Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dear Ehren: How you got here

Dear Ehren,

These are the things I don't want to forget. Your first days, your first cries, and everything about being a new family. I'm sharing them here so that they will never be lost.

Throughout my entire pregnancy I had an odd sixth sense about things. When I started to not feel well on Monday afternoon, I sent dad an email titled "Loose Ends" and told him that he should make sure he is ready to leave work for a while when he came home that night. Then I started to feel awful. I had pain deep in my abdomen, I felt nauseated, I was sweating. I couldn't read my monitor at work and I couldn't focus.

I went to the bathroom to hang out, and mostly hide from well-meaning co-workers, and hoped that the change in position would mean a change in the pain. Alas, it did not. So, taking a page out of the second trimester, I went and laid on the floor in an empty office. After about half an hour of not improving, I went back to my desk and emailed dad to tell him that I needed a ride home and wouldn't be able to make the 4 block uphill trek in the 94 degree heat. I knew I would go into labor at work, I just didn't know what it was at the time.

Your dad rescued me and took me home where I tried to lie down. The upper abdominal pain increased and I tried in vain to ease the discomfort with a bath. It ended with a lot of vomit, but then I magically felt better. I thought that maybe I was going to be okay. Then, I made the mistake of eating a peanut butter & cheese sandwich and an apple. The pain returned, with greater force, and a multitude of pre-eclampsia symptoms started to set in. After a phone call to the OB, a phone call to a dog sitting friend, and one last round of vomiting, we were off to the hospital.

We checked in around 12:35 to OB Triage and they kept me for observation for a few hours. My blood pressure was high in addition to my protein and creatinine levels being elevated and me being dehydrated. I continued to throw up and shake - the full body tremors really bothered dad. But you? You were perfectly ok. Your heartbeat accelerated properly when I had contractions (the monitors cleared up that mystery) and you stayed mobile throughout our observation period. The doctor walked in to talk to us, and let us know that she was unsure if we should stay or not. She moved my leg so she could sit on the bed, and I suddenly felt wet. Then she asked me to move up the bed a little and my water broke in a massive gush. Exciting, but terrifying because we found that there was meconium in the water - a potentially dangerous issue for you. It was settled, we weren't going home. I wasn't dilated very far, and my contractions were coming every 6 minutes, so we knew it was going to be a while before you came.

Dad texted all of the grandparents and worked on getting Grandma Sue to come up to Seattle from Vancouver. Then we settled in for the "night" in our labor and delivery room. I was on the monitor for another hour before they let me get into the bath. That's where I was most comfortable while I coped with the contractions and awaited your arrival. Boy, did we wait. All day. I truly tried to get you out, but my contractions weren't making my body respond appropriately so after much discussion it was decided that we needed to start Pitocin and use some internal monitors. It meant that I wouldn't be able to take baths anymore and at that point, I was not sure how I would cope with stronger contractions and no relief. It took me more than 24 hours of labor to decide to get an epidural, but at least the decision of epidural and pitocin got us all the way effaced and dilated to a 9.5 by the next afternoon. All in all, it was about 56 hours of labor before we talked about a c-section. I was crushed; all of my hopes for a natural, medication-free delivery had been swept away and the one thing that I wanted to avoid the most appeared to be my only option.

I talked it over with your dad and we both agreed that getting you here safely would be a good idea and at this point he would still be able to come into the operating room and be with me. So it was decided, I would have a c-section and you'd be here within the hour. It was an hour filled with anxiety. Grandma took some photos of us, dad got dressed, and I tried to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen.

The OR was already set up and waiting for us and it was a fairly fast paced 60 minutes from entering the room to leaving. We waited very anxiously for your first cries, and after you were out it was very quickly determined why you hadn't been born yet. You didn't fit! Your head was too big for my body and you were stuck at my pelvic bones, determined to come out but losing to the laws of physics. Dad went with you as they evaluated you and tried to clear your lungs of all meconium. He trimmed your umbilical cord (you can blame him if you have a weird belly button) and helped to get you cleaned up. You weren't breathing quite right so they took you to the NICU for observation. I got one kiss on your sweet cheeks and they whisked you and dad away. I was alone on the table in the OR while they stitched and stapled me back together and then took me back to the labor & delivery room to recover for an hour. Dad stayed with you for a bit and then came to get some breastmilk to take to you. He tried not to leave your side, but I could tell he just wanted us all to be together.Soon enough we were, and while it hasn't been perfect ever since, it's been more than I could have imagined.

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