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My birth story – In honor of the Royal Baby

Posted Jul 23 2013 2:56pm

Other appropriate titles for this post would be:

  • “Thank you Morphine”
  • “There was no time for a royal decree”
  • “Why you shouldn’t google your labor symptoms”
  • “True Life: I am not an alarmist – by any stretch of the imagination”

The beautiful and enviably poised Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy this afternoon.  This little Royal nugget is third in line for the throne, and bound to be the most gorgeous infant of all time.

Kate reportedly went into labor around 6 am and delivered at 4:24 pm.  A few hours later There was an official document posted outside Buckingham Palace declaring the Royal Boy.  Doesn’t it all sound so civilized?

This organization and civilization makes me laugh a little, as I think of my own birth story … in which I basically labored during a 5 mile run, was put under general anesthesia and suddenly had twins.  Not civilized.  Very hectic and unconventional.

Wanna hear the story?  I’m going to tell it, so get comfy … this is a long one!

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October 19th 2010 - VC’s birthday.  I was 32 weeks, 4 days pregnant with the G’s.

I had spent the day completely on edge because my dad was undergoing Aortic Stenosis (replacement of his heart valve) at Mayo Clinic in Cleveland.  I was worried and hated that I wasn’t at the hospital with my family but I wasn’t given the clearance to fly being that I was high risk throughout my pregnancy …  The hours ticked by slowly and it seemed like forever that he was in surgery.  Finally at 5 pm I heard from my brother and stepmom that the Stenosis was a success and he was in recovery.  The process had taken a few hours longer than expected and to be honest by the time 5pm rolled around I was basically pacing (read: waddling in a frustrated manner).  Finally knowing that he was alright was a huge relief.

But my day was far from over, I was also hosting a small party for VC’s birthday at a nearby restaurant.  It wasn’t a big party and the restaurant was handling basically everything however I was the host and there was coordination that I was juggling as well throughout the day.  I took a short nap and at 7pm I woke up to a certain wetness.  *sorry – this part may be TMI*  They tell you that wetness is not unusual and that there may be leakage.  (oh the miracle of life – its so sexy).  Seeing as it was not an alarming amount, or even something that  was very noticeable to me + everything going on that day I completely dismissed it and got ready for the party.

Dinner, although lovely and a fantastic celebration for my husband, did not go well.  I was nauseous, cramping and didn’t feel 100% – but that too was not unusual for my pregnancy, especially at night and around food.  Again I dismissed it.

On the walk home from the restaurant I turned to VC and said “I think I’m leaking.”

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Insert belly pic here to break up the awkwardness of saying “leak” too many times

When we got home VC and I googled “slow leak pregnancy”.  Because obviously Web MD would know what to do.  I read all of these horror stories about how the slow leak was just a small amount of the water breaking and if you go into the hospital now they will hold you there on bed rest for many many days.  I also read that the safety of my babies was fine, that the slow leak meant that the majority of amniotic fluid was still in the amniotic sac.

Now this is going to come as a TOTAL shock to you, I’m sure, but bed rest and I are not friends.  I was on/off of partial bed rest throughout the pregnancy and felt like a caged animal in my own skin.  I was prepared to do what what right for the babies, but it was very very hard for me and the thought of being on 100% bed rest in the hospital rather than at home was a very uncomfortable thought at the time.

I went to bed that night with a cautionary towel under me and figured that I would see how things were in the morning.

Genius.  Spoiler Alert, Google is not a certified OBGYN – but I am getting ahead of myself.

October 20th 2010 

The night was fine, I slept decent and when I woke up all was dry.  VC went to work and we called it a false alarm.  Remind yourself that I was only 32 weeks, 5 days at this point.  A solid 6 weeks from my due date.

I decided that I could go on that slow jog/walk because there was nothing leaking anymore.I slowly ran/walked 5 miles in loops near the hospital that I would be delivering at, felt basically fine and didn’t experience any signs of water breaking.  UNTIL I got home.  The leak was back, and more noticeable.  What did I do?  No, I did not call my doctor, that would be way too logical.  I called my mom – who was still living in CA.  I told her my story and she promptly scolded me … smart woman.

When I finally called my doctor, the nurse on call panicked a bit on the phone.  She told me to get myself in a cab and head – not to the hospital – to the ultrasound lab where they would check on the babies.  This told me that they weren’t too crazy alarmed, I mean I basically live 4 blocks from the hospital and she sent me 40 blocks downtown for a ultrasound.  No big.  I didn’t call even call my husband, I just calmly got into a cab and went.

The moment I arrived at the ultrasound lab I knew that I was dead wrong to be calm.  The receptionist was waiting for me, she didn’t have me wait, rushed me into a room and the doctor was immediately there.  They conducted the ultrasound and determined that the “slow leak” was actually Baby B’s water which had broken and was trapped in my uterus.  The slow leak was because Baby A was blocking the water from coming out.

Twins in Utero

I was also having contractions that were about 5 minutes apart, and dilated to 1cm.  I felt nothing .  (The sensations that I was feeling was nothing unusual to my entire pregnancy, discomfort and stomach cramping as a result of heightened Crohn’s symptoms.)

Guess I should have googled “slow leak twin pregnancy”

They sent me straight to the hospital telling me not to stop at home, and to call my husband to have him meet me there.

Maybe I should have been starting to get alarmed, but I was not.  I was very very calm.  I honestly and wholeheartedly didn’t think I was having the babies that day.  I walked outside, hailed a cab on Madison Ave and got in.  I told him to take me to Mt Sinai labor and delivery … the sweet sweet cabbie full stopped, turned around, looked me in the eye and said “are you having the baby now?” “maybe” I told him “and its 2 babies, not 1″

He drove fast.

I called VC and my mom on the way and told them that there was no chance I was having babies today, that I was positive I would be checked in and kept there for a few weeks not being allowed to move at all.  I also texted my friends who I was scheduled to have dinner with that night and politely told them that I was going to go to the hospital instead.

Labor – if you can call it that, as apparently I had been “in labor” for almost 24 hours at this point

I walked into Mt Sinai, took the elevator up to labor and delivery and again the receptionist was waiting for me.  She handed me some paperwork, which I filled out but have no idea what I wrote and they took me to triage – VC still wasn’t there (not that he could have been, it had only been about 15 mins since I first called him to say I was going to the hospital)

I hung out in triage for about 20 minutes where they told me that I would need to be admitted and kept on bed rest and observation.  Baby B had enough water in its amniotic sac to be ok, but any more leaking and it was dangerous, so they were going to keep me very still to see if I could make it to at least 34 weeks, if not longer.  That meant I was being admitted for at least 10 days, hopefully longer.  When VC arrived I was in triage.  I calmly told him what was going on, and also told him to please get some movies on the I Pad because clearly I was in for a long few days.

About 20 mins later a room opened up and I was moved to a bed on the labor and delivery floor.  VC was setting up the I Pad, one nurse was putting the sensors on my belly and doing vitals while another nurse was taking all of my info for the check into the hospital.  Suddenly out of NOWHERE about 5 doctors and nurses came flying in.  They pushed VC out of the way, threw the sides up on the bed and began wheeling me out of the room, rapidly explaining that they couldn’t get a heartbeat on Baby B and that they needed to get the babies out right now.

Delivery:

Pure Chaos ensues.  We were running down the hallway, Grey’s Anatomy style and VC was running after us, they stopped him at the OR doors and directed him to the scrub room to suit up.  I was whisked into the operating room.

At this point, I was still confused about what was happening.  I yelled to my doctor, is everything OK?  He answered back at me, “Gia, don’t worry, your babies are going to be just fine.  We just need to get them out now.” To which I said “ok, thank you … am I going to be fine too?” He chuckled and said “Yes, you too”

In the OR lots of doctors and nurses appeared.  There were teams everywhere and on all sides of me, I remember only a few things.

1. My gown being ripped off, and being naked on the table with bright lights and lots of strangers

2. The anestetiologist walking in and frantically yelling at the nursing staff to get me an IV immediately (it had all happened so fast that I hadn’t been put on an IV yet)

3. Something cold going on my belly

4. The gas mask coming down over my face.

I was put under general anesthesia and an Emergency C-section was performed.  The exact timing of what happened is there is a bit of a mystery because VC wasn’t allowed in the room and I was knocked out, but he says that from the time that I went into the door of the OR to the time when the babies came out screaming was less than 10 minutes.  He was greeted in the hallway by this:

G s born

G2 (baby B) is the one screaming – troublemaking right from the start.  Now that I know his personality, I bet that he got cramped in there and pulled a fast one on us.  :) 

The babies were whisked to the NeoNatal Unit (NICU) and VC was left to wait for me.  He said it was another 10 mins or so and I was out of the OR and taken into the recovery room.

Recovery:

This is where it gets ugly.  Typically in a C-Section there is time for an IV drip to give anesthesia and pain meds like an epidural to numb from the waist down.  I was not so lucky.  I was gassed and put out because there wasn’t time for anything else.  That means that when I came to I had just been cut open, had babies removed, sewn back up and I had ZERO pain meds to numb.  I was given a morphine drip as soon as I was awake, but that took about 5 mins to kick in.

So I screamed in pain, my full body was convulsing off the table and I was in a state of complete and udder horror.  The nurses and doctors and VC were standing over me assuring me that the morphine would kick in soon and I just remember blinding pain for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally the morphine did kick in and I was handed a button, which I could press every 6 minutes for another hit.  IF I pressed it sooner it would make this error noise … I was heavy handed with that poor little button, I basically error noised consistently for hours, taking what I could get when I could get it.

I was panicked to ever feel that much pain again, and convinced that if I didn’t press the little button it would come back.  For the record – 6 MINUTES – seriously, that is a long long time in the world of panicked pain.

What about the Babies?

They were born 3lbs11oz and 3lbs4oz.  Both born in the same minute making G1 “older” by a few seconds. 

In most birth stories this is the part where mom gets to snuggle and meet her little angels for the first time.  In my birth story, this did not happen.  I was taken to the maternity floor to recover for the night and the babies were in the NICU.  It was another 24 hours before I was allowed to see them.  I had to wait until I was able to sit in a wheelchair and go down to the NICU.  So VC would go to the NICU, take photos with the camera and bring them back to me to look at.  I poured over those photos for hours anxiously waiting to meet my G’s and hold them for the first time.

There is really no way to sugar coat the fact that not getting to see my babies for that long was really really hard.  I felt empty, I felt lonely and I deeply missed 2 human beings whom I had never seen.

Finally the moment came to see them, VC wheeled my down to the NICU and in between their incubators,  I put my hand inside and felt their warm little bodies and the movement of their chests.  I touched their fingers and marveled at how tiny they were.  When the nurses helped us take them out of their incubators and placed them on my chest, it was pure magic … their skin on mine made me whole and finally for the first time in over 48 hours of craziness, I cried.  I let it all out, the fear, the overwhelming sense of confusion, the longing for my babies, the happiness … everything came out and I held tight to my little G’s knowing that from here on out we were all going to be OK.

Twinkles

The G’s were completely healthy at birth, just a bit small.  They stayed in the Mt Sinai NICU for almost a month before we were able to bring them home.  G1 came home 5 days before G2 and got the place ready for her little brother.

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November 15th, 2010

Both of our G’s were home with us and this beautiful life officially began.

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So you see, my birth story is far from Royal.  It’s far from typical. Just the way a birth story should be … unique, personal and oh so special.  I have an endless amount of admiration and respect for the medical community.  I feel blessed to have been in the hands of modern medicine and amazing doctors.  I also feel blessed to have had my babies safe and secure in the NICU for as long as they were, they needed to grow and develop and I needed to learn how to handle and care for preemies.

Often I am asked how I feel about not having the conventional delivery and newborn experience.  People wonder if I think I missed out.  The honest answer is yes and no.  I feel curious about how different the experience would be, and of course I would want to hold my babies as soon as they were born, but I also feel lucky to have skipped a long labor and I don’t know if I could handle being awake during my own C-Section.

But why think about changing things when life beautiful just the way that it is?

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Moms – tell me how do you feel about the speculation that is going around about the Royal BIrth?  Do you think that its fair for people to be nosy about Duchess Kate’s birth story? 

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