The Birth Story (part 4)

How I should have ended part 3 was to tell you that I was rushed with sweet, sweet mama-hormones that made me feel giddy and happy, that it was awesome and amazing and wonderful. It was. I am so lucky to have had such a great birth. I keep saying to Jason, “I could do this professionally!”, and he keeps cringing.

I don’t know if you can feel the pressure drop, or see the clouds looming, but now I’m going to tell you about the bad things that happened. Luckily, none of them are really all that bad. All were temporary, with no lasting effect.

80 was put on my chest by Jason, and was there for a short amount of time before someone calmly said that she wasn’t breathing real well, that she still had liquid in her lungs, and it needed to come out. They’d leave her on my chest unless her breathing didn’t improve fast enough, at which point they’d take her to the warming table just a few feet away. A nurse filliped her foot, and explained that getting the baby to cry would stimulate her breathing. I hadn’t been sure what to do with 80, other than to explain that I was her mama, so I took this opportunity to start mothering. I told her she should cry, that it would make her feel better. “Come on little baby, give me a cry. It’s OK, let it out. Go ahead, cry, baby.”

Soon there were hands reaching in, to suction out 80’s nose and mouth. She wasn’t breathing better fast enough. They told me that they wanted to take her to the warming table. If she didn’t improve quickly enough, they were going to need to take her to the nursery. This all seemed so reasonable, I decided not to freak out.

This is where the stories diverge. This is no longer the story of me and the baby who was connected to me. Now 80’s story is her own, from now on. I’ll tell hers first, then go back and tell mine.

I appreciated the calmness of everyone, and their reasonable ratcheting up of interventions, rather than panicking and rushing her off. Of course, if 80 had been in more trouble, I would expect them to take more immediate action.

They brought 80 over to the warming table, where they were able to suction out her nose and mouth better on her back (since she had been belly down on me), and they put an oxygen mask next to her, so it would waft over her. Jason stood by her while they attended to her, continuing to suction (with those little rubber bulb things). Jason must have come back over to me, because when they told us that she wasn’t improving fast enough and she needed to go to the nursery, I looked at Jason. I told him to go with her (this seemed so obvious to me), but he hesitated. I told him A’Nova would be with me, that I’d be fine. 80 needed him, and I needed him to be with her. So they left.

A great way to get more oxygen into a baby is to make them cry, and a great way to make a newborn cry is to give them a bath. So, Jason watched nurses adeptly bath 80, then take her over to a hospital crib, where they attached monitors to her, to keep track of her heart rate and such.

Hello, world!
I’m not sure what everything is, but there’s a baby lo-jack on her ankle to thwart baby snatchers. She looks like she’s wearing sparkle eyeshadow from the ointment.

A pediatrician came in to talk to me, who said she was improving, but they’d like to keep her under observation (and on monitors) overnight. I asked if her lack of oxygen would have any lasting effect. Her answer was great. It was something like “Please, fetuses don’t get 100% oxygen in the womb, and they’re fine. It’s not enough to worry about.” Excellent.

So 80 stayed in the nursery overnight. By the time I saw her again, she was much improved. The nurse had brought her in to feed, and said she’d be back for 80 in 20 minutes or so. She indicated that 80 was doing well, and she might take her sweet time coming back for her.

I nursed 80 for the first time. It was kind of a non-event. Your milk doesn’t come in for a day or two, so what 80 was nursing was colostrum (a word I knew well from my days of bottle-feeding calves). It’s a lot thicker and there’s less of it, so I worried a bit that it wasn’t enough. I was assured that it was, that newborns’ stomachs are teeny anyway. Jason and I had gone to a breastfeeding class, there’s all this hovering of nurses, and talk of having access to lactation consultants, so I was more paranoid than usual about nursing going well.

The nurse didn’t come back for 80 for at least an hour. We got to hang out with our brand new baby. We mostly stared at her. That’s all I remember doing. When she’d be in my arms, I’d have my neck craned down so my face was inches from hers.

We stayed in the hospital a second night, then went home the next day. There was some concern that 80 was jaundiced enough to need intervention, so we were to go to our (fantastic) pediatrician the next day.

Subsequently, we spent a full week going to the hospital every day to have blood drawn, then on to the pediatrician’s to get the results and decide what to do. The course of action was to supplement her feeding (with more feeding). Besides looking yellow, a symptom of jaundice is sleepiness. We spent two weeks trying to keep our sleepy baby awake long enough to nurse, then take a bottle. That may be part of the reason she grew 1.5 inches in two weeks.

The jaundice went away, her breathing hasn’t been a problem since the first night, and we now have a very healthy, very happy baby.

Things I learned:

  • If a newborn is flaring its nostrils, it may not be getting enough oxygen. It’s a handy observation.
  • Don’t dress a jaundiced baby in yellow. It doesn’t help.
  • If you call your parents to tell them you gave birth, don’t tell them about the breathing problem, unless you have time to update them that the baby is improving.

PART FIVE (only took a year to finish)

  1. Sounds like your team did a fabulous job of not over-reacting (thereby terrifying you) and handling her issues reasonably. It must have felt very empowering when the nurse gave her to you for an hour and trusting you to handle her. That’s awesome. Glad it all worked out. 🙂

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