Take Two

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  In my defense, I’ve been a bit busy.  Earlier this month, I delivered our second beautiful baby boy.  And so it begins.  Again.

I figured we would be finished with one.  WE were good with one.  He fit well into our lives, and it was just starting to get easier.  We had it all figured out.

But then we would watch him playing alone.  Watch him watching the other kids.  Watch him begging us to “Play!  Play!”  And we knew.  We had to give him a sibling.

So we started on the journey again.  Oh, it wasn’t without doubt.  We had many many conversations about the process of pregnancy.  I had a pretty rough pregnancy with our first, and wasn’t looking forward to doing it again.  My husband wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of picking up the slack while I would be theoretically laid up on a couch for 9 months.  But, we figured, it was only temporary.  And hey – they say that every pregnancy is different!  Maybe this one would be easier!

So we persevered.  And were shocked and over the moon when that second pink line appeared, ever so faintly.  It was going to happen!

And then… Pregnancy.  To save you the suspense, they were right.  Every pregnancy IS different.  This one, unfortunately, was much worse.

Granted, I am now two years older.  And more tired, chasing around a toddler.  But when it HIT, I was not prepared.  The nausea – let me tell you about the nausea.  This was not a little bit of seasickness.  This was literally throwing up 10-15 times a day.  This was opening the fridge, and catching a whiff of something that I swear was rotting, and bending over the kitchen sink while everyone else swore they couldn’t smell anything.  This was vomiting after walking past a batch of “rancid” strawberries in the grocery store.  This was putting my work conference calls on mute (thank GOODNESS I have the flexibility to work primarily from home) to vomit into the wastebasket.  It was horrible.  Literally the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life.  And it NEVER ENDS.

Doctors wanted me to take Zofran as they were worried about dehydration.  Zofran, FYI, is an anti-nausea medication that is commonly prescribed to chemotherapy patients.  Are there risks, I asked?  Minimal, they answered.  And so of course I turned to Dr. Google.  And subsequently decided that no matter how bad it got, I wouldn’t take it.  Paranoid?  Maybe.  But I could never live with myself if something went wrong; I would forever blame the fact that I had opted to take the Zofran.

So I tried acupuncture.  Multiple times.  Didn’t work.  Tried the ginger, the Vitamin B, the teas… In short, I tried everything.  Nothing worked.  Depressed.  Isolated.  Staying out of the kitchen helped.  Avoiding strawberries helped.  Throwing away the pear-scented hand soap that I could smell on my husband or son a mile away helped.  But other than that, there was nothing to do but subsist on the couch, in my office chair, or in bed until it finally began subsiding around 5 months.

Then the relative bliss of the next few months.  I felt alive again!  Could make (and keep) plans!  Could finally think beyond the misery of the next moment to hours, days, and weeks ahead.  Pulled out of the depression.  It was wonderful.

Now the focus went beyond my own misery to the baby.  I had done a CVS again, so was assured that genetically things looked okay.  I was seeing a wonderful OB (who had delivered my first child) and a top perinatologist, so knew I was in good medical hands.  So far so good.

Then the next challenge.  The perinatologist lets me know that my HCG levels are too high in about the 25th week of pregnancy.  Since genetic issues can be ruled out, it likely means that I could later struggle with placental insufficiency.  What is placental insufficiency?  Well – it basically means that the placenta is working too hard, too early, and will likely “poop out” (doctor’s words) towards the end of my pregnancy.  He concludes that he wants to continue to see me to measure baby’s growth, placenta’s growth, and ensure we catch it if it starts to fail too early.  He also advises that he does not want to see me go beyond 39 weeks of pregnancy, even if all looks well, because at that point the risks outweigh the benefits in a woman “as young” as I am and with some of my test results.

So we continue to see both doctors.  Everything seems to progress normally and after 32 weeks, I am “graduated” from the perinatologist.

About two weeks later is when the baby’s growth really begins to slow.  In fact, almost decrease.  I am given Non Stress Tests (NSTs) to ensure all looks okay.  And then come the scares.  This baby NEVER MOVES!  I share that with my OB.  Sure enough, she does an NST and his heart rate is flat.  She sends me to the hospital for two hours of additional monitoring and a biophysical ultrasound.  Ultimately all looks okay.

Then a couple of weeks later, a car accident.  A minor one, but I am shaken.  And baby stops moving.  Once again am sent to the hospital for monitoring and ultrasound.  And baby looks okay.

Then a third time, on Christmas Eve.  Go in for a routine OB check-up, and they notice via NST that the baby’s heart rate is once again flat.  Am sent again to the hospital for the same monitoring routine.  Four hours later, we are discharged.  Baby looks okay.

And then the final and fourth time.  Am once again in the OB’s office when they see only a flat heart rate on the NST print out.  Go to the hospital.  After several hours, am told that baby appears okay.  Am also told that I am having contractions (which I have begun feeling).  My doctor calls.  Says that if we would like, she will induce tonight because of all the scares with the baby… But that she recommends just waiting another day or so.  She feels that I will go into full blown labor on my own by the following day.

We take her advice.  Come home and I labor, albeit inconsistently, through the night.  The following day my husband goes to work.  I labor inconsistently throughout the day.  At times during my walk with the dog and toddler, I have to stop.  I finally give up and plop the toddler in front of Sesame Street so that I can sit myself.  I do end up being able to take a short nap.

Hubby gets home and we take a family walk around 7pm.  I have to stop several times, take breaths, wait for the pain to pass.  But the contractions are still inconsistent.  I get ready for bed, and lie down about 9pm, figuring I can get some sleep before I am certain I go into full blown labor the following day.

By 9:10pm, the pain is pretty bad.  Enough that I am shuddering through the contractions.  But they are still 10-15 minutes apart.  We call the hospital.  They say to wait until the contractions are 5 minutes apart.  Hubby asks if we should call the friend who will be watching our toddler during the hospital stay.  I say No – we have time – and go and lay back down.

By 9:17pm, I am almost crying through a contraction and have him place the call.  By 9:20pm, contractions are suddenly 3-4 minutes apart and I can’t take them.  I have him call the friend back to see how far out she is.  He packs the car and gets everything ready so we can just leave once she arrives.

Finally she is here.  We fly out the door and I am contracting all the way to the hospital.  We arrive and I have to stop 4 times between the car and the entrance.  The entrance is closed due to construction!  They say we have to go around the back entrance.  Hubby pleads with them, they take one look at me, and they usher us through.  We get up to Labor & Delivery.  Hubby calls the front desk: “I think we’re having a baby!”  Panicked.  They let us in and I am bent over a chair, contracting.  Nurse says “We’ve got a live one – Put her in Room 3!”

Within 2 minutes I am in a hospital gown and they have confirmed I am 5cm dilated.  I am begging for the epidural.  They have to wheel me into the delivery room.  Once there, only 10 minutes later, I am 8cm dilated.  I am BEGGING BEGGING BEGGING for the epidural.  Crying.  They are telling me to “breathe through the pain.”  Screw that.  GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL.

Turns out some paperwork wasn’t completed.  Then they didn’t put my IV in correctly.  Then they realized I don’t have a hospital band and they don’t even know who I am.  The anesthesiologist finally arrives and calls a TIME OUT.  The nurses huddle and then start over.  I am begging him for relief.  He advises me that at this point, an epidural will kick in too late.  “The head is RIGHT THERE.”  I tell him I don’t care: GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL.  The nurse says I need to go through a full bag of IV fluids first.  I shout at them to CALL MY DOCTOR.  I want the epidural!

Then finally.  The head nurse comes in and says she has to talked to my doctor, and she has advised them to give me the epidural.  They do so, reluctantly.  I wait for it to kick in.  Through another contraction.  Then two more.  The contractions are fast and furious now – no time in between.  I still feel everything: the checks, the catheter, everything.  I complain between the searing pain.  They say they told me this would happen as I am too far along.  I ask when my doctor will be here.  They say within 30 minutes and don’t push yet.  I feel the urge to push but I am not delivering this baby without her.  More tears.

Finally my doctor walks in.  “Thank God you’re here!”  She takes one look at me, and turns to the nurse “Um, doesn’t look like your epidural is working.”  She begins to suit up.  “Where are my booties?”  Nurse: “I don’t know.”  Once that is figured out, she asks the nurse why nothing has been sterilized.  The nurse tells the doctor that SHE is supposed to do that.  Hubby and I stare in disbelief as the nurse continues to argue back until the doctor, being the bigger person, simply does it herself.

Finally it’s time.  They let me know that I am going to need to push.  I wail like a baby.  I can’t!  I am too scared!  It hurts too much!!!!  I CAN’T DO IT!!!!

They prod me more aggressively and I give a feeble push.  Baby shifts.  Contraction ends.  Second contraction.  Second push.  Stronger.  Crowning.

Then: “The cord is around the baby’s neck and his heart rate is dropping.  We need to get him out this next push.”  And that was all it took.  Gritting teeth.  Sobbing.  Grunting.  Pushing.  And he is out.

More tears.  Of joy this time.  The doctor expertly unloops the cord from around his neck.  He begins crying.  He is red and flushed.  They lay him on my belly and we hold him.  Rocking.  Crying.  Joy.

Unlike with my first, who experienced a traumatic delivery and was immediately taken from me, we are able to luxuriate in close to two hours of skin-to-skin time with our baby.  The time flies by.  We are left alone.  It is the peak of the entire pregnancy.  Those fleeting golden moments.  Just baby, mother, and father.  Precious.

Finally they take him and weigh him.  6 pounds and 11 ounces, much smaller than my first baby.  They bathe him.  Hubby takes pictures.  I watch in awe.  He is perfect.  The moments are perfect.  He is brought back to us for more bonding.  And I notice that my heart has immediately expanded.  Is overfilled with enough love for both of our children.  Dripping.

And I know that our family is complete.

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