gush of warm water. A second one quickly followed. There wasn't a huge puddle like they imply in the movies, but it was a large enough amount that I knew I hadn't lost control of my bladder (this sometimes can happen in the third trimester).

I looked at Daddy with shock on my face and said, "Uh, I think my water just broke." Daddy asked if I was sure, so I went to the bathroom to check. There was a tiny bit of our mucous plug in my pants, and the liquid that had come out smelt a little like chlorine (that's what amniotic fluid usually smells like, apparently). I confirmed with Daddy that we should probably go to the hospital since I wasn't even seven months pregnant yet. I changed my pants, checked the floor where I had been standing when our water broke (there was only a couple drops of fluid), and we left.

No more fluid came out on the ten minute ride to the hospital, but as soon as I stood up when I got out of Daddy's car that's when I had the huge gush they show in the movies. Luckily I was outside of Daddy's car, so I didn't get his seat wet! Daddy had dropped me off at the front doors, so he went to park while I went inside. The water just kept coming out! A nurse was passing by (she must have just finished her shift and was heading home), so I asked her quickly if there were any wheelchairs because I was in labour. She asked if I was in pain. I said no and joked that I wanted the wheelchair so I wouldn't flood the hospital. She was nice enough to get me a wheel chair and bring me up to the maternity ward. Daddy came up soon after.

I remember the maternity nurses laughing at me after I changed into the hospital gown. They were quickly checking to see how wet my pants were, when they saw that I had wrapped a bit of toilet paper around my panties. I explained that I didn't have any menstrual pads at home and that the amount of water that first came out was so small I figured the bit of toilet paper would catch it if more came out. Looking at the humongous puddle on the wheel chair and seeing the fact that almost my entire pants were soaked, I laughed too.

While I was there, they hooked me up to the monitor to check on your vital signs. You were happy as a clam! It seemed like you hadn't even realized my water had broken. Your heart rate was 150, as usual, and you showed absolutely no signs of distress. The nurses gave me a shot of a certain steroid that drastically speeds up the maturation of your lungs. They also did an ultrasound to make sure you were facing head down.

Now, it turns out our hospital doesn't have the technology to confidently care for babies that are born at less than 32 weeks. You, my dear, were 30 weeks and 4 days. A transport team picked me up to bring me to the hospital two towns over, while Daddy went home to pack our bags. I was worried about you being born so early, but the transport team member told me his baby was born at only 24 weeks. It turns out that she's a happy, healthy, completely normal 14 year old now. He made me feel a lot better! I'm very grateful to him.

When I called Nana (my mommy), David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was playing on the radio. This is a song that he played when Nana went to his concert when she was pregnant with me. Somehow it made me feel like things would be ok. Nana was shocked, but she said she'd meet us at the hospital as soon as she could.

When we got to the hospital I was having minor contractions. The nurses there gave me another shot of steroids for your lungs. We had another ultrasound to double check your position: You were definitely head-down, but you were facing forward instead of toward my spine. Not long after a doctor (Dr. Tan) did a vaginal exam to see how far along our labour was. I did not like this doctor! He didn't even try to be gentle! He determined that we were 100% effaced and only 1 cm dilated. I was having significant contractions every three minutes or so.

Since you were so early, we had a shot to stop the contractions. The staff was hoping to keep me on bedrest, and you inside me (with my water still broken) for as long as possible. Since it's easy to get an infection when the water sac is broken, but the baby isn't delivered, they also gave me a shot of antibiotics. Daddy called in to work and took the day off. Nana and Nanny showed up to check on us, but went home after a few hours, because the contractions had stopped.

Daddy and I stayed the night at the hospital. I remember not too long after we turned out the lights to go to sleep, the cover on the tray of delivery instruments that was in the room fell off for no apparent reason. I remember thinking, "Something tells me I won't be going back home without the baby". As it turns out, that little "coincidence" was actually a crazy omen.

At 5:30am on Sunday morning, you decided you were coming out and there was nothing anyone could do about it! I was having contractions every 10 minutes, I had a slight bit of bloody show and was about 2 cm dilated. The contractions were quite painful, so I had a shot of morphine and was using the gas mask. These didn't lessen the pain at all, but they made me dopey enough to not care. About 3 1/2 hours later, I was 4 cm dilated and the contractions were irratic but very close together. The gas mask and morphine stopped having any effect. I felt bad because everytime I had a contraction, and someone tried to talk to me (even just to soothe me), I'd tell them to shut up; nurses, doctors, even poor Daddy! I felt awful, but I couldn't help it: I have a high pain tolerance, but the pain I was experiencing was reaching the limit of what I can handle. I kept trying to sit up, and the nurses kept telling me to lie down, but I was having back labour and it felt better to sit up. Back labour is something that can happen when your baby is facing away from the spine. I learned afterwards, that back labour is considered to be at least ten times worse than regular labour as far as pain goes! I was so relieved when the anesthesiast showed up to give me my epidural.

Unfortunately, although I'm not a dancer, I have hyperlordosis of the spine, so the doctors and I weren't sure an epidural would even work at all. I felt lucky that it started to give me minor relief from the pain I was experiencing. It didn't last very long though. The pain increased to the point that I couldn't think straight and started screaming louder than I even knew I could! At this point a doctor that had been called in to deliver you entered the room. Guess who it was! Dr. Tan. I was in so much pain that I didn't care about being polite, I yelled "No!" as soon as I saw him. The nurses looked at me in shock. I explained how painful the vaginal exam had been and said I refused to let Dr. Tan deliver you, because I was in enough pain as it was. Dr. Tan exploded and yelled at me that I had no choice. I told him I'd cross my legs and hold you in until he left the room. He continued to yell at me (I don't remember what he said), until he stormed out of the room announcing that he'd be delivering you, and that I would have to sign a waiver because I was being so difficult. I remember yelling "I won't sign anything I don't want to." He yelled back that I had no choice, but I got the last word in when I demanded "What? Are you going to hold my hand and physically force me to sign it?!"

The nurses conceded and called the other doctor on duty to deliver you, and Nana followed Dr. Tan out and tore a strip off of him. This is probably the only thing I actually got to have my way during the labour! There was no way I'd let him deliver you, Baby. He'd probably hurt you on the way out by being careless and rough!

In the meantime, some of the nurses had convinced me to let the other anaesthetist retry inserting the epidural since I was in so much pain. Imagine everyone's surprise when I sat up and the anaesthetist discovered that the epidural that was originally inserted had fallen out! I had dilated from barely 4 cm to 9.9 cm (there was still a tiny lip of my cervix present); it had taken about 14 hours; I had experienced excruciating back labour; and I did it all with no pain relief whatsoever!! Now you can believe my claim that I have a high pain tolerance.

The second epidural worked like a charm! I was completely numb from the neck down. I remember saying to Daddy: "This is awesome! With an epidural I could lie here and push babies out all day!"

Just before it was time for me to push, you got the hiccups. You never had the hiccups during the whole pregnancy, so I didn't know what was going on. I remember panicking and (irrationally) thinking you were trying to punch your way out!

At 11 pm the nurses told me the lip of my cervix was finally gone, and it was time to start pushing. At 11:25 pm you (literally) popped out. I had actually stopped pushing to catch my breath when you came out all at once. You didn't even crown first. You weighed 4lbs 2oz when you were born; which is amazing because the average weight for a baby of your gestation is only 3.5lbs. The doctors told me that whatever I did when I was pregnant was the right thing to do: As a preemie, the extra weight was good for your health.

Just before the doctors took your vitals and rushed you to the NICU, after the unbilical cord was cut, you were placed on my chest. Feeling how strong your muscles were, seeing how healthy pink your skin was, feeling the weight of your warm body lieing on my chest is indescribable; and it's something I'll vividly remember for the rest of my life! It was the moment that made every second of the rough pregnancy, the bouts of HG and the very rough labour completely worth it!

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