Friday, June 22, 2012

A journey like no other

In some circles, babies born to families after the loss of a child are referred to as "Rainbow Babies." The idea is that the baby is like a rainbow after a storm. A Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

On May 22 we welcomed our little rainbow baby to the world, Teagan Violet Marie.

Some day, I'll be able to tell a teenage Teagan that I was in labour with her for over two months. Beginning at 28 weeks, I started having contractions and was put on strict bed rest. We were in and out of hospital, sometimes staying for a week and other times released within hours. We were even transferred by ambulance with lights and sirens wailing to a larger hospital when her entrance seemed imminent around 32 weeks.

I came off of bedrest at 35 weeks. It was such a glorious feeling to be able to walk around and complete simple tasks. The contractions continued, but never progressed to full-on labour.

At 36 weeks, I was at the grocery store picking up dinner supplies when I felt a small gush that stopped me dead in my tracks. My brain rambled through the possible causes and decided it simply couldn't be my water. I took another step and was rewarded with another gush. I quickly gathered my items and checked out. When I returned home, I told Adam that I was pretty sure my water was leaking. He asked what we should do and I decided that a wait and see approach was probably best. If it was my water, my contractions should pick up shortly, right?

I slept fitfully through the night without any notable contractions. The next day the leaking continued, but my body produced no other hint that labour was imminent. I waited until my in-laws arrived around noon before calling my midwives to report my situation.

Unfortunately, my laid back approach bit me in the butt. My midwife team was all on vacation for the weekend and with 18 hours elapsing since the break and it being PROM (premature rupture of membranes), the stand-in midwives abruptly transfered my care to the OB on call at the hospital. After building a trusting relationship for my VBAC journey for seven months, my care was now in the hands of a doctor I'd never met and who had no idea about our heartbreaking journey to get to this point. They confirmed that the fluid was amniotic in nature and began preparing for an induction.

While nipple stimulation could produce some pretty strong contractions, they weren't consistent and failed to make any changes in my cervix. Instead I was hooked up to the dreaded Pitocin to kick my body into gear.

Within a few hours I was having regular, painful contractions every four minutes. Unfortunately, they still couldn't budge my cervix of steel. With me still recovering from pneumonia and kidney stones, it all felt too overwhelming and draining. I knew that I couldn't endure labour naturally if I wanted to have any energy left to push so I asked for an epidural to buy myself some sleep and conserve strength.

By about midnight, I was 5cm dilated and the pitocin was maxed out. That's where we stayed for nearly two hours. My nurse noticed some troubling patterns in baby's heart rate around this time. It was hard to keep a constant monitor on her heart as she kept shying away from the machine so the doctor performed a few tests to determine her stress level and health. They all came back within normal range, but they decided to put in a fetal scalp monitor to more closely and accurately monitor her heart rate. She wasn't hooked up for five minutes before they realized that her heart was going from the 140's down to the 70's for almost a minute.

It was at this moment that fear gripped my heart that we were going to lose her. We'd had so many scares along the way, but this seemed like the real deal. I was certain that I would deliver a stillborn baby.

The next half an hour are a blur. A c-section was announced and everyone in the room flew into action. An oxygen mask was placed on my face and I was given nitrous under my tongue to stop the contractions. They placed my on a gurney and practically jogged down the hall to the elevators. I was in the OR being prepped within minutes.

I'd had a c-section with Felicity (due to her brow presentation), so I thought I knew what to expect. I didn't. This was a true emergency section. There was no music or banter or calming words. Everyone in the room was rushing and shouting technical terms and instructions. Instruments clanked and machines beeped as I lay behind my blue curtain. After what felt like an eternity, Adam was seated next to my head. I held his hand as tightly as I could.

Though I was neatly filleted, the doctor couldn't manage to grasp Teagan's head to pull her out. The clock continued to tick and I could feel the tension in the room rising. Apparently even three doses of nitrous couldn't stop my uterus from squeezing with all it's might and Teagan's head had wedged deep in my pelvis. The Pitocin had worked a little too well. The OB then decided to slice me vertically (making a T-incision) and remove Teagan by her feet. The doctor was swearing and panting and lifting my body off the table with her efforts. I was terrified and completely panicked. Finally the doctor was able to get her body out and she flipped the baby's torso onto my belly, head still firmly wedged inside. At this point, my midwives (who were observing) thought that we may have lost the baby (though they didn't tell me this).

With some very firm pulling, they finally managed to free her from my womb - six minutes after surgery began. They rushed her to the warming table and the silence in the room was deafening. No tiny cries pierced the silence. No gurgling or coughing. I watched in horror as my baby lay on the warming table, being bagged to get oxygen into her lungs. Her limbs lay limp. After what felt like an eternity, a tiny mew escaped. Adam and I both burst into sobs. Our baby girl was alive!

They took Teagan to the NICU and Adam stayed with her. I went to the recovery room for what seemed like forever. In reality it was nearly three hours before I was released to go upstairs and meet my daughter. When we reached the labour ward, my mum was perched on the benches looking very tired and very drawn. She had been waiting for five hours to see her daughter. We only had to look at one another for the tears to burst forth again. It was now 7am.

The nurses understood my panic and fear and brought my baby girl to me to hold and love over. Adam called from home (where he was getting the children ready for school) and we decided together that her name would be Teagan Violet Marie. She was tiny, 5lbs 8ozs, and peaceful and perfect. While it was quite the journey to bring her into the world, she was well worth the trauma.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It brings tears to my eyes remembering the overwhelming emotions of that night and morning and that mummy radar working overtime when they whisked you away. But we have been blessed with a beautiful granddaughter that one day I am sure will be told the story of her rather traumatic introduction to this world. And my beautiful daughter is once again a mother. Hayden, Felicity and Teagan are so lucky to have you.
Mummy Mugs