Friday, March 21, 2014

Isaiah's Arrival

A little backstory: 

Our older son, Jackson, was born 22 days early, so we've been expecting an early arrival for our second little man. Given my history of early labor, my midwife preferred I stop nursing Jax early in the third trimester because of the chance for contractions. However, I was determined to make it as far as possible, so we could continue to give him what we felt was best. That said, despite lots of supply issues and doubt, we made it a few weeks past his first birthday. Then, around 34 or 35 weeks of pregnancy, the contractions came and they were intense. I had mostly Braxton Hicks, but nursing would kick them up the most. So finally, we ended our nursing relationship mid-January. A few weeks later, I "dropped" with Isaiah. When Jackson dropped a month early, I wasn't aware of it, but in retrospect I now realize he was born 5 days later. So, given my history, the contractions, and then Isaiah's drop at 35 weeks, we were definitely certain little man was coming early, we just weren't sure how early. This time we had our bag packed, and started watching every little sign. With Jax I missed all of the signs of early labor, like fatigue, soreness, nesting, energy burst, all of it. This time however, I was paranoid. Was my back sore from early labor or from third trimester? Were my legs sore and fatigued from bowling or labor? Was I feeling energized because of a good night's sleep, or from labor energy burst? It was a different experience full of anticipation. Once we made it to 37 weeks, mentally I said "game on" and prepared for the big day.
Left: Pre baby drop at 34 weeks.
Right: Post baby drop at 35 weeks. 
An evening at the beach as a family of 3
Bowling a few days before delivery
It's time:

Tuesday I had the privilege of cooking a meal for some friends who just welcomed a new baby girl, which allowed me to indulge in nesting and celebrating hitting the 37 week mark! Wednesday night, this exhausted mama took an early shower and went to bed at 8:30pm while my wonderful husband cleaned up the leftovers and dishes. Shortly after 11pm, I woke up for a bathroom break. (As any pregnant woman can vouch for- a good night's sleep involves multiple bathroom breaks, especially in the third trimester). I sleepily emptied my bladder and returned to bed. Only to feel a small trickle/ urge to urinate again. "Ugh," I thought. After my repeat bathroom trip, I again felt the urge upon laying down and a small trickle. I hadn't felt any pop or breaking of water, however with Jackson I had a "slow leak" with no contractions until about an hour after water breaking, and I labored a total of 8 hours. So, I got up, and had repeat bathroom breaks over the next hour or so. Dan asked me "did your water break?" I responded "I"m trying to figure that out now, I'm not sure, maybe?" While waiting to see if contractions would start and labor would progress, I decided to curl my hair. Why not right? I mean, I'm up, and if this is false labor, I'll already be partially ready for work in the morning. And if it's true labor, well then at least I can pass the time waiting for contractions to start.

To go or not to go:

As I curled my hair, I began to feel easy contractions. I wanted to labor at home as much as I could, because I don't see the purpose of rushing up to the hospital with hours and hours to go. If I have to hang out and wait for things to happen, I may as well wait at home. With my first labor, I labored at home for 2 hours, then when contractions were 3-4 minutes apart we went to the hospital and were admitted at almost 2 cm and 80% effaced. At this point I knew I was starting at 3 cm, but by OB had not said anything about effacement at my 36 week appointment. By midnight we determined we were definitely in labor, and I finished packing the can't-be-packed-until-the-last-minute items into our hospital bag. At this time we notified family via text that it may be baby time, and we debated when we should call our babysitter for Jackson. Labor progressed and about 12:45 am I was on the phone with the on-call OB. The conversation went something like this:

OB: So you're having contractions? Is this your first child?
Me: No, this is my second. My contractions are about 45-60 seconds long, and timing about 4 minutes apart right now.
OB: Are the contractions painful?
Me: Well, I mean, they're uncomfortable, but nothing like they're about to be in the next few hours, right?
OB: (silence)
Me: Anyway, we will likely be heading to the hospital within the hour or so and will call my provider then.
OB: OK, we will see you in a little bit.

At this point I've moved to the bed and contractions are really getting persistent. By 1 am I told Dan "OK, time to call the babysitter. Let's get this show on the road"

"You didn't get help?":

Over the next 45 minutes, we waited for our babysitter to arrive to watch Jackson so we could head to the hospital. After about 30 minutes I was really starting to feel the pain. At this point I asked Dan to call our friend who was going to be our birth coach- I had texted her about midnight, but didn't hear back. Our friend said she would meet us at the hospital and leave when we did (she lives about 10-15 minutes further than we do). Dan loaded up the car, and I said I was going to take myself to the car so that when the babysitter arrives we can just go. At this point contractions were about 2 minutes apart, so when I got a break, I made for the car. Once in the car I leaned the seat back and continued to labor in the fetal position. The babysitter must've come (I didn't even realize or say hello- how rude am I?), because Dan appears in the car and we leave for the hospital. It's 1:45 am. We live about 5-10 minutes from the hospital, even less at 2 am when your husband runs every red light and there's no traffic. The only entrance open after hours is the ER entrance. During our short drive I am almost crying, and tell Dan there is no way I can do this without an epidural. I HAVE to get one. Dan reassures me, and I insist that second children are harder and this is unbearable. I must be at least 5cm. Our pre-labor doula with Jackson told us 5cm is the worst pain, and after that it just becomes more constant (something I found true about my labor with him). I have to at least 5cm. There is no way I'm not, this is just too painful. This has to be the worst it gets. Please let this be the worst the contractions are going to get.

As we pull into the ER entrance, I ask Dan to go inside and get me "a wheelchair, a stretcher, anything. I can't walk upstairs like this" Dan returns after what seems like an eternity, and I haven't even moved from the fetal position. I am in almost constant contractions and on the verge of tears. My back is to the passenger door, and I ask Dan what he got. "I got a wheelchair" he says. "You didn't get a stretcher? Did you at least tell them I was here?" "No," he replies, "You said get a wheelchair, so I grabbed one and came right out." "You didn't get help?" I cried. There was no one to move me from the car to a stretcher. I was going to have to move on my own, and sit up. This is going to be awful. It's 2am.

The finale:

Dan pushed me in my wheelchair through the ER and the hallways to the main lobby elevator, with a stop or two for contractions. We finally get up to the labor and delivery floor and ring the bell to the secured unit. We buzz in and I say "Hi. It's baby time. Page anesthesia" The nurse kindly tells me I need to fill out paperwork, and tries to hand me a stack of papers.

Me: I filled these out already. During my preregistration. I turned them in last week.
Nurse: You have to fill them out every time you come.
Me: I haven't been here yet, I just turned them in for this admission a few days ago.
Nurse: I'm sorry, you have to fill these out before we can admit you.

At this point I start to cry. I know for a fact that 1. I filled these out already. 2. That the entire REASON for preregistration is to NOT have this upon admission.

Me: (almost crying) I promise I will fill out whatever you need, but please put me in a bed so I can lay down. (I'm totally embarrassed and humiliated, but I am in so much pain that I am almost begging. I'm convinced the nurses must be judging me for being such a weak, laboring woman)

We enter the labor and delivery room accompanied by nurses to help me change, take my vitals, get my registration information, etc. This seems like a terribly long process when you have near constant contractions. I manage to move out of the wheelchair towards the bed, but must crouch next to it at the exact moment they ask for my social. I can't speak. I hold up the fingers as Dan calls out the numbers one by one. This is getting really intense. "Can you page anesthesia?"

With my first delivery we were admitted at almost 2cm, labored for 6 hours before delivery, and I was able to get an epidural at 9cm. This time seems so much more intense. I manage to crawl into the bed and the nurse checks my progress. 8cm. No wonder I was in so much pain!! "Have you paged anesthesia?" The nurse kindly tells me we have to get me admitted and an IV placed before we can do that. I hold out my arm and let her know "my veins are like highways. Nice and wide and they don't roll." We place an IV and I again say "we need to page anesthesia." I am determined to get this epidural. I know it's not common to get so late, but they did it last time. But we are moving fast. I need them here soon.

After a few minutes, I am again in the fetal position. Mind you, I am trying to labor quietly but can't help but moan. The nurses tell me to breathe through the contractions. "Focus on blowing out that candle," they say, "picture that candle and blow it out for me." I'll give them something they can blow out their rear ends! I don't care about the stupid candle! I suddenly feel pressure. "I think I'm going to poop," I cry to Dan, again humiliated. He reassures me "it's ok. It's normal. It just means Isaiah is moving down into the birth canal." "I know that," I snap, "and it there's not enough room for both, but that means he's moving down and it's almost time! Have they paged anesthesia?!?!" I feel the pressure release and the nurses very quickly clean me up. "I'm so sorry. That's so gross," I apologize to the nurses and Dan. "It's not a big deal at all," reassure the nurses. "I didn't look," says Dan. "Thank you," I cry. Some small preservation of dignity in front of my husband.

I cannot stop pushing downward. Every contraction I feel the need. The nurses ask me not to push, not to bear down. "I can't not push!" I snap. "I can't not push!" Again I am not able to use my midwife to deliver. Last time she was sick, and today I have no idea if they even called her. I know they haven't called anesthesia! (Our birth coach still has not arrived, but praise God she did not come in when I pooped! My butt was to the door!) The on-call doctor comes in and says, "Ok Heather, we can see the baby's head. It's right there." "No kidding, I can feel THAT," I thinkAs I assume the position the nurses again remind me about the stupid freaking candle. "I'm going to burn this place down with your damn candle," I promise them in my head. I get the clearance to push, and realize that I am doing this without anesthesia.

After that things moved very quickly. Three big pushes, less than 5 minutes, and Isaiah James Campbell was here! Between pushes 2 and 3 the OB coaches me to push through the burn. "What am I going to do? Put him back in there? Of course I'm going to push," I think to myself. Side note- laboring Heather is very sarcastic and crass. Isaiah comes out screaming, strong lungs wailing away. 2:32am. I've been at the hospital for 30 minutes. I've been in labor less than 4 hours.

I hold Zay for a minute and suddenly feel pressure again. "Oh no, I think I'm going to poop again," I warn. "No, that's just the placenta." Thank God. I don't want to poop for an audience again. The doctor delivers the placenta and starts to clean me up and place a few stitches. The nurses take Isaiah, for what I assume is cleaning up and stats. Within a few minutes, more people join Isaiah's team of caregivers. They inform us that they can't get his breathing regulated and he is going to the NICU on CPap. I hold him for a few more moments, and our dear friend snaps a few phone photos. Then he is whisked away. Dan hasn't held him. We don't even know how much he weighs or how long he is. We anxiously await his stats while I begin recovery.


We spent a little over 48 hours in the NICU for breathing problems. The first 18 hours he was on CPAP and IV nutrition, and had a feeding tube placed. We were unable to nurse, so I started our breastfeeding relationship alone in my hospital room, with a pump. Thankfully, I've just finished a year of breastfeeding and pumping for Jackson, so I am familiar and comfortable with the equipment, but how traumatizing it would be for a brand new mother! Dan left us to take Jackson to preop for his ear tubes placement. It was a hard decision for him to leave, but Jax had been so miserable- there's nothing that could stop us from getting these tubes placed and helping little man feel better! Dan's mom drove to town in the middle of the night and arrived early morning, and my mom arrived the next afternoon. They were God sent as we figured out how to care for a baby in the NICU and adjust to newborn life again. The first day we somehow managed to have a bunch of visitors (most of whom couldn't see Isaiah in the NICU), but we kept our sweet boy's arrival off the social networks. We were trying to absorb everything going on and weren't prepared for the onslaught of questions if we posted a picture of him full of tubes and lines. By evening the first day, we were cleared to stop the Cpap and pull out the tube feeding so he could nurse! I had pumped a few times by then, and had even brought some frozen breastmilk from home (I had very little left of my freezer stash, but when the NICU staff said we may need to supplement my pumped colostrum with formula, I asked if we could supplement with milk I'd pumped a few months earlier and frozen- and they said yes!) Once we were cleared, Isaiah nursed well right away that first time! The next few days were spent filtering in and out of the NICU for Isaiah's feeds and procedures, the L&D floor for my meals and meds, and receiving visits from friends and our moms with Jackson.

Finally, after 48 hours, despite a high bilirubin showing signs of jaundice- we were home as a family of 4! Those first sweet moments at home of introducing our boys to each other were captured by our moms on photo and video, and we are so grateful for that! By the grace of God we are home, happy, and adjusting as a family of four with lots of prayer. We are daily reminded of how blessed we are to have our boys, each other, and our families and friends who selflessly volunteer to help us so often. Life is good.
Isaiah James Campbell
2:32am, 7lb 15oz, 21 inches 
Sweet baby in the NICU
Kangaroo Care for some skin to skin right before we were cleared to initiate breastfeeding. This was our trial period of removing the Cpap to see if his numbers would stay up without the support. 
First family picture without all the tubes and lines! Only monitors on at this point. 
Free to go! 
Heading home!

Family of Four
The three loves of my life together for the first time

Friday, March 14, 2014

Doctors galore

So Isaiah James Campbell is here. His birth story and more details to follow. But for now just know that our oldest, Jackson, had tubes placed last month and Isaiah has reflux that required hospitalization for breathing issues last month as well. Between childbirth and two sick kids, we go to the doctor alot. Tonight I counted. Here's our list:

Jax Tubes pre op (a few hours after Isaiah was born and sent to NICU)
Isaiah NICU follow up
Jax Tubes appt- cancelled and sent to Ped
Jax Pediatrician for congestion
Jax Tubes appt- tubes placed
Jax Tubes follow up
Isaiah hospitalized for weekend, then hospital discharge follow up
Jax Tubes follow up
Isaiah Pediatrician for worsening reflux
*OB postpartum check
*2 mo/ 15 mo well babies and shots sibling visit

* appts scheduled in the next few weeks.

That's 11! Unless you count sibling appointment as 2, then it's 12. 12 doctor visits in 8 weeks. We are exhausted. Add to that an eternally cluster feeding newborn for comfort from reflux who needs to be held upright to sleep 24/7. Also add a 14 mo old who still doesn't sleep through the night. No wonder we feel so defeated. It seems never ending.

Praise God we have amazing friends and family who are so willing to serve us and help us, we would never make it through this without their help!