Saturday, October 6, 2012

The (less than ideal) arrival of Ricardo Jr. Part III

At six minutes and 56 seconds there was a squeak followed by a flurry of movement.  Junior just started breathing.  Out of the blue, the BLACK, the darkness.  On his own.

He just. . . started. . . BREATHING. 

He was immediately rushed to the NICU.  Dr. Hernandez sent Ricardo with Junior and time stopped.  This was the antithesis of what this moment should be.  I had pictured a baby laying on my chest while nurses wiped him off and swaddled him up. Everyone smiling, Ricardo and I crying with joy, and a healthy baby crying.  I WANTED to hear my baby cry.  Instead I was alone in a quiet, dark room.  No baby, no Ricardo.  My nurse was crying with me.  For far too long, I was left alone with my thoughts.  Guilt, fear, sadness.  I knew our families were probably awake, waiting for news, but what could I say?  I didn't know if Junior would survive the hour.

When Ricardo returned I knew we were not in the clear.  They had x-rayed our baby's little chest, drawn blood, and ran more tests.  Ricardo looked shaken.  The news was not great.  The blood test showed signs of moderate acidosis, indicating possible brain damage from the lack of oxygen to the brain.  In 6 hours, they would retest.  If they still found significant acid in the blood stream, our son would be emergency air-lifted to Children's Hospital in Seattle.  He would be placed in a cooling cap, where his brain and body temperature would be reduced to curb swelling and further damage.

We decided it was time to call our parents.  I can't speak for Ricardo, but at that moment I felt like a little girl again.  I just wanted my mom and dad.  While we awaited their arrival, I was finally told I was allowed to get out of bed and go visit my baby boy for the first time.  Ricardo wheeled me to the NICU, we scrubbed up and I was rolled over to my son's bedside.  I cried when I saw him, taking in all the cuts, bruises, scrapes, and swelling.  But when I looked in his eyes a calm came over me.  I looked at Ricardo and said, "He is fine.  He's going to be just fine.  I know it."  I don't know if I just NEEDED to hear those words said, or if it was the first hint of mother's intuition.  I was scared, but I knew he was strong.  My parents arrived first, and I took them down to see Junior.  It was difficult for them, but they were incredibly supportive.  Then Ricardo's parents came and I sat in my wheelchair and watched as they met their new grandson, too.  Pilar said the same thing I had, that he would be fine.

At the six hour mark, Ricardo grew impatient.  He decided to go back to the NICU, while we waited in my hospital room, to hear the results of the test.  When he returned, he had tears in his eyes.  There wasn't a trace of acidosis.  Nothing.  NOTHING!  I STILL want to celebrate this moment, even now, even NINE MONTHS LATER!  No matter what else happened, somehow Ricardo DoValle Jr. had pulled through the worst of it.  Now there were only small concerns - eating on his own, breathing on his own, etc.  They may not sound small to you, but he was ALIVE and testing NORMAL.  Slowly, they would disconnect all the tubes and wires and see how he responded.  The doctors and nurses continued to wait for jaundice, telling us that baby's born with that much bruising were SURE to have it.  He would likely need to stay on the Pediatric ward while he recovered, but he would be coming home. It was no longer an IF, it was a WHEN!

And on Sunday, when my stay at the hospital was up, we waiting for the final word on if he would be coming home with us or moving to the Pediatric Ward for further recovery.  His doctor on duty that morning wasted no time when she arrived on the floor, she walked straight to me and said they would be checking both me and my son out together today.

You can't imagine.
Maybe you can.
I tried not to respond out of respect for all of the other sweet little patients and their worried parents in the NICU that day, so I went out to the main hallway and just sobbed.  I told every nurse that walked by, even ones I didn't know.

"My son is coming home today!" "My son gets to come home with me!" "He's coming home!"

Something I had truly taken for granted the days before his birth, by the way.  Perfect pregnancy, perfect birth.  Duh.

I've been typing this story for months.  Trying to get it right.  Perfect.  It's not, but it is the truth.  We were giviem a miracle.  The doctors and nurses agreed.  They couldn't explain why he wasn't breathing, and they really couldn't explain why he was, why he IS, fine.  No permanent damage, save one little scar on his chin.  I don't pretend that we are more deserving of this miracle than others.  I know people more deserving have prayed for smaller miracles and didn't receive them.  I don't pretend to be worthy, I just know that I am grateful for our miracle every day.

Thank you for reading this LONG version of the best and worst day of our lives!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The (less than ideal) arrival of Ricardo DoValle Jr. Part II

The epidural didn't exactly take.  It "floated", as they call it.  meaning one side of my body was receiving the bulk of the medicine.  My left leg was completely immobile and numb, my right leg was just tingle-y, and the pain in my abdomen was intense.  The nurse anesthetist gave me several boluses but they only seemed to further deaden my left leg.  Worse yet, I was not dilating any further.  I was stuck between 3 and 4 and the baby was sitting very high putting pressure on my lungs.  Several times his heart rate dropped dramatically and they put me on oxygen to try and help him.  My second angel, Dr. Hernandez, was concerned.  He decided he would like to go ahead and break my water to help guide the baby down so he would engage.  They would need to wait until the operating room was prepped because this would likely result in a c-section anyway and could potentially lead to an emergency c-section, as the umbilical cord could potentially prolapse.  We had already been told it would likely end up a c-section, but I was terrified.  Such a silly thing to be afraid of, now that I'm on the other side of this.

 We let our families know the update, but still asked that every one wait to come visit until he was safe and in my arms.  The procedure went very well, and we thought we may be in the clear.  But when Dr. Hernandez came back in to check me he became concerned with what he was feeling.  He decided to do an ultrasound to determine the position of the baby.  While doing the ultrasound, Dr. Hernandez realized that our son had turned unexpectedly.  He was now facing up, "sunnyside up" they call it.  Much more concerning, he was showing a face presentation.  Typically, babies are delivered with their chin tucked into their chest facing the mother's spine, our son would be born face first with his body facing my navel.  The nurse gravely told me to prepare myself.

"This is the most difficult way to deliver a baby, more pain than you've experienced in your life.  You need to be ready. It is possible it could take up to 4 hours of pushing in order to deliver."  The way Junior was presenting was RARE.  A face presentation only occurs in about .4% of ALL natural deliveries.  

The nurse anesthetist returned to give me a bolus so I could get some sleep as they continued to wait for me to dilate.  Again, the nurse and doctor warned me that it was unlikely I would dilate and they were still anticipating a c-section.  Miraculously, Ricardo and I passed out and slept from midnight to around 3 in the morning when my nurse came in to check me again.  To everyone's surprise, I was fully dilated.  The nurse asked if I would try some "practice pushes" and after about 30 minutes of that she called in Dr. Hernandez. I pushed with him for 30 minutes. The longest 30 minutes of my life. 

I won't go through the entire 30 minutes in detail.  I will tell you that something told me to keep pushing.  I didn't rest between contractions, I pushed continuously for 30 minutes straight.  There was a great deal of pain, although I never screamed or yelled.  Once I said out loud, "Oh God, please help me."  My nurse looked at me with a sympathetic smile and responded, "God is not going to push this baby out for you, sweetie."  I was almost ready to give up.  I would have, if not for Ricardo.  He really was my rock.  I'm sure he was as scared as I was, but he held me up and pulled me through.  I remember looking in his eyes, gathering my strength and giving one more HARD push.  

Ricardo Jr. was born at 4:26 am on Friday December 30th, 2011.  During the delivery, one nurse from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was on hand to measure, weigh, and assess Junior.  The moment Dr. Hernandez held Junior up for me to see I knew something was very wrong.  He was blue and he was not moving.  Very unceremoniously, Dr. Hernandez told Ricardo to cut the cord and he handed the baby over to to NICU nurse who immediately hit a button on the wall which triggered an alarm.

Junior was not breathing.

Within seconds the room was filled with nurses.  They were professional, calm, and focused.  I was a prisoner on my hospital bed.  I looked at Ricardo and saw his look of joy melt to a look of fear and confusion.  Junior's first APGAR score was a one.  There were many nurses working on Junior, but none were able to get a tracheal tube into his lungs in order to help.  All they could do was perform C.P.R. and provide oxygen.  There was a nurse with a clipboard calling out the time and charting.

"One minute.  Is he breathing?"

"Two minutes.  Does anyone have him breathing?"

There was some debate among the nurses.  One believed she heard something, the others said there was no motion or sound.  My doctor, while working on me, kept quietly sneaking concerned glances over his shoulder asking, "How's baby?"

Three minutes. . .

Four. . .

Five. . .

I was praying for five minutes straight.  I think I was holding my breath, too.  I kept thinking, You can't do this to him, it's not fair.  He doesn't deserve this.  I couldn't bear the thought of losing this child, but the thought of watching my husband witness his first born slipping away was too much.  I didn't want him to feel that kind of pain and I was angry about it.  The speed and variety of thoughts that flew through my mind was daunting and dizzying.  Suddenly, the room seemed very dark, very cold, and very quiet.

No, it actually HAD gotten quiet. I looked up at the timer and heard. . .

"Six minutes. Does anyone have him breathing?"

No one said a word.  One nurse with her back to me simply shook her head.  And I lost it.  If I'm honest, I gave up in that moment.  I thought, no one, NO ONE can survive six minutes without breathing.  I felt like darkness was closing in around me.

The truth? The true Author of our story can write it anyway He chooses, and He wasn't even close to putting his pen down.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The (less than ideal) arrival of Ricardo Jr. Part I

I went into labor in the morning on December 29th, my due date.  At the time, I took this as a sign that my delivery was going to be just as smooth as my pregnancy had been.  I had my 40 week check-up with my OB that morning and my husband had some last minute work to do so I confidently sent him on his way and planned to wait out my contractions on my labor ball until he returned to take me to my appointment.

We plan, God laughs.  

Almost the second the garage door closed a contraction hit me like a ton of bricks.  There is no way to describe a contraction to someone who hasn't had one.  They are mind numbingly painful.  I calmly pulled out my "What to expect. . . " and decided on taking a shower to work through the pain and then start to prepare for the hospital.  I knew we would not be making it to the appointment.  My contractions were already only 4 minutes apart.  The shower did nothing for the pain.  I got out quickly and jumped right back on my labor ball.

Bounce, bounce, bounce. . . 

Between contractions I would jump up and grab whatever I would need to finish getting ready.  The contractions were coming on so strongly and quickly that I ended up covering the edge of our bed as well as the entire windowsill with make-up, brushes, lotion, as well as things I wanted to remember to pack.  

Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. . . 

Finally, I'd had enough.  I called Ricardo and begged him to come. Home. NOW!!  It was time.  I can only imagine what was going through Ricardo's head when he walked in and saw me on a yoga ball, bouncing like a crazed energizer bunny surrounded by everything from chargers and cameras to bronzer and waterproof mascara.  God bless that man, he didn't miss a beat.  He grabbed a bag and tossed everything in and started packing like a maniac while I barked orders from my blessed ball.


Finally, when the car was packed and a towel was laid on the passenger seat (just in case), we were off.    When we arrived at the hospital we checked in at the information booth and were assigned to a young volunteer who's duty was to wheel me up to the birthing center.  I tell you now, I could've crawled mid-labor faster than this young innocent was wheeling me.  The Peach at information whispered, "Sorry, it's only his second day." to me as he was fumbling around with the foot rest on my ride.

Swell.  Thanks.  I'm totally in the mood to be the test dummy right at this moment.

Oh and P.S. Ol' Wet Behind the Ears got lost on his way to the birthing center.  WE had to tell HIM where the ELEVATORS were located.

As soon as we were situated in the check-in room we were greeted by my first angel, Karen, the nurse assigned to me.  She was tough and kind.  She didn't even try not to roll her eyes when I said no to the pitocin and calmly chided, "You'll change your mind." I loved her instantly.  Somehow she had deduced that my refusal of the pitocin meant I was refusing ALL drugs and was going to do this this au natural method.  A miscommunication that I was not made aware of for a very painful 2 hours!  Luckily they had their own yoga ball of sweet relief and once I had been checked into my birthing suite and sent Ricardo off to get our bags from the car I got right back to a-bouncin'.  I thought it was perfectly normal that I had not been offered the epidural yet, as I was not yet 5 cm dilated.  Not true.  Karen came into my room with a "you're starting to annoy me" look on her face.

"You know, you don't HAVE to through all of this pain.  It's only going to get worse.  Explain to me WHY you don't want an epidural?"

I DEFINITELY wanted the epidural.  I just didn't want to be rushed through delivery like some sort of baby makin' assembly line.  I wanted to TRY to let my body do what it was made to do.  I had no intention of FEELING my body do it though! I told her as much.  She laughed at me, a relieved smile on her face.

"Sweetie, once you have the epidural in place, you won't care what else the pump in to it."

Wimp that I am, I was already beyond caring.  I verbally checked yes to all of the above and got ready for what, I believed, was going to be the worst part of the entire ordeal.  In reality, this would be the last thing that actually went right. . .