Toren’s officially two days old! Here’s the rundown of what happened on the day he was born (starting the night before). NOTE: The rundown is a bit detailed and graphic, in case that’s a problem for you.
We were working in front of the TV Monday night around 7:30 pm when Debi felt something wet. It wasn’t much, but it made us a little nervous that maybe her water had broken. Since it was just a little bit at that point, we didn’t really think much of it. I went to bed around 11:00. Debi stayed up reading.
She came in to get me around 3:00. She started having minor contractions around midnight, but became very uncomfortable around 2:30. They were strong enough that she couldn’t speak and were spaced around 5 minutes apart on average. She recorded them for almost an hour just to make sure, then came to get me.
Once I was awake I recorded the contractions until about 4:30, when it was pretty clear that she met the criteria for being in first stage labor. We called the OB and she told us to go to the hospital. We took a quick shower, then arrived at the hospital at around 5:30.
We went to triage where a nurse got Debi settled and set up to the requisite devices to measure her contractions. The nurse seemed a bit skeptical as she knew we were first time parents and didn’t detect any amniotic fluid. By 5:50 or so the contractions were apparent on the monitor, but there was no more leakage… Then the dam broke during a particularly long and drawn out contraction! It was remarkable just how much fluid was in there.
The nurse’s skepticism disappeared at that point and they admitted Debi. They put in the epidural around 6:30 then we waited. She was dilating, but kind of slowly. It was slow enough that I ran home to pick up a few DVDs to keep us entertained. We turned on the first Lord of the Rings movie (Fellowship of the Ring) and were about 2/3 of the way through the movie when a nurse came in to check Debi’s progress (she was dilated to a 7 and about 90% effaced) and saw blood.
While it isn’t certain just what caused the gush of blood, the OB thought it might be a minor placental abruption (the placenta separating from the uterus). He didn’t like it, but he didn’t think it was a serious problem, yet. However, Toren’s heart rate did drop to below 110 and didn’t come back up. The nurse cleaned it up, but 5 minutes later it happened again. When the doctor saw that, his mind was made up – emergency C-section. The staff sprang into action and Debi and I got really worried. Toren’s heart beat was okay, but still low.
It took them about 20 minutes to get her prepped, then they led me to the OR. I sat next to Debi’s head and held her hand and rubbed her hair while they started the surgery. They had her pumped so full of liquids from the IV at this point that her jaw was shivering uncontrollably. The doctor gave us updates from the other side of the sheet, and in about 5 minutes Toren was out.
That’s when the terror started… A nurse took him to a station that we could see from our vantage point and worked him over. We couldn’t see very well, but we were waiting to hear him cry. He didn’t it. We heard her ask someone for an oxygen tube; for some reason it wasn’t hooked up already. It took them about 20 seconds to get it to her and then she had some issues getting it connected. All the while, we didn’t hear him cry.
A neonatologist suddenly appeared and that’s when Debi really got upset. The neonatologist started working him over, slipping a tube down into his lungs to clear them. All this probably only took 2 to 4 minutes, but to us it seemed like an eternity. We finally heard a faint cry, which was reassuring, but it wasn’t the wail we really wanted. Another minute later he was crying pretty good.
The neonatologist kept working on him, then they called for an incubator to have him sent to the NICU. It took a few more minutes for the incubator to arrive, but by the time it did, the neonatologist changed his mind. He decided Toren was good enough to go the regular nursery.
As the nurse carried Toren to the waiting incubator, she did pause long enough to let him give Debi a kiss on the cheek. He was aware, breathing fine, and not crying, which was reassuring. As the nurse taking him to the nursery was about to head out the door, she confirmed the APGAR scores – 2 (immediately after birth) and 8 (five minutes after birth). For those not familiar with APGAR scores, they are quick ratings of a newborn’s health that are useful for determining whether they need immediate medical attention. A 2 means he was in serious trouble. An 8 means he was fine. He improved rapidly, but it was still very disturbing.
I followed the nurse up to the nursery with Toren where they began to check him out more slowly. They kicked me out after about 5 minutes, which was kind of annoying. They told me to go find Debi’s recovery room and they would bring the baby when we had a room. The problem was that Debi was still in surgery, and now that I was out of my scrubs, I couldn’t go back in. I ended up sitting out in the waiting area for a good 45 minutes, unable to check on either Debi or Toren. I was getting really frustrated because there wasn’t anything I could do.
Eventually the hospital staff took me to the recovery area (not the recovery rooms) where Debi was just out of surgery and beginning to recover. She had to meet certain criteria before they would send her up to a recovery room. She did by about 4:00 or 4:15, but they didn’t give her a recovery room for almost another hour. By that time, it had been almost 3 hours since we had seen Toren and we hadn’t heard anything. I did sneak out just before we went up to the recovery room to check on him and he was sleeping soundly in the nursery.
Once we got to the recovery room, they did bring Toren, but they had already fed him a bottle of formula. They also explained that, because of the traumatic birth, he needed to be checked for his blood glucose level before every feeding, which meant a heel prick and blood draw. Due to some breast milk complications, we ended up giving him bottles of formula throughout the night, but his blood glucose levels remained below 40 (first ones were in the 20s), which meant he had to get checked before every feeding.
That first night was pretty miserable as we were up to feed him about every 2 hours and that meant calling the nurse, waiting to hear how his glucose levels were, then hoping they were above 40 so he wouldn’t have to have both heels pricked. He failed a couple of times, but finally rose above 40 Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon his blood glucose was in the 60s and the pediatrician said we could stop the checks. We could finally start to relax when it came to Toren. The only other hurdle he still seemed to have (other than breastfeeding, which is a whole different issue which I’m not going to go into), was his hearing tests. His left ear passed the first time, but his right ear didn’t. It failed the second time too (he passed 2 out of 4 tests and you have to pass 3 out of 4 to be okay). His right ear finally passed Thursday (3 out of 4). So, he’s good.
By Thursday morning, the pediatrician said his weight was down to 6lbs 11oz, which means he has lost about 3 ounces is all. They don’t start worrying unless it increases to about 10% of his body weight. So, we’ll keep up the feedings and hope everything works out okay.
Debi is doing fine and I finally got some sleep last night. In fact, things were calm enough last night that we actually had dinner together in the room and finished watching The Fellowship of the Ring then went to bed around 9. We also had a few minutes to film Toren during a feeding. We were hoping to catch him making the little sucking face he makes when he is hungry, but it didn’t come out in the video below (and I forgot to render it with sound this morning when I ran home to shower), but it’s a cute little video so people can see that he’s okay. We particularly like his faces at the end:
Just so you know what’s going on, the lactation nurses here suggested we try this alternate feeding method so long as we want to continue trying to breast feed. Supposedly it helps (I’m a bit skeptical).
If all goes well, we should be home tomorrow.