At approximately 4:00 a.m. on Monday, June 8, 2015 I woke up panicking about completing everything on my to-do list on my last day at my job before maternity leave. Now that day would be amputated by the LP’s emergency eye surgery so the panic felt even more immediate. Time to get moving. But first I had to pee. Off I trundled to start my day.
From that moment on, nothing about June 8th went as planned.
First I discovered that I was awash with blood. It looked watery. I rationalized. I hoped it was my mucus plug and that this would not spell danger for baby Azulito/a. Nevertheless, I ran to where the LP was sleeping.
“I’m bleeding!” I proclaimed.
A flurry of questions and answers followed. What does that mean? What do we do? Should we go now? What do we do with the MT?
I grabbed the Doppler. Baby’s heartbeat was slower than usual but just at the low end of normal range (120). I checked again. Still bleeding but definitely mucous-filled and not as much as earlier. We made a plan.
The LP got up to shower. I went to work and made copies of the things I needed to finish, left the originals behind, put notes on files for my assistant to address in my absence and headed home.
My mouth felt as though I had swallowed a field of cotton. I desperately wanted a drink. My nausea was ramping up, too and I felt as though I might faint. The LP was showered and lying in bed with the MT. He suggested we wait half an hour so we could drop the MT off early at his dayhome. I checked the baby’s heart rate on my Doppler again. Still low. Harder to find. But still there.
By this time the blood had turned real. Bright red blood. A steady stream of it. This was no mucus plug.
I was scared.
I called our son’s dayhome operator and explained. I had clearly woken her up. She said we could come anytime. We left the house with the MT in tow, dropped him off and headed to the hospital for our fourth unplanned trip to labour and delivery for assessment.
The LP was scheduled to be admitted for his retinal reattachmeny repair surgery at 9:00 a.m. At 8:35 a.m. the Resident who had assessed me and baby A said that she was going to call my OB to confirm whether we would be proceeding with the cesarean the following day as scheduled while monitoring my bleeding (which had not stopped but was slower and stable) and baby (who speared unshaded by any of the morning’s mayhem) or having the cesarean Monday afternoon.
Off to eye surgery trundled the LP. He would return and wait fit my surgery that afternoon or as originally planned on Tuesday afternoon.
About an hour later the Resident came back and told me that my OB wanted us to proceed later that day. I then met separately with the Anesthesiologist and the Resident Anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist decided that it would be prudent to give me hydrocortisone in my IV during and after the surgery given that I was only able to wean off of the prednisone about three weeks ago. He wanted to make sure that if my body could not produce enough its own court is all I was covered as well as using the hydrocortisone to reduce the likelihood of me having a severe drop in blood pressure because I typically do with anesthetics.
The Resident came and asked me some more questions by which time it became clear to me that plans had changed. I naïvely asked what time I was expected to be heading over to the operating room (OR).
In about 10 or 15 minutes. It wasn’t even 10 a.m. yet.
The LP was nowhere near to being released. I didn’t even know if he was in the OR himself. I must have looked stricken as the Resident asked if I was scared. I said no but my husband was not there. I explained what had happened. He took the LP’s name and which department he was in and called down to tell the folks in that area what was about to happen.
Unfortunately, the message relayed to the LP as he lay in pre-op awaiting surgery was that I was having an emergency section imminently and that while he would be permitted in the recovery room he would not be allowed into the OR for delivery. This was not true. I was still scheduled to be using spinal anaesthetic unless something went wrong during the delivery.
Upon entering the OR I began to cry. Not sobs. Not whimpering. Simply, silently a steady stream of tears trickled out of each eye and down my cheeks. The doctors and nurses thought I was scared. The Resident Anesthesiologist explained I was sad that the baby’s father was not there because he was having emergency eye surgery.
An OR nurse came over, held my hands, leaned her forehead into mine and just sat with me. She stayed with me while the spinal was administered as well. She held my hand as my arms were outstretched beside me and strapped down. I am grateful for her kindness. It made such a difference.
I did not know about the miscommunication to the LP until much later. Nor did the Resident Anesthesiologist. There was a delay after I was taken to the OR while we waited for matched blood products to arrive given my risk of placenta accreta. Every time the OR door opened I looked up hoping it was the LP. It never was.
Once it was clear that the LP was not going to be with me I tried my best to focus on what was about to happen. I would meet our baby face to face for the first time very soon.
I won’t bore you with the weirdness that is having a cesarean section using a spinal other than to say it is a very strange sensation to feel strong pulling, pushing and pressure going on in your body without any pain or clear awareness of what is happening at each step of the process. Very strange.
Finally my OB said my name and announced that we had one good looking baby. Loud clear cries ensued immediately. I felt myself inhale for what seemed like the first time in ages.
“Thank you” I said. And the tears began anew. A steady, silent stream.
My OB told the nurses that I wanted skin-to-skin contact with the baby. This is a new intiative where we live – skin-to-skin in the OR rather than only in recovery or on post-operative units though it’s been introduced elsewhere much earlier – and the nurse who was looking after our baby didn’t know what to do at first. Eventually she sorted it out and baby Azulito was on my chest as I was stitched (stapled) up.
Our beautiful baby boy was born at 11:11 a.m. on June 8, 2015.
I am in love, rivalled most conspicuously in my affections for this new little man by his older brother, the Miracle Toddler. Even the nurses who saw them together on that first evening after Azulito’s birth commented on how much the MT loves and wants to be part of caring for his baby brother. One said she had never seen a boy be so engaged and affectionate about a new baby. I generally believe that the MT is a pretty special kid but some days life mirrors back to me just how special.
Last night the LP was holding Azulito. He looked up at me and mouthed the words “I love him”. After all of the worry, after all of the fear, after the painful moments when – at sea with those worries and fears – the LP had questioned us doing this reproductive immunology cycle to have this child, had lamented the seemingly endless struggles and suffering to which he saw me as having been subjected, I needed those three words. I need only notice the tears and snot streaming down my face as I write this to know how much I needed to hear those three words. I believe that the LP and Azulito did, too.
Azulito and I are still in hospital because the wee one has had typical pre-term troubles regulating his blood sugars. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed but if we want to get out of hospital this week and I want Azulito to be well (this goes without saying), it has now become apparent that I must supplement with formula after each time I nurse. Without that, his sugar levels are continually below the cut-off and on a few occasions have been quite low despite my nursing him every 2-3 hours.
This has been upsetting and saddening but I am trying to keep myself together about it. My hope is that in not too long my milk will come in (it takes longer with cesarean deliveries apparently), Azulito will mature a little more (he was born at 36w 5d so only slightly premature as term is 37 weeks) and things will progress normally from that point.
The little dude is already trying to lift his own head, was a healthy length and weight and has a full head of one-inch long hair (!?!). Wicked recent heartburn explained or is that an “old wives’ tale”?
For safety and privacy reasons I do not wish to discuss on this blog I will not be posting pictures or the names of baby Azulito or the Miracle Toddler. If you have ever had personal contact with me or otherwise know me “in real life” please e-mail me either at firstname.lastname@example.org or one of my personal emails if you know them. I will share more details and photos there if you promise not to blow my cover. As all good superheroes know, our secret identity is one of our most valuable assets. (Wink, wink and a nod to Disney for that thought from The Incredibles.)
From the deepest well of love and gratitude on my heart to each of you who have followed our journey, laughed with us, held my heart when it was aching and shared my joy when it flowed over, cried with us and cheered us on: Thank you. So much.