Monday, November 16, 2009

"My Story..." Monday: The Longest Fifteen Minutes, part 1

So, here's what happened between the "big gush of blood" and the birth of my micropreemie...

I was reading back through my birth story, something I hadn't done for quite some time. It is by far my most-read post and one that I am proud of, though I admit to whipping it out in about fifteen minutes in order to get it linked up over at Fishmama's place. As I read through it, I realized what a, well, BIG story it is. There's just so much to it. I'm happy that I was able to make it fairly concise, but there are also a whole lot of holes in it. Today I want to tell about what happened after I realized I was "bleeding... a lot" and when they actually rolled me away to the OR.

First of all, I was very lucky that my husband was back at the hospital with me. He had just returned from his sister's house- the sister who was watching our 10-month old for us. Because I had finally- finally- started to drift off to sleep, he took his boots off outside the door (cowboy boots, that is... if you ever come to Connecticut, my hubby will be the bank manager in a shirt and tie and polished boots) so as not to wake me. I woke anyway. I always wake up, light sleeper that I am.

When the nurse came in to ask me to shift positions, I complied easily enough and she headed right back out the door. And that's when I felt it. A very sudden, very hot, very suspicious feeling gush. I had had my water break spontaneously before and this was NOT that kind of feeling. I told T. I was pretty sure I was bleeding- a lot. He, and then the nurse and then the high-risk OB, all confirmed that I was. I later learned that they estimated that I lost two units of blood right then.

When the high-risk OB fellow came in the room, he turned on a blinding light that was like a spotlight. I could actually FEEL the heat from over eight feet away on my skin. He needed excellent light because he didn't want to manually "check" me- any manipulation could have pushed me further into labor. A visual check revealed that I was completely dilated- all 10 cm- despite never having felt a single contraction.

Immediately upon seeing how progressed I was, the doctor did an ultrasound (there was an ultrasound machine in my room... they try to be prepared in the OB ICU) to see how the baby was doing and what position she happened to be in. Not surprisingly, she was still head up (I was not yet 24 weeks pregnant, after all), in a position called "footling breech". She showed no signs of distress.

The doctor walked up by my head, grabbed my hand, and looked me straight in the eye:

"This is when I ask you if you want to have a c-section."

I didn't get the chance to answer him right then because a whole parade of doctors came in. We already had my two high risk OB nurses, the high risk OB fellow, and two residents. In walked the head of high-risk obstetrics who had been paged when my situation was assessed. Also entering the room were a pair of neo-natologists and a developmental pediatrician.

And they all started talking.

"Your baby's odds are not very good."

"This type of surgery holds significant risks for YOU."

"There are no guarantees that the c-section will keep the baby alive."

"You may well have to make hard decisions..."

"Do you want us to intercede or would you rather hold your baby and let her pass?"

"At what point shall we discontinue support?"

"You'll have to have general anesthesia, which is dangerous in and of itself..."

"All told, your baby's chance of survival is less than ten percent over the next 48 hours..."

"You need to be aware of the severe disabilities you may well be facing... blindness, hearing loss, cerebral palsy... "

It all took maybe five minutes. Our heads were spinning. By some fluke, as the doctors conferred for a short moment, I had a couple seconds to speak to just my husband. I pulled him down by me and said,

"We have to do this. And whatever happens in there, I want you to be the one to make sure they do whatever they have to do to give this baby his or her best shot. Whatever that means regarding me..."

Truth? He never agreed to that. Nor did he disagree. The fact that I had been able to say it was enough for me.

Apparently all the doctors had nominated the head of high risk obstetrics to be the designated speaker at this point, so she said to me,

"Do you want to have the c-section? Or would your rather just have a vaginal delivery? A vaginal delivery would be far easier on your body- the baby will probably just slide out- and there's not a real guarantee that the c-section will make a difference. Less trauma for such a tiny baby, yes, but no guarantee..."

I mean no disrespect here- because she was a very wise doctor- but she was also very concerned with covering their tails, I believe.

I looked around the room to gauge the reactions of the others.

Only the fellow met my eye.

He walked up to me, took my hand and again looked straight at me as he said,

"A classical c-section is your baby's best shot."

God bless him.

That's all I needed to hear...
... to be cont.

It may have only been fifteen minutes, but a whole lot happened!


Bloggin' Mama said...

I can't imagine having all of that information thrown at me in such a short time and then be expected to make a decision.

I am so grateful you are writing this series and pray that it helps people who are in a similar situation and/or helps those who know someone on this difficult journey know what to say or how to help.

Amy @ Finer Things said...

Thank goodness for that ONE doctor.

Heather Benza said...

I am glad we had 2 whole weeks to talk to neonatologists and social workers while I was an inpatient. And 24 hours notice that we were going to do a c section. At 27 weeks my perinatologist said if we make it to 28 weeks we no longer really worry about death, so vaginal delivery wasn't an option since he was 29 weeks and showing signs of distress. It seemed like a whirlwind at the time but clearly we had an eternity compared to you!!

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