Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pregnancy and Birth Story

I know that this is a little belated but with the new baby, trying to finish medical school and working on an MBA I have barely had time to shower much less write blogs. I was/am overjoyed with how my pregnancy, labor and delivery went. I had a excellent OB who was supportive of my, not always mainstream, choices. The nurses were amazing and basically left me to do my thing with minimal interference. The most important piece, that kept me grounded and prevented me from caving, was the presence my loving husband (who still swears that he was nothing more than a cheerleader). So without further ado here is my story.

In the middle of June 2007 I took a home pregnancy test and two little lines appeared; it was positive. I had been feeling kind of under the weather for the previous 1-2 weeks but hadn’t thought much of it until I didn’t start my period when I should have. My hubby and I had decided a couple of months prior that we were going to start trying to conceive and the doctors told us it would probably take a while since I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. But as luck would have it the first cycle after I stopped taking the pill we got lucky. At first I was kind of stunned that it happened so fast but I was also very please and excited.

The next several months flew by. I had my first ultrasound at 11 weeks gestation and our little one was growing well and right on schedule. I only suffered from mild “morning” sickness that was easily kept at bay by remembering to eat something small every hour our so. By 20 weeks the “morning” sickness was gone and I had my second ultrasound. This is when we found out that our precious little one was a boy. At this point it was just a confirmation of what I already knew. I had been saying since I was about 14 weeks along that I was sure that it was a boy.

I think that in general I had a really easy pregnancy. I did not have any back pain or swelling in my feet. I stay active and completing clinical rotations until 4 days before I delivered and 1 week past my due date. I think that I had so few problems because I could not afford to let anything stop me from finishing medical school. I did have some issues: I had pubic symphysis pain starting at about 23 weeks that made it very difficult to sit down for any extended period of time. This was actually kind of good because it meant I had to be up walking around. I also developed a numb/tingling feeling in my left thigh that was really just annoying.

I was due on February 8, 2008. As this date approached I was completing my Emergency Medicine rotation which was scheduled to be finished on the 15th. Starting around the 1st of February I began talking to my little man and asking him to just hang in there a little while longer. I finished the rotation without a single contraction but I was dilated about 3cm the entire last week.

The following Monday (2/18/08) I was 41 weeks and 3 days gestation. I went to the hospital for a ‘non-stress test’ and got the all clear that everything looked good. A little later that day I went to see my OB. I had not had any real contractions and didn’t think that I was anywhere near ready to have this baby but I agreed to have him check my cervix. Much to my surprise I was dilated about 2-3cm. At that point he ‘stripped of my membranes’ meaning that he basically put his finger between the uterine wall and the membranes and separated them (I have to say that this hurt like hell and I felt horrible for the rest of the afternoon. I don’t think that I will ever let a doctor do that again.). He then sent me home with orders to have a glass of wine, relax and let things happen.

That night Brian and I had a nice dinner with our best friends, Tom and Kate, and then I went to bed early. At around 12:30am he came to bed and shortly there after, at 10 minutes to 1, I got up to go to the bathroom. While I was up my water broke. I was still not having any contractions so I decided to tell Brian that my water broke but that I wanted to wait to go to the hospital. I messed around repacking my bag, cleaning, checking e-mail and watching TV all the while having weak contractions 15-20 minutes apart. At about 2:30 the contractions starting coming closer together, lasting longer and were a little more intense. At around 3am I figured that it was time to get going to the hospital because my contractions were very intense, lasting about 60-90 seconds and coming every 5 minutes so I called my OB and headed over.

As I walked in the front door of the hospital my water broke again. I know this sound weird but basically I had another huge gush of fluid. I got up stairs and settled into my room and this is when we discovered that there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. The nurse then checked the heart tones of the baby, took my blood pressure, pulse ox and monitored both of us for 10 minutes.

The next part is why I absolutely love my OB. I was very up front with him about what I wanted out of this experience and he supported me completely. He told the nursed to let me labor in what ever position I wanted with fetal monitoring for 3 minutes every half hour. I was allowed to eat if I wanted (turns out I didn’t but I had lots of good snacks on hand just in case and they came in handy after he was born so I didn’t have to wait for room service). I spent a little bit of time lying on the bed trying to get some rest when we first got to the hospital but as soon as the contractions got going, sitting or lying down hurt too much. This is when I started walking around (pacing actually) and spending some time in the shower. At around 7am the contractions we coming every 2 minutes and lasting about 60-70 seconds. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath they were coming so fast. Sometime around 9:30am I began feeling the urge to push (sorry I don’t remember the exact time but I was preoccupied). After 8-10 really good pushes (I think there was a few other not so good pushes) I had delivered our perfect and absolutely gorgeous son. He came into this world at 9:58am on February 19th, 2008, exactly 29 years to the day after his mother was born. I now have a birthday buddy.

During this whole time my fantastic, wonderful, supportive husband was right there by my side. He was holding my hand, assuring me that I could do it and that I was doing it. I got thru the entire labor and delivery without any medications of any kind. If it hadn’t been for Brian I would have given in and asked for narcotics or an epidural.

Immediately after he was born he was placed on my chest and I swelled with love. Within the first hour he was partaking of his first taste of breast milk and he took to nursing like a pro. Shortly after he was born and we got cleaned and covered up Tom and Kate came to welcome Sebastian to the world. After getting some great photos everyone left so we could get some rest. At around 1:30pm we decided that it was time to clean him up a bit so we gave him his first bath. After his bath we got him dressed and I went to sit back down and cuddle with him a little bit. It was at this point that I noticed that he was grunting and retracting and basically having some trouble breathing. It was not happening consistently but I was still concerned so I had the nurse call the neonatal team to check him out.

After examining him, taking blood and hooking him up to some monitors they decided that his oxygenation was not as good as they would have liked so they wanted to take him to the NICU. They also thought that he might have an infection or meconium in his lungs so he was put on antibiotics and oxygen and placed in a little plastic box (isolet). Having him taken from me at only four hours old was probably the most painful thing I have ever experienced. This little person that I had been carrying around for nine months, who I had been finally introduced to that day, was being ripped from my arms. I know it was only to make sure that he was well cared for and healthy but I felt like my heart was being carved out of my chest. I would have gladly endured a longer more painful labor if it would have meant that he could have stayed with me. Thankfully, he was not doing too bad and didn’t need a ventilator but he was on high pressure oxygen to keep his oxygen saturations above 95%. During this first day in the NICU he was also very sensitive to any kind of stimulation. Even the littlest touch would cause his heart rate to sky rocket and his oxygen levels to plummet. Because of this I was not even able to even comfort him or let him know that I was there for him.

Later that evening my father and my mother-in-law arrived from South Carolina. The trip had been planned for a while and it was just a weird coincidence that they arrived the same day he was born. They came up to the hospital and we took them up to see him and then they went back to our place to settle in. I was allowed to stay in the hospital for 2 nights so that I could be closer to him. I was pumping every two hours around the clock to help stimulate my milk production and spending as much time as I could with him but it was difficult when I was not able to hold him. Wednesday night everyone came up to the hospital and we played games and ate Chinese food in their valiant effort to take my mind off my new baby that was so isolated from me.

On Wednesday I finally began getting some milk when I was pumping. I was so excited that I could at least give him this that would help him get stronger. That afternoon the doctor said that in the morning I could try breastfeeding. So Thursday morning I was up in the NICU at 9am to try breastfeeding again. I was overjoyed to be able to hold him against my skin, to comfort him and make sure he felt secure and loved. The first several times we had to leave on all the monitors and the nasal cannula which made it more difficult but he still did terrific.

On Thursday afternoon I had to check out of the hospital and head home. My friends and family planned a big welcome home dinner. I was so appreciative that they would do this for me (and even clean up afterwards) but I felt really guilty for being home and not being at the hospital with Sebastian. We did have a good time though and all through the night I was going back to the hospital every 2-3 hours to feed him. Sometime I stayed between feedings and other times I went home to get a little sleep. Finally on Friday we got the all clear from his doctor to disconnect all the monitors, except the oxygen monitor, and the remove the supplemental oxygen and let him nurse. During the nursing sessions his oxygen levels actually got better and so by Friday night he was off the oxygen all together and being moved to the ‘growing room’ which is basically for babies who are not longer sick and just waiting for the finally okay to be sent home. I was back and forth to the hospital all Friday night and finally on Saturday morning he got the all clear to go home.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FInally Done!!!

I am finally done with medical school. I am now officially an M.D. It is kind of surreal. Well I should have a little bit more time to blog now and I have 2 or 3 that I have been waiting to write, so those should be coming in the next couple of days.