New Jen's Horde

Thursday, September 07, 2006

TT-Anya's Birth Story


Thirteen Things about Anya's Birth

Warning! Some of this might be TMI...

1. If you've been reading here a while, you know that my oldest daughter, Anya, was a preemie. She was born 16 weeks early, weighing exactly one pound, eight ounces.

2. I had been planning a low-intervention hospital birth with a nurse midwife. I'd been reading stuff like Spiritual Midwifery, and felt like I had a good handle on what I'd need to do when the "rushes" (ie contractions) started. Since the contractions started early one Saturday morning only 24 weeks into my pregnancy, I didn't recognize them for what they were. I figured I had diarrhea cramps or something similar. After about 2 hours of constant cramping with no poo, I called my midwife. She had me come right in.

3. On my way in, she told me to drink 3 or 4 big glasses of water, in case I was dehydrated. I didn't fully understand, so I gulped down 4 32 oz. cups of water. That was the most unpleasant car ride I've ever taken. Between the water, the bumpy road, the contractions and my growing worries about what was happening, I was miserable. When I got to the hospital, they determined pretty quickly that I was in labor, but they didn't know why. They hooked me up to an IV and started giving me magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions. And, they inserted a catheter so that I didn't have to get up so much to go pee. It was WONDERFUL! I never thought I could be so happy to have tubing shoved into my bladder.

4. After an hour or so, my midwife used a speculum to check out my cervix, peeked in and said, "Oh!" and left the room. The nurse took a look, said, "Oh!" and ran out after the midwife. In a couple of seconds they came back with another woman, whom I could only hope was a doctor. She also took a peek and said, "She's got a bulging bag, she needs to go." By that, she meant that my cervix was open and the amniotic sac was bulging through. They explained that it was much less likely that they could stop my contractions and put a stitch in my cervix to keep this baby in, as the sac was being stressed and could rupture easily. At this revelation, there was an intense flurry of activity, I received steroid shots and had to sign some paperwork so they could move me to another hospital. The hospital I was in didn't have a 3rd Level Nursery, so if I delivered there they'd have to move the baby to another hospital right away, and I'd be stuck at the first one until I was discharged.

5. They wanted me at the 2nd hospital FAST, so they put me on a helicopter! It was a nice flight, I got to see the gold dome of the Capitol Building and everything. I'd like to take the same flight on a day when things aren't going quite so dreadfully wrong, though! At the second hospital, they rolled me right in to an ultrasound room and did an amniocentesis to check and see if they could determine why I was in labor. Davin came in during the middle of the test, having already had a pretty rotten time getting there. Poor Davin wasn't allowed to come on the helicopter with me, so he'd had to fight traffic to get to the second hospital. In addition to that, in his stress he'd misunderstood where they were taking me. He went to the wrong hospital, and I wasn't there. So, he tried to call the first hospital, but since they hadn't admitted me, the person who was answering phones didn't have any way of figuring out what had happened. Fortunately, they eventually sent his call up to the high risk OB ward, where he was able to talk to someone who knew where I was. So, after all that, he walks in on the doctor sticking a giant needle through my abdomen and into the uterus. He was NOT well for that, poor guy! (I couldn't feel it, so it wasn't a big deal for me.)

6. The amnio showed that there was bacteria in the amniotic fluid, a condition known as chorioamnionitis. The baby would have to be born right away, because of the risk to both of us from the infection. They stopped the magnesium sulfate, and started up some pitocin to guarantee she'd be out soon and some phenobarbatal to hopefully ward off intracranial bleeding. Then they sent in the neonatologist to talk to us.

7. The neonatologist sat down on the edge of my bed and said that the odds weren't good. At 24 weeks gestation, he said, the baby's chances of survival were less than 10%. And, if the baby DID live, there was only about a 10% chance that she'd end up being relatively normal. By that he meant that she would most likely die, and if she didn't, she would most likely end up with severe brain damage as well as the multitude of developmental problems that are common among micropreemies. He explained that these statistics were actually on the high side, because she would be compromised at birth because of the bacterial infection and wouldn't have the same chances as their usual 24 weeker. Then he asked if we wanted them to resuscitate her.

8. Between the stress of the day, and the narcotics, I didn't understand. What did he mean, "Resuscitate?" I had to ask again and again what they were saying, and even then it didn't sink it. I never did answer the doctor. Later, I found out that what he was asking, was if we wanted them to even try to keep her alive. I could choose for them to do anything at all that they could, to do some things but not others, or to just give her to me after her birth and I could hold her while she died. I'm glad I didn't know that's what he meant, I don't think I could have handled it then. I'm much stronger now.

9. The pitocin caused me to feel like I was breaking apart, and I started to panic. The nurses kept offering me an epidural, but I was freaking out about the amount of stuff they were already filling me with and I didn't want any more medication. Plus, they'd told me she would be under 3 lbs, and I figured if I couldn't handle THAT I shouldn't be in the baby business! I pushed her out quite quickly, and her records said that she cried. I didn't hear it. When they cut her cord, the end of it that was attached to the placenta snuck back inside, and they were yelling at me to push and deliver the placenta so I could avoid the risks of massive blood loss. We didn't hear her cry until she was about 6 weeks old.

10. They announced that she was a girl, and inserted an endotracheal tube into her mouth and down her trachea, and secured it with tape to most of the lower portion of her face. Because of all of the medications, I couldn't see her, even though she was only about 3 feet away. I didn't get to see her face without the tape. To avoid heat loss, they wrapped her in a warm blanket. All of this was done in what seemed like 30 seconds. They brought her to me, and one of her hands was out of the blanket. I touched her hand with my fingertip, which was as big as her hand, and said, "Hi Baby!" I was crying. I'd been crying for a few hours at this point. I cried all through her birth, and for a few days afterwards. She grasped my fingertip, and then she had to go. A nurse rushed out the door with Anya in her arms, rolling an oxygen tank behind her as she left. I was stuck in the bed until the bleeding stopped, but Davin went with her.

11. I got my humor back pretty quickly. My sister, who'd worked labor and delivery as a corpsman in the Navy, had been on the phone with me on and off all day. I called her to let her know that Anya had been born, and was doing well so far, and I added, "You know, if this works out OK, I'm going to have them all this early. That was a pretty easy delivery!" I didn't mean it, but I have to say compared to the others, it WAS a pretty easy delivery!

12. Again, 10 days later, we got another chance to lighten up the situation. There was a problem between the insurance company and the hospital, and they needed to transfer Anya to another hospital, right across the street. The day of the transfer? Halloween! So, we told everyone that we were taking Anya out trick-or-treating, and that she was going as a premature baby. Mostly they didn't get it, but we thought it was HILARIOUS! The ambulance ride to the second hospital was a story in itself! Suffice it to say that it took over an hour to get her from door to door, and part of that time was riding in an ambulance with a flat tire!

13. Anya spent 105 days in the hospital. She was on a ventilator with an endotracheal tube for 6 weeks. We took her home on oxygen and with an apnea/bradycardia monitor. She spent most of the first two years of her life in therapies; occupational, speech, feeding, play, etc. After that she was in a special preschool program for kids with global delays. She caught completely up developmentally when she was 4, and she's never looked back. Now she's totally, 100% fine. No trace of any delays, jeez, she doesn't even need glasses! (preemies often have visual problems, and can end up blind, that's what happened to Stevie Wonder.) She's funny, smart, sensitive and more than a little twisted. But, the other kids are twisted, too, so I think that may be a parenting issue and not one related to her prematurity ;-)

I've often been grateful to God that my preemie was my first. It was hard to leave the hospital without her, but in a way I didn't know any better. And, I had no where to be but with her. I'd get up, pump, shower and head in and stay until 7pm or later every day. There were moms there with older kids, and it was very hard for them to balance each kid's needs. We were fortunate, all the way around, with Anya.

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Aww..I love hearing that story! and knowing Anya it's hard to believe how EARLY she was!

Thanks for sharing!
I teared up reading your TT! THANK THE LORD for wrapping his hands around your precious daughter! sometimes it takes stories and things to happen to let you realize just how wonderful and precious life it!
Thank you for sharing!
WOW! She was TINY!!!!

Happy TT!
Great blog! I've added a link to your blog on Blog of the Day under the category of Family. To view the feature of your blog, please visit
Beautiful! Having babies is waaaay before my time, but reading about them is definately educational!

God bless you and your family!
Wow, what an incredible beginning Anya had! She obviously is quite a fighter. Isn't God good?!

My TT is up, too:
I'm so glad that Anya is doing well. I can't imagine going through what you did.
Wow, amazing and wonderful story. I love your blog and I love your kids names!!
What a wonderful birth story!!!

Thanks for sharing!

Happy Thursday!
Hey Jen, how do you get the auto link box at the bottom of your TT list? You can answer on your blog or comment on mine. Ta.
thanks for the TMI warning, so I knew to cover my eyes at points. :)
That is just beautiful, Jen! Beautiful! I know, sort of, how you feel leaving the hospital without your baby. Sarah had to stay in the NICU for a week after her birth due to heart issues. I felt bereft without her in my belly or in my arms.

Isn't Spiritual Midwifery amazing? Did you use her techniques for subsequent births?
Aw, Jen. You made me cry. And I really don't need any excuses! You'd mentioned that you've done hospital time. I never knew exactly why before.

How wonderful that everything worked out. You don't hear that very often with preemies. Wow.

I think you've read my Maya birth story, with its cross-town transfer. Not much fun at the time, but they sure are fun to tell later - much later.

Thanks for sharing yours.
Wow! I can't imagine what a stressful time that would have been!
Wow! What a story. Anya's one cool and lucky kid.
thank is a great TT. My 2 youngest were preemies, but not that tiny. They are both grown now and the only problem with my first preemie is her bad asthma. But I thank God that they are fine adults today.

that was a great TT.
Wow! That's quite a story. I love your #12! I had no idea Anya was a preemie. You are so brave! I don't know if I would have been able to handle all that.
You would never know that there's anything special about her now...well except for the twisted part ;) She's a great kid.
She's a "gift from God!"
That's a heck of a story. I'm glad everything ended up okay in the long run. I had my gall bladder out on Halloween when my son was 5 weeks old, so they snuck him in to me in a little pumpkin set of jammies!
what a wondeful story! and quite the beginning for that little girl!

My 13 is up!
That was some goood reading! It was especially good because I knew it had a happy ending.
Thanks for stopping by my TT while I was gone. Here's what we were up to...The Camping Reports
What a beautiful 13. I have a 34 weeker, not nearly the complications on his end that Anya had. I was lucky enough to have all the complications and be the sick one. Wouldn't trade the littlest kidlet for the world though.

What a wonderful story. What a wonderful blessing. I am so glad it had such a happy ending!
Thanks for sharing.
I'm late on making some of my blogging rounds. This is a truly remarkable story. Thanks so much for sharing. I love learning more about my bloggin' buddies!
Anya's story is wonderful, and brought tears to my eyes... Rhianna loves knowing someone who was smaller than she was at birth. She asks about it fairly often. It's amazing how tough those tiny preemies can be, isn't it?
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