If you tend to be a little squeamish about medical stuff, you might want to skip this email. If you're a mom yourself, you might be rather interested. : )
We arrived at the hospital on Thursday at 6:00 AM as scheduled. Since we'd been at the hospital last week, there was hardly any paperwork to do, just signatures for all the procedures and possible procedures.
We started off very hopeful that I'd be able to deliver vaginally. Keegan's little stubborn head was DOWN, so there was not even a need for the version! So, right away, I was given an IV to keep fluids moving, my water was broken and cervix stripped (so fun!), a catheter put in (so special!) and the epidural started. This was the first time I'd received an epidural without already being in labor. The anesthesiologist had to do it twice because the first one hit a blood vessel. While he was doing it, I felt very fuzzy headed; I could have just laid down right then and there for a little nap. Fortunately, that cleared away and the epidural started its important job. I laid back down in that Oh, so comfy hospital bed knowing I was in it for the long haul.
Pitocin was started soon after that.
The nurse discovered that there was meconium (baby poop) in my amniotic fluid. The OB told me not to worry, that it's actually quite common. So I tried not to worry.
I started slowly dilating. Not unusual for me. By late afternoon, I was at about four. I was getting a little discouraged, and was expecting the OB to call off the induction and go for the c-section, but she surprised me and said that baby looked good, things were progressing, and we could go on.
A monitor was put on baby's scalp and inside my uterus to more accurately keep track of heartbeat and contractions. Except the nurse ended up accidentally stabbing herself with the scalp monitor instead. So I had to agree to give a blood sample to prove that I didn't have AIDS. Otherwise, she'd have to take a month's worth of very serious medication to counteract the possibility -- hospital policy. The only thing was that I had no blood to give! It's always hard to get blood from me even under the best of circumstances, but after already being poked and prodded for blood to set up for labor, the nurse had to literally get blood from my FOOT! This actually ended up working out very nicely because my feet were partially anesthetized from the epidural! So she was able to get her blood sample, all the while apologizing for causing me more pain! I'm happy to report that I do not have AIDS. : )
Anyway, I buckled down for more labor. The contractions didn't hurt, even as I headed toward five centimeters, but the sitting and laying only on my back for what amounted to 18 hours sure did! I don't know if my rear end is ever going to be the same again!
Finally toward the end of those 18 hours, Keegan's heart was starting to show signs of possible problems. He was not technically in distress, but his heart was dipping with each contractions and not coming back up like it should, AND he was no where near the birth canal. Even though he was head down, he was still floating up near my ribs. I think my uterus was just too tired to contract the Little Man back down to where he needed to be.
So the doctor finally called it. It was time for my first C-section. It was a little surreal getting wheeled off to the operating room. The lights were so bright and everything was bright white and blue. It looked a lot like a scene out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I kept expecting Umpa Lumpas to come on in and sing me a song.
Keith was brought in right as they began surgery. He stood and watched most of the procedure. I was glad to be behind the curtain myself. They had to do a lot of pulling and tugging to get Keegan down to the incision. "Lots of pressure" was quite an accurate phrase. At one point, the nurse watching over me said, "It's going to feel like an army is stomping on your chest." And it did.
The OB said I have the most elastic uterus she's ever seen. I'm special, I guess!
Just minutes into the C-section, I got the privilege of hearing Keegan's first cries. Apparently he had a TON of meconium all over him. So did the placenta. He had kept quite busy in there waiting to be born! Poor guy. I didn't get to see him for at least 10 minutes while they endeavored to clean him up and do a quick check on his overall health. But then I did get to see him and was so surprised that he didn't look like my other kids much at all. He did look like Keith, but just a little.
Keith agreed and told me what I hadn't been able to figure out immediately, "He looks like your Dad!"
Ha! How about that! That means he looks like me! Kylie looks quite a bit like my Dad, too, but being a girl makes it not as obvious. It will be interesting to see how he develops.
We were all also very interested in finding out how much he weighed, given that more than a week ago he was measuring 8 lbs, 8 oz on the ultrasound measurements. Turns out the ultrasound wasn't too far off. He topped the scales at 8 lbs, 13 oz and 21 inches long -- the biggest Johnson yet! By about three ounces, but still a pretty big boy. He looks pretty mature for his age. I think he was just as ready to be born as I was ready to have him born!
Nurses then whisked him off to the nursery for further care. Keith went with them and watched as they sucked out more meconium out of his stomach. Poor guy! They checked his blood sugar levels and all looked pretty good there. They even gave him an ounce of formula which he promptly threw up, probably given that he'd just had his tummy rinsed out. Then, he was brought back to the room where I was recovering. It was so nice to see him so soon after the c-section, knowing that he'd not had trouble with breathing in the meconium or any other serious thing that might require the NICU.
By 4:00 AM, one of the nurses came in, "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that there's a room ready for you finally in post-partum! The bad news is that I have to draw one more sample of blood! I PROMISE it will be the last one!"
After much poking and prodding and puncturing and bruising, she finally had to take it out of my foot (third try!) I literally had no blood left, I guess. I said, "Don't worry. At least if a vampire ever comes after me, I'll be safe."
Keith went on his way back home to rest, and I went to post-partum to do the same. It was HEAVENLY to be able to sleep on my back without anything sticking in or out of me (except for catheter and leg thingies keeping my blood circulating well)and just sleep. HEAVENLY. I also didn't need any Tums to sleep either. The nursery took the baby through the night and into the morning, since I couldn't get out of bed until I was walking.
When Keith came in the afternoon, he brought the baby out from the nursery and fed him and burped him and changed his diaper. Meanwhile, I took that long trip over to the bathroom for my first big walk. It was made a lot more painful than usual because my uterus was contracting in a mighty way AND I had diarrhea. (Every new mother has a contracting uterus. It doesn't usually hurt for the first baby, but for every subsequent baby, it hurts more and more . . . labor pains in reverse!) The c-section incision pain was secondary to the cramping. I was quick to get my pain medication! Oh, yes I was. But I survived and ended up sleeping very well on the second night at Hotel Piedmont.
Today, I continued to make sure I was walking and drinking and resting (according to OB instructions). I've learned how to order meals from the cafeteria. Breakfast consisted first of all of a bowl of prunes! I may have had to deal with some very uncomfortable diarrhea the night before, but it would be nothing compared to the OTHER issue that could arise if I didn't take precautions!
And I got very happy news about visitor restrictions. Just this Thursday, the day I got there, they restrictions have been lifted. H1N1 has been waining! This means that the kids got to all come over to see the baby and hold him. Keva stayed with Ginny to make it a little easier for all involved, and then Ginny came later to sit and visit and hold and feed the baby. It was a very nice relaxing day.
Keith also brought me the laptop, knowing that I'd be quite happy to be hooked up to email and facebook again! Yay! I hadn't known that he'd been keeping updates on facebook for me, except for that last one. It was a kick to read them all and see everyone's comments and concerns and prayers and elation. What a joy it has been to share this experience with friends and family all across the country!
I'll be here at the hospital through Monday. That should give me enough time to do the harder recovery. Keith goes back to work on Monday but should be done in time to bring Keegan and me home. Ginny leaves on Tuesday. It wasn't one of her regular visits, but it sure was nice to know someone was there for the kids, especially Keva! Thanks so much Ginny!
And thank you so much everyone for so many well wishes, meals, gifts. We are so blessed by our dear family and friends!
I was supposed to go to the hospital today to have the baby, one way or another, but through a series of events find that I'm having to wait until Thursday, the 21st. I just about broke into tears when the doctor told me that, but held it together, got a hug from Keith and headed home to regroup. While I sat on the couch later that afternoon, I watched footage of a Haitian woman in labor in the makeshift tents in Port-au-Prince, and decided that maybe I was feeling just a bit too sorry for myself. I am now very thankful that I have easy access to doctors, the hospital, my own refrigerator, water and shelter. I am blessed!
So now I look toward Thursday morning. I'm actually kind of enjoying these last few days of quiet freedom. The kids are home on a three day weekend, even Keri Lynn. Everyone has been a big help with the basic maintenance. They don't exactly jump around doing dishes and laundry at the drop of a hat, but they do help when asked without too much complaining!
We've had some baby things trickling in from friends and family. Such fun! We got a used stroller and car seat from my friend Lisa. Kylie, Kade and Konner were all fighting over the chance to run the stroller all around the house -- they've never been on the driving end of a stroller before! Lisa also made us a delicious dinner that we very much enjoyed today after church. It came with a birthday cake for Keegan. So cute!
Keri Lynn goes back to school tomorrow evening. With the exception of the time she'll be here for Keegan's arrival, she'll be gone quite a bit after that. I miss her already and she isn't even gone!
Kristofer, Kathleen and Kylie all participated in a mass choir festival on Friday and Saturday. Then this morning, they sang five of their six songs in church. I wish I could have been there, but once again I had a late night, finally getting to sleep at about 4:00 AM and sleeping until noon. Not exactly a hard life, but I do miss a lot of productivity during the day. It will be weird to get back to a normal bedtime routine, or at least as normal a bedtime routine as one can have with a newborn!
Keith starts his second week of vacation this week. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on Keegan's whims, Ginny will come to help for a whole week. She shifted her time by a few days to accommodate our revised schedule. She'll help get kids on the bus, organize meals that are coming in and even cook some meals to freeze. I am very thankful!
I finally pegged someone down at the OB office that my date to go to the hospital is indeed Sunday, the 17th. FIVE DAYS! WHOOOO-HOOOO! I'm not anxious or anything. At all. Nope.
The plan is to go in, get an IV and epidural in place, have the doctor turn the baby's head in the proper direction for birth and have the baby! If there are any complications, the staff is on stand-by for a c-section.
I've been experiencing some swelling in my legs and feet in the last 24 hours, so I'm trying to take it easy. This is hard because I'm trying to tidy things up for when I'm gone to the hospital. Still, the kids are available to order around, and that's exactly what I've been doing. Keith just told Kristofer and Kathleen that they need to do dishes every night for a while, including the never-ending pots and pans that need to be hand washed.
Last night, I wrote up a list of people to call before and after birth. I still haven't packed my bag yet. Need to do that, considering Keegan might foil all the plans and come on his own earlier. I've been experiencing mild contractions for a couple of days now. Saturday night was the longest stint, with contractions every 10 minutes for about six hours. I knew from experience, though, that it was nothing to call the doctor about. I have particularly poky labor until I finally reach active labor, then things tend to move along quickly.
Keri Lynn went back to school on Sunday. She is enjoying seeing all of her friends and is excited to be back in a routine, especially since she doesn't have any early morning classes. (She is her mother's daughter, after all.)
Kristofer skated through his first semester of his junior year with fairly easy classes. This semester is a whole different ballgame with physics and geometry as the two big classes on his plate. He's going to have to really study on a regular basis!
My friend Ginny from Florida is coming up on the 16th to help with the home front for a whole week. And since this weekend is also a holiday weekend, Keri Lynn will probably come home to see the baby then, too, since she doesn't have to go back until Monday night. She'll be only sibling old enough to come and see the baby and actually hold him. The rest will have to be happy with looking at the baby through the nursery windows. Kathleen is unhappy about this, but the rest of the kids really don't care!
I was really pleased with the change in hospitals after Keith and I talked it over with the perinatologist. The second hospital is a lot closer and able to deal with my various issues with ease. If for some reason I do end up having complications because of my blood pressure, then I'll go to the first hospital further away. However, I feel good and all of my levels (sugar, blood pressure, weight are all under control).
Wow, I've messed up on writing the year several times already. I could chalk it up to PBS (Pregnant Brain Syndrome), but I do have the same issue every year.
I went for my regular OB appointment yesterday. I actually saw the SAME doctor that I'd seen for the previous two appointments. That's so nice when you go to a big practice. Anyway, I tried to convince her that I really needed to be induced by the 38th week, which was a scant four days away. But she informed me that hospital policy does not allow elective procedures like that to be done until the 39th week. I was slightly deflated, but not so much as to be crushed. There is still plenty to do to get stuff ready for Keegan's imminent arrival.
So the plan is to go to the hospital on January 17, at the beginning of my 39th week, get an IV and epidural, turn baby's head the right direction, and start inducing labor! However, if there are any complications with this, I would be prepared for an immediate c-section. There are a lot of variables involved with doing this. In fact, a lot of doctors don't care to do it at all, but I'm a good candidate in that my uterus is all stretched out from having seven other children. Plenty of room for moving baby.
What I'm worried about is that I'll start labor before the scheduled version/induction. Once I start contractions, then the version (where baby is turned in the right direction) is not an option, causing too much stress on the uterus. I'm not hopeful that Sumo Keegan will go head down on his own as he has been head up the ENTIRE last trimester. I can see him on ultrasound sitting in there like a little Buddha, legs and hands crossed, sitting straight up, little head at the top of my belly. But if I do have a c-section, that will be okay, too. I'd just rather avoid the recovery time of a surgery like that.
Over all, though, I'm feeling good. I've gotten used to my life of bon-bons (without the bon-bons), wherein I don't get to sleep until at least 3:00 because of stomach acid and tingly feet. Something kicks in around 3:00, and I drift off into a mostly comfortable sleep on the couch's recliner. Then, I get up at 6:37 to get the kids off to school and climb into my actual bed until about 11:00 or noon. Not too bad, all in all. My blood pressure has been steady and pretty much normal. My blood sugars have been pretty much steady, too. When I get up from sitting for any length of time, it takes a good couple of minutes before I can actually move from that spot as muscles, joints and bones settle into place. Oh, the fun of the last month!
I've kept busy ignoring the dishes and laundry. I've been knitting instead. The kids do pretty well picking up the slack, but only when Keith or I get onto them. I have a vision of actually getting caught up with the laundry before D-Day, but I think it is only a vision. Sigh.
Keith and I were planning on having the baby sleep with us in our room for the first few months at least, but now we are seriously considering converting the master closet into baby space. It's big enough to be its own room. It has ventilation/heating and a door to close on fussy baby when he needs to sleep but isn't quite ready to do so immediately. And he's close by for late night feedings and cuddling. Now that I have one more week to wait, it is actually giving us more time to put the plan into action, because there's this tiny little problem of finding homes for all the STUFF that is in the master closet right now! We do need to organize it anyway, so this is a great incentive to get it done! I'm kind of happy about this little idea that sprung out from nowhere!
My Mom and Rich won't be able to come after all to help when baby comes, and I will miss them, but my friend Ginny from Florida will be coming that week instead. Since she and her kids come often for visits, she knows the routine and how to get around the kitchen and which kids can do which jobs. So her focus is going to be on helping with the running of the household.
Keith has a two week vacation starting Monday! This is so nice coming from his two week Christmas vacation! And this will be especially helpful should Keegan decide he's coming earlier than the 17th.
I guess I'm in a little bit of shock that the arrival date is so quickly approaching. I keep having this silly fantasy that I'll be able to sleep through the night again, but I keep reminding myself that this is not so! But, it is temporary! If he's like the other kids, he should be sleeping through the night by six weeks to two months. But then there's that thing about little ones that they like to get up EARLY whether it's a work day or a weekend or holiday. It doesn't seem to matter to them! Now that will take some getting used to! But that's okay, too, as I've learned (after many years of early mornings) that it is not a permanent situation! Trying to get my college girl up, for instance, before noon while she's home on vacation is another thing entirely!