Sunday, January 15, 2017

Being a Mom in the NICU, Secret Diabetes, Spinal Headaches and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction- A Birth Story


Eight days ago my birth plan for my fourth, and last, child failed...Failed in an epic way. At 1:30am Saturday January 7th I went into labor on my own. I was so excited because I was worried that I wouldn't and would wind up being induced or having another c-section and as a VBA2C I was trying very hard to make sure neither of those things happened.

This pregnancy was much different from my other two. I was in SO much pain the last month I couldn't walk, sleep, sit or move. I was diagnosed with SPD, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction- where the ligaments that keep your pelvic bone aligned get too stretchy and loose too soon. So when labor began I was beyond excited.

We were admitted to the L & D around 7 am and I was dilated to a five. I almost cried when I heard that because I had been a 2 for a month and was worried the labor wasn't causing any dilation. Once we got in a room, I tried really hard to breathe through my contractions and relax, but I had been in pain for such a long time I didn't want to be anymore so I asked for the epidural.

Biggest mistake ever. The epidural went badly and the medicine went up and down, causing everything from the waist down to numb so I couldn't move and causing everything from the waist up to start numbing. My hands went first and it moved up my arms, then I couldn't feel myself breathe and my blood pressure dropped very low. I believe my doula saw it go down to 65/45. In fact my husband later told me a crash cart was brought in just in case. I had to have three doses of medication before my blood pressure came back up, plus they removed the epidural.

During this time my son's heart rate dropped dangerously low and they rolled me on my side and gave me oxygen. They broke my water to see if it would speed up labor and I drifted in and out of consciousness.

At this time they decided to deliver me via emergency c-section because the baby was now in distress. They had to put me all the way under because they couldn't risk another epidural or a spinal tap. I was not awake when my son was born. He was taken to the nursery with my husband and I was left in the care of a nurse, my doula and my mother. I woke confused, in a ton of pain, hungry and freezing. It took lime flavored ice chips, ten heated blankets and a shit ton of narcotics before I felt normal again.

While in recovery (my mom told me this as I don’t actually remember seeing my doctor) my doctor came in to tell me there was a knot in my son’s cord. Every time I had a contraction the cord was being compressed and even if the epidural hadn’t sent him into distress he probably wouldn’t have handled further labor well. I don’t know how much I believe that, but it felt better to know that the horrible events that led to the c-section may not have been avoidable.

I can admit it now, but I am very traumatized by my birth events. My doula has been concerned I will develop Postpartum PTSD. So I’m keeping an eye on it.

My son was born at 10:35 am on Saturday morning. I didn't see him until 7 pm that night. I didn't get to hold him until the next day. He was admitted to the NICU around 2 pm Saturday because he couldn't regulate his blood sugar or his oxygen and had a mild infection. He was 10 pounds 12 ounces and 22 inches long and the doctors are certain I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes, even though I passed the text at 28 weeks and was negative. I also wasn't told until I went into labor that the Group B Strep test had come back positive (two weeks earlier). Needless to say even with the same doctor as the Goblin King, I am VERY unhappy with the quality of care I got this time around.

Oh! And then I developed a headache caused by the botched epidural. So unless I am lying down or doped to the max I’ve had a bitch of a headache since Sunday night. It’s getting better now but it sucks and apparently is common and caused when the needle creates a passage for the spinal fluid to leak out, changing the fluid pressure around the brain and spinal cord. (Fun sounding, right?) Anyway, back to the story.

Having a baby in the NICU is hard, everyone knows that. However, what you don't know is how hard. He didn't feel like mine for the first three days. He was just this cute baby I could go and visit for an hour or two every day. Other people told me how he liked to be held and what his feeding schedule was. I just sat next to him in my wheel chair and thought, "This can't be my baby. He doesn't know who I am and he doesn't feel like mine."

At one point I considered not going to see him anymore until he could come home, because I felt so disconnected from everything that was going on. I felt guilty that what was wrong with him was my fault and I felt like we'd missed out on crucial bonding time and now it was all pointless. I tried not to cry, 1) I am not a cry kind of person and 2) Because it felt counterproductive.


After a good conversation with my mom, on Monday (and my husband bringing my two year old to see me) I did have a good cry and started to go see my son on a regular basis. Things began to feel at least a little normal. Until they told me on Tuesday, no way was he coming home when I did. I fact it could be three weeks before he came home.

I had to go home without my baby. It was surreal, I went home and nothing had changed. There was no baby for me to care for; in fact he'll probably be too big to wear the custom made bat outfit that's just sitting, collecting dust, on my dresser. I was 30 miles away from the baby I had just given birth to. One I never even got to celebrate because of all the drama surrounding his birth and the following events. I simply went home, saw my mom and dad, had dinner with my three other kids and went to bed....Fairly anti-climactic.

It's been eight days and, while still hard, I can say that I look forward to seeing him every day. I go up there for hours and sit, I read while he sleeps. I change diapers and cuddle. Everything I would be doing with him at home, except I’m in a curtained area surrounded by nurses and beeping machines.

I call and check on him every night and every morning. My hands are chapped from the amount of hand washing I have to do before I even get in the room to see him. Until today I was nervous every time I picked him up because of all the tubes and wires connected to him. I don't like that he's not home with us, it makes me stressed and anxious and I just want him to come home. I'm sick of feeling like I want to cry all the time, but I don't because I need to be strong. Not only am I recovering from a c-section that has been very hard on me, but I have major emotional wounds as well.

Today was a good day. My son is on the smallest amount of oxygen he can be on, he is regulating his blood sugar all on his own, they took out the IV connected to his belly button and stopped the course of antibiotics. Aside from a bad diaper rash and not being totally able to drink from a bottle (they have to pump it directly into his stomach) he could come home now. Things are looking up, and while it could have been so much worse (which honestly is a dumb thing to say to ANY mom in the NICU- it DOESN'T help) it wasn't and I know we are blessed as a family.

But tonight....I miss my baby and he's asleep somewhere else with other people caring for him. It’s hard, it is an awful sensation and I just want this experience to be over with now.

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