Friday, April 08, 2016

Having Aenea

So it's been two weeks, and I want to write the story of Aenea's birth while it's still fairly fresh on my mind (and she's still sleeping most of her days away.)

Aenea's birth was entirely unlike her brother Duncan's. One month before my due date my mucus plug came out (one of those things they never really mentioned in health class and they really should if they want to reduce teen pregnancy. Then again, if everything about pregnancy were actually taught it might be disastrous for the overall birth rate...) and I began experiencing contractions. They were sometimes painful, but never settled into a pattern. The doc started checking me at the next appointment, where I was 1cm dilated. She stripped the membranes and we all patiently waited for me to go into labor.

And waited. And waited. At my next week's appointment I was 1 1/2 cm, where I was to end up staying for the rest of the pregnancy. The doc expressed surprise I hadn't gone into full labor (I was pretty surprised too, as I felt pretty much as I had with Duncan.) I had been experiencing itchiness for about the last month and a half of pregnancy, but it was at this point that it went into overdrive. Suddenly I developed stretch marks on my belly, and they ITCHED. As did my arms and legs. I would develop sores on then that wouldn't heal until after I gave birth. Also suddenly my body decided to inflate like a balloon. I had to stop wearing my wedding ring, and I couldn't lace my shoes (after the swelling subsided after birth I put my shoes on and was able to pull in six inches of lace). I had to stop working at this point because I couldn't be comfortable using the computer. It was pretty miserable.

We had an appointment with a fetal maternal specialist at this point (one week before due), and she still thought I could do a traditional delivery as Aenea wasn't measuring gigantic. I still wasn't going into labor, however. When I had my appointment with my OB the week after (with all my problems) she confirmed that all my contractions were for naught; I was still 1 1/2 cm and Aenea hadn't dropped at all. She thought that the safest thing to do was schedule a C-section, and we agreed to it. I wasn't thrilled, but something was stopping me from going into labor, so I wasn't going to argue at all.

On Friday, March 25 we went to Ministry Saint Clare's. We were scheduled for one in the afternoon (boo), so I had to be really careful about what I ate when (considering my giant insulin load. No, really, at the end I was on 28/28/26 of fast acting insulin and 140 of the long acting. THIS IS A LOT.) We were told to arrive at 11 but we got there a little early, but we were let right in and got started. We were led straight to our room and I was able to change into the lovely hospital gown, and Joshua was given scrubs for putting over his clothes when we went into the OR. After a series of question and answer sessions with the nurses and anesthesiologists and doctors it was time to get into the OR. I had elected for a slightly newer version of the procedure, called a "Gentle Cesarean" which has a clear drape so you can see your baby as she/he comes out (and your partner can see more, if they want, so make sure they are of a strong constitution) and the baby isn't taken away from you but is immediately put skin to skin with you and your partner gets to hold them when you aren't in contact with them. It was WONDERFUL and very close to the experience I had with natural childbirth.

Before we could get to the actual operation, however, I had to get a spinal. The nurses and the anesthesiologist were wonderful, first describing for me everything that would happen, and then talking to me and keeping me distracted through the actual spinal. It seemed like it took a long time, but it probably was only about 5 minutes. I hugged a pillow and bent my back, and the local was probably the most painful part of the actual procedure - but still not really painful. As soon as the spinal was in they moved very quickly to get me into the correct position while I could still feel/move my legs. A temporary curtain went up right in front of my face (I thank Beth so much for warning me about this, because she said that it would feel claustrophobic. It did, and I was so glad I knew going in!). My blood pressure started to drop too much, with accompanying queasiness, and the anesthesiologist had to lower my head. This sucked, and was absolutely the worst moment for me, as now Aenea was pressing on my lungs and I felt like I couldn't get a good breath. The nurses helpfully told me that my O2 sat was fine, so I was getting enough air even if it felt like I wasn't, which helped calm my incipient panic attack. Pretty soon I was level, and they replaced the opaque curtain with a clear one (which was awesome, and I tried to watch the surgery in the reflection in the light, which honestly was great for me as I like to know these things) and they let Joshua into the room. I had occasional dips in my blood pressure during the surgery, but they were right on top of it and there weren't any more panic attack moments. Soon they had me opened up, and they saw Aenea. The first thing that my OB said was "She's got TWO nuchal cords, and they're really tight! Josh, look at this! That's why she didn't go into labor!" which I didn't quite understand at that moment, but soon realized meant that Aenea had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, and the length of cord between the placenta and her neck was really short and tight. This noose was keeping her head from dropping into my pelvis and initiating labor. I still shudder to think what may have happened if we hadn't agreed to the c-section.

The second thing that everyone in the room commented on was how BIG she was. They were guessing between 9 1/2 and 10 lbs. Turns out she was only 9lbs 5oz when we finally got her weighed a few hours later, but she was a remarkable 21 inches long, which is CRAZY for a newborn girl. They pulled her out - I got to see her and she was very purple - and she immediately cried and then almost as quickly sucked her thumb. Daddy got to hold her right away and pretty soon she was laying on me (I decided to wait until after the surgery to nurse her). After this it's sort of a blur as I just was lost in the newness of our baby girl. They finished and closed me up and I was wheeled back to our room to recover (yay no separate recovery room). Aenea fed right away, latching like a pro (all that finger sucking we saw on the ultrasounds paid off!) and promptly slept for more than 4 hours.

Eventually feeling started coming back, but the worst part wasn't the pain. That they kept giving me good stuff for. The worst was the ITCHING, which somehow had gotten worse. I had gotten even worse hives on my torso, arms, and legs. The Nubain they gave me for 24 hours after the surgery kept it at bay, but after that I was in an itchy hell that I had no way out of. I never cried from pain during my stay - honestly, my pain never got above 6, no where near back labor - but I cried because of the itching. It was horrible, horrible, horrible. They never did decide if it was PUPPP or an allergic reaction to insulin; I went on predisone the last day I was in the hospital and all the itchiness cleared up in a few more days.

Aenea continued her sleep 4 hours, wake up, eat, poop, sleep again pattern, so I was able to get some good rest (she still mostly continues it - during the day it's more like 2 hours now, but still she's a very easy baby). Walking the day after the surgery was hard, but I was warned again, and it wasn't as hard as I had feared (again, the whole thing wasn't nearly as painful as back labor. Not really in the realm of it. No "Puking because this hurts so much." Phew.) The remaining time in the hospital went quickly and I was released on Monday. The time at home has been a blur, mostly just me taking care of Aenea, and convalescing. My body has been healing quickly and well, but I'm still taking the advice of my doc whom I saw yesterday who basically forbid me doing anything but walking and taking care of Aenea for six more weeks.

Overall, I wouldn't say either birth was really better or worse, but this one was definitely less painful. Both ended up with a healthy baby, so that's really what counts.

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