Friday, July 28, 2017

All the Frills: Eleanor Elizabeth Medea's Birth Story

Alright. The trauma has, I think, subsided enough for me to recount the story of Eleanor’s birth. This post is a long one as it was seriously messed up you guys.

It happened on Tuesday, June 20 - yeah, it's taken me that long to fully collect myself. I was right between 36 and 37 weeks pregnant and was at my regular Tuesday ob gyn appointment. And the baby’s heart beat at this appointment is a bit “off.” But my doctor didn’t really seem that concerned and just told me I should go over a block to the hospital and they’ll hook me up to a neonatal heart monitor for 30 minutes to just make sure that things are good. So I did that. It’s now 10 am, and I saw my doctor at 9:40ish am.

By 10:05 am I was swarmed, with almost no warning, by at least 4 sets of hands. One was yelling “code pink” and telling me the baby had to come out right away as she put on an oxygen mask on me and whispered in my ear that I had to stay calm. One was undressing me. One was starting an IV. And one was forcibly breaking my water…and it felt like hell, the pain was unimaginable. This was emergency surgery with a capital "E."

By 10:15 am I was in the OR and they had started to administer anaesthesia. I went out. The last thing I remember was crying for someone to call my husband and to tell him to call my doula (I was, of course, all alone and utterly terrified - I'd previously experienced two miscarriages and so spent a lot of my pregnancy being fearful that I'd have another ... or worse, a stillbirth ... and this obviously made my present situation even more fraught). I also remember asking if I should take my contacts out and being told there was no time - so yeah, I wore my contacts up until 11 pm that night, which was when my husband was finally able to go home to get my glasses as well as the other things we'd need for our subsequent three day stay in the hospital - he stayed with me in my room for the duration. 

Anyways, I awoke from my emergency C section in the afternoon; my daughter had been pulled from me at 10:36 am. I was totally looped on painkillers, etc. Eleanor had a weird heart beat. Weird in that her beats per minute were erratic and much, much lower than the “normal” range. She was in the NICU.

The next few days were a haze for me. Family and friends coming in and out (which I was grateful for), pain, worry for my daughter, pumping every 2-3 hours as I couldn't nurse her because I was too weak and she was all covered with wires and hooked up to machines, going to the NICU to hold her for an hour here and there, the general misery of staying in the hospital, arranging for friends to feed our cats, etc. Then I got discharged on Friday and Eleanor didn't come home with us until Wednesday so we had a nightmarish few days of commuting to and from the hospital every day to sit by her side in the NICU, still not sure what was wrong with her. It was the most terrifying and traumatic thing I have ever experienced. I’ve put off talking about it here for so long because of that. But now that things feel as though they’ve truly moved on and we both are healed, I felt I was ready to share.

I've more or less recovered from my surgery (turns out, as I read in my discharge summary from the hospital because there was literally no time to explain it before the surgery and I was too dazed to ask anyone at the hospital when I woke up, I had symptoms of hypertension, preeclampsia, and cholestasis (which is a liver enzyme issue caused solely by pregnancy and which was causing the horrific and insanely itchy rash that I had developed at around 33 weeks into my pregnancy - I can't remember if I wrote about it here but it was essentially a rash on my arms, legs, and in my actual stomach stretch marks, which got all red and bumpy, and it kept me up most nights itching and I dropped about $500 on various itch creams, oatmeal baths, no avail). Eleanor is thriving at home and all her tests revealed no underlying heart conditions to account for her lowered heart rate - she is also 100% asymptomatic so the lowered heart rate doesn't negatively affect her. Since she's been home it's steadily climbed, it's still about 20-30 beats per minute lower than it should be in a typical newborn but no medical professional seems too concerned about it and she requires no treatment.

The most important thing, obviously, is that Eleanor is thriving and healthy and happy. And she is all those things and I am elated by that, don't get me wrong. But, psychologically, it threw me for a loop to not be able to have the birth experience I was hoping to have (I didn't really have a birth plan per se, but I definitely didn't think it would go down like it did) and to not have those last couple of weeks of her inside me to prepare/transition for her entry into the world. In my post surgery drug induced haze and blinding pain, I was devastated that I couldn't hold her when she was born and the natural hormone spike I experienced made me excessively weepy and I fretted that we would never bond because we hadn't had that immediate skin to skin contact when she was born (our so-called "golden hour," as it's known). It all sounds a bit bonkers to me now, but that's legitimately the head space I was in for a bit.

It all goes to show you how quickly things can turn and change. I had a relatively easy pregnancy - I mean I was cranky and uncomfortable, but medically it was problem free...until the horrific end, of course!

On my way to the NICU a few hours after my surgery

Looking in on my amazing girl

The first of many hugs

Such a little trooper

Such a little trooper

Such a little trooper

Our first family cuddle

Such a little trooper

Such a little trooper

And here she is now - perfect and healthy and a little giggly and wiggly girl

Weekend Reading 


Closet Fashionista said...

Oh my goodness, that is quite the birth story! I'm so glad you're both okay and Eleanor is healthy and thriving! Thank goodness for doctors, right?!

Cee said...

Good grief. This really shows how much the dangers of pregnancy are downplayed by the medical community. Being pregnant is still such an iffy thing that can go from perfectly problem free to absolute emergency in a matter of an hour. Glad that you both made it through safely and are now thriving!

Lorena said...

I finished reading this with a gasp, you've had the roughest days and nights... I am sorry to hear it did not go down as you may have imagined it. Luckily you were in the hospital at the right time and at the end it all worked out. But, what a story ! from the moment they put the oxygen mask on to the time in the INCU you're both strong women. Oh, and you have your entire lifetime to bond. HUGS!

awhite said...

You must have been absolutely terrified, lady- I'm so sorry the birth had to happen this way! I'm glad you and Eleanor are doing better now- that's the best part of the story, for sure!

Le Stylo Rouge

Lyosha Varezhkina said...

oh my! I'm so happy it turned out fine but sounds like horrific experience. thank you for your honesty and sharing such personal story.

P.S. she is beautiful

Vanessa said...

Congrats on you new bundle of joy! So glad you are both happy and healthy! The best is yet to come! She is so beautiful!


LyddieGal said...

Oh my god Courtney, that really is so terrifying! I can't imagine how it must have felt to be taken from a perfectly normal checkup to full on emergency and to be all alone! I'm glad you are both doing well now and enjoying tons of cuddles and hugs. I doubt the "golden hour" is a real thing, Eleanor has known you are her mother since before she was born, and you've got many years of bonding ahead of you, and hopefully will never decide that she is too cool to hang out with her mom! (but don't worry about that now, haha).