Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some new pictures

The Dingo rosary, I just wanted to get one really good shot of this so everyone could get a close look. I am still so touched by the thoughtfulness of everyone who sent me a bead, this is probably the most meaningful piece of jewelry I've ever gotten.

Alison and her beads.

The Bunny and her little sister's toes.

The socks fit! Okay, they are still a little big, but they stayed on! A major accomplishment for baby sock as we all know.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

19 days old!

At last I think, I hope, I truly believe that the drama is behind us.

Little A has been gaining weight nicely, is finally a natural normal baby color, has that sweet new baby smell and yesterday for the first time she seemed to really be on. She was awake much longer than ever before and she was clearly checking everything out, not in that dazed bleary way but really focused on things. And she was smiling in response to silly things dh and I would do. There's nothing better than that, that first moment where the connection is clearly going two ways. My heart just melts away completely. Up until yesterday I was in love but my feelings were so clogged with concern for her health and safety and she had been so sleepy and dazed it hadn't hit me with the full force. But now, she looks right into my eyes and gives me that incredible little toothless smile and wow.

I'm just plain head over heels.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Get Back in the Water

Saturday September 1 - The night at the hospital sucked. I've never been a patient in a hospital before and I wasn't prepared for the every-2-hour interruptions. But, we made it through the night with only the smallest panic attack. At about 2 am when the nurse came in to check on us, I assured her we were fine and sent her off and then looked at Alison and thought for a moment that she looked blue. I picked her up immediately, heart racing, and she looked more normal. Maybe a little purple, but at least not blue.
At 9:00 am Dra S came in to check on me. She took my blood pressure, checked my bleeding and then told me she'd scheduled me a postpartum check up for September 20, when she gets back from the vacation for which she was about to leave.

Um, huh?

Did you just say you're leaving on vacation today?

Oh, you did. (!) So, I guess there was something kind of pressing in your schedule yesterday after all, and not just that it was Friday afternoon. You're leaving town! Wow. Hmm. Paint me completely shocked. It is all clear. My paranoia wasn't at all unjustified. That's why I didn't have 24 hours to muck around when you ruptured the membranes, you've got a plane to catch. Holy fucking shit!

A little later Dr. M the pediatrician comes in to check on Alison. He is a super nice guy, he's that sweet pudgy nerdy guy who manages to charm even the strictest cliques in high school. I really like him and I feel grateful to him that he has now been there for my two youngest daughters with kindness and sensitivity. I don't know if he realizes he's met my family before but that's okay. He checks her heart, finds a "whisper" but assures us it isn't going to be a problem, we'll keep an eye on it but it should close up by the time she's two or three on its own. He encourages us to get her the TB vax and suggests we come in for a well-baby visit in a couple weeks, tells us to call him day or night if we have any questions and departs. We head home.

Xoche, the official nanny dog of the family, is very excited to see her new charge. We start to settle in. Bedtime is the hardest. The Bunny is jealous and upset that the baby gets to sleep with me and dh in the big bed. We decide to give it a shot with her in bed with us all together, I'll just keep Alison on my other side. But in the middle of the night I wake with a start and again it looks like Alison is blue. I feel terrible, did I squash her? I hold her on my chest for the rest of the night and sleep fitfully.

Sunday September 2 - It rains all day. We rearrange the bed set-up so that the Bunny can be in her bed but right smack up against dh's side of the bed. I hope that that helps, it looks cozy anyway.
Alison's color is a little funny. She's a bit yellowy orange. And blotchy. And she's beginning to break out with whiteheads, all over her body. I remember the Bunny had some whiteheads a few days after she was born, I think it was supposed to be my hormones seeping out, not to worry. I prepare my placenta for future use. It's been frozen so I cut tiny little bite-sized chunks and put them back in the freezer, I slice some thinly and dry it in the oven for capsules, I offer a piece to Xoche, she declines politely, I admire the beautiful cord and stash that and the remaining chunk in the freezer, one of these days I'll plant it in the country. That done I realize I haven't eaten. Dh, Dad and the Bunny went out for lunch so I fix myself some leftover lasagna. I think bitter thoughts about fixing my own lunch the day after I come home from the hospital and decide I need a nap. Later in the day I snap at my dad about not helping out enough. I feel like a huge bitch immediately and apologize but the message has gotten through anyway. Now I know I need to work on asking for help before it becomes an emergency situation. Bedtime is easier, at least a tiny tiny bit. The Bunny only screams bloody murder for an hour tonight.

Monday September 3 - In the middle of the night I check on Alison's breathing, it seems a little too hard to sense. It must be very shallow. I spend over an hour trying to wake her for a feeding. I start to feel panicky. The afterpains have gotten intense and I'm torn between wanting her to nurse more and dreading the pain of the contractions when she does. Finally, close to dawn I decide she needs a new diaper and maybe that will wake her up. I get up and take a few steps toward the bathroom. Blood gushes down my legs and I lose it. I've tried waking dh up periodically through the night to no avail. Now I'm terrified, I kick his feet until he wakes up. He gets up, pissed. He changes Alison and takes her away. I clean myself up after deciding it's not a hemorrhage, just a long night of nursing. I fall asleep again for a little while until dh brings Alison back for a feed.
It's obvious he is very angry at me. I feel like I'd been left alone all night to keep this fragile person alive and I know that I'm coming off of a lot of hormones. I need to make him understand that we're back at the edge of a very dangerous cliff. I get him to sit down, I try to explain how scared I am in a rational tone but I can't. I start to cry. Hysterically. He finally puts his arm around me and I start to feel okay again. I'm exhausted though, I don't want to think about it but I know something is wrong with Alison and I feel like dh and I just had the nearest miss yet of slipping backwards toward that horrible place where we don't connect on any level.
Big Alison comes over later in the day. She suggests a sunbath for the jaundice, when she sees the whiteheads she's clearly concerned. After a while she suggests we do a respiration check. She tracks how many breaths little Alison takes in a minute. She is still concerned. At one point little Alison is nursing, she hiccups and farts at the same time and her whole body goes limp. We both try to act casual. That didn't just happen right? This baby of ours is fine, right? When she leaves I go to take a nap with Alison but I can't sleep. Every time I close my eyes I can't hear her breathing. I'm so tired that I keep trying for an hour. The phone downstairs rings and rings.
When I get up I'm very worried. I'm thinking apnea, I do a search online, the results are not comforting. Big Alison calls, it was her calling before. She is freaked. She tells me to get little Alison to the dr right away. I feel like an ass for waiting this long already. I call him, it takes a couple times to get through but he says come up right away. I wrap the baby up, throw on my contacts and we go, I don't even remember my bag. I'm so distracted that when I go upstairs to put my contacts on and change my top I put the contact lens on my nipple instead of in my eye. It is funny, but also a little scary.
At the doctor's he thinks at first it is hypothermia, Dh and I feel like complete asses. We've pooh poohed the Mexican obsession over keeping babies covered in 6 blankets since the Bunny was born. But the doctor does a blood test, just to be sure. He kicks me out of the office and the sound of her cries makes me cry too. The results are back in 30 minutes. Suddenly the doctor is all business. She has a blood infection, she has to be hospitalized. Tonight? dh asks. Yes, right away.
At the hospital she is taken away in the ER to be given an IV. Again, her screams make me lose it. I want to be strong and stoic but I can't. I feel so guilty. If I hadn't been so scared she could still be safely inside me. But I insisted on the induction and now, sepsis. The exact thing I was scared of happening in the hospital is happening.

Once the IV is in dh goes home to get our things. We briefly debated one of us going home to spend the night with the Bunny but finally decide that this is exactly why my dad is here and she is old enough to survive this setback. By the time dh gets home she is already sound asleep anyway.
For all my distrust of and disdain for hospitals I have to hand it to De La Fe, instead of making her stay in an incubator alone, they just made our private room into an incubator by pumping up the heat to about 95 degrees. It is far from comfortable for me and Dh but it is a lot better than being sent home at night. The first night is the worst. The night nurse bustles in and out. She says that Alison's temperature isn't high enough at one point so I kangaroo her for a couple hours. By 3:00 am I am so dehydrated I'm dizzy. Dh turns the heat down a bit and we try to switch places. Alison isn't pleased and dh can't quite get her settled. The nurse returns and is very upset that we've turned down the heat. She admonishes us saying, your baby's infection is very serious, she must be kept warm enough if she is to recover! Again, feeling like the weakest woman in the world I start to cry and this time, though I know the nurse is looking on disapprovingly, I cannot stop. I clench my eyes tightly closed but the tears spill out, I can't breathe. I am so afraid. Before I could pretend that it wasn't so bad, not so serious because Dr. M told me everything would be okay. But now this nurse has implied that her recovery is not a given and I am lost. The thought that Alison could actually die is more than I can handle and I sob and sob.

Tuesday September 4 - Dr. M comes in the morning. Not only does Alison have sepsis, she has a GI infection as well. How does a baby get these things? He assures us again that she'll be okay. There is nothing to do but hold her and sweat and wait. Nick heads home for a while, Dad comes over and brings in food that won't die in the heat, Alison comes by with some books, I keep breathing. Chiara comes by after school and I immediately regret it. She is complaining of a stomach ache! Here she is fresh from the germiest place outside the hospital and we invite her in to see this poor little infected baby! I feel terrible but I send her home. Late in the day the nurse comes in and gives Alison a bath. After her bath I notice a little bump on her head. A scab. In exactly the position that would have been lowest when Dra S ruptured the membranes. Everything makes perfect sense.
I figured that Alison got the GI infection by getting some excrement in her mouth on her way out since Dra S was so much more concerned with getting me on my back than on dealing with how things were. And now, here is the answer to how the sepsis got in. My poor little baby had an open wound on her head. How many internal checks did Dra S do after she ruptured the membranes? At least twice and then she wasn't attending to keeping the birth canal clean at delivery. So now we know.

Wednesday September 5 - In the morning I point out the scab to Dr. M but unsurprisingly he doesn't want to know. He suggests it is something that will wash off. I don't blame him. There isn't anything he can do but what he is doing and he wasn't the one who caused the trauma in the first place.
Dad and Nick and Alison all understand what it means and that it also means nothing. There is nowhere to go with that knowledge. It just is.

We continue to sweat and chug water. I have trouble waking Alison for her feedings so Dr M tells me to try only every three hours. It helps a little, at least I can take the down time to visit the Bunny at home. We go to the roof and can see dh flashing the lights in our hospital room all the way across town. But when I have to leave her before she has fallen asleep she is a wreck. I want to promise her Disneyland when this is over, anything to make it less hard. But I don't.

Thursday September 6 - Another long day. Dr M has suggested that we might go home today but I don't feel little Alison is ready. She is still on IV, the heat is still cranked up, I still can't always wake her to feed. Alison comes over and helps us make a list of questions that we are worrying about for Dr M. We think he might not be telling us everything since typically Mexicans don't want to know. But we are Americans and we need to know everything. When he comes in later he graciously goes through the list. He assures us again that little Alison is going to be fine. Her blood is clean, the abx have worked, we just need to wait for results on her GI infection in the morning. We all breathe a huge sigh of relief and turn the heat off.

Friday September 7 - Dr M comes in in the morning with more good news. She is infection free, we can go home. Her IV fell out of its own accord earlier in the morning and her temperature has been holding steady without the heat since the day before. He gives us a list of antibiotics and vitamins she'll need to take and off we go. In the evening we celebrate her return home with cake and champagne.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fear and Loathing Hosptial de la Fe

Whew! What a week. Seriously. If only I'd managed to get on and write Alison's birth story right away. It would have been interesting to see how my tone changed, if it did. Anyway, what started out as a three hour tour became a full week of fear, anger (or more particularly, righteous indignation) and overwhelming gratitude.

Friday, August 31
8:30 - Dad, dh and I dropped the Bunny off at school and head down to pick up Alison (as yet the only Alison) and then continue on to the hospital. Once signed in I get settled in on the labor room bed with my dingo rosary and preggie dingo running shirt, IV attached, fetal monitor and contraction monitors strapped on, clary sage oil and water bottles on hand and we start to wait for something impressive to happen.

9:45 - Dra S checks me and tells me that although my cervix is soft it isn't dilated really at all and not finished effacing either. I say, no big deal, with the Bunny I wasn't 'ripe' at my first check either but had a nursing newborn in my arms 4 hours later. I am certain this is going to go quickly. Bring it on.

11:30 - Dra S says, still not effaced, maybe 1 cm dilated, time to add cytotec, 1/4 tablet to start. She also upped the pitocin. I'm still not feeling anything, really. the cytotec makes my cervix pain a bit after a little while but still no real labor contrax are happening.

1:00 - We're all getting pretty bored by this time. Dad has headed home, dh and Alison are hanging out reading, trying to be light hearted and entertaining. Dra S comes back and checks me again. A bit more effaced. She adds another 1/4 tablet of cytotec, says, hmm, that one didn't really get in the right place, I'm going to put in another 1/4 tab. Hmm. Okay. I guess. I'm really not in a hurry though. I know baby's going to come on out. But whatever.
1:55 - Dra S wants to check again. I'm already pretty all set with her fingers up there but alright, I'll play along. She gets her hand in and starts fiddling. Pulling, tugging, tweaking. I say, What the hell are you doing? (okay, not really, in spanish I'm hopelessly polite.) She says, oh, I think I feel the cord and I just want to make sure it isn't coming out first. I think, yeah as if, my bag is still intact so lets not worry about that right now. I knew immediately what she was up to and sure enough, oh would you look at that?! Amniotic fluid is leaking out! Dra S doesn't even admit that she did it, let alone on purpose. I'm a little pissed that she didn't ask me, I'd already told her I didn't want to do that unless it was absolutely necessary. Nothing about this scene made me think it was necessary. Alison thinks to ask, so, are we on some sort of timeline now that her water has broken? Dra S looks kind of bummed to have to answer but admits that I now have two hours to "progress significantly" before we'll have to go to Plan B. Oh, and let's not have my eat or drink anything from here on out, just in case. 2 hours? Seriously? What about 24? Isn't that the standard for water breaking? Or even 12? 2? Are you fucking kidding me? And immediately it was obvious. Dra S has never had any interest in or expectation that I would successfully have an otherwise natural birth. She's here today to do a cesarean and by giving me from 2:00 to 4:00 to progress significantly she can still get me in and out of the operating room and be out by 5:00. When she leaves the room I say this to dh and Alison. Alison looks shocked that I would have such a negative take on things. Dh looks like he's seen this cynical me before and knows that there isn't anything else to say. Assuring me that I'm paranoid will only make me angry at him too.
However, labor does pick up. Whether because of the broken bag or because I'm not going to let Dra S play me like some illiterate ranchera teenager who doesn't know what's what, contractions immediately start coming hard and fast. Their opening bid is 50 seconds long, 1 minute and change apart. I am keenly aware of the time but I'm still fully confident that this labor is now on the same trajectory as my previous two and I figure we should be holding baby by 5.
For the next hour I get to stay off the bed and start grooving out to the contrax as they get rapidly longer and faster. I spend some time on the yoga ball, some time swaying, some time on the toilet. By 3:20 I'm leaning over on some pillows dealing with the pain with long long moans, just trying to keep the air moving, not too fast, not too slow.

3:20 Dra S checks again ( I am all set with that checking biz, can't she see I'm obviously in active labor?). 2 1/2 cm. Fuck, a check, and it isn't what we all were hoping for.
But, I can get out of bed again, all is not lost. Contrax are getting good, really hard. I am so angry though that I'm here, in this evil place with a stopwatch going and my doctor a vulture with a scalpel looking smug as she announces my insignificant progress. Yeah well hold up bitch, I have 40 minutes to go and you never defined 'significant'. I start swearing at everyone who ever told me they thought I should go to a hospital so Alison starts dosing me up with the pure essence of some homeopathic remedy for righteous indignation. Even at the time I can see the humor in the fact that she knew I'd be this pissed and came prepared. Dra S suggests that I could have an epidural. I shout NO! and continue doing my thing. She starts on about how she wasn't suggesting anything, wasn't trying to undermine my labor, wouldn't dream of doing anything I didn't want her to. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

4:00 - The witching hour has arrived. Dra S is back, gloves on, thinks she's got it going on. I'm at 5 cm. I decide that this is a good time to stop understanding spanish. I'd toldDra S in advance that that happens when I'm in labor. It isn't true this time but I know that my only chance to have the birth I want is to ignore her completely. To be so engrossed in my actively laboring self that she'd need a team of helpers to get my cooperation from here on out. Baby is fine, I know she is, she's reacting to contrax just the way the Bunny did, the way Wendy did not. But, I'm not able to get upright again and it blows. It is so mind bendingly painful that it makes me feel like time has slowed to a crawl. That's good and bad. I am pretty sure that I can avoid any more checks and therefore the implementation of Plan B because I'm truly in enough pain to bring on an altered state, I don't open my eyes for an hour. However, I'm now in so much pain that a itty bitty part of me would welcome relief. I pray Dra S keeps her mouth shut about epidurals and cesareans now. But then suddenly it's time to push. I keep it to myself until the last minute lest she try to get her fingers in again to verify what I am sure of. When I can't resist any longer I get on my hands and knees. I hear Dra S telling me to get on my back. She says I can't stay that way, I can't have a baby that way. Oh really? Funny, that's how the bunny was born and I'm not budging. Thanks anyway.
The nurse says, but we have to wheel you into the other room, you'll fall off! I promise not to fall and then hope nobody noticed how I understood that part but nothing else for the last hour. Doh!
They wheel me into the other room, Dra S is begging Alison to talk sense into me. Alison knows what I'm up to. She relays the message but without conviction. She tells me I'm a mama lion and to keep on doing my thing. I'm pushing hard, I can feel the baby moving on out. I can smell the excrement. I hope someone can deal with that and pop!

4:52 - Baby's out. So hah! on you and your 2 hour stopwatch Dra.
I whip around, someone hands me little Alison Grace as she's suctioned and patted. She is purple and yelling and tiny and wet. She's perfect and beautiful and has a ton of hair. Her Apgars are 9 and 9 or 8 and 10 depending on who you ask. Whatever, I'll keep her. The pediatrician takes her for a moment to weigh and measure, give her vit K and eye drops. The placenta whooshes out. It is perfect. Completely intact, textbook perfect. The umbilical cord too. The veins weave around each other beautifully, the color is almost an iridescent pale blue. I had to check, Wendy's had been yellow and black, skinny and misshapen. I breathe yet another sigh of relief. Alison Grace is handed back to me and she starts to nurse. What a girl!
All is well. We made it, the days of breath holding are over.
I thank God.

to be continued

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alison Grace is here!

Big Sister Chiara meeting little Alison Grace for the first time. She brought a little bunny
Little Alison's nursing instincts were fully online. She actually latched on in the operating room before they could even get all her stats!
You can also see how the dingo rosary developed into quite a spectacular piece of jewelry!
Little Alison had quite a nice supply of vernix which, to the hospital's credit, they didn't insist on washing off so over the past two days it has all sunk in and given her a nice soft complexion.
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