24 December 2009

Birth Story: The Grand Finale

So where did I leave off?

Midnight on the 23rd, 37 hours of labor, still no baby...OK.

I guess it's around that time I finally started pushing. And I think that is actually when the neonatologist and his posse came in and then left once realizing that pushing did not necessarily mean a baby was about to be born.

Maybe I should back up a bit and explain why we needed to be at a hospital with a level 3 NICU before I share the rest of the story. At our 18 week ultrasound there were quite a few problems that were discovered with our baby. The most notable were that her long bones were all measuring too short, indicating a skeletal dysplasia. One of the main reasons this can be life threatening is if the baby's ribs are also measuring too short. If this is the case, the baby's lungs cannot be supported after birth because of the too-small rib cage. Daphne's ribs were fine at the 18 week scan, but as the weeks went by (we had scans every 3 weeks until she was born) her ribs did not appear to be growing correctly. Our doctor told us there was about a 50/50 chance our baby would live after birth.

Before the birth we met with the neonatologist (Dr Rabin) to discuss what might happen after the baby was born. If she cried, this would be a good thing because it meant she was breathing and they could check her out in our room. If not, that was a bad thing and they would take her directly to the NICU to see what life saving measures should be taken, if any. Dr Rabin said we would probably have an OR to labor in so that we could be close to the NICU, but they ended up having a regular L&D room right next door so we got to use that instead. Way better.

I'm not sure exactly how many people were in our L&D room when the big moment finally arrived. David and I and Carissa, of course. My fabulous nurse who stayed several hours past her shift so she could see us through to the end. The doctor who delivered Daphne (our doctor was on vacation), a doctor in training who actually did the delivering. Dr Rabin and several neonatal nurses, maybe a few other nurses? And Amy, our Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer. Yeah, it was serious party time.

After three long and actually quite excruciating hours of pushing, we finally had a baby! 2:48A.M., 6 lbs 11 oz, December 24, 40 hours of labor (that's a long time). I've mentioned before how David was supposed to announce the baby's gender, but he was confused and sounded unsure of himself when saying "it's a girl." I would put an exclamation point there, but there really was no exclamation. It was more like, "it's a.....girl?"

I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I didn't see her. She didn't cry, even after the staff spent a bit time in our room trying to get her to. I think her first APGAR was a 4. David said suddenly one nurse scooped her up like a football and ran to the NICU. He got to follow and watch as they did a bunch of crazy stuff which ended in putting her on a ventilator.

The new daddy meeting his baby girl. I bought him the shirt he was wearing, which he saved to wear for Daphne's birth; it said "Fight to the Finish."

We had two names chosen for a girl, Daphne being one of them, but we had actually planned to name her the other girl name. Then David came back to our room after meeting her and said that she looked just like a Daphne to him. I think I'm a little jealous that I didn't get to have that moment of seeing her and saying, "yep, she's a Daphne." Maybe that's OK, because when I finally did get to see her I think I was more noticing her misshapen head and nose. Sorry, Daph.

A good view of Daphne's weird looking head and nose.

It was quite awhile before I was ready to go visit Daphne (no need to share here all the details of the horror I went through after Daphne's birth). I actually was an invalid at this point so gladly accepted the offered wheelchair.

I don't know if I'm the only person in the world who did not look at her baby and say, "she's so beautiful! I love her!" I mean, I did love her, but it's true that she wasn't that beautiful. She was pretty squished and her chin was small. I'm just sayin'.

Carissa and I meeting little Daphne

Obviously you know the end of the story, that Daphne is alive and perfectly healthy. She was on the ventilator but kept trying to breathe on her own over the machine. Finally on Christmas morning the new doctor on duty came in our room and said they were going to take Daphne off, "just to see what would happen." She asked if we wanted to come watch. Come watch to see what might happen? I don't think so. But Daphne was fine, and we got to hold her later that morning. They did several x-rays and her ribs were perfectly normal. Before we got to take Daphne home from the hospital Dr Rabin said she was a little miracle baby.

David holding Daphne for the first time. It was really hard to hold her because of all the stuff she was hooked up to. Her belly button IV was the hardest to work around, I thought.

This photo shows the first time I thought Daphne was cute. She didn't seem as squished, plus she was wearing clothes! I think this was the 26th. When we came into the NICU that morning her nurse had put a onesie on her. She looked like a real baby.

We had an errand to run at St. Vincent's yesterday, and while there I saw a huge banner that said something about St. V's being the only Nation Top 100 Hospital in Oregon. I totally believe it after being there. I was amazed that every staff person we came in contact with had actually read my birth plan and followed it as closely as they could. (Apparently I have a hidden talent as a birth plan writer, in case any of you need my skills at some point.) Since I wanted a natural birth they gave me a nurse who had been specially trained to aid in unmedicated births. I had heard that because of the high epidural rate at St. V's, there were L&D nurses who had never even seen an unmedicated birth. I was so thankful that they took the time to find a nurse who would best suit my needs. The staff even let David and I stay an extra night in the hospital so that we could be near Daphne longer. The greasy doctor was the only person who kind of made me nervous, but I guess it was good my labor was so rediculously long that I outlasted his shift. (Good teamwork, Daphne.)

Believe me when I say that we know how blessed we are that we got to keep Daphne here with us. She is a constant reminder of the many other families we know and love who had to let their babies go. Daphne is our physical reminder to never take for granted the gift of having a child.

Happy 1st birthday, little one. May you be blessed with many more.


Nutty Mom said...

Hard to believe that squooshed up little face would turn out so gorgeous! Daphne is precious, but man....what a little trouble maker from the start :)

maurerjen said...

Maybe it's all the pregnancy hormones, but I'm a total basket case after reading Daphne's birth story. I had no idea you guys had gone through so much. Obviously, she's one amazing kid!