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The Things We Don't See Coming

Posted Oct 16 2012 2:53am
Andrew was born at 9:24 AM on 10-11-12.  I went down to the wire on whether I would be able to be awake for the surgery or not.  My platelet count came in at the exact level that the anesthesiologist required.  I would be allowed to have an epidural!

So I was awake when Dr. S pulled him from the incision and announced, "We've got a 10 pounder!"  Indeed.  Andrew weighed in at 10 lbs, 9 oz., which explains why I have been so dreadfully uncomfortable these past few weeks!

In recovery, M leaned over and said, "Well, that was easy."

I laughed because the room was spinning and I was a tad bit overwhelmed, having just had major surgery and becoming a mom for the third time.  To use the word "easy" seemed inappropriate, and yet completely fitting, since everything that we had worried about happening:  me needing a general; tranfusions; infusions, none of that had been necessary. 

Recovery was uneventful.  Andrew latched on without issue and I got the longed-for nursing session less than a half hour after he was born.  Dr. S moseyed in and told us everything had gone well.  We would continue to follow my labwork, both in and out of the hospital, but he was confident that everything would return to normal as far as my platelets went.  We called family and texted friends to let them know that Andrew was here and healthy and I was recovering well. We were transferred to our regular hospital room. Everything was going as planned.

Three hours after Andrew was born, I asked M if he thought his feet looked purple. He shrugged and reminded me that Emma's feet had done the same thing. He was right. They had. I pulled the blanket back up over our son and continued to marvel at his perfection.

He started rooting for food and we went for round #2.  Andrew was enthusiastically nursing away.  By this point, I noticed a couple things that I had never seen with either Will or Emma when they nursed.  First off, he kept shaking and shuddering, about every two to three minutes.  He was almost gasping.  I had asked the recovery nurse about this and she mentioned that some large babies have trouble with regulating their own blood sugars post-delivery, so he could be having "sugar shakes".  She watched him for a minute and decided that was probably what it was.  She let me know that eating was the best way to handle this, so to keep feeding him.

The other thing was that he made a different noise while nursing.  I couldn't describe it well, but it just sounded "off" to me.  I made a mental note to ask the pediatrician during his first exam.  I noticed his left arm and hand looked purple and pointed it out to M.  Again, it had happened before, and M said it was barely noticeable.  I got distracted then, as the nurse handed me my precious pain pills.  As I took them, I felt Andrew stiffen at my breast.  I looked down at the most horrific sight of my life.

"Purple!" I screamed.  "Really, really PURPLE!"

Andrew was dark purple from head to toe.  And he wasn't breathing.

The nurse glanced down and then it all happened so quickly and yet so slowly all at once.  She grabbed him away and tilted him, rubbing frantically at his back.  He stayed purple.  The look on her face was terrifying.  She had him on a table and an oxygen mask shoved on his face within seconds. But he was still purple.  She called a code.  The student nurse that was helping her that day didn't even know how to call a code.  She grabbed the phone from him and did it.  CODE BLUE. The room quickly filled with people.  Tubes.  Wires.  Monitors.  Another tube.  I had to turn away, I couldn't watch.  Then I had to turn back, because you can't NOT watch.

I laid there, feeling so completely helpless.  My legs were still numb from the anesthesia.  I felt as if I was the one who couldn't breathe.  "Go to him," I instructed M.  He tried, but he couldn't, because there were too many people and he was pushed back.  So, he came to me, and held my hand, because now I really couldn't breathe and was hyperventilating.

Another nurse came into the room and to my side.  "Go ahead and cry all you want, Momma," she said, holding my other hand.  I wasn't crying more than gasping, trying to breathe air into him from across the room.

He was pinkening and then they were taking him to NICU.  M went with him.  My parents were there shortly after and sat with me while I cried and worried.  I called our pediatrician who assured me that he was in the best possible place.  They did tests and more tests, ruling out anything serious.  M kept me updated via text as one cause after another was eliminated.  His heart seemed fine; lungs clear; blood infection unlikely. 

And all I kept thinking is that we did not see this coming.  In everything that we worried about, we did not worry about this.  I kept praying for more time with my little boy, for a miracle.

I got my miracle.  The tests never revealed anything at all.  We will have follow up testing done, but at this point, they just think his airway somehow because compromised.  They have no reason to believe it will happen again.  We stayed extra time in the hospital.  It hasn't happened again. 

I will write a more complete birth story later, including of course my latest battle with post c-section constipation (this time, it's personal). But honestly, this was the most important part of it.  Everything else, all of the little details pale in comparison to that moment that Andrew stopped breathing.





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