Continued from Part I…
On December 28, we were scheduled to induce labor. We went in at 5:30 a.m. and I was given a Pitocin drip. After about an hour of regular, strengthening contractions, the nurse came in and turned off the Pitocin. She said the doctor would be in to explain. Turned out that MY OB had a family emergency and was not available. The OB in charge did not agree with inducing labor until he did another amniocentesis to check on Jenna’s lung development. We were wheeled down for another amniocentesis and reduction, and this doctor said that he did not feel her lungs were developed enough to deliver. We were totally confused at this point, since so many things were conflicting with what MY OB (who I love and trust) had told us. We requested multiple opinions and the OB on duty called in a pediatric surgeon and a neonatologist, who both agreed with what the OB said. We weren’t sure if they truly did, or just felt pressured to not disagree since he was standing in the room with them. It was all horribly confusing and disappointing. They put me back on bedrest, re-started the meds to stop the contractions (because they wanted me to carry her to term), and gave me another injection of steroids for her lungs. I had some sort of reaction to the steroid injection that sent my blood sugar all goofy, so they kept me in the hospital overnight. Hubby and I were both confused, exhausted, worried and upset. AND… WE had to pay for the 2 days in the hospital and the “foiled” induction that was basically due to doctor disagreement. Ugh.
When my OB returned to town, she was NOT well pleased. She apologized profusely, saw me in her office to monitor the contractions (still going strong) and fully examine me. I was still miserable and not sleeping, and she decided to induce on January 6. She promised she would be there, no matter what. On January 6, we were scheduled to induce at 7 a.m., but at 4.m., we went into the hospital due to the increasing frequency of contractions that we figured was natural labor. It looked like Jenna was finally on the way! Alas, even though the contractions were stronger and closer together, I was not dilating. At 7 a.m., they again started Pitocin. Mid-day, they gave me an epidural and I literally felt better than I had for months. FINALLY! Some relief from constant contractions! I could have kissed that anesthesiologist right on the mouth. Labor lasted 23 hours and I remember thinking that I simply could not push anymore toward the end. Hubby held up one leg, while the nurse held up the other (I don’t remember why we weren’t using stirrups….) and I would push through contractions and sleep for 30-60 seconds in between. Bizarre.
I remember being horrified that I frequently farted when I would push, and I think I said, “I’m so sorry” about a million times to the people on the “wrong” end. (I had been terrified that I would poop during labor, so I guess I should just be glad THAT didn’t happen). I pushed for 4 hours and 45 minutes. The nurses joked that it was a new hospital record. The doctor would occasionally check in, observe my exhaustion and desperation and announce that if I didn’t progress in the next half hour, we were going to C-section. Then, he would return in 45 minutes or an hour (to my great frustration) and announce I had progressed a tiny bit and to keep up the good work. Repeat that whole process 3 times. Because Jenna took so stinkin’ long to decide to make her entry, my OB went off duty and a stranger delivered Jenna at 5:41 a.m. on January 7, 2006. She was not breathing and looked a frightening shade of pale gray. As the doctor stitched me up, the nurses and PA worked on Jenna at my bedside. My eyes never left her as I clutched Hubby’s hand, and I just kept repeating, “She’s not breathing. She’s not breathing.”
It was the longest seven minutes of my life. I remember considering what I would do if they told me she didn’t survive, and my brain could not wrap around it. My heart felt like it was ripping out of my chest, and I wondered how I would go on if she was gone. I remember thinking that even though I had never held her in my arms, I didn’t know how I could keep on living if she died. For those seven minutes that felt like an eternity, I think I held MY breath until she took her first. Here’s what those moments looked like:
They drained off one pound of fluid from her lungs and abdomen, and she never cried, our little trooper. She took a breath and simply opened her eyes to check out what all the fuss was about. Here she is being weighed in (that tube is still draining fluid from her stomach) at 6 pounds .04 ounces and 21 inches long:
They laid her on my belly and let us have a few precious moments of snuggle time, then they whisked her away to the NICU. Her initial Apgar scores were horrible, and they immediately “tubed her up.” She had one tube down her throat to drain excess fluid from her stomach, another tube to help her breathe, two tubes through her belly button for IV feeding, and she was hooked to multiple wires to monitor heart rate and breathing. I was terrified of what those seven minutes without oxygen would mean to her tiny brain.
Her follow up Apgar tests improved dramatically though, and she began showing her spunk and courage. She was alert and looking around and immediately curious about her tubes. By the evening of her first day, she had had enough of those tubes and decided to (literally) take matters into her own hands. She pulled out her respirator tube and let out a scream of indignation. The nurses all commented on her spunk and spirit. She had improved enough that they took her off the respirator and she did just fine breathing on her own. She was scheduled for surgery for her intestine in two days as long as she continued to improve. Little did we know, our medical journey was just beginning in so many ways. Her NICU stay grew into three months of ups and downs, and the hospital became our home. It just seems like yesterday, but two and a half years have already flown by.
Little One, you’ve come so far from those first few days, and you’ve been through more than most of us can even imagine. I am constantly amazed by your spunk, courage and tender heart. On that first day, as I watched you struggle for your first breath, I didn’t think I could love anyone more. But you know what? I love you more every single day that I spend with you, and my heart just keeps growing bigger. Hugs and kisses from your mommy, who says all of that pregnancy stuff was totally worth it. I just don’t want to do it again.