Baby Henry Schuyler was born August 3, 2011 at 1:23am. More on the name later.
I have barely slept since the birth and that is my excuse for the lack of update.
I truly thought he would be born within a week after I stopped taking the drug to keep him in. One of the highly paid doctor’s that was supposed to look out for me went crazy and stripped my membranes at 37 weeks. This could cause labor to start within a day or two. I was so enraged I wanted to sue. My sister drove here all the way from Northern California to be here to help and then no labor occurred. We waited and waited. Went to the beach, saw a bunch of movies, took Finn on some fun day trips, and waited some more. Then 10 days passed and it got very close to the day when my sister would need to return to her own family. In a way, I did not mind not giving birth just yet, as I was scared of what awaited us. Our baby and his issues were still a mystery. However, panic did set in about him taking so long, because I did not have a satisfactory back-up plan for who would take care of Finn while we were hospitalized and my sister needed to leave in 2 days.
Finally my due day arrived and I went in for my weekly check-up and 21st ultrasound. I did not want to go. I could not believe I had to get yet another ultrasound. I was so sick of getting non-stress tests and talking to doctors. I had a weird feeling, however, and before my appointment, I made sure my hospital bag was completely packed, my bills were paid and every nitty gritty detail was crossed off my list. We needed a Hail Mary Pass and I hoped that during this appointment, they would find some reason to admit me. Sure enough, by the end of the ultrasound, the technician said that my bag of waters was empty and I was going to have a baby today. High five.
I continued with the regular appointment, since the next step was to talk with the doctor. I had been working with a team of 11 perinatologists, and happened to be seeing a male doctor that day that I thought was a little goofy. He swoops in unaware of my empty water bag and just starts talking: “Would you be offended if I told you a story about your name? I know a woman who has a pet cow named Colleen.” This could possibly be the worst thing to say to a nine month pregnant lady who is supposed to be giving birth that very day. At least if I was seeing him that morning in the clinic, he could not possibly be on duty at the hospital at the time I would be set to deliver. But sure enough, he was on at the hospital that night from 7pm to 7am. Luckily, he confessed to having gotten drunk the night before and admitted to being in a terrible mood. Yay! I kept looking at my sister wondering if this was really happening.
They would not let me go home or even go out for a nice lunch; I needed to be admitted right away. An empty water bag could lead to a potential “cord incident”. They plunked me in a wheel chair and wheeled me from the clinic to the labor & delivery floor of the hospital. It would be almost a whole week before I was to see the light of day again. I called Sasha at his work and told him to come downtown, as we are going to have a baby. Of course he thought I was kidding.
By 11am, I was admitted and the process to induce labor had begun. I was hopeful things would progress quickly enough, that I could deliver before the hung-over doctor was on duty, but no such luck. They put me on a slow Pitocin drip, broke my empty water bag (that hurt) and labor began extremely gradually. Finn was able to visit us in the room, but he was kind of scared of me in my hospital garb with my IV pole. He could not see this part, but I also had a lot of things coming out of me. They put a tube in my woo hoo to better keep track of my contractions and they also attached an electrode directly to the baby’s head while he was still in utero to keep a close eye on his heart rate. Later I also had a catheter and there was a 4th thing coming out of me, but I forget what that was for.
By 7:00pm, my contractions were still only about a 3 pain-level-wise. This was a teaching hospital, so the resident on duty, an inept goofball named Sam, checked my cervix. They say that you should hope that whoever does the cervical check has long fingers to reduce the hurt level, but no one ever said anything about avoiding the on-duty resident with giant knuckles. He hurt me so much I screamed out: “DUDE!” I was only dilated to about 4 centimeters, so the doctor suggested I go ahead and get the epidural. I did not want to jump the gun on that. I am pro numbing the pain, but it seemed odd to not really experience much labor at all. He insisted it would help to speed up the labor process, so I acquiesced. Finn was ushered out of the room while the anesthesiologist worked his magic. Once it kicked in, my sister drove Finn home & Sasha & I went ahead and got a little shut eye.
Around 1:00am, I started feeling contractions through the epidural. They hurt, but were mainly just distracting. Precipitately, the doctor was there rechecking my cervix. He said I was dilated to 10 and we were going to have a baby. This is when I went into full panic mode. “I am not ready. I don’t want a baby. What if there are horrible things wrong with him? What if not only his organs are backwards, but his face is on the back of his head or his eyes are where his mouth should be?” I said this all in my own mind as I started to push. Between contractions, I started to feel woozy, but kept pushing like a champ. Abruptly, the doctor says the word “episiotomy” and I say: “NO!” Then he says: “heart rate dropping, cord around his neck!” Well, by all means, cut, man, cut! That is when resident Sam cut me from here to kingdom come and the baby popped out.
They tossed this baby, covered in blood and carnage, onto my chest and I went into total shock. He was screaming at me and looked like an 80 year old ex-tugboat captain in miniature. I truly felt like I did not know who this was, that he was not my baby. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably. Big-hands Sam was trying to sew me up and had to tear out the stitches and start again. (To sum up, do not get an episiotomy on your perineum in a teaching hospital). The room was full of staff that was either there because they were curious about our unusual baby or because it was part of their teaching rotation. The baby was taken away to be weighed and then the NICU nurse was at my side telling me that they were going to do an X-ray and then we can try feeding him. I tried to explain that the surgeon had told me that the baby would not be fed until a contrast swallow test could be done to make sure there was no blockage. There was no note about this in his file, so the nurse kept insisting we could feed him. No one was listening to me. My body was shaking so bad, but no one seemed to care. I was feeling terrified and insane. The resident nurse in training kept trying to take my blood pressure, but the cuff was broken, so it literally felt like it was trying to cut my arm off. I kept screaming that it was broken, but she kept retrying it until I grabbed the nurse and screamed at her to get a different one or I was going to punch her. (Let me clarify, all the nurses I dealt with during my stay were awesome, EXCEPT the two I had during delivery.)
Finally the NICU nurse agreed that we would not feed the baby, but that he would need to be taken directly to the NICU and put on an IV. Unfortunately, she did not tell any of the other staff that the plans had changed, so I had to argue with them all over again.
This is when I was told that my blood pressure had spiked to a dangerous level and in order to help prevent me from lapsing into a seizure, I needed to be put on a 24-hour magnesium drip and could not drink more than 30 milliliters per hour. I became irate, because I thought they also said I could not eat & the bowl of cheerios I had 20 hours before did not last that long. They assured me I could have all the pancakes I wanted in the morning, but nothing to wash it down.
Apparently, magnesium makes you feel like shit and not only did they give me a drip via my IV, but they put a syringe of it in my blood stream and made me take an extra dose in pill form. I warned them that if I took the pill, I would barf, but they did not care and barf I did. Not only could I not drink, but I was to remain bed ridden until my blood pressure normalized. This meant I could not visit my baby in the NICU for almost 2 days.
I thought, since the baby was born and was staying in another room, I could get some sleep, but for the next 6 hours, the 2 nurses on staff tortured me incessantly. I am not sure what all they were doing. Poking me with needles, pushing so hard on my uterus to get out blood clots that I screamed, switching types of catheters, trying to do injections but failing repeatedly, and god knows what all, as it was endless. Finally, the lead nurse said she would let me go ahead and sleep, so I rolled over with a sigh of relief. This lasted about 2 seconds as she now noticed I still had the tape on my back from the epidural. This was not just a tiny piece of tape, but a giant sheet of tape that covered my entire back. She pulled it off in a manner that would make the 40 year of virgin cut a bitch. This is when I finally just cried and cried.
OK, let’s move on to the baby. The major worries that we had concerning his birth defect was a twist in the bowels, and if he had a spleen or not. He was admitted to the level III NICU and put on an IV drip for his sustenance until they could rule out any blockage or potential for malrotation in his bowels. It was about 36 hours before I could leave my bed and go see him. He was crying when I first got to the NICU, but the second I held him, he settled down & I knew he was mine. They did X-rays and ultrasounds; a contrast swallow and a barium enema. All of these tests came up short, as they just could not see all the way through, so they decided he either did have some kind of twist in his intestines or still had some meconium (first baby poo that looks a lot like tar) that had not yet moved through his system and was blocking the pipes. The decision was to go ahead and feed him and see what happens.
They started with an ounce of milk. Three hours later, they would literally pull the food back out of his stomach via the lavage tube to see if he digested any of it. It seemed like he was digesting at least some of it, so they continued to feed him every 3 hours and recheck his levels. 24 hours later he was still digesting and creating wet diapers, but the call for celebration really came when he finally pooped. We had never been so happy to see poop in our entire lives.
Meanwhile, he had another echocardiogram. It was confirmed that his heart had no major defects, but that he did have a very small hole in his heart called a PDA. The cardiologist was very reassuring and said this is a common defect that in most cases never causes a problem and often heals on its own.
The piece de resistance came during one ultrasound where they were looking closely at all of his abdominal organs and were able to eyeball a spleen. That is right; my boy has himself a SPLEEN!!! I almost fainted when I heard this because we were originally told it would take a special dye test to find the spleen and they would not be able to do this particular test until he was 2 months old. The fact they could see the little bugger plain as day on the sonogram was a huge surprise and I will always be grateful.
By day 3, my blood pressure was back to normal and I was able to be discharged. They would not discharge me, however, until we completed the birth certificate. This was tricky, because I felt strongly that I should get to choose the middle name, since we were giving him the first name of Henry, after Sasha’s father & grandfather who both passed away within a year of each other. Sasha felt he should get to choose the full name, since I got to choose the full name of our first son (Finn Francis) and to appease him at the time 4 years ago, I did say he could name our next kid. Despite that, I did go through hell for this kid, getting shots in my butt once a week, going to the doctor constantly, 21 ultrasounds and was diligent about not eating lunch meat or soft cheeses. Still, Sasha felt like he needed to put his foot down and 5 minutes before we needed to leave, he chose a 2nd family name on his dad’s side: Schuyler (pronounced Skyler). I had at least talked him out of the name Victor.
Despite the fact that I was now discharged, I was not going anywhere. We were able to secure a family room for one of us to stay in to be near Henry. They continued to do test after test and were still unable to tell us definitively if he would need surgery or not. Hours and days passed. Henry continued to eat and poop. By day 5, we were moved again, this time to a hospital room we could share with the baby. This was fantastic news, but also meant that we were going to fully care for him on our own. I took the first shift and felt like I could finally start to get to know this little guy. The next night I went home to sleep for the first time. I woke up in the middle of the night having no clue where I was.
I returned to the hospital the next morning to take another shift with Henry. I half-heartedly packed a bag, because he was supposed to get another barium enema and I felt confident they would let us all go home after this final test. Then we waited. And we waited all day. Finally, Sasha had to leave to pick up Finn from daycare. While he was gone, the surgeon came into talk with me about 7:00pm. What she had to say was not exactly what I wanted to hear. They STILL did not know for sure if his bowels were free-floating or not, to become blocked at any time. They could see one part of his intestines were curly-cue where they should be straight and one part they could see was fixed, but in an odd spot. The second point that was supposed to be fixed, they could just not tell if it was or not or where.
She said the only way she could truly tell what was going on is if she cut him open, took out all of his intestines and had a good look-see. If she saw any problem, she could fix it right then. She would also go ahead and do an appendectomy, since his appendix was in the wrong place, it would avoid major confusion later in life. This was worse news than if they just knew something was wrong, because then they could do a less invasive laparoscopic procedure to fix it. She gave us two options: we could go ahead and schedule the exploratory surgery for the next day or we could take the baby home, establish a routine, get some rest and come back for the surgery in a few weeks. In a way, I wanted to just get it over with, but was beyond exhausted. Another straight week in the hospital would have probably been my breaking point, so we opted to all go home.
It was a tremendous feeling loading Henry into the car seat next to his big brother and taking him home for the first time. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him and he is pretty pleasant to be around. We had exactly 4 days to be all home together as a family, as Sasha started a brand new job on that next Monday.
The surgery was schedule for Friday, August 26th, but we were first to meet again with the surgeon on the 23rd to go over the game plan. We took the baby in and informed her of his mostly normal eating habits. She took an X-ray and was gone for a long time. When she returned, she told us that the X-ray showed no form of blockage at this time. Then she went ahead and changed her tune completely from a few weeks ago. She said they do not normally do surgery on healthy kids. They like to wait until something is wrong. She proposed that we wait until he is one or two years old and by then they would be able to see much better via a scope to confirm any issues and would not need to cut him open. We knew what to look out for in case a dangerous blockage had occurred and would be able to get him in to the hospital before any long term damage was done. We could not believe our ears. Why she did not think of this before, I do not know. It never really made sense to perform surgery to see if he needed surgery.
I am a huge worrier, and if the baby so much as misses two feeds in a row, I will panic. It does seem the best alternative, however. We will see the surgeon again in 3 months to revisit our decision.
We simply cannot believe how lucky we are. We went from people telling us it was hopeless and we should terminate, to essentially having a perfectly healthy baby, albeit a bit turned around. Somehow we escaped major heart issues, no spleen or immediate abdominal surgery. Amazing. I mean, you can hardly tell by looking at him that he has backwards organs. The only sign he shows that anything is amiss is that when he poops, it sounds like someone dropped the silverware drawer.