I have to get this written out before I forget. Even now, at only a week later the details are beginning to get fuzzy. But here it is, the reason I have been so quiet lately. I was busy having a beautiful baby boy!
We’d originally planned for a home birth. That was an important thing for me, and the reason I’m mentioning it now. While yes, it all turned out well, there is still a little sense of mourning going on inside of me for the loss of that natural experience and the missed hours of bonding time. I was not able to hold my son for close to three hours after he was born.
Since my first child was born via C-section, I knew what that surgery entailed, and I did not want to be forced into it again if it wasn't necessary. In Las Vegas, there is no real middle ground in the debate over C-section and VBAC births. The mentality here is, “Once a C-section, always a C-section.” Even if it is not medically necessary it is the default process for birthing a second time. That is what led us to homebirth and our wonderful Midwife April Kermani of Baby’s First Day. I’ll admit, the idea of home birth was initially a scary one but after lots of research into it, I learned that it was not any more dangerous than going to a hospital. Yes, that’s right; there are tons of risks involved in having your baby at a hospital. Don’t think that just because it has all the medical equipment, that it is a 100% safe environment. But, I won’t go into all the details here. What I wanted to point out is that we tried for the home birth and the natural approach but ultimately fate stepped in, and we ended up going into the hospital anyway.
The Day before Birth
The story really began on December 6th with our regularly scheduled appointment with the midwife. I went in expecting nothing special. Our previous appointments had been very mellow and uneventful. I was anxious to get the baby out because I was just so darn uncomfortable. I know. All pregnant women say this! LoL.
Our Midwife felt my belly and performed all of the standard measurements. We knew Hunter was going to be a big boy. Our Midwife had estimated him at 9lbs but he was still “floating” in my pelvis, which meant, he wasn’t exactly ready to come out yet. Then she got out the doppler so we could listen to his heart.
That’s when the drama began. She played around, trying to find the best angle to hear him, but he was being a little elusive. When she did finally lock on to his heartbeat she made a face indicating that she didn't like what she was hearing. She switched me over to a better piece of equipment (I forget what it’s called. It’s the one that prints out the heart tracings). It appeared that on every 4th-5th beat. Hunter’s heart was making a hiccupping sound.
She said it might be nothing. Sometimes larger babies have a little arrhythmia, but we had better check to be on the safe side.
Alarm bells began ringing in my head! No mom wants to hear there is a potential problem with her baby’s heart. Even though our Midwife was reassuring, I was still worried. She sent us down to a Perinatologist to have a Biophysical Profile done. That’s basically a really in-depth ultrasound with a Nonstress Test. What they saw was that Hunters heart was slightly off in size. The right chamber was larger than the left and one of the valves was slapping up against the chamber wall. Again we were told this is something that while scary sounding, is not life threatening. Most babies that have this type of irregularity will correct within 24 hours of birth. However this was not a free pass.
At this point the Perinatologist, who I really didn’t like much to begin with (his bedside manner left a lot to be desired), started counting on his fingers all of the reasons why I cannot have this baby at home and why I (since I was already 39 weeks) should have this baby ASAP.
1) The heart arrhythmia means the baby needs to be checked by a cardiologist immediately upon birth.
2) Irregular sizing of the chambers of the heart. Again, something that a cardiologist needs to check out as soon as he is born.
3) The estimated weight had now jumped to 9lbs 14oz. (potentially too big to fit through the birth canal.)
4) There was a larger than normal amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. (The Perinatologist was concerned that if my water were to break, it might gush out so much that the cord could come out first and that was a major concern to them.)
The doctor let us go home saying he would be speaking to our Midwife about getting us into a hospital ASAP.
On the drive home my Midwife called me. She’d talked with the doctor and while respectful of the fact that we didn’t want to have another C-section, she agreed with the doctor that C-section was probably for the best. Being a prior C-section though, meant induction and VBAC was not an option. She again tried to calm our fears, telling us that this was in no way an emergency situation and we should have a few days to wrap our heads around this.
It wasn’t want we wanted to hear, but Nick and I agreed that it was better to be safe than sorry where Hunter’s health was concerned. My Midwife transferred me to the doctor’s care and said I should expect a call in the next day or so from the Perinatologist office to schedule me for the C-section.
Little did I know that that when the Perinatologist said ASAP, he meant it! There was no waiting. Almost as soon as I hung up with my Midwife, my phone began blowing up with calls from the doctor’s office, trying to schedule me in for that evening. When there were no beds available I was pushed back to 7am the following morning and told to get my stuff together and be at the hospital at 5:30 to be prepped and ready.
Suddenly, I went from not feeling too stressed out to feeling extreme anxiety. Not only was I not mentally prepared for this surgery, but I also needed to arrange for emergency child care for my daughter. C-section meant at least 3 days (we stayed almost 5 full days), and Munchkin had all kinds of activities planned for the week. The timing just couldn’t be worse.
After what felt like hundreds of phone calls, I had child care arranged, coordinated with my Doula (Jenny), and let everyone who needed to know, where we would be for the rest of the week. I’d even managed 3 hours of sleep which was a surprising feat given my level of stress.
Finally 5am rolled around and we made it to Spring Valley Hospital. There was only one problem. The hospital couldn’t find my paperwork. Come to find out, they had my name spelled wrong, and they also had told me the wrong schedule time. We weren’t scheduled for 7am we were scheduled for 1pm.
Talk about Murphy’s Law! I was a little annoyed but there was nothing I could do about it. I asked if we should just go and come back later, but they said no. They put a call into my doctor and he wanted to have me monitored and have blood work done, so the nurse decided to set us up in a room. I was given a lovely and fashionable hospital gown and then strapped down to the bed with those heart monitoring belly bands. There I sat (With my hubby and our fabulous Doula, Jenny) for about 6 hours.
When the time came to head off to the O.R. I was shocked to find out I had to walk myself in there. When my daughter was born (7 years ago), I was prepped and wheeled in ready to be cut open. This was a new experience. I walked in on my own two feet and hopped up on the operating table. It was such a surreal thing for me.
Even though I had done this before, I was scared walking into that operating room. My heart was pounding, my nerves were shot, and if it weren’t for the IV pole I was attached too, I might have run screaming down the halls.
Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I really was terrified walking into that operating room.
My anesthesiologist was the best! And it really helped make a huge difference in the experience. He explained everything he was doing, step by step, and constantly asked me how I was feeling. He gave me a spinal block and then helped me lay down on the operating table.
Around me, the O.R. staff began their pre-op dance, while I fell into a warm fuzzy drug induced state. I remember my arms being strapped down, my legs being positioned and strapped down, the gentle rub of cleansing solution across my abdomen, and then the curtain went up for the final performance. My world was that blue curtain sitting inches away from my face. Beyond that, people were talking and doing things, but they seemed so far away. It dawned on me at that moment that I didn’t know where my hubby was, and before I could open my mouth to ask, someone grasped my hand. He was there, right at my side. I couldn’t turn my head to look though, I was so focused on that curtain and what was happening beyond.
The anesthesiologist was at my ear, again asking me if I was okay and reminding me of what symptoms were normal to feel. He offered me a mask for oxygen and I accepted it happily. I needed to breath. As long as I was breathing, I was okay. I remember thinking “Breathe, just breathe,” through the odd pressure and pushing that was happening behind the curtain.
Hubby had my hand and I was squeezing with all my might as I listened through the fog to hear what the doctors were saying. I remember hearing “Oh my god that’s a lot of fluid.” That was accompanied by the first wave of released pressure. Then, they said they were pulling out my baby. That was the second and biggest relief of pressure.
Hunter came out and screamed almost instantly. His cry was music to my ears! They told Dad (Hubby) it was okay to take pictures if he wanted and then they lowered the curtain just a little. I craned my neck but couldn’t really see anything beyond pink skin and chunky baby legs.
A nurse in the background who I assume was taking notes asked “Is it a boy or girl.” To that, my hubby responds, “Are you kidding? His junk is bigger than mine!”
Hunter continued to scream while they worked on him. A nurse said it was okay for hubby to come over. I squeezed his hand one last time and said “Stay with the baby.”
I laughed and cried and felt such relief all at the same time. He was out, he was crying, and that had to mean he was doing good.
Time sort of became a blur at that point. I felt lots of tugging and pulling on my belly while I listened to the cries of my son. I just can’t explain how comforting it was to hear him, knowing that he was at least healthy enough to cry. And let me tell ya, he is not a silent baby! This boy has a set of lungs on him.
In the background I heard them listing his stats. Born at 1:42PM, 9lbs 4oz, 21 inches long. What a big boy!
Then he was wrapped and they brought him over to me for a quick kiss. Hubby snapped off a picture and the doctor reminded them they needed to see the cardiologist. Off to the NICU they went while I was being sewed up.
I hated the separation time. I felt the loss the instant my husband and son left the room.
They wheeled me into recovery, attached lots of wires to me to monitor my heart, blood pressure, and oxygen. My Doula was allowed to come back in and visit me, she tag teamed with my mom so someone was with me at all times. I didn’t want to be alone. I can’t describe the empty feeling I had but it was less when there was someone with me. And that had been my one big request. If I had to have a C-section, I didn’t want to be left alone for any reason in the hospital.
Jenny, my wonderful Doula, smuggled in my cell phone and I was able to keep in contact with Hubby in the NICU. He sent me pictures of Hunter and told me what test were being done and how Hunter was doing. I was so grateful for that. It kept me sane. Though I was in another part of the hospital, I wasn’t too far away as long as I had that life line.
Hunter had an EKG done, had blood drawn, was put on monitors, and given the goopy eye stuff while he was in the NICU. Through it all, Hubby was right there at his side.
After about 2 hours, Hunter had passed all of their test with flying colors and was ready to be released from NICU. That was a big sigh of relief, but they were taking their sweet time discharging him down to the regular nursery. Now that I knew he was okay, I wanted to hold my little man and start breastfeeding ASAP. I was watching the clock like a hawk, waiting for them to come through the doors. Finally, at close to 4pm, I was able to hold my little man! 4 days later, we were released to go home.
Big Sister loves her baby brother
Welcome to the world Hunter Alexander Salidas.