HOCKEY & A BABY (PART II)
I was so relieved that Jed was still head down and that I could attempt to deliver him naturally. The thought of having to endure a c-section after all I had already gone through the last 5 days would’ve just been the icing on the cake.
I remember when the nurse came in and started the Pitocin. My contractions at that point weren’t too strong yet and they were coming maybe once every half hour. The debate as to whether or not I should get the epidural went on for a while. With Jed being so small, did I really need this? Maybe, maybe not. Ultimately, I decided that I would get it because I didn’t know what kind of pain I would possibly be experiencing or how long I would be pushing for. I didn’t want to get tired and then have to be wheeled into surgery, so during that window of opportunity to get the epidural, I did. I can go into detail here but it really wasn’t that bad. The pinch was quick, burning sensation was fast and I could now control my pain with the push of a button– pretty cool!
There were certain precautions taken that got me really nervous. For one, I had a perfectly good IV in but the doctors ordered the nurses to add a second one in case I needed blood. Huh!? Were they expecting me to start bleeding heavily? The doctors explained that there was a risk of me hemorrhaging during delivery. I was terrified out of my mind but Jed was my focus. I had to gather strength from anyplace I could summon it from and push on through. Secondly, they gave me an oxygen mask. I still don’t know what the exact purpose of that was. I suppose it’s because oxygenation is important if anything would go wrong. Breathing is also key in delivery and perhaps they wanted to make sure I was getting enough oxygen to the baby.
As my contractions started getting closer together, the pain was getting stronger. I was experiencing them every 15 minutes now but the pain still wasn’t bad enough to utilize the epidural. I told myself I would wait until I got a horrible one and not use it if I didn’t need it. My mom and husband were with me, waiting patiently. My mom was actually really enjoying watching the monitor registering my contractions. She was timing them for me and telling me we were getting closer to game time.
Ideally you would need to be 10 cm dilated before you could start pushing, but with Jed being so small, I don’t think 10 was necessary. I finally got that horrible contraction that made me push my epidural button and that’s when I knew it was time. I was only about 5 cm dilated when we called the doctor in. She checked me and said, “It’s time. He’s coming!”.
By now, Jeffrey was anxiously pacing back and forth and my mother could not stop staring at the monitor. The room filled so incredibly quickly with people. It went from three of us to about ten in the blink of an eye. They swarmed in like worker bees and soon there was a whole delivery team for me and a whole NICU team for Jed.
At 12:12 pm, after just two deep breaths and eight strong pushes, we welcomed Jed into the world. To everyone’s surprise and relief, he came out crying. Blue as a blueberry, but crying his little lungs out! I didn’t get to see him up close, hold him, touch him or anything that a mother would expect after delivery. He was taken to a corner of the room where the NICU team assessed and stabilized him. Meanwhile, the doctor is pressing down on my stomach as I delivered my placenta. She asked me if I wanted to see it, along with the abrasion that had been causing my bleeding. No thanks!
Nine out of ten.
That was Jed’s APGAR score. NINE OUT OF TEN! Is that even possible for a baby born at 24 weeks? We cried when we heard and were in awe. Knowing how early he was, we weren’t expecting this at all and felt extremely blessed.
If you don’t know what an APGAR score is, it’s basically the way they measure the physical condition of a newborn. A is for activity (how much he’s moving), P is for Pulse (heart rate), G is for Grimace (reflexes), A is for Appearance (color) and R is for Respiration (breathing). The highest score you can get in each category is two. Jed scored two in every single one of them except color (he got a one). I told you, he was a blueberry. Other than that, he was very active, had a strong heart beat and best of all, was breathing so well that he didn’t need to be intubated.
For those unfamiliar with the terms, intubation is the placement of a flexible plastic tube into the trachea to maintain an open airway and blow pressurized oxygen into the lungs. This is usually the case with micro-preemies as they can’t breath on their own yet, but thankfully, what Jed required was a CPAP. This is a less invasive and less intense method in which your baby does all of their own breathing, but the machine helps keep the lungs open in between breaths. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which comes in the form of prongs in the nose (some hospitals use masks). Jed being put on the CPAP was truly a miracle and definitely something to celebrate!
Empty Belly, Empty Arms.
I didn’t get to meet Jed before he was whisked away to the NICU. I found myself suddenly laying there, empty belly, empty arms. Did I just give birth? It’s hard to believe because you haven’t even seen your baby. You haven’t met the child that’s been sharing a body with you the last 6 months. A piece of you has been ripped out and you don’t even know where they took him or how he’s doing. Obviously, I told Jeffrey to follow him and make sure he stayed with him wherever he went as I couldn’t.
I’m incredibly grateful for the people that surrounded us that day. One of the nurses gave me his footprints and also the first blanket they wrapped him in. He also took my phone and while they were stabilizing him, he was taking pictures for me. After all was said and done and I was alone in the room, without my baby, this was all I had– pictures, footprints and a blanket. Little did we know that all of the doctors and the nurses in that room with us that day would become an extended part of our family. Strangers at the moment, but now we’ll never be able to forget them as they were crucial in Jed’s stay in the NICU.
I remember anxiously waiting as Jeffrey came back into the room. He looked at me and said, “He’s beautiful”. We stared in awe at pictures of him and were amazed at how strong he looked even at a minuscule 13 inches and 1 lb 7 oz. His little muscles made him look like a tiny man and his skin tone and texture made him appear like a red gummy bear– ha ha! I was scared that our son would look fragile and sick, but thankfully, he didn’t– not one bit. At least not that first day. The upcoming days are a different story.
My next post will be about the moment I met Jed, three hours after giving birth to him and the tiny miracle that awaited us in the NICU, a tiny miracle that is 11 lbs today at just over 2 months adjusted. God is good!