This is part two of the story of my son’s heart defect. Read part one here.
After being sent up to Seattle, I had a very long wait before my son was actually born. I was residing in a hotel on a base near the Seattle Children’s Hospital. I didn’t take as good of care of myself as I should have. I was under a lot of stress and I missed my family terribly. I watched TV until late at night and slept until late morning. My food was often fast food (because eating at the hotel was very, very difficult) or freezer meals. I didn’t get out to walk very often because the area I was in was not conducive to pedestrians. They were doing a lot of road construction right outside the hotel. I cried a lot. There seemed to be very little purpose to life without the rest of my family to take care of.
I went to weekly ultrasounds. To some that might sound like a dream come true to see their baby that often, but it just made things worse. I couldn’t ever get my mind off what was going on with my son.
Because the military is often unpredictable, we really did not know if any of my family was going to be able to come for the birth, but ultimately everything worked out and my husband was sent to be with me, bringing all three of my girls! It was the most glorious time, to finally see all of my kids after so long, especially my oldest!
We were told that we could try for a vaginal birth, but they didn’t want me to go passed 39 weeks. For all the scare of him coming early, I barely felt any braxton hicks in the last weeks of the pregnancy. We went in late at night for the induction. I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors, more than a normal delivery, so they could make sure that the laboring wasn’t putting undue stress on the baby.
After only about 10 hours of labor I finally felt ready to have the baby. The doctors came in, broke down the bed, and I went to pushing. I pushed two times and the doctors told me to stop because the baby’s shoulders were stuck on my pelvis. After repositioning me they were able to get him out with only another push or two. He cried, I held him, and after only a few minutes, they wisked him away to the NICU to be hooked up to monitors and taken off to the Children’s hospital.
My husband said after the baby was born he looked up and noticed that there were about 20 people in the room- teams of doctors and nurses that would step in immediately to take care of the baby if there were complications and teams of doctors and nurses that would have taken care of me if there were complications. I vividly remember only 4 doctors/nurses and my husband there. I’m really glad I didn’t actually realize I had an audience for my birth!
I cried. A lot. I did not use pain medication during his labor, I tore quite a bit, and since we were in a University Hospital I had new doctors and practising doctors coming in to talk to me constantly. The doctor who stitched me up had never done that before (I didn’t really process that until after everything was over otherwise I might have demanded someone else do it!). And the worst pain was how hard it is to give birth to a baby and then sit in the hospital with the flabby stomach and the aching lady parts and not have the baby there to see that it was all worth it.
The baby was taken away to the Children’s hospital and my husband was able to visit and told me he was doing well. There were no complications to be seen. I, rebel that I am, demanded discharge after only 17 hours of being in the hospital. I went over to see my baby immediately.
During the many visits with the doctors I was told it was likely I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed so I was eager to prove the doctors wrong. Unfortunately, he was born with a severe tongue tie. So although he was eating, it hurt and wasn’t very efficient. They did end up cutting his frenulum when he was a few days old in a procedure called a frenulotomy (they cut the skin holding his tongue down).
Overall, the birth went smoother than I expected. I’d read that the process of birthing vaginally rather than C-section was actually healthier for CHD babies because it helps clear their lungs and keeps them from having as many problems when they are first born.