Brian Alexander Jeronimo, July 20, 2003
Beware, this is really, really long. Sorry...
On Saturday, July 19, I decided to spend the day out shopping with my mom. I thought if I walked around a lot, maybe the baby would be born. I also invoked Murphy's Law by assuring my neighbor that my Dad would be over Sunday morning to fix some drainage problems between our two properties (of course, as soon as you tell someone something will happen, something comes up to stop it).
Around 10pm that night I started having diarrhea (TMI - sorry). I was feeling lousy, but had been feeling that way for days, so there was nothing unusual there. DH came home from work at 1am and I told him I was going to go downstairs and watch TV in the recliner b/c I was hot and uncomfortable and couldn't sleep. I started watching back-to-back episodes of "Law and Order" on TNT. At around 3am, I started to feel major cramps and they came on fast. They were coming every 5-7 minutes and as the hour passed, they became closer and closer together. After an hour, I woke DH and called my OB who said to head to the hospital. I could barely get dressed b/c at that point the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. DH grabbed my bag and the camera and helped me out to the car. Had to stop about five times on the way to the car (our bedroom's on the 3rd floor). Then DH had to move one of our cars to get to the one we were using (we have one with a broken A/C and it was blocking the good car in).
DH hauled it to the hospital (about 10 minutes away), all the while telling me not to have the baby in the car b/c the contractions were right on top of one another. He was really sweet, helping me to breathe and making soothing noises/comments. We arrived at the hospital around 4:15am and got to my L&D room around 4:25am after a bathroom break halfway there (I could barely get up from the loo--bad idea!). DH insisted on calling my parents as soon as we got settled in even though I wanted to wait until closer to delivery. He called and woke them up at around 5am!! Then he proceeded to call almost everyone in his family. Can you tell he was a bit excited? :roll:
Unfortunately we arrived when the crazy night nurses were getting ready to leave. The intake nurse was really weird and held up everything! I was asking for an epidural from the minute I came through the doors. It wasn't that I needed one so much at that moment, just that I wanted them to know I wanted one and to get it ASAP. The intake nurse checked me, said I was at 4cm, and then started to ask me tons of questions. When she found out I have a mild latex allergy (rashes, bleeding, but not the anaphylactic shock you really have to worry about), she had to order up the latex-free supplies from the central supply room. Looking back, that seems to be what held everything up. I had to have latex-free gloves, catheter, tape, etc., and it took FOREVER to get that, probably in part due to the time of morning and the day of the week. Until it arrived, I couldn't get the IV which was necessary for the epidural.
After an hour and a half of answering questions and filling out forms between contractions (they wanted DH to do it, but he doesn't read/write English well enough to do so), the evil nurse finally inserted the IV and then told me I had to wait 20 minutes for the saline to run in before they would even call the anesthesiologist. The nurse took about 15 minutes to get the IV in and running (more time away from my epidural) and then disappeared. At 7am (2.5 hours after we arrived), they had a shift change. The nurse came in and hung ANOTHER bag of saline! I asked when they would call for my epidural and she said I'd have to wait for the next nurse to come on. !!!!EVIL!!!! :evil:
Meanwhile my contractions were still coming irregularly - between 1 and 3 minutes apart and were getting much stronger. DH was resting next to me in a recliner and we had the news on trying to distract me. The pain was pretty overwhelming, so I was basically just breathing and trying to get through. The new nurse finally came in around 7:15am. She was awesome!!! As soon as she came in, I asked if they would puh-leaze call the anesthesiologist already. She went right off and did it. He was in a delivery, so it took another 15 minutes or so, but then he came and inserted it. He was a funny Irish man and I was sooo happy to see him. DH stood in front of me and held my shoulders and the man inserted the IV in around 15 minutes. The nurse stayed to monitor me. Around 8am, they realized that the epidural wasn't working. It had taken the edge off a bit, but I was still really feeling the contractions after a half hour of medication. They called the anesthesiologist and he said he needed to reinsert it. It took a full half hour (really hard to deal with contractions and stay still!) for him to get a new epidural in. He had to puncture me two more times to find the right spot. But I didn't care as long as he found it. He kept apologizing and telling me I was being really calm about it, but I was just happy to finally be getting some relief FOUR HOURS after I got to the hospital. No one ever tells you you may have to wait for your epidural. I just figured that if I was dilated to 4cm, they would give it right away. But between the stupid intake nurse, the wait for the latex-free supplies, and the shift change, it took forever.
Once the anesthesiologist had reinserted the epidural, I finally got some relief. No more than five minutes later, my parents suprised us by walking in (they weren't originally invited ~ they just decided to show up). Fortunately, they had picked a perfect time because I felt GREAT!!! That epidural kicked in fast and was the best thing ever. I was feeling pretty groovy. My kind, sweet nurse was checking on me regularly and my husband was holding my hand. At that point, I couldn't have been happier and the four hours of mild torture just disappeared from my mind. At around 9:15am, my OB came in. She checked me and said I was between 5-6cm. She had been very seriously considering a c-section b/c I'd had a herpes outbreak earlier that week, but after discussing it with high-risk specialists at Georgetown Hospital, she decided I had been on treatment for enough days and the visible lesions were gone, so I could deliver vaginally. My water still hadn't broken, so she decided to go ahead and rupture me. I thought I would feel that, but I guess the epidural was working well b/c I didn't even feel the wetness.
After the OB left and said she'd be back to check on me later, I started to feel really itchy from the epidural anesthesia (I have that reaction every time I get anesthesia). I asked the nurse if I could have some Benadryl to help with the itching and she went and got it. Other than the severe itching all over my body, I felt awesome. I couldn't feel the contractions at all and was enjoying chatting with my DH and parents. They kept telling me to sleep so that I'd have energy for labor, but I was totally pumped up. Anyway, at 10am, the nurse injected my IV with Benadryl, which knocks me out. Since I'd been between 5-6cm 45 minutes earlier, I figured it wouldn't matter b/c I had some time left before I delivered. Ha! A half hour later, right when the Benadryl was knocking me to my knees and I was ready for a long nap, my OB came in to check me. "You're 10cm and ready to go!" :shock: I had gone from 5 - 10cm in 1.5 hours. Wow. I was not expecting that at all.
During this time, my parents had stepped out while she checked me. All through my pregnancy, I was convinced I only wanted DH and the medical staff in the room when I delivered, but for some reason I still don't understand, I suddenly decided anyone could come watch (could have been the drugs ) So I sent my DH out to get them and I told them it was fine if they'd like to attend the delivery. They were really surprised and both excited and happy. So my Mom, Dad, and DH were getting to view me in all my glory, but I didn't care. At 10:40am, my wonderful, encouraging, friendly OB was ready for me to push (ironically, she was the only one in the group practice I hadn't met - my appt with her was set for later that week). The nurse, Caroline, came and stood to my right and my DH was on the left. Caroline would tell me when a contraction was coming (although at that point I could feel some pressure, so I knew) and then I would push three times for counts of ten. I was so surprised that I could talk and relax between contractions with no problem.
I went through about five pushing cycles while my OB gowned up and the neonatologist came in (there was meconium in the amniotic fluid). Then we started the final stages. My OB said I was pushing perfectly and said she was surprised b/c she finds it takes many first-time moms a while to figure out which muscles to use. I continued to push with contractions and it started to burn quite a bit. Little by little, Brian began to arrive. I had requested no episiotomy, but Brian's heart rate took a sudden huge dip and my OB said that she either had to cut me a bit to get him out or he'd be in big trouble. So I told her to go ahead. As soon as she cut, his head came out. Seconds later, the rest of the body emerged and he was here. My mom gasped and said he had bright red hair. After only 45 minutes of pushing, my sweet boy was finally introduced to the world. at 11:19 a.m. They immediately took him across the room to the neonatologist so she could suction the meconium. DH and my Dad went over to watch.
In the meantime, my OB worked on delivering the placenta, cleaning me and stitching me up. I had the small episiotomy and had also torn high up on the left side (I later noticed that Brian's ear was scabbed on one side, so I wonder if he got caught on something and then I tore? Maybe an instrument or something.) I kept asking how he was doing, but DH and Dad were engrossed in what the neonatologist was doing, so they ignored me. My OB kept telling me I did an awesome job and that she couldn't believe how well I pushed. That made me feel great. She said he appeared to be about 9lbs, so we were all surprised when he only weighed 7lbs, 11.6oz. Between the short birth, the relatively small baby (I was 10lbs, 9oz, DH was 8lbs, 7oz), and the red hair, nothing was as we'd expected it to be!
Finally, about 15 minutes after his birth, my DH brought Brian over to see me. I cuddled him for a few minutes and then they passed him around. My parents then left DH and I alone to bond with the baby and I asked Caroline if it was okay to breastfeed him (she said it was). DH and I sat there and fell in love with this new creature as he hungrily latched on to my breast for a few minutes. Shortly thereafter, Caroline came back to take the baby to the NICU to be bathed, run tests, etc. DH walked down with her and then came back to hang out with me. Caroline brought me a bagged lunch (best chicken salad sandwich I have ever eaten!) and some juice and I ate and relaxed. I was so happy and couldn't get over how well my labor had gone. Despite the first few hours, I felt like it was fast and so much easier than I had expected. I kept saying, "I can't believe it!"
DH decided to go home and sleep and come back later. Caroline told me to sleep for an hour or so while she took care of paperwork and got me ready to move to my postpartum room. I called a friend to tell her the details of the birth so she could post on the July 2003 board (yep, I'm nuts!) and then settled in for a nap. Caroline came back and told me I had to pee, but I couldn't and she had to recatheterize me. Ick. Then she moved me to my new room and got me settled with all the creams, lotions, sprays, pads, underwear, water bottles, etc., to take care of my postpartum needs. :shock:
I thought they were just cleaning up the baby and that he would be back soon, but it took FOREVER!!! About four hours after he was born, they finally brought him to my room. I was so relieved b/c I had started to worry about him. They said he had had meconium in his stomach, but none in his lungs and that he appeared to be fine. For the next few hours, I just lay there and fell in love with my baby. My mom, DH, Dad, and best friend all came and cuddled him. Around 9pm, they left us alone again. I breastfed and the baby fell asleep. At 11pm, they came to take the baby to the nursery to check his vital signs. Little did I know that that would be the beginning of a week of torture. Ten minutes later, the neonatologist came in to say that the baby hadn't transitioned yet and was having breathing problems. They wanted to keep him overnight in the NICU, but I would almost certainly get him back the next day. I was really sad, but then they brought him in to feed before he went to the NICU. We had a beautiful 20 minutes more to bond and then he was gone. I had a restless night and probably got about three hours of sleep (I had a roommate who kept her baby in the room with us and also insisted on keeping the light on all night). They woke me up every three hours to go nurse the baby.
The next morning when I went in to nurse at about 6:30am, the neonatologist from the night before said that the daytime doctor was going to check on Brian, but that I should probably have him back in my room in a few hours. I was happy and called my husband with the good news. At 10am, the daytime neonatologist came in to break the bad news. She said that she still wasn't happy with Brian's breathing and that she wanted to keep him in the NICU until Wednesday, which would mean he couldn't go home with me. They were going to put in IVs and start him on antibiotics just in case. I cried and cried and cried. :cry: I was so worried about him, but also really disappointed that our first days were being ruined. I was also really upset because DH had taken his week's vacation and he was going to miss out on time with the baby. I made arrangements to go nurse as needed and began three days of round-the-clock breastfeeding and no sleep. Brian was covered in monitors and tubes and had a huge breathing mask over his head. It was so scary!!! :cry:
On Tuesday, the neonatologist gave me more bad news. She said that the baby had pneumonia and would have to be on a full week of IV antibiotics. Then when I went in to breastfeed, they had moved him into an incubator. I freaked out, but they said he had been working too hard out in the open-air bed with only a heat lamp above him. They said the incubator would help him regulate his temperature, but it also meant we couldn't touch him except when he breastfed. That was rough. In the meantime, I told DH I wasn't leaving the baby for anything, so we made arrangements to sleep on the couch at the hospital after I was discharged on Tuesday. By Thursday, I was a wreck. I hadn't slept, wasn't eating, was having to pump after every feeding to try to build my supply, and I was so worried about the baby. The lactation consultant finally picked me up into her arms and told me to go home, sleep for six hours straight without waking to pump, and let the nurses supplement the baby with formula. She said I was no good to him in that condition. I wept, but felt secretly relieved that she was giving me permission to take care of myself. My body ached from being up in a chair all day long, I was bleeding and had to go to the lobby to use the bathroom b/c the NICU only had a staff bathroom, and my legs were horribly swollen. I was just miserable. The LC said I should come for a stretch, miss one feeding at which thy could give expressed BM, then come for another stretch, then go sleep for 6 hours and miss 1-2 nighttime feedings. I had really low milk supply due in part to stress and in part to a lack of glandular tissue (genetic problem), so they had to give formula for the nighttime feedings and I pumped at night instead so they'd have milk for his afternoon feeding. We stayed in my parents' guest room (they live 1 mile from the hospital), but I fouund it hard to rest well b/c I was so wound up. The week was really hard, but he finally got into a bassinet and off the oxygen mid-day Friday. He was still on monitors, but he was doing well.
On Friday night, we had a huge scare. The nurse "accidentally" overdosed our baby!!! He was on two antibiotics - one that was every 12 hours and one every 24 hours. She gave him the 24 hour one at 11pm when she saw 11 on the chart, but they use military time, so 11 meant 11am - 23:00 would have been 11pm. Of course, they didn't tell us. I was breastfeeding him at 6am the next morning and overheard the doctor talking about the Jeronimo baby's overdose. DH and I freaked! What if it had been a med that was lethal in high doses? I don't even want to ponder what could have happened. This med causes liver, kidney, and eye damage, but they monitored his blood levels/ran tests and he appeared to be okay. But he had to endure three additional heel stick blood draws b/c of one nurses's mistake. Thank goodness there were no serious consequences. They suspended the nurse and DH and I sat down with the head doctor to discuss our concerns and felt reassured after our conversation. We took him home Sunday (the neonatologist let him skip his last dose of meds (good thing since he already had that double dose!) and go home mid-day instead of 8pm, as originally planned). It was such a relef to have him home.
So overall, I felt my labor went great and I would do it again. The week that followed was a nightmare I wish had never happened. But now my son is home and beautiful and perfect. We are so blessed!!