Monday, March 1, 2010

Owens' Birth Story

( Me and Noah on bedrest)

Frank and I went to Poughkeepsie, in July 2005, to board a replica ship that was docked at Warayas Park. We took a walk across the Mid-Hudson Bridge to get there that day. Noah, our 18 month old, had stayed at our friend’s house and we had the day to ourselves. Once on board I became ill, something that was quite unlike me on a ship. I went on shore as Frank stayed aboard. I was pregnant. I just knew it. A test that night confirmed it. We were ecstatic. It had taken so long to become pregnant with Noah and we were going to wait until August to try again. What luck! It didn’t take too long for me to become very ill. I had morning sickness with Noah, but this was different. Frank assured me that I was being paranoid and that everything was fine. Maybe, I was having a girl and that's why this was so different. I had an ultrasound at 8 weeks and it was normal. There had been a problem with Noah's so I felt relieved to have this one be okay. I continued being ill and having an almost 2 year old that gave up naps long ago did not help the matter. Noah actually found my vomiting quite funny.
At 16 weeks I was sent for a level 2 ultrasound due to the large size of my uterus. This had happened with Noah so I was not concerned. I actually was excited about seeing my baby again. I was nervous at first, but became relieved when a week had past and I had not heard from the doctor. That feeling quickly faded when on Noah's first day of school I received a phone call from my doctor. He wanted to send me to a fetal imaging specialist because he had some concerns over the baby's heart. He said not to worry that he wasn't telling me that something was wrong with my baby. The heart by itself is just a cosmetic problem, nothing physical. He just wanted to have a more through ultrasound to rule out any other possible defects.
We would have to wait 6 more weeks and go through Thanksgiving without really knowing if our baby was okay. On November 28th, I had my third Ultrasound. This one included a fetal echo, a full genetic scan and a transvaginal with color Doppler. We had decided to find out the sex of the baby. We needed to know. I wanted have a name for this baby soon as possible. The doctor that I was supposed to see was called out for an emergency. The technician assured me that he would get to see video of the scan and that she would have another doctor have a look now. When the doctor came in he assured us that the baby was fine, the technician wanted to show him something with the placenta. They discussed a few things, he disagreed and that was that. We are having a boy. I think Frank almost fell off the chair. Everyone thought it was going to be a girl. I had been so sick and carrying so different. I knew the whole time I was having my boy.
A few days later my doctor called, on a Saturday night, to confirm that the baby was fine. I on the other hand I had Placenta Previa. He said worst case scenario I would need a C-section. Another ultrasound would be scheduled to see if it had moved. Until then I was not to pick up heavy objects, my son, or have any sexual activity. At my next appointment I was given a script for the ultrasound, it wasn't until I made the appointment that I noticed it also called for a check to see if I had Vasa Previa. I was unable to locate any information on this condition so I assumed it was an abbreviation for something else.
Unfortunately on New Years Day I decided to do an internet search and was horrified at what I found. Vasa Previa is a rarely (1:2500) reported condition in which fetal blood vessel(s) from the placenta or umbilical cord crosses the entrance to the birth canal, beneath the baby. The condition has a high fetal mortality rate (50-95%). This can be attributed to rapid fetal exsanguination resulting from the vessels tearing when the cervix dilates, membranes rupture or if the vessels become pinched off as they are compressed between the baby and the walls of the birth canal.

I had known something was wrong the whole time, but this I was not prepared for in any way. I spent the day in tears doing more research. There is not much information on this condition due to its rarity. On January 13th, the specialist confirmed the Vasa Previa. I believe his exact words to the technician were “this is the real McCoy" He asked us if we had done research and understood what is Vasa Previa. Prenatally diagnosed the survival rate is as high as the mortality rate. We were lucky. He also stated “you could have lost everything" Before we even arrived home my doctors office had called to schedule an appointment and make sure that I stick to the current restrictions. They have become life and death now for the baby. At my appointment 2 days later I was put on bed rest, only the shower and bathroom. I could not go into labor. I would loss my baby. He would bleed to death in minutes. I was told that hospitalization at 34 weeks and c-section at 36 weeks would be the best course of action. I picked my surgeon and he would complete the research into this case. The office of 5 doctors have never had a case of Vasa Previa. My doctor would later schedule another ultrasound at 32 weeks. I was told to pack my bags because if the cord had not moved it's position I would need to be hospitalized till the end of my pregnancy. Needless to say, the cord had indeed not moved. The doctor said he must come to the conclusion that it is stationary and he would be calling my doctors office immediately to alert them of the situation. Bag packed in the car and my husband out of town for work, I had my sister in law drive me back home so I could say good bye to Noah one more time. Noah had just gotten back from school and handed me his paintings. I kissed him good-bye, and then cried the entire trip to the hospital.

(Noah and I at the Hospital)

To make a long story a bit shorter, the entire staff at the hospital was great! I would be there for 6 weeks total. I had a private room with a great view of the bridge. The cleaning woman made sure she cleaned my floors everyday because she knew Noah was coming and played on the floor, the food service woman made sure I was fully stocked with bottled water all the time. (Even when she wasn't working) I was only allowed to use the bathroom and take a shower, other than that I was in bed. They helped me get my laptop on line so I could see Noah on web cam at home. I was treated very well. I was even allowed to have my book club meeting in my room after visiting hours! The week before I was set to deliver my doctor granted me wheelchair access to the floor. It may sound lame, but after being in my room for 3 weeks having my husband push me and Noah around the floor was so much fun! I felt so blessed that members of the HudsonValleyParents community brought meals to my home at this time. My husband was very appreciative of that fact. My mother and father in law took care of Noah during the day and Frank had him all weekend. He brought him to see me every other day. Everyday would have been too much for my little man. He's was just over 2 at this point. My heart ached for him. Although it was tough I was able to focus on myself and the new life growing inside of me. I had gotten two steroid shots the first days of arrival to help the lungs mature. The doctors had decided against an amnio saying it wasn't worth the risk of me going into labor. My friend's mother is a social worker at the hospital and she visited me often and helped me with visualization techniques.
After an uneventful 5 week stay, (not even one contraction), I was ready for my surgery.

(The night before delivery)

It was March 2nd and it was snowing something fierce out there. I couldn't even see the bridge. I was finally going to get to meet my little guy. My doctor, the anesthesiologist, and the nurses were fantastic. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. Then there he was-all blowing bubbles-my baby boy. Obviously I couldn't hold him, but he was beautiful. They needed to take him to the NICU because he was in a bit of respiratory distress. I sent my husband to the NICU to be with Owen. I was going to be fine. He came back with video footage of our boy. That was the only way I would get to see him for the next 24 hours. I was fine. He was alive. I didn't need to hold him. He was alive!!!!!!!!!

(only hours after he was born)

He didn't even need to be on a ventilator- only a CPAP for 12 hours. When I got to see him he only had an IV, and he was so tiny. Big although for a preemie- 5lbs & 7oz. Every doctor needs to have the same concern for their patients as mine had. Anger overwhelms me that too many families are faced with the heartache of losing their precious babies to this condition.

I thought we were in the clear when another battle began. He began losing weight quickly. They said that he was actually acting like a 34 or 35 week old baby as opposed to 36 weeks. He had problems sucking whether it is bottle or breast. He would just drift off to sleep. It seemed as if he was never awake. The NICU staff was encouraging and we kept breast and bottle feeding, but just changing the times and amounts.

(First time I held Owen)

He wasn't going to be able to come home with me. I wasn't leaving without him. I spent way too much time there to leave without my baby. I moved into a parent room outside the NICU. The lactation consultants brought in a breast pump for me and supplied me with bottles. My food service worker that I was telling you about supplied me with water and meal vouchers for the cafeteria. I cross-stitched and read magazines, but I stayed with my boy. Frank would come after work. Then he relieved me for a day so I could spend time with Noah alone before we brought Owen home. He spent a week in the NICU. It would have been longer, but the nurses convinced the doctor that we would take care of him fine. How could we not, I had surgery and walked down to the NICU everyday for every feeding. He was 4lbs 12oz when he came home.

I have no regrets. I had a horrible birth experience with Noah (share that later) and I was really looking forward to having a natural birth this time around, but it wasn't in my cards. It doesn't matter, it really doesn't. I have a beautiful baby boy that if it wasn't for a color Doppler ultrasound- he would not be alive today. What a loss that would have been for everyone! I wouldn't change any of it. I don't second guess myself when it comes to my boys anymore. And I definitely don't need to explain my choices to anyone. I was as insecure as a parent could be before Owen. Something just clicked and now I feel as if I can finally enjoy myself as a mom. He has given me such a great gift.

Happy 4Th Birthday Baby!

1 comment:

AprilC - GaFlyGirl said...

what a beautiful boy, and a miracle baby! Happy birthday to him! Looks like he had a wonderful birthday!