Hezzy, 5 days old

DISCLAIMER: These are the events as I remember them, which may or may not be the way things actually went.  I have a terrible memory, you see, and it’s been nearly 5 months since this happened.  Oh also, I was drugged up most of the time. That said, I’m sure this is pretty close to the actual events.  Ok.

To be able to accurately tell the story of Hezzy’s birthday, one must start way before the day he was born.  We must go back to when I was 19 weeks pregnant.  After my check-up with the midwife I knew that I had gestational diabetes.  I put a plan in place to eat right (including my Reliv shakes) which worked well in controlling the disease until the latter part of my pregnancy.

At 38 weeks, sugars started to show up in my urine samples again.  During this time the midwife gave me a series of tests to determine what was really going on.  My blood pressure was also high and climbing.  At my 40 wk appointment we talked about encouraging labor through homeopathy and other natural means.  At 41 wks the midwife suggested that we begin encouraging labor since I was still spilling sugar and it was getting higher.  She stripped my membranes, gave me the names of the homeopathic remedies and even suggested I buy castor oil.  She also suggested a 24-hour urine test (in which I had to pee only in a special container for 24 hours) which was the final straw.  It showed that my kidneys were suffering with the pregnancy and I was pre-eclamptic.  (The value should have been in the 100-200’s but my test result came back around 1,500.)  The next day when she got my lab results back on the urine test and had consulted with other colleagues, she said we couldn’t wait any longer and that I needed to go to the hospital.  The homeopathic remedies had been working by then and I was having regular contractions.  I didn’t take the castor oil.

We quickly packed and I arrived at the hospital around 8 or 9pm on a Wednesday night.  We went straight to the labor and delivery floor and they set me up in one of the laboring rooms.  It was really spacious!  The first thing they did was call some guy to come do an ultrasound.  It was our one and only ultrasound throughout the pregnancy.  I let him know I didn’t want to know the gender in case he saw it, but since I was huge and past my due date I didn’t think there would be enough room for him to see anything anyway.  He said the baby was really big and approximately 9 lbs.  Then he left and let me know that the rest of his measurements had to be analyzed by someone in Australia and they would know the results later.  I thought that was really odd, since he was doing the ultrasound, that he couldn’t  tell me the results of his measurements himself.

I changed into my laboring clothes and was able to labor in water for a short time.  During this time the contractions were regular and I was progressing.  Because my blood pressure was getting too high for their comfort (though I don’t remember feeling any different) they had me lay on the bed.  There they put me on a magnesium drip so my blood pressure would go down and I wouldn’t be in danger of having a seizure.

I’m pretty sure this is when I stopped progressing.  I was stuck at 4cm and the baby’s head was high.  They gave me the option of pitocin or a pill that would help me dilate.  They said with the pit I could start low and they could stop the drip at any time.  The pill, though it had less side effects, could not be stopped once it had been inserted.  I foolishly (looking back now) opted for the pit.  What they didn’t tell me (or I don’t remember it) is that it would be increased every half hour.  I labored painfully on the pit for many hours, throughout the night, attempting to get into a more comfortable position than on my back but being told that my blood pressure couldn’t handle it.  I tried hands and knees on the bed with the yoga ball but that was very uncomfortable and ended up on my back.  This was probably the most painful experience of my life.  I was out of it most of the time because of the magnesium and kept fighting sleep, pulling my eyes open so I could concentrate on getting through the contractions and attempting to stay alert of what was going on around me.

Laboring with my mom at my side.  One of those bags is my IV, the other is the mag.  The little white box beneath the IV is the Pit.

Once, I asked for help going to the bathroom but almost as soon as I got up my water broke.  I didn’t think I had peed myself, but I asked one of the nurses to check the fluid anyway.  Since my water was leaking slowly but in spurts, she waited until the next little spurt running down my legs to do a check.  It checked out as amniotic fluid and I kept my dignity.  I hoped that meant things were progressing and I might still have a vaginal birth.

At this point they had raised the pit to a really high level because I was still not progressing.  It was almost as high as it could go.  At some point the next day my midwife asked me if I would like an epidural.  I had been so out of it and was in so much pain from the pit contractions that it hadn’t occurred to me that I could get an epidural.  My eyes lit up as though someone had turned on a light switch and I quickly agreed to have someone call the anesthesiologist.  I had to wait about a half hour for it, but when he finally came and stuck that needle in my back I knew it would get better.  I had to wait around 15 minutes for it to kick in but when it finally did it was the best thing ever!  Slowly my contractions got less and less painful until I could no longer feel them.  I loved it!  I was still out of it, but at least I wasn’t in pain.

I kept getting regular checks on my blood pressure, the baby’s heart and my swelling.  The baby was always fine, even during the contractions, but my legs were really swollen and my hands and arms were, too.  The blood pressure was still high.  I got checked again, but I hadn’t progressed since the night before when I had been 4cm and we were going on 24 hrs of labor.

At around 5pm on Thursday, the hospital midwife and the OB on duty concurred that it had been too long without any progression and that I needed to think about a c-section because my body was still doing poorly.  I talked about it briefly with my husband and asked my mom’s opinion, and although it wasn’t at all what he had planned or wanted for our birth, we didn’t feel there was another alternative.  My body was not doing well and I didn’t show any signs of progressing to be able to have a vaginal birth.  We agreed to the c-section.  Around 6pm we went in to the operating room.

During the c-section

I was cold and shaking the whole time despite warm blankets being draped over me.  I was still struggling with keeping my eyes open but I could feel the doctors tugging and pulling as they were doing the operation.  I heard a baby cry and they were saying something, but I couldn’t quite register what.  Eventually someone said it was a boy and he was big!  Oh, I was so happy to have a son!  I don’t think it showed because I could barely talk through my teeth chattering but I was really happy!  My husband brought him over for a quick peek before they went to clean him up and weigh him and we took our first family picture.

First family picture

My mom stayed with me while they took my son to clean him up and weigh him.  The doctor had mentioned he was big and she was so curious to know how big he really was that when the nursery hadn’t called her in the operating room to tell her how big he was she had someone call there to find out.  In the meantime, she was tugging and pulling and stuffing and doing who knows what else to me in order to close me up again.  It was really uncomfortable.  Finally the news came back on his weight.  He was 11 lbs!!  I remember hearing the astonishment in her voice as she repeated his weight.  As for me, I could hardly believe it!  So much for the 9 lbs the ultrasound tech had guessed!
Seconds after the birth

They wheeled me back to the labor room to recover and to monitor me and I got to see my son again.  John Hezekiah, I kept repeating.  He was wrapped up though he hadn’t been bathed yet because Dan wanted to be the one to bathe him.  His little hat was too small on him and had been stained by the gunk in his hair.  He was reddish and squinty, and I knew his eyes would be like his dad’s.  And he was mine.  I didn’t know just how strong the bond would be, but already I was SO in love with this little guy.  From then on I didn’t want him out of my sight.  I asked that he be with me the whole time and since he was little and hungry a lot, he *was* with me most of the time.  However, since I was on the magnesium and still feeling out of it, I had him next to me in his little infant rolling bed thing, where I could keep an eye (and a hand) on him at all times.

Seeing him for the first time since the operating room

They advised me to sleep, and since the mag was supposed to make me sleepy I thought I could, but I couldn’t.  I remained out of it and my eyes were droopy, but I couldn’t sleep.  I don’t know if it was the excitement of having my baby there with me, the nurses coming in every few minutes to check me or the baby, or the drugs, but I just couldn’t sleep.  In fact, it was probably a combination of all those things, but I didn’t sleep more than 10 minutes together the next three days I would stay at the hospital.

Eventually the next day, they moved me from the labor wing to the new mamas wing.  Because I had been on the magnesium, they restricted my water intake to no more than an ounce or so every few hours so I would not develop fluid in my lungs or swell.  I was soooo thirsty!  It was torture, but I survived it by tricking myself into thinking I was getting more water than I was by sucking on ice.

My milk had not yet come in.  The nurses attributed this to three things:  1) he was my first child, 2) I’d had a c-section, and 3) I’d been on magnesium, all of which can slow down the production of milk.  I added a fourth:  not getting enough fluid.  The odds were low that I would be able to continue breast-feeding him without supplementation, but we kept on keeping on.  Not only that, but he had a strange latch.  This kid didn’t want to do it like the books, rather had his own way of latching on.  I tried for many days to correct it, worrying that he wasn’t doing it right, but eventually I realized he was getting enough milk and I wasn’t really in pain the whole time, just a little at first, so I stopped trying to fix it.  Today he is still exclusively breast-fed.

My baby developed a little jaundice.  In my deep-rooted mistrust of hospitals, I didn’t want him to be out of my sight at all, should the hospital give him something “routine” which I didn’t want him to have.  I sent my mom out to follow the nurses every time they tried to take him, since I was still unable to get up out of bed.  Most of the time, however, they were kind enough to do whatever they needed to do to him right there in the room with me so I could see.  Since his bilirubin levels were not severe, they told me to feed him as much as possible.  With me feeling as thirsty as I was, I just don’t think there was enough there to give him.  Not only that, but he kept falling asleep while eating.  Poor kid.  By the time we left the hospital, he had dropped from 11 lbs to 9 lbs 15 oz.  Over a full pound.  He must have been getting something, though, because he was only slightly jaundiced by the time we left, and they let us go home after scheduling a home nurse visit.

One day old

Finally by the middle of the second day post c-section, they lifted the water restriction.  Instead of drinking the 80 gallons of water I really wanted to drink, I paced myself so I would be able to leave the hospital as soon as they’d let me.  I didn’t want anything to keep me there any longer!  My milk still hadn’t come in and I was only barely able to walk around for a little bit, but I was on the road to recovery.  I still hadn’t gotten much sleep and I don’t really know how I was surviving like that, but it was great therapy to be able to see my son’s little face next to me.

Before his first bath

He was so sweet, so peaceful, so quiet.  There were twins next door to me and they would cry at all hours of the day.  My son had yet to cry.  He barely complained, just rooted around to let me know he was hungry.  He fell asleep eating, so I didn’t really have to watch his cues for that.  I wished I could hold him all night long and all day, but because he was so heavy, I had to have him put down in his little bassinet and brought to me when he was hungry.  When my mom wasn’t doing it, I would call the nurses to help me.  I think they got really tired of it since I would call them ALL THE TIME to come get him, hand him to me so I could feed him, and then put him back.  Since he wasn’t a crier, they must’ve not thought it was quite as imminent as whatever else they were doing so they took forever to come.  I was getting tired of waiting for them, watching my son root and root and be hungry, knowing my milk wasn’t in and he was losing weight quickly.  It broke my heart that they took forever, so I would slowly get up out of bed and get him myself, trying not to hurt myself in the process since he was over my weight limit and I had to bend over to pick him up and put him down.  Oh, it hurt, but what wouldn’t a momma do for her baby?!  If it weren’t for my own mama being there with me the whole time, helping me with the baby, I’m pretty sure my recovery would have been a LOT slower than it was, even though I did take a long time to heal.  She was so great with him and patient with me as she handed him over to me so many times and took him back to bed or rocked him herself.  She was awesome.

My mom was my biggest helper

When they finally agreed to release us from the hospital as scheduled, I was ecstatic.  My mom’s flight was scheduled to leave the next day (Monday), so I really wanted to go home, see my mother-in-law (who was also here visiting but couldn’t stay at the hospital with us) and my husband (who had come to see us many times, but was also taking care of house stuff and his mother) and just get to settle into my home with everyone’s help.  I was so blessed to have that.  Thankfully, everything went smoothly and the baby and I were released.  I was still in a lot of pain, but we had some meals lined up with friends and I knew that I would be able to handle the baby myself if I just had him next to me in bed most of the time.

Hours before leaving the hospital

The Tuesday after I was released from the hospital, the home health nurse came by to see how the baby and I were progressing.  He was no longer jaundiced and my milk had started to come in.  His weight had gone up to close to 10.5 lbs so he was definitely getting enough milk.  Everything was going to be alright.

It wasn’t at all what we had planned, but I praise the L-rd that He had everything in His hands, that everything was smooth, and that the baby and I were both healthy.  We make our plans, but it’s the L-rd who directs our path, and I know there is nothing better than the plan He has for us.