Friday, January 18, 2013

Little Sister

Baby Dragon is still alive and healthy. We are combating jaundice with frequent feedings. This is working and it’s also packing on the weight. She’s gaining an average of 2 ounces a day!

The frequent feedings have left E and I complete zombies, but it’s worth it. Plus we just got the go ahead at her 2-week well child checkup to relax the feeding schedule to on demand. If we’re lucky she’ll give us a solid 3 ½ hours between feeds.

It’s been just 2 weeks and already she is changing so much. Her face looks more like a baby than a newborn. Her belly is distended now. Her arms and legs are thickening with new creases showing up daily. A few of her features resemble her big brother’s but for the most part she is her very own person. Although I wished for this baby to look like A it is so much better for me that she’s uniquely herself.

The feeding schedule afforded me barely an hour between feeds which meant I could either sleep for an hour, eat something and shower or make a few phone calls before it was time to put her back on. While I love the closeness of nursing, I am only just now beginning to enjoy her like I had hoped. Now with a bit more time in between sessions I can kiss her, play with her; just plain stop and admire her. Except that is dangerous territory. Whenever I take some time to stop and wonder at this tiny, beautiful being, I well up. I’m still trying to grasp that she is our daughter, that she is ours to keep.

I cry at least every other day. Sometimes because I am so grateful for Dragon and so in love with her. Sometimes because I envision our future with this child and already I want to slow down time – I want her to stay tiny and curled up for a long time. Sometimes because I miss A even more now that I know how it’s supposed to go. Sometimes I can’t even discern what brings on the tears.

To be honest, with the traumatic birth, general anesthesia and then strict nursing schedule I haven’t had much time to process it all. I need some quiet time to process her birth, how it all went down. I need to process that she is mine and allow the maternal connection to really sink in. I need to re-assess A’s birth now that I can compare it to a “normal” delivery experience. I need to re-mourn our darling son because now I understand much better what he and what we missed out on – there is so much more to grieve.

Like I said earlier, they detected the umbilical cord around Dragon’s neck at our weekly BPP. It was actually wrapped twice around her neck. This was the impetus to induce right away.  Most of that Wednesday we just hung out in the labor/delivery room. I was admitted early in the morning and the Cervidil wasn’t inserted until 3pm. So we ate, listened to her heartbeat on the monitor and tooled around the internet trying to calm our nerves.

By 11pm I was having painful contractions that required me to focus my breathing. At 3am the Cervidil came out. I was 2cm (I can’t remember what percentage effaced). I had hoped to be further along and was on the brink of tears. The hospital staff assured me this was good progress given we started at high, tight and not even 1cm. Some women, they said, require a second round of Cervidil.

After a 2-hour break, wherein I was allowed to eat again, they started the pitocin drip. Throughout this ordeal I was constantly doubting my decision to force my body into labor. Every half hour the pitocin drip was turned up a bit. By 6am we called our doula and she arrived. I continued to breath through contractions and tried to rest in between.

Our midwife, who is awesome, allowed me to continue to eat throughout the day. We changed positions, walked the halls and sat on the birthing ball trying to help things progress. When I was checked mid-afternoon and found to be 4cm I again felt like giving up. I considered how much “easier” it would be to have a C-section. I felt envious of the anonymous women in the room next to me who had delivered her baby hours ago (you’d think they’d soundproof the walls of labor/delivery rooms better). I wanted to call the whole thing off. My confidence was non-existent. My conviction to continue laboring without pain medicine was waning – big time.

In early evening I was 6cm and we were at the full pitocin dosage. The midwife gave me the option. We could stop the pitocin and take a break. (This was very enticing because I had been laboring since 11pm the day before without hardly a wink of sleep.) But when we started back up we’d have to start at the lowest dosage and work our way up again. Or we could dial the pitocin down a couple notches and see how we progressed. As tempting as it was to pull the plug and have a Pit vacation, I knew I didn’t have the mental or emotional endurance to start from scratch.

The pit was dialed down and I kept working through each contraction. They were getting very intense but I had a good 2-minutes between contractions, which was just lovely (no seriously it was; I’m not being sarcastic). By 6pm the midwife, doula and nurse were prepping the room for delivery. Baby was coming within the hour they said.

I continued to change positions as suggested by the knowledgeable team and baby sank lower and lower. The external heart rate monitor remained on Dragon the entire time. I could feel her very low in my pelvis but did not yet have the urge to push. The midwife suggested I lay on my right side. I did. Baby Dragon fell off the monitor so they suggested I flip to my left side as baby obviously didn’t like this side. I flipped over and then felt lots of discomfort high up under my ribs. This was unusual because all of the pain and discomfort had been down low. I mentioned this out loud but the nurse was too busy trying to locate Dragon’s heartbeat again.

The midwife reached in to check if I was dilated fully and could start pushing. What she felt entering the birth canal was a tiny hand, not a baby head. In addition she could feel a portion of cord.  This is where things get frantic. Immediately she paged the attending doctor who came in and confirmed Dragon’s hand and cord were coming first. Now there are a handful more staff in the room palpating my belly trying to determine how baby is lying. They wheel in an ultrasound machine and throw an oxygen mask on me. I am still having intense contractions and trying to breath best I can but the scene is panic inducing.

Someone shouts out to prep an OR stat and all of a sudden the cords and monitors are whipped off me and they’re wheeling my bed down the hallway. E has to remain in the labor room – there is no time for him to get prepped and they’ll be knocking me out with general anesthesia because I did not have an epidural.

The anesthesiologist is in my face urging me to focus on her and only her. She’s asking me pertinent questions about past surgeries and my experience with anesthesia. Simultaneously there are a dozen people rushing around the OR - two people are wrapping my calves, one inserts the catheter, another drapes and swabs my belly, two separate people strap my arms down, a resident is holding an oxygen bag over my face. It is crazy.

The doctor tells me they’re going to push the anesthesia and that’s the last I remember. Next thing I know, I’m groggily waking up in the post-op recovery room. I feel like hell and am very confused. E is there holding a bundled baby and tells me it is our baby. That our daughter is here safe and sound. I can hardly keep my eyes open. With the assistance of the doula, E manipulates my breasts and gives our tiny Dragon her first feed. I can’t muster the strength to raise my arms. Shortly thereafter E leaves with the pediatric nurse to accompany Dragon for her first bath and examination. I am pushed to our maternity recovery room to get settled. E and Dragon rejoin me a little while later but I’m still very drowsy.

Fortunately, she was never in distress and was healthy upon delivery. E says they brought her to him approximately 15-minutes after I was hectically wheeled out of the room. He was able to stay with her from that point on.

Supposedly what happened is this. The umbilical cord was not particularly long and it was wrapped twice around her neck. As she descended the tension on the cord increased. To relieve the tension and save her own life, she twisted at the last minute into a transverse position. The midwife says in her entire life, she’s never seen that happen. I have to credit our little girl for that maneuver and the incredible hospital staff who got her out so quickly.

Like I said, we are home and trying to adjust to the lack of sleep. Dragon is thriving and we are over-the-moon in love with her. Honestly, I just can’t get enough of her.

I may fade and in and out of the blogosphere, but I am always here reading and abiding. Thank you for taking the time to read to the end of this post.


  1. I am so glad she is happy and healthy. I dont get why they didnt do a an immediate c section when they found out the cord was around her neck. What a relief she is fine. Even on demand Severus still feeds every 2 hrs, he is almost 4 months and such a porker lol I dream of sleep lol Wishing you peace and comfort xo

    1. Clearly Severus is a healthy boy - just look at those delightful cheeks! That being said, the idea of continuing this schedule for 3 1/2 more months doesn't seem sustainable but you guys are proof that it is doable.

  2. Phew. That was a whirl wind. My heart is racing just reading that. Snuggle and love and cry and wonder all over that baby girl. I know what you are feeling. I'm sending love.

  3. I understand the wonderment, awe, grief and love. It's amazing! Little sister's birth story made me gasp and cry. Ugh! I'm so glad she is healthy now! I hope for more snuggle time and more sleep to keep recovering.

  4. Having had a traumatic birth that resulted in a living baby with E I know how disoriented can feel afterward. I'm so glad she's ok and that you had drs who reacted exactly right right away. She sounds delightful! Thinking of her big brother, sweet little A, always.

  5. Welcome to the world little dragon!! Her birth story sounds so scary, but I'm glad to hear that she made it here and that you are all in sweet perfect love. <3

  6. Oh my goodness! What an entrance...I'm so relieved that she is here, and she is*still* here.

    I have been thinking a lot about entering new grief..after the next bay is here...and missing Alexander in brand new ways, discovering everything we missed...for me, and for him. Oh, and it aches. I am so anxious that all will seem well, and no one will understand how the missing can grow even after the goal is achieved. Living baby here, and still missing...

    You are a brave woman. Thank you for sharing Dragon's birth story. I was on the edge of my seat.

  7. Gosh that is scarily similar to what happened in Hugo's birth - he was head down ready to go, then popped out of my pelvis and lay transverse - the room went from 3 people to about 12 concerned midwives and doctors REALLY FAST. It was traumatic to say the least.

    But I am so glad to hear that despite the trauma, she is here, she is safe. May you have many hours of just gazing at her and enjoying the moment. (Even though it's so complicated).

    I hope you get some decent sleep soon. xx

    1. That's exactly it Aoife. Talk about drama - the room was suddenly swarming with people! All the urgent talking and decision making, the doctors calling out orders. Like an episode of a TV show!