Lauren Clare, born on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 5:47 pm. She weighed 8 pounds, 15.4 ounces, and 20.5 inches long.
In the weeks leading up to Lauren’s birth I was telling friends that all I wanted was a healthy baby and an easy and BORING labor, delivery, and recovery. My birth with Logan was a very difficult induction. The labor and delivery were tough, and the recovery was difficult and painful as well. Lily’s birth was relatively easy in comparison. However, with the prenatal diagnosis, her birth was a very emotional one, and definitely not boring. We didn’t share the diagnosis with everyone until after she was born, so along with the emotional adjustment of meeting her, coming to terms with the reality of her having Down syndrome, there was an element of drama in the weeks following her birth as we shared the news with the world. I don’t like being the center of attention – despite the fact that I blog, which naturally lends itself to attention. I do like to write though, and it’s easier to be the center of attention when you’re behind a computer screen! Truly though, I am much happier behind the scenes, and I don’t really like any form of drama that puts me in the spotlight. So, what I really, really wanted was a boring birth experience with Lauren. I made that very clear to my friends, and one sent me a text the day before my induction with Lauren…
“Wishing you a super boring delivery tomorrow!”
Oh, how I had hoped to have a boring story to tell. I guess God had other plans though. Funny thing is I had just been reflecting on the lessons that the births of my first two children taught me, about love and sacrifice. I was hoping I wouldn’t have any more major lessons to learn. Since this is Lauren’s birth story I won’t go into detail about that. I’ll say instead that Lauren’s birth has taught me how truly precious life is, and how grateful I am simply to be alive, to be here for my family.
During my third trimester I suddenly started measuring ahead and we discovered that I had polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid). A common cause is gestational diabetes, which I did not have. There are other (scary) causes as well, and in some cases you never know what causes it. At this point, we don’t know what caused it, which frankly is the best case scenario. However, because it brings a number of potential risks to me and baby, my doctor was monitoring my pregnancy more closely. During the last several weeks I was having ultrasounds and a BPP (biophysical profile) once a week to ensure baby was still doing well. We also discovered that she had a rather large ovarian cyst that the doctor said would have been large even for an adult. We still don’t know what caused that and will be following up with a pediatric surgeon in a couple of weeks for another ultrasound. Best case scenario is that it was caused by my pregnancy hormones and will resolve on its own. (Update: as of 6 months old, her last ultrasound showed that the cyst did in fact resolve on its own. Thanks be to God!)
I know I’ve mentioned before that I have the best OB in the world. I love my doctor. This pregnancy was no exception. He has a way of making me feel like his only patient. He is compassionate and caring, and seems to really invest himself personally in my life. He seems genuinely happy to hear the heartbeat for the first time, to get a clear ultrasound report, and to see things progress without complication. On the other hand, he is appropriately concerned, but careful not to alarm me when there are complications. Due to the excessive fluid and the risks associated, he scheduled me for induction at 39 weeks, on Tuesday 4/16. The baby was also moving between a transverse and breech position, occasionally getting into the correct head-down position. So, he said the day would start with an attempt at a version, to turn the baby into the necessary position. If that was successful, they’d bind my belly to keep her in position, and then he’d needle my bag of waters to allow the fluid to leak slowly. The big concern was that the fluid would gush out too quickly and could cause placental abruption or cord prolapse. There was a lot of talk about potential for c-section, both for an unsuccessful version or for complications due to the fluid issue.
The night before my induction, the hospital called to remind me of my “scheduled c-section”. That threw me off a bit, to put it mildly. My doctor had scheduled an operating room, just in case. I really, really did not want to have a c-section. After my experience with Logan I remember thinking c-section may have been easier. However, faced with the real possibility of one, it was a different story. I knew it would be a harder recovery, and I really did not want to go through a major surgery.
The night before my induction I did not sleep well. I was awake off and on most of the night. At about 4am I got up to use the restroom. When I opened the bathroom door afterward I was startled to see Logan standing there. He said “I don’t want you to go mom.” So, I tucked him back into bed and snuggled with him for a bit before going back to my own bed. It wasn’t much later that he was back at my bedside. It was about 5am at that point, and I wasn’t sleeping anyway. So, we had some quiet time in his room, reading Where’s Waldo together, one of our longtime favorites. Later, we went and snuggled up to G, who was still sleeping. And then it was into my mom’s room (you might not be aware, but we were staying with my parents for a few months during the transition between selling our home and remodeling our new one). Shortly afterward Lily joined us. I called the hospital at about 6 to confirm that I was still supposed to arrive at 6:30am, as there had been some confusion with what time I was supposed to arrive. They said that no, I needed to be there at 7:30, which was what my doctor originally told me, but when the hospital called they said to be there at 6:30. G was a little annoyed because he could have slept longer. It didn’t make much difference to me since I wasn’t sleeping anyway!
My boys, oh how I love them!
The kids with grandma
L and me in my early morning no makeup glory!
After hugs all around, and promises that we would call and that grandma would pick Logan up early if baby arrived while he was in school, G and I headed off to the hospital. We arrived a few minutes early and got checked in. Once we got settled and I got changed into my hospital gown, they did an ultrasound to confirm that baby was still in a breech/transverse position. She was. Because of the higher risk of c-section, the anesthesiologist came in to go over my options, which were to get an epidural or a spinal. He went into a lot (probably too much) detail, and finally the conclusion was that we would wait and see what Dr. H wanted us to do. Dr. H came in a little before 8:30 and checked on ultrasound again. He was confident he’d be able to turn the baby because she was not fully breech and there was so much fluid. He pushed on her a little bit just to see how easy she would be to move, and he said he thought it would be a success. We talked more about what might happen. When he came back to do the version, he checked on ultrasound and just his moving her a little bit from before she was in almost the right position already.
The nurse called the OR to make sure it was open. Dr. H said he didn’t think it would be necessary, but she said that she always tries to be overly prepared (a little foreshadowing maybe?). The version was a success and they bound my tummy with a huge velcro belt. That was pretty uncomfortable, but I was totally on board and wanted to do whatever I could to help avoid c-section. I was almost afraid to move at all because I could feel baby trying to move, and I did not want her getting out of position! He then needled my bag of waters to allow the fluid to slowly leak out, as opposed to a huge gush. Once that was done they started me on the pitocin to get the contractions started. It took some time to kick in because the medicine they’d given me to calm my uterus for the version hadn’t worn off yet.
Labor is exhausting!
The next several hours were pretty uneventful. It was basically a waiting game. Fluid was leaking periodically and the contractions were slowly becoming stronger and more frequent. The nurse very gradually increased the pitocin until finally they were so painful that I was ready for my epidural. From this point on there are parts that are very clear and parts that are very blurry. The anesthesiologist came in around 5pm (the exact time is a bit of a blur, as I was a bit beyond ready for my epidural at that point). A few minutes after the epidural I felt another big gush. I had been instructed to let the nurse know during the day if I had any big gushes, so I did. When she checked me she said “Oh!!” and went on to say there was more blood than there should be. She seemed concerned, but not panicked. Her unease made me a bit nervous though, and she told me not to worry. She changed my pad and went out to get a doctor. She came back with a woman dressed in running clothes, who smiled and explained she had just changed out of her surgery clothes or had just arrived for her shift – I’m not sure which. She looked and said it was probably fine. The nurse, however, was persistent. She directed her into the bathroom where she had disposed of the original pad. I’m not sure what conversation transpired after that, but a minute or two later the nurse had left and come back with another doctor, who had an ultrasound machine with him. They checked the baby on ultrasound, and she looked fine. Her stats were fine, and she didn’t seem to be in any distress. The doctor did an exam to check my cervix, and I felt a huge gush at that point.
That gush marked the point when they went into what I would call “panic mode” except that they were very calm and controlled about it. There was a flurry of activity then, as they explained there was far too much blood and they believed the placenta had detached. Placental abruption is very risky to both mother and baby. They removed my gown because it was covered in blood. They called Dr. H who was across the street in his office. Things were moving so fast. The nurse called the OR, and they told me that we would be doing a c-section. I was in tears and terrified. Earlier in the day we had asked for a priest to come in and pray with us. By coincidence (more likely divine providence) he had shown up at exactly this point. He came into the room as they were preparing to move me. He prayed over me, probably more rushed than usual, as they were preparing to wheel me out of the room. I was no longer hoping to avoid c-section, I was just praying to survive, to make it home to see my kids. They quickly wheeled me down the hall to the operating room. One of the nurses walking next to me told me not to worry, that my baby would be fine. It sounds unmaternal or selfish, but the truth is, I wasn’t very worried about the baby at that point. I knew that she had tolerated everything fine so far, and that they would get her out in time. I could barely speak at that point, but I managed to choke out “I need to get back to my other kids.” She tried to reassure me as they rolled me into the room. They lifted me from my bed to the table and stretched my arms out. The room was full of doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists. Dr. H must have run from his office, because he was there almost immediately it seemed. I was again so glad that he was there. I think I asked him at one point if I was going to bleed to death and he reassured me that I was going to be fine. I couldn’t stop crying though. I didn’t know where Glenn was, but they kept telling me they would find him.
Glenn told me later that they threw some surgery clothes at him and told him to wait outside. He said when there is that much blood and doctors move that fast, you know it’s time to worry. At some point during the surgery they did bring him into the operating room because he was there when they pulled out the baby. Before that though, they had to make sure I was numb. I had literally just had the epidural before the placenta detached, and I wasn’t fully numb yet. One of the anesthesiologists kept poking me with something sharp and asking if I could feel it as pressure or sharp, and I’d say “Ouch, sharp” or in some places just pressure. I was thinking they might cut before I was numb because the doctor kept asking if he could go, were they going to put me out, he needed to start, could he start, etc. The anesthesiologist told me she would make sure I was not in pain, though it was still nerve-wracking because they started cutting right after a poke that was painful (in other words, I wasn’t numb yet)! But aside from a great deal of discomfort during the part where they pushed and pulled to get her out, I didn’t feel any sharp pain.
At some point during the actual procedure someone brought Glenn in. Honestly, it was all really a blur. He was there with me, which is what matters. After they pulled out the baby, they put her up to my face so I could look at her. They checked her over, and I remember asking if she looked ok. At that point they were doing the testing that they do, while my doctor worked to get me stitched back up. I remember it took what seemed a very long time, but it was all pretty blurry at that point. I remember hearing a lot of talk about my blood type, though I didn’t realize at the time just how much blood I had lost. I remember them putting Lauren on my chest, I remember tears and relief. Before leaving the operating room, a nurse gave me a patch behind my ear to help me avoid nausea. That actually was one of the most awful parts of the next few hours – not nausea, but weird effects from the patch! And trying to explain it to Glenn and the nurse was very frustrating. Finally, was it the next day? I’m not even sure! When I was able to talk to my doctor about it he told the nurse to take it off, and he knew other patients who had very adverse reactions to it. The effects lasted a couple of days, even after it was removed. But, enough about that.
Emotional after surgery
I did not sleep well during my stay in the hospital, though we did take advantage of the nursery most nights for Lauren. The nurse would take her away around 11pm and then bring her back every few hours so that I could nurse. Because of the severe blood loss I wasn’t able to stand up without dizziness – my door had a sign that said “Fall Risk” – so I had to wear a catheter for almost the entirety of my stay. At one point it was removed and a bed pan was involved, and then it was put back in, but I’ll spare you those details. I desperately wanted to avoid a blood transfusion, but my body just wouldn’t cooperate. My doctor was encouraging me to get one, but said he wouldn’t force it. My brother came to see me in the hospital at some point, and he later said that I looked like a zombie. There were a few comments like that, and I almost wish someone had taken a picture of me so that I could have seen for myself.
My view of Lauren for most of my stay (when I wasn’t holding her), as I was stuck in bed
Visit from big brother
I think it was Friday when they checked and my blood levels had dropped again, and I was in really bad shape – really, really bad shape. So, I said I’d do the transfusion, but one bag, instead of the two they would have done. Yes, I am just a little bit stubborn. lol. Just to be clear – had I needed one while in the operating room (and I think they’d have given me one if whatever was supposed to be done with the lab had been done, as I recall a lot of talk about blood type and calling the lab or something) or at any point, to save my life, I’d not have thought twice. However, I was in that gray space where I was out of immediate danger and I kept thinking maybe my body could just make it happen, that sheer force of will could muster enough strength to carry through. At any rate, the transfusion itself was a much lengthier process than I’d imagined it would be. Just thinking about that entire day I almost feel nauseated. That was a bad day, both leading up to the transfusion, when my body sort of “crashed” (for lack of a better word), and during as well. I wouldn’t say that I immediately felt better, but it certainly marked the beginning of my recovery.
Headed home..she looks so little!
Snuggles with big brother
At home, meeting sister
I gave birth on Tuesday, and we weren’t released to go home until Sunday afternoon. The worst part of being in the hospital so long was how desperately I missed my bigger kiddos, who were, thankfully, being well cared for by my parents. We thought Lily would do best staying home with grandma and grandpa, but they brought Logan to see us a couple times, which was wonderful. But I can’t even describe how good it was to see both kids when we got home. I feel blessed beyond measure with the children God chose to give me. Each one has taught me new lessons and opened my heart to more joy and love than I’d ever have thought possible.
Welcome to the world, Lauren Clare!