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Katie's Parenting Journal

Entry 28 - July 31, 2010
Emma's Birthday

We had the alarm clock set for 4:45 on Saturday, July 17. I woke up long before the alarm and tossed and turned for awhile before giving up and getting up. I wanted to take a shower and put on my makeup . . . you know, so I could look all "glamorous" in the OR!

We got to the hospital and it was very quiet. We were the only patients in triage and had four nurses attending to us. It was during the intitial hook up and monitoring that the nurse let us know that we still weren't sure if we were doing the surgery today.

W-H-A-T?

It turns out that the presurgical blood work I had taken two days before had shown my platelet levels had dropped even further. The nurse asked me what the next step was if they couldn't do the surgery. I just looked at her in confusion. How was I supposed to know? Yeah, I mean I know am a Google Queen, but I clearly am no medical doctor. Apparently, my doctor wasn't even up for the day yet, so we were kind of in a holding pattern. They didn't want to start the IV without knowing we were doing surgery for sure.

They eventually decided that they would do the IV anyway, so they started that. It took three tries and two blown veins to get it in, but they managed. I usually don't have problems with IVs, but it HURT when they blew those veins.

They then decided that they needed to do a third blood draw before proceeding with the surgery, so I got yet another needle stick. Through out all of this, however, I got to listen to the soothing lull of my daughter's heartbeat, so it wasn't too bad. And an interesting side note is that I was having contractions at a very regular three minutes apart. I never got an internal exam to see if I was dilating, but the nurse was pretty sure that I was already in labor on my own. She said that was really good for Emma, since the natural contractions of the uterus start squeezing fluids from the lungs, and that it's ideal if a woman can go into natural labor prior to a c-section.

KatieThe third blood draw revealed that my platelets were slipping even lower. Dr. S had been contacted and said that he would definitely be going ahead with the surgery with my counts being what they were, so it was time to move to from triage to our pre-op room. We shuffled down the hallway, me with my IV bag of fluids, M with our camera stuff, and the nurse with my paperwork.

In our pre-op room, I took the nasty antacid in a cup and got a dose of antibiotics through the IV. We sat there, watching the clock tick closer to 8. Dr. S came in about ten minutes before to check in with us. He joked about being there to do my knee replacement surgery, helped M tie on his surgical garb, and then shook our hands and told us he'd see us in a few minutes. After that, I hugged M and we said goodbye, me starting to tear up as we walked across the hall and into the OR. As I had been for weeks, leading up to this moment, I was emotional, but it seemed out of place. The lights are bright, the air is cold, and everyone is acting as if this happens every day, because it does. But for you, this is a monumental occasion and yet it is so cold and clinical and just plain weird. One moment, you are a pregnant woman and very soon, you will not be pregnant any more and the baby will be here. Crazy.

I sat on the edge of the table with a stool under my feet. My pre-op nurse (who was amazing) held my hands as I sat hunched over with my shoulders slumped down. The spinal was quick and relatively painless and as soon as it was in, they had me lay down very quickly. I felt dizzy right away and then the shaking started very soon after. It took awhile for them to do the rest of the prep, like getting my catheter in and wiping the area with iodine. Dr. S came in, walked over, and took my hand and said, "It'll be okay. I just looked at your latest labs. It's a very good thing we are getting the baby out today." [I found out later that my actual diagnosis that day was HELLP syndrome.]

ORI just smiled at him and said, "I'm excited!" And I clearly was (or was it the bolus dose of dermamorph that I believe they give you right before surgery?).

Just like last time, they actually do the first incision before they bring your support person in. I was very glad when I saw M through the door and then he sat by my head. He rubbed it and I leaned into the gesture. I looked at him and said, "I'm so glad you are here."

Then, I got caught up in the feelings of the surgery. The funny thing is that I didn't feel woozy or out of it at all during the entire procedure. I was very awake and very aware. There was a lot of tugging and pressure, even some feelings of being "unzipped" (no pain, just an odd sensation). My shaking continued so much that I was having trouble keeping my arms steady on the table. The anesthesiologist told me not to fight the shaking and it actually seemed to help to relax into it. M asked if I was cold, but the anesthesiologist said it was a combination of nerves and the medication. He predicted I would fall asleep after Emma was born and I knew she was okay.

EmmaA few minutes later, he told M to stand up and get a picture of the baby. I heard M say, "She's so tiny!" and I was worried that she was too small. And then we heard her crying and of course, I started to cry myself. I could see her being put on the warming table and a flurry of activity around her. As we had talked about prior, M left my side to go to our daughter's. I heard her APGAR being called out and then I asked about weight, but the anesthesiologist said they wouldn't weigh her for a bit. I asked him if she was okay and he responded that she looked and sounded great. And she did sound good! She had (and still does!) a very enthusiastic cry - though M said it was not as angry as Will's. Soon, she was being wrapped up and M brought her to me. I was still shaking and had thrown up a few times by this point, so I wasn't able to do much but look, but right away, I could see that she looked a lot like her brother. But M said she had my eyes.

After I had gotten a good look, she was taken back to the warmer. I could hear that her weight was a healthy 7 lbs., 9 oz. so I knew she was a good size. Dr. S was just finished stitching me up and then they had to lift me from the table to the gurney to get me back to post-op. There is usually a machine that does this, but because I was a "light" patient (nice of them to say, but didn't feel that way when it took four people to lift me to and from), they did it manually. They rolled me to the right, which felt very scary, but it was quick and then we were rolling back to what was now my post-op room.

nursingOne thing that I am so thankful for with Emma's birth is that I was able to have skin to skin contact and nurse her within a half hour of delivery. With Will, I did not attempt to nurse until almost five hours had gone by and I think it made latching more difficult (though we didn't really have any feeding problems, my nipples took a major beating). I did start to feel fuzzy in recovery, but the nurse was able to help me and Emma latched right on. She then nursed for almost a half hour on each breast, which I guess is pretty rare, since several nurses commented on it during our stay.

Dr. S came to talk to us and told the nurse that I would be unable to take any sort of anti-inflammatories for pain management. He declared that Emma was beautiful, shook M's hand, and was gone.

Recovery was really a peaceful time for us. It was just us three (plus my nurse, but she wasn't very intrusive) and I felt absolutely no pain. Nursing her was amazing, counting her tiny baby fingers and toes, and seeing that, when her eyes were open, she definitely resembled me. I loved her right away, as you had all told me that I would. I actually find that my love for her has deepened my love for Will in some ways, too. I find myself remembering his babyhood and it just seems my heart will explode from all of the love stuffed inside of it.

I looked at M and told him that I was really glad we hadn't tied my tubes because I was going to want another baby. He just looked at me and didn't say a word. He knows that morphine makes me say and do weird things!

Will and EmmaWe spent four days in the hospital and were released on Tuesday. We had Will stay with his grandma about an hour away, so he didn't get to meet his sister until they came to the hospital that last day. He was a little shy and uncertain, but he gave her the gift we had picked out together a few days before and then he wanted to hold his sister. It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes.

Since returning home, I have been recovering well. I took pain pills for the first couple of days but didn't spend any extra time in bed. Emma had jaundice and had to be put on a "bilibed" at home. We got pretty close to being readmitted to the hospital, but thankfully, the numbers started dropping just in time and we avoided that. I still have to feed her every 2 hours round the clock to help her expel all of the nastiness from her system, so sleep is a precious commodity around here. Will is doing a wonderful job as a big brother but having some trouble with fighting bedtime and some tantrums, most especially with me. We are trying to be consistent and loving, knowing how much change he had had to endure these past couple of weeks. Mike returns to work on Monday and though I am nervous about being home alone with the two of them, I also know that I have to find my way eventually and that we will hopefully be able to get on our new "normal" schedule.

Emma is a sweet little girl with a big set of lungs. We love her dearly and I can't wait to see what the future brings for all of us!

~ Katie

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