Sunday, May 17, 2009

A funny thing happened on our way to having a baby...

Well, not just on the way to the hospital, but there were many funny moments, many ups and downs, during the past five days. So here comes the birth story!

On Monday I went to see my OB, and we had planned that she'd do a stretch and sweep at that appointment. She informed me she couldn't even reach my cervix, let alone tell if a S&S was possible. "Sorry," she said, "but it doesn't look like anything will be happening any time soon." HA!

At about 6am on Tuesday morning, my contractions started. They were sporadic and varying in intensity all day, but around supper time they started to pick up speed. Francis and I decided that while it may not actually be labour (though I was fairly confident it was), that we should head to the hospital to get checked just in case. Because of my previous caesarian birth, I was at risk of uterine rupture, so we felt it was prudent to not wait too long.

We arrived at the hospital around 9:30, and went to triage at labour & delivery. My contractions were every 3 minutes at this point, and lasting around a minute. I was pretty sure this was the real deal. They hooked me up to the monitors to keep track of Simon's heart rate and my contractions. This meant I had to lie on the bed for two hours. As any woman who has gone through childbirth will attest, lying down is definitely not the ideal way to labour! At this point, my contractions got much, much stronger, and I was nearly beside myself.

(A little elaboration here: I had severe back labour with Norah, as she was posterior. That was painful. This time however, all day I kept describing my contractions to my mother and Francis as "not normal". They hurt in a strange spot. Explanation to follow.)

So lying on the table, I was close to throwing up at several times, simply because of the pain. I couldn't believe how much worse it was than when I was in labour the first time. Thankfully, after two hours of this, I had dilated another 1.5cm, and went from 50% to 95% effaced. It was announced that I was, indeed, in labour. We began the process of getting admitted, and were in our room by 1 am.

Now regarding pain medication: With Norah, my plan was to go as long as I possibly could without asking for an epidural. I made it about 27-28 hours before I received my epi. This time, I had made up my mind that I most certainly would get the epidural, as soon as I was able to. Why? Well, if things went wrong quickly and I needed and emergency caesarian birth, I'd be ready to go. Without the epidural, they would have put me under general anaesthetic, and I refused to allow the possibility of being unconscious when my baby was born!

So I got the epidural around 1:40, and tried to get some sleep. At 2:30, they decided my contractions weren't strong enough to progress my labour, so the decision was made to break my water. Back to sleep I went. At 4 am, my doctor checked me and informed me of the bad news: in three hours, I'd dilated only about 1cm.

Pros and cons were tossed about, and Francis and I agreed that it was best to just head to the OR. Better to do it before things turned ugly. I was prepped for surgery, and wheeled down endless corridors.
Simon was born at 5:38am. It was very different than last time - much more relaxed in the OR. Everyone was chatty and jovial, and I wasn't nearly so exhausted. (Plus this time I didn't have to watch the whole thing in the reflection of the OR lights!) Because there was no meconium in the amniotic fluid (like last time) the actual delivery was less scary, too. They delivered his head first, and after some preliminary suctioning, I got to hear my baby cry! Then they completed the delivery, and took him to clean him up. Nobody announced the baby's gender, so Francis was invited to go around and see for himself. As soon as I heard him laugh, I knew I was right - it was a boy! I'd thought so all along.
When they brought him to meet me, I cried. I was so overjoyed! He was perfect and beautiful and perfect, and... well... perfect. We had had two possible boy names chosen, and wanted to wait until we met the baby before choosing the right one. The moment we laid eyes on him, we knew he was Simon.

(Choosing Peter as his second name may sound like a serious Biblical reference, but really it's actually more coincidental. It was decided long ago that Baby #2's second name would be one of Francis' parents' names.)

This is when the shenanigans began. First, his birth weight. He was measured at 21" long, and 6lbs 8oz. That would make for one very long and skinny baby! This mistake wouldn't be confirmed until his 24 hour weigh-in, when the scale registered 7lbs 9oz! (Details in a future post.)
This was the time for me to learn interesting things about my anatomy. Apparently, I have a heart-shaped uterus, and my OB determined during the surgery that this is likely the reason why both Simon and Norah were posterior and refused to descend and engage in my pelvis - causing both labours to stall, resulting in the caesarian births. The second thing I learned cleared up a lot of confusion. Remember I mentioned the very strange contractions? It would seem that when I healed from Norah's delivery, the scar tissue from my uterus formed adhesions with my abdominal wall. That explains the extra-intense pain, and the strange location of the main pain of my contractions. It's unlikely I would have been able to endure that for a natural child birth, even if I hadn't already decided to request an epidural!

Next came the Big Fat Delay. Simon and Francis went off to the nursery, where they could enjoy an hour of skin-to-skin contact time. I, on the other hand, was wheeled of to the reovery room to practice lifting my knees. The doctor assured me that since it was the middle of the night and the recovery room would be empty, Francis and Simon would be able to join me.

Well, I waited patiently. When Norah was born, she was brought to me after her skin-to-skin time to initiate breastfeeding - I was expecting the same thing this time. After close to two hours, my OB came in to give me the news. Simon was breathing very quickly, and wasn't allowed to leave the maternity ward. She assured me that his vitals were fine, and his O2 saturation was fine. They weren't entirely sure why his breathing was abnormal, but their best guess was that it would self-correct after he was able to breastfeed. Yet they wouldn't bring him to me, nor would they allow me to go to my room to see him. In fact, between the moment he was born and the next time I saw him, nearly three and a half hours passed! (I'm very grateful that I didn't find out until much later that he also has a heart murmur.) I knew I couldn't leave until I was able to lift my knees about 6" off the bed. It seemed to take forever - at first I couldn't budge! After learning about the breathing concerns, I was more determined than ever to get those knees up. I've never worked so hard at anything in my life! I finally discovered that if I cheated a little, I could do it. Lifting my knees straight up didn't work, but if I turned my knees outward, I could bend them outward and then fling my knees upward. I did it a hundred times or more, until the recovery room nurse was satisfied. I was grateful my jello legs cooperated.

Finally, the long-awaited moment arrived, and Simon and I were reunited. Three and a half hours of separation is a very long time right after nine months of 24/7 contact! Simon took to breastfeeding immediately, and for that I'm immensely grateful. He's a very happy baby, and I'm sure he'll be a good sleeper eventually. For now, he much prefers to sleep in Mommy's arms or on Mommy's chest. I'm happy to oblige!
The story doesn't end here, but it's long, so I'll continue it in another post. (Or two. Or maybe three.) Stay tuned for exciting stories like "Blasting the Billi", "Oh, What a Night! Coming home from the hospital" and my favourite: "Norah Has a Brother".
Thanks for reading. And thanks for all your prayers and well-wishes. Simon, Norah, Francis and I are feeling well-loved and supported!

I'm in love...

...with a very handsome man. His name is Simon Peter (Chinese name still undecided) Kwok.

I'll post more when I get time. Check back in about 18-20 years.