Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back to the hospital

On January 16th, when Easton was 4 days old we went in for his second doctor appointment to check his weight, glucose and biliruben levels. The day he was born his glucose was low so I nursed him and they checked again and it had gone down even more. The nurse said that the pediatrician recommended giving formula to get his glucose back up. "Not a chance" was what my mind said. So I asked if I could just nurse him again and prayed that it would work. I barely had any milk (or colostrum really) because I had just nursed him less than an hour before. When they brought him back to me again his glucose was back up in the normal range! My baby boy was able to keep his virgin gut (important for natural bacteria fighting gut flora).

Ok, back to the doctor visit. He weighed  7lb, 10.5oz (up a whole pound from the last appointment two days prior), and was looking healthy as can be! I had brought Grandma Sally with me so that she could have the fun of going to a doctor appointment and meet our pediatrician Dr. Fish. Right before our appointment was done, as a by-the-way, I asked Dr. Fish to look at these little bumps that Sally had noticed on the inside of Easton's lower lip. They looked like little whitehead pimples almost, and varied in size. They didn't seem to bother him, and he nursed fine so I didn't really think anything of it. Dr. Fish took a look and didn't give me the expected response of "oh those are nothing, don't worry about it". Instead he said he was going to get a colleague to take a look too. Dr. Kats-Kelly came in (who had ok'ed our early release from the hospital), and examined them. They exchanged a "look" and then Dr. Fish proceeded to tell us that he wanted us to go straight to the hospital to start anti-viral meds because Easton could have the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). My mind was reeling. I was so confused. I looked at my baby boy and saw a healthy big boy! Dr. Fish said that they would take a culture to see if it really was HSV, but that wouldn't get back for 2-3 days. He wanted to get a head start in case it was HSV. He said with a baby this young things could go downhill very fast. He said something about seizures and the severity of a newborn getting HSV! I really didn't feel comfortable medicating my 4 day old baby boy when we didn't even know if he was sick yet. I voiced my concerns,  but Dr. Fish was adamant about this being the best course of action for Easton's safety.

Some nurses came in to draw blood in order to check his white blood cell count and his liver (two things that would be effected by the virus). They were unable to get a good spot so two more nurses tried. I stood by helpless as they held down my baby boy and repeatedly stuck my little man with needles. Finally the expert nurse came in and through the sea of bodies (there were 3 nurses helping) I noticed they were giving Easton something through a bottle nipple. I quickly asked what it was (no one had even consulted me!), and the expert nurse informed me that it was sugar water which is an analgesic to babies - in other words it helps to deadened pain. Before I could object the deed was done, and I could immediately see that it calmed my baby boy down. There went his virgin gut! But at least he wasn't in as much pain.

Finally an hour and a half since we first got there, they had poked him numerous times, sent blood to the hospital lab to be tested and done a culture which was to be sent out of state. I quickly called Dave to inform him of our dramatic change in plans and dialed my mom right after. She wasn't planning on being in Bozeman for another week and a half. Between tears and sobs I asked her if there was any way for her to come earlier. I just really needed my momma! She said that she was planning on surprising me by coming that weekend. A huge rush of relief flooded over me. It was Wednesday and she would fly in on Friday. I so needed to hear that my mom would be with me in just two more days.

Once home we dropped off Sally to watch Isabel, (thank goodness we had her to help out with Bel!) I threw some things in a bag, then Dave, Easton and I headed back to the hospital. While in the parking lot I still had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing so I called my chiropractor to get her opinion. She said that for no reason would she start ani-viral meds without knowing for sure that a child had a virus. Even then, there are things she can do form a nutritional standpoint for a virus (she is also a licensed nutritionist). A virus would have other symptoms like a fever, which Easton didn't have.

Confused and doubting even more, we called our pediatrician so that Dave could talk directly to him. The doctor said that with this type of virus sometimes the first symptom is a seizure. That was all Dave needed to hear and into the hospital we went.

The little man was poked again to get blood, and an IV was started of the anti-viral meds. Dave and I took turns holding our 4 day old baby while he was hooked up to the IV line. We also took turns getting a couple hours of sleep at a time. The blood tests that had been done earlier at the pediatrician's office came back clear. White cell count was normal, and his liver function was fine.

The silver lining in the whole situation was that at 4:29am on 1.17.13, my wonderful friend, Annie Awe gave life to Mabel O'Neill Awe. I probably would not have had the chance to be a part of the amazing miracle of life had we not already been in the hospital. Little Mabel came into the world at 4lbs 15oz, and was 4 weeks early. She had to join Easton in the NICU. While it was a less than ideal situation for both of us mammas, it was comforting for us to be able to look across the room and see a familiar face in a similar situation.

Thursday morning Dr. Fish came in to check on us and informed us that he had learned that instead of taking 2-3 days for the culture to come back it was going to take 5-7! My heart sank. I was 100% against having my baby boy who was not even a week old, hooked up to heavy duty anti-viral meds for a whole week just to possibly find out that nothing was wrong! (Which is what my mamma gut had been telling me all along.)  The whole time we had been keeping our families updated and in one phone conversation with my mom, she advised getting a second opinion. We asked Dr. Fish to consult a colleague. He said that he would and promised to check back in later.The whole day Dave and I talked about options and what we felt comfortable with. Dave agreed that having him hooked up to an IV for a whole week before even knowing what we were dealing with just didn't make sense. Each time they did blood work (which was a horrible ordeal in-and-of itself!) the results came back completely normal. White blood cell count - normal. Liver function - normal. So when Dr. Fish came back later that evening and told us that we could go home! I felt like our roller coaster ride was finally coming to an end. He and another Dr. agreed that since his blood work kept coming back normal there was no reason to keep him in the hospital. Dr. Fish said that if the test for some reason did come back positive for HSV he would consult the infection disease departments of Children's Hospitals in Denver and Seattle to see if there was an alternative to putting Easton on an IV for 1-2 weeks. We would have another appointment in a couple days to check his jaundice and make sure that the little bumps were going away (they had already decreased significantly since being in the hospital).

I cant even explain the feeling of relief that rushed over Dave and I. After 24 hours in the hospital with little to no sleep, we were going home. Easton wasn't going to get the 4th dose of meds. We were going to sleep in our own bed that night and hug and kiss our Isabel who we hadn't seen in 2 days. We were taking our Easton home for good.

That Monday, we got a phone call telling us that the results came back negative for HSV. We have no idea what caused the little white bumps in his mouth.

Looking back, I wish that we would have asked if we could have just come in each day and have blood work done until the test results came back. His white cell count and liver functions would have been some of the first indicators that something was wrong. I know that with a baby that small one should never take chances, but the protective mama in me just didn't like all those chemicals being pumped into my baby when we didn't have any indicators except for some little bumps that didn't even bother him. I'm thrilled that nothing was wrong, and perhaps I would feel differently if the tests came back positive for HSV - but I do wonder if some of his tummy problems were connected to all the antibiotics that he had at birth and the anti-virals he had in his system just a few days later. In retrospect I know that we made the best decision for our baby boy with the information that we had at the time. He is healthy, growing and happy and that is truly all the matters!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Easton's Birth Story

Right now as I write this I have my precious baby boy snuggled on my chest. Even though he is our second child, the pure amazement of what it means to give birth - to give life to another human being still astounds me.

Easton, this is the story of your birth.

First, we need a little back-story. Easton's due date was January 21st, which was the exact same due date that Annie had with Rowan! Row ended up being born 10 days early on the 11th of January. I joked around with Annie about how ironic it would be if I also delivered on the 11th instead of the expected due date of the 21st. I would say that in total jest because 10 days early was a bit much especially since Isabel was born right on her due date. I had an inkling that he might come early, but I was more thinking the weekend before his due date (the 19th or 20th). Little did I know that my little teasing joke was almost reality!

Wednesday morning (the 9th) I woke up to some contractions. I started timing them and they were somewhat regular, but not at all painful. They did feel different than the braxton hicks I had been having. The funny thing was that they would go away when I got up, but stick around when I was laying down. We called the grandmas to keep them updated, and Sally decided that maybe she should come earlier. Originally she had booked her flight for Monday the 14th, but ended up changing it to Thursday the 10th because we had an inkling that Easton was coming sooner than we thought, especially after our last doctor appointment. The contractions ended up going away, but I knew that we were getting close! Very close.

On Friday we met up with the Awes, Seacats, Spositos and Racicots to celebrate Rowan's 2nd birthday at Terrantino's Pizza. The kids had fun playing arcade games with the dads, while the moms talked about the crazy and funny things involved with pregnancy (turns out every single mom was pregnant even though we didn't know about Katie just yet!). Before digging into my pre-pizza salad I ran off to the bathroom to wash my hands and of course empty my bladder (an almost hourly necessity). Before I sat back down I felt a little bit of liquid plop out. I went back to the bathroom thinking that maybe I hadn't emptied my bladder as well as I thought (slight loss of bladder control is pretty common during pregnancy - just one of those crazy and funny things!). I didn't have to pee anymore, and I could tell that the liquid was clear and didn't smell or look like urine. I wondered if I had a high tear in my bag of waters like Auntie Hannah had with Lilly Geanne. I went back to the table and told Dave and Sally what had happened. Dave, needing to be super dad and take charge of the situation, called our midwife Cassie to see what she thought. I of course ended up needing to talk to Cassie myself. As I was explaining to her what had transpired a few more plops of liquid came out while I was on the phone with her. She said that it sounded like my water had broken! She gave us 4 hours to have contractions start and we were to call in to her at 10:30pm. If labor was underway we could stay at home until I couldn't talk through the contractions. If labor didn't start by that time we were to go into the hospital.

I went back to the table and announced to all our friends that my water had broken and we were going to skedaddle early. (I was slightly relieved because I hadn't finished Rowan's birthday present, so we pretty much crashed the party empty handed anyway.)

The last photo of Annie and I pregnant together, right before we left the party!

When we got home I changed and took a shower while Grandma and daddy got Isabel ready for bed. Once she was in her "night-night time" Dave and I decided to go to the mall to walk around and see if we could get some contractions going. After an hour of walking laps in the sleepy and deserted Bozeman mall (and one discounted pretzel later) we went home. We were able to get some contractions going, but they still weren't super regular and just crampy, not painful. After calling Cassie, she said we could wait and get some rest, but that we were to meet her at the hospital at 12:30. That was 6 hours after my water had broken.

Little rest was to be had as I worried about my body's ability to get contractions going on its own. I didn't know what was in store for us at the hospital as far as interventions went because I longed to have a medication free birth this time (I had a dose of fentanyl with Isabel). I already knew it woudn't be completely un-medicated because I tested positive for Group B Strep so I was going to have an IV of antibiotics as soon as we walked through the hospital doors.

In the blink of an eye it was 12:30am and we loaded up for Bozeman Deaconess. I was excited to meet my little boy, and curious how his birth story was going to play out! We met Cassie there, got check in and settled in to our spacious room that even had a little living room/sitting area! She checked me and I was at a 5. Two more centimeters than the last time she had checked me that Tuesday. So those crampy contractions were doing something! I was surprised because with Isabel I was also dilated to 5cm when I was admitted, but I had been having painful labor (the kind you can't talk through, but have to moan) for 7 hours! It was pretty nice to know that by definition I was in "active" labor with minimal pain.

More walking was the first thing we did to try to get labor underway. But just as before it didn't do much. The birthing ball didn't help nor nipple stimulation (sorry if that's TMI, but it does really work when done right!). At about 2 or 3am Cassie checked back in with us and I didn't have anything new to report. So the pitocin conversation was to be had. Pitocin was one of my worst fears. I have heard so many stories of it getting labor going way too fast for your body to catch up to and then women not being able to handle the mega contractions and ending up getting an epidural. Then of course my mind reals from epidural to c-section. Crazy I know, but it does happen. I told Cassie all my fears and not wanting any more chemicals in my body then needed. She said that since it had been about 8 hours since my water first broke that labor wasn't likely to start on its own until infection had set in. Obviously I didn't want to risk infection with my baby. Cassie assured me that they would start me on the lowest possible dose of pitocin and gradually increase it until my body took over. Feeling like we had exhausted all of our hospital options I agreed. I knew that for some women it can take 24+ hours for labor to kick in after their water breaks, but since we were in a hospital they also have their liability rules. Only later did I find out from my chiropractor that cod liver oil is really good at inducing labor! Cassie said we could start it right then, or wait a few hours, rest up, and start in at 6 in the morning (12 full hours post water breaking). Not knowing what kind of labor was ahead for me I opted for getting some rest and waiting a few hours. Dave konked out on the couch and I tried in vain to sleep. I was still having some contractions, but they were just like before - only cramp and irregular. But they were just enough to keep me awake, along with worrying about what I was in store for. Like anyone else would have done in my situation, I played solitaire on the iPad to pass the time ;-)

6:00am - January 12th. Cassie came in with some toast (I love that she let me eat pretty much whatever I wanted!) and she checked me to see where I was at. 6+ was her conclusion. I commented to her that we had been there for 6 hours and I had only progressed 1cm! She said, "Look at it this way. You are almost to 7cm and haven't really even been in pain yet." Ha! Good point!!! But of course being pain free wasn't going to last long. Within an hour of getting pitocin I was needing to breath through contractions. I started out on the birthing ball, and didn't need too much assistance at first. Each wave would come and go and I focused on keeping my jaw loose (weirdly enough your jaw is directly connected to your pelvis somehow), and the rest of my body relaxed. After a little while I got into the tub and was soothed by the warm water, jet bubbles and lavender oil. Once it wasn't comfortable to sit on the hard tub anymore I went back to the birthing ball. Somewhere in there I had another dose of antibiotics and had to sit in the bed. Once I was free again, it was back to the tub!

I'm not sure what time the moans started. It was almost like I was releasing the pain out of my body through sound. With each surge I visualized sitting on the beach at the Oregon Coast watching the waves come crashing in. Its amazing to me how the force and power of the pounding surf can also be so relaxing. I willed the force and power of the contractions to relax my body too. Dave was always right by my side with each contraction reminding me to relax and encouraging me in my ability to birth. Alongside Dave was Cassie. She showed him how to rub my back and gave pointers for a more comfortable position. It was comforting to be sitting on the birthing ball while leaning back into the arms of my husband. Around 11 Cassie checked me again and I was almost to 10cm! There was just one lip of cervix in the way. I got on the bed on all fours to help the cervix get out of the way and let my baby out! A little while later I started to push just to see how it felt. It did help with the pain of the contractions somewhat. I stayed in that position and pushed, pushed, pushed! With Isabel I was so tired and worn out from my 20+ hr labor that pushing wasn't that intense (also might have been why it took 3 hours!). This time it didn't feel so good. I let out a few roars and Cassie gently reminded me to harness that energy and use it to push my baby out (in other words, don't yell). A few times I could feel that baby boy descend a little lower. Other times I didn't even want to push so I would wait for the next contraction. After about 10-15 minutes of pushing in that position Cassie asked me if I wanted to turn around so I could get some more powerful pushes. Now in the typical birthing position I was able to hold my legs and really give 'er. "I see blond hair" was not what I expected Cassie to say as our baby boy's head came into view. Dave wasn't going to look this time, but after hearing that, he had to see this phenomenon for himself! That made me all the more eager to hold my blond baby boy in my arms! A couple pushes later and Cassie instructed me to listen very closely and do just what she told me. After another surge she instructed me to hold up - I was so focused on getting rid of the horrible "ring of fire" that I almost didn't hear her. She said it again, and it took quite a bit of control to not push and wait for my skin to stretch slowly. She gave me the ok to push and Easton was born!

As my baby boy was handed to me the first thing I said was "He is so big!" Cassie and all the nurses had been guessing a 7lb baby, and I agreed because I hadn't gained as much weigh this time, and his due date was still 9 days away! But this was no 7 pounder! My next thought was that he looked like a little old man with all those wrinkles. He smelled so good and felt marvelous against my skin. With teary eyes his daddy said hello to him for the first time. He was perfect. Beyond perfect. When he wanted to nurse he latched on nice and strong. It was over an hour later that I gave him up to be weighed. 8lbs 4oz, 21in long. He was a big healthy boy!

Grandma Sally was the first to come in and meet the little man. A little bit later Annie and Sam followed. There were smiles galore as we marveled over this new little life.

Easton Antonio Brinker, you were born at 11:37am, January 12th, 2013, after only 5 hours of hard labor, and 20 minutes of pushing. You were born posterior like your big sister. While it wasn't the labor and delivery that I had envisioned, the outcome is truly what matters. You are a healthy boy and the perfect addition to our family. Your big sister loves to give you kisses and asks to "Hold him" every day. Just when I think you are the most handsome baby boy I have every seen, you get cuter the next moment I look at you. You are pretty easy going like your dad, and life is perfect when someone is holding you. You sleep well at night even though you wake up to nurse every 2 hours. I can't imagine how I could love you more, yet each day you steal more of my heart.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

38 weeks

Today we had our 38 week appointment. Easton's hearbeat was perfect, and our midwife Cassie felt around and guessed between a 6.5 and 7lb baby, which sounded about right to me being that his due date is still two weeks away. The big surprise came when she checked me and I was already 3cm dilated and 80% effaced! We were not expecting that! I have had the feeling all along that he will arrive before his due date of January 21st, but he might be here sooner than I thought!

Being that we might meet this little guy sooner than later, I am feeling the pressure to get his room done! Even though we are still 2 weeks away from his due date I still have so much to do!

Clothes are washed and folded, but they have no where to go!

Easton's room is a construction zone right now

Almost done with the dresser and need to paint the walls and crib

For my own sanity, I hope my little man holds off on making his appearance for a little while longer because this mama has so much left to do!!!