Saturday, June 25, 2011

Elizabeth "Libby's" Winifred Grace Gap Atwoods most amazing arrival

We are now a family of 5! How amazing! What a blessing! How incredibly unexpect how we got here. The past 5 days have been the most emotional of my life. I have probably cried and sobbed and wished and prayed more than I have at any other point in my life combined. This week has brought ups and downs and has built my faith in a way that I could never have imagined.

I think this story of Libby coming to join us really starts several months ago. Our pregnancy was textbook and 100%-even more than that if possible-healthy and normal up until about 28 weeks along. I felt amazing the entire second trimester. I had lots of energy, I was running and most days I didn't even feel pregnant. Then, practically the day, I turned 28 weeks it all sort of changed. I'm not saying it's all connected but as soon as the 3rd trimester hit, it hit me HARD! All of a sudden my belly was HUGE, I waddled, I had less energy, and on and on. Every pregnancy complaint one could have in the 3rd trimester, I had. I would often stare at my body and wonder how in the world it could possibly get any bigger. When I went in for my 26 week appointment, I measured at 28 cm, which is "big" but completely normal. When I went in for my 30 week appointment, I measured 32.5 cm. Bigger than normal. My midwife kind of raised an eyebrow, felt around for twins and said that she just thought I had "a lot of water". She didn't say it worriedly but somehow I still knew that this was something unusual and maybe indicated something was wrong. I basically put it out of my head and told myself someone's got to have lots of water right? The midwife didn't say it was abnormal so it's okay. Still, I continued to grow very large, larger than normal, larger than either kid, with no explanation why or confirmation that it was okay, healthy and normal.

On Monday of this week, I was 33 weeks 5 days pregnant. My gut told me my baby would be born early-I assumed 36 weeks-and my only goal was to make it the required 2 more weeks so our baby could be born at home. Monday I had some spotting. I called the midwife and she said while it was somewhat worrysome and somewhat abnormal it was okay as long as it wasn't a lot and it stopped. By Tuesday morning it had stopped and I wasn't worried. I figured my cervix was dilating (which it actually was) and getting ready to have an early baby-a 36 weeker. So I wasn't worried. Tuesday night however, I came to suspect that I was leaking amniotic fluid. I went back and forth that night, again, telling myself that lots of women leak for a few weeks and it's okay. In the end on Wednesday morning I told John was was going on and he called the midwife. With her advice, we decided to go to the hospital to have it checked out. I honestly thought it would be a 2 or 3 hour ordeal in which they would test it, agree it was fluid, do and see an normal ultrasound and send me home saying to take it easy and it would be fine. Little did I know it would result in our daughter being born 3 days later.

We got to the hospital and for the most part it went the way I thought. I was indeed leaking fluid but no one really raised too much of an eyebrow. I was sent down for an ultrasound (which was actually the first one I had gotten as we decided not to get a 20 week one). Again, everything "seemed" to be fine. The technician confirmed I had a lot of water. When I pushed her that "that's okay-that's normal...right?" She half-heartedly tried to say that she couldn't make the decision, that the head radiologist needed to make that choice. My inner self knew that it wasn't normal. We went back upstairs and the nurse said that she had talked to the doctor and confirred with the radiologist and there was a "double bubble" on Libby's ultrasound, in her stomach. We had no clue what this was and were still on the hope that although this was obviously not normal, it was minor. We still held on to the hope and belief we'd go home and figure it out there. The changing point was when the nurse gently insisted she check me. She did and found I was 4-5 cm dilated at 34 weeks pregnant. She sort of freaked out at point and insisted I'd be going into labor that afternoon, that we needed to start medicine to stop the labor. I tried over and over to tell her I knew my body and I know it does this-dilates early and a lot-and that I could easily make it 2 more weeks. She didn't believe me. (Needless to say, I still believe I was right.) So after an hour of talking with the midwife and the first round of sobbing, we checked in. We were still convinced this was being blown out of proportion. We hoped that the next day doing an ultrasound would show it was all a mistake, etc and we could go home. We spent Wednesday crying off and on all day, mostly because what was happening-being checked into a hospital, being told something was abnormal, was all 100% contrary to the plans we had for Libby and her coming into the world. She was supposed to be born at home, into my arms and be a healthy baby. She wasn't supposed to be born into a hospital with nurses and tubes and all this other junk going on.

Thursday morning-after 40 minutes of sleep ALL night thanks to an overzealous nurse we named the Natzi (who insisted on coming in to check on us about every 45 minutes-thanks a lot), we thought the ultrasound would show the mistake and we'd go home have the baby at 36 or 37 weeks and then take her back to the hospital and have her evaluated a few hours after her birth. Here's what we learned instead:
1. The ultrasound still showed the double bubble. That combined with the extra fluid told the technician he thought there was a 90% chance Libby had this problem. The double bubble is actually called duodenal atresia. It is a condition where the stomach is not properly formed and results in a baby being completely able to eat or absorb any sort of nutrients. It requires surgery upon discovery. From what I can tell, most people do not pick up this malformation until after birth when a baby projectile vomits and starts to lose weight and dehydrated. It is actually not picked up on a 20 week ultrasound. Without treatment, this condition is deadly. The reason I had so much water was because Libby was unable to swallow her amniotic fluid and regulate her water levels.
2. There was an increase risk that the baby would have downs syndrome.
3. Because I had so much water and was so far dilated and (based on this particular doctor's opinion) the baby was not engaged in the pelvis, if my water broke while not being in a hospital the cord could prolaspe, meaning come out before the baby, which would kill her in about 2 minutes.

So based on all these things, we were given several options:
1. Stay checked in at the hospital and wait for labor to start. The doctor and nurses were convinced I would start on my own, but as we had already been there for over 24 hours and it hadn't I knew and still believe I would be pregnant for 1-2 more weeks.
2. Go home against medical advise and based on my history of fast labors have her at home in which problem 3 above might happen.
3. And then John and I came up with this option which was what we eventually did. Finished the course of steroids to help develop Libby's lungs and induce labor and have her early. We really felt, and still feel, this was the best choice, given the options we were at that point. Since then several doctors have agreed with us that although of course it's better for a baby to stay in longer if it can, we in absolutely no way put her at risk or did her harm by inducing her to come early. A few more days would NOT have helped her nor did inducing her do her any harm at all.

So on Thurdsay at 1 pm I was given the last steriod shot and labor was scheduled to be induced at 1 am. I went back and forth for 12 hours about getting an epidural. I was not looking forward to the pain, I was scared how intense contractions might be from pitocin and being induced and heck, I was actually in a hospital and being offered it so why not? In the end, I told them yes, I would get one, but when they handed me the consent form, with all the possible side effects highlighted, I couldn't do it. What I was afraid of with an epidural (side effects that might last hours or the rest of my life) versus what I was afraid of going naturally again, it was very clear. So I opted out (which wound up being the best choice by far in the end).

At 2 am they started inducing me. We started Pit at a level of 1 and increased it by 1 every half hour. I slept through the entire thing until about 7 am. At 7 am I was only at a level 5 on the pit-1/4 of how high the doctor said I could go and 1/6th the safe max. So still pretty low. I was having regular contractions but not feeling them at all. I was checked and had gone from 6cm at the start of the induction to 7 cm, which was progress but considering my longest labor was 4 hours, we were discouraged and terrified the induction wouldn't work and I'd need a C-section. The doctor upped the Pit and from 7 am til 10 am I went from a level 5 to a level 14. Again, barely feeling the contractions, maybe feeling 3 an hour that required me to simply take a deep breath. (See why I was glad I didn't get the epidural?) At 10:30 the doctor checked me and I was at 8 cm. The head was fully engaged in the pelvis and there was no chance of prolapse. The doctor broke my water at 10:34 am. It was painful and as soon as all the water was out (it actually took 2 punctures to get the water completely broken) a HUGE contraction hit. I started to make some really powerful noises and the room went into high alert. Nurses and doctors rushed in, lights went on, equipment was gotten ready. They knew the baby was coming and coming VERY FAST. After my first real contraction, I rolled over on my side and had another. I pushed with that contraction and called out that I was pushing. The doctor tried to slow my pushing, telling me to breathe and trying to provide some counter pressure to keep baby in a few more minutes. I had my 3rd contraction and pushed again. I told them she was crowning and in the one push I got to her crowning and her head was born. I had my 4th contraction and her body "plopped" out. She was born, At 8 cm dilated, 4 minutes after having my water broken. I pushed her out in 3 pushes and she was born with labor lasting only 4 contractions long. Talk about a short labor!

Libby was born and we were told she was a girl!! I was so thrilled. I wanted a girl! She cried immediately, she pinked up, she was perfect. I got to hold her for about 2 minutes. While I was holding her she made some coughing noises, nothing that was worrisome, but they wanted to get her to the NICU anyway, so she was taken away. About an hour later I got to go see her for about 5 minutes. About 2-3 hours after her birth she was taken to Children's Memorial to get ready for her surgery.

Libby's birth was amazing and unexpected. I still have lots more thoughts on it that need another blog. My mind still swirls. She isn't even 24 hours old yet. In just a few hours we will head to the hospital and I get to finally see my baby girl again. It is so odd to have had this baby inside me, to know she's out and yet my arms are empty. I woke up last night 2x and got to pump instead of nursing my daughter. I cannot wait until she is healthy and home with us.


The Hardys said...

We're praying for you! I can't believe all that you guys have gone through. Good luck with her surgery and everything will turn out great. It must be so difficult to leave Libby at the hospital, but she is in great hands. ::HUGS::

Tiffany Visco said...

You guys are in our thoughts and prayers! Your post brought me to tears because I know exactly what you are going through. God won't hand you anything you can't handle. Sounds like Libby ( LOVE it!) is in great hands. Congratulations on your baby girl and before you know it she will be home. Lots of love and hugs sent your way!

Laura said...

Wow! How scarey. So glad that you were able to be in the hospital so that they could quickly see the problem and tend to you & her. Praying for you all as you await Libby in your arms. What a great name! Love you guys & wish you the best. I can't imagine waiting. Great job, April! *hugs*

splinters and wholeness said...

i am amazed with your ability to connect so naturally with your body and to trust it. you knew exactly what you were doing at all times, and made the best choices possible for you and your beautiful new daughter. your positive thoughts during this stressful time are very inspiring. much love to you guys!!!