Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Sep '07

a BIG little surprise

Wesley John made his way into the world in a hurry last Wednesday, Sept 12th at 1:38 a.m. John and I had the goal of being completely ready for his arrival by the time I was 37 weeks pregnant, but the little guy showed us up by coming at 36 weeks instead.

The whole labor, delivery, and recovery experience was quite the surprise for us. First of all, I didn’t really believe I was in labor until I was at the hospital and the nurse told me I was dilated to a 4, almost a 5, and 100% effaced. I really just thought I had bad indigestion or something. I’ve heard that women in labor can enter into a dream-like state, so maybe that was my problem.

I actually had my 36-week checkup at my OB-GYN at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 11) and everything checked out fine. He measured my belly and took a culture for the Strep B test. He said that next week he’d check me to see if I’d started to dilate yet. I was excited for that. During the appointment, though, I didn’t feel well. I was really anxious to get out of there, especially since I had to wait a while to see the doctor and didn’t finish until a little after 4 p.m.

Even though I didn’t feel great, I was stoked to go to my step aerobics class with my favorite teacher at 5:30. I had time to kill, so I took some shoes back to Mervyns in Orem. My back was starting to hurt. It was a pain on either side, maybe like constipation or something, and it came and went. It was so uncomfortable, though, that walking was hard and it was easier to sit down and breathe through it until it passed. A little before 5 I decided that I didn’t feel good enough to go to aerobics, so I headed home.

I had a bowl of soup and some toast and took a bath, thinking that would help the pain. I listened to one of my Hypnobirthing CDs to help me relax. The bath didn’t help the pain in my back at all, but it did soothe the cramps I felt up front.

I called John and told him that I wasn’t feeling good and was kind of miserable. A couple times I had to set the phone down so I could better breathe through the pain until the cramps passed. I told him I’d sure feel better if he were home.

At 7:00 I decided to call my on-call doctor because I had noticed blood in the toilet. Dr. Gordon suggested I had a virus and maybe hemorrhoids and recommended I take two Immodium. I did and took a couple Tylenol for good measure, but I can tell you that didn’t help the pain one bit. Breathing deeply like I had been taught in my Hypnobirthing class was the best thing to manage my discomfort.

When John got home he observed me a little while before handing me an oven timer to “just see” how far apart my pains were. They were about 2-4 minutes apart, but they only lasted 30 seconds for the worst bit before easing off again. John gave me a blessing. At 10 p.m. John called Dr. Gordon again and explained how things weren’t improving and that the blood clearly wasn’t hemorrhoids, and–no surprise–the doctor suggested we head to the hospital.

Well, we totally weren’t prepared to go to the hospital. In fact, our plan for that Tuesday night had been to write up our birth preferences sheet, and I was going to get the hospital bag ready later that week. So much for that. John found an overnight bag and we tried to think of what we’d need. I had a hospital bag checklist all ready, but it was in my email and I’d have to turn on the computer to access it. We ended up tossing in a bunch of clothes and toiletries. Not knowing if this was real labor or not, we erred on the side of caution and packed the car with the things I had intended to use while in labor: my birthing ball, CD player, Hypnobirthing book, and relaxation CDs. It took about 20 minutes to load everything, but it felt like forever to me.

Then the long car ride to the Orem Community Hospital. I’ll tell you that contractions in a bumpy car isn’t fun. I
remember telling John that if he wanted to go a little faster than usual, it was okay with me. John had never been to OCH before. In fact, we had scheduled a tour of the hospital, but it was for Thursday the 13th–two days away. I had to direct him there, but I didn’t know where to park or which door to enter. The doors we parked by were locked (it was 11 p.m.) and the sign told us to find the ER entrance. I took John by the hand and tried to drag him across the lawn that was saturated from the sprinklers. He said, “It’s wet” and I said, “I don’t care.” I was in a hurry.

We had to stop outside the ER entrance to let a contraction pass. When we finally got in I was anxious to get to the labor and delivery section, but we didn’t know where it was. We wandered a little, me very impatient with John’s apparent patience, until we found it. They let us in and set me up in an observation room where a nurse named Debbie took my information. This annoyed me. I was in obvious discomfort and she was asking me for my birth date and social security number.

Finally she examined me. John told her how we figured it was a false alarm but we thought we’d come to make sure. And she replied that we weren’t going anywhere since I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 4, almost a 5. That was about 11:30 p.m.

All the stuff we had brought with us was forgotten in the car, because the labor was clearly progressing quickly. Plus my blood pressure (which has always been excellent) had jumped at the onset of labor, and my baby’s heartbeat was dropping with every contraction. As a result I had to be hooked up to some different things to help with the blood pressure and prevent seizures. I had no desire to move from the bed where they put me. They asked if I wanted an epidural. I didn’t, if I could help it. I continued to breathe deeply and moan through the pain and I was able to get through it, one contraction at a time. My husband was a terrific advocate for me, always questioning the nurses’ recommendations for the IVs and so forth, to make sure I had the type of delivery I wanted. He also fed me ice chips after each contraction. I loved those ice chips, I was so thirsty.

The two hours I was in the hospital in labor seemed to go by quickly. The nurse checked me occasionally to see how I was progressing. I was at a 7, and then it seemed to jump suddenly to a 10. At that point she said to call her if I felt like I needed to push. I asked her, “How will I know that?” “You’ll know,” she replied.

And she was right. It felt different, like something was suddenly pushing down and ready to come out. I remember telling John that I wanted to push and him telling me earnestly NOT to push and calling for the nurse in the hall. She came and checked me and said, “Not quite yet.” Well, during the next contraction the urge to push was even stronger and I told John that I REALLY wanted to push, and he told me even more earnestly NOT to push and called out for the nurse again. This time she checked me and then called in the doctor, who apparently was hanging out in the hall somewhere.

The baby’s heart rate was dropping significantly with every contraction and he was having a hard time recovering after each drop. The doctor and nurses were anxious to get him out fast. The nurse Debbie coached me as I tried to push the baby out. Even though I could feel everything, pushing was hard and felt unnatural to me. Dr. Gordon could see the progress each push made and was so anxious to get the baby out that he kept saying things like, “Just one more! Just one more!”, which kind of stressed me out. I mean, I was doing the best I could manage. It took a few sets of contractions and pushing, maybe ten minutes’ worth, before Wesley burst into the world in a rush of liquid at 1:38 a.m., peeing all over Dr.Gordon. Right away the doctor and nurses commented on how small the baby was. He weighed in at 3 lbs 15 ounces.

It took a while for the nurses to get me all fixed up with the IVs and things I needed. One reason why I wanted a pain medication-free birth was so I’d be able to get on my feet faster afterwards. I’m glad I did it without an epidural, but the high blood pressure threw me off. I had to be hooked up to magnesium sulfate (or something like that) to prevent me from having a seizure as a result of the high blood pressure. And that magnesium stuff does quite the number on your body. I was totally out of it most of Wednesday until they finally took me off it in the afternoon. I also lost quite a bit of blood, so much so that they were worried I’d start hemorrhaging. Between the magnesium and loss of blood I was pretty weak and pretty much stuck in bed most of Wednesday. John and I tried to get some sleep between 5:30 a.m. when the nurses finally left us alone and 7 a.m. when breakfast came, but without much luck.

Just as breakfast arrived, so did the on-duty pediatrician who had examined our baby that morning. Without much warm-up he told us our baby very likely had Downs Syndrome, but that they’d submit a test to make sure.

This was a devastating blow to both of us. Completely unexpected. Wednesday was a hard day.

But each day since has been better and better. We love our little Wes. He’s still in the hospital in the special care unit. He’s 10 days old now and is making progress every day. During the first few days he was attached to an IV, oxygen, feeding tube, and heart monitor and stuck under the light for jaundice. Last Sunday his jaundice improved enough that he didn’t need the light. They took off his IV after he finished receiving some antibiotics. A couple days ago they decided he was stable enough to not need the heart monitor. And just yesterday they removed his feeding tube. Now they’re trying to wean him off the oxygen. He’s doing great. The main thing we’re working on is getting him to eat on his own, dependably, and to gain some weight so he can come home with us. The Downs Syndrome is secondary to all of this.

Wes has a sweet disposition that makes him a favorite among the nurses. They call him the Nursery Mascot. They also have nicknamed him Squeaker, because his cries–which are few and far between–come out as an adorable squeak. The nurses love him and have jokingly said that they should pass around a sign-up sheet so they can take turns babysitting him after he comes home. He’s a snuggler and is happy to be held. He often gets the hiccups and seems to always sneeze in sets of four.

Today he weighed in at just over four pounds, so he’s starting to gain weight. He’s doing fantastic on his feedings; he’s really getting the hang of breast and bottle feeding. I’ve been blessed with plenty of milk to keep him going. The nurses often say how to them he doesn’t seem like he has Downs Syndrome (even though the chromosome test was positive). When he’s awake he’s very alert, and his muscle tone is normal. He uses he arms and hands and kicks with his legs, and even can lift his head just slightly off my shoulder when I’m holding him. We’ll have to see how he progresses, but so far we feel optimistic. In any case, we love him and are so glad he’s joined our family.

Even though the labor and delivery turned out totally different than I had imagined, I got two things I wanted: a pain medication-free birth and–best of all–a beautiful, wonderful baby boy.

(Our blog currently isn’t letting me post pictures, but I will as soon as I can. If you want to see pictures you can email us.)

1 Comment »

One Response to “a BIG little surprise”

  1. godcan Says:

    Wow, Shannon……….what amazing detail………I can’t WAIT to see Wesley………congratulations to both you and John………

    Uncle Dave
    Romans 8:28

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