Sunday, November 30, 2014

Flynn's Birth Story

Man, has it been a crazy few weeks! Let's see if I can get you caught up.

Around 35 weeks, I started gaining water weight really bad. Around 36, my blood pressure started creeping up. I didn't develop pre-eclampsia or anything, but I was definitely keeping an eye on things.

At 37 weeks, 4 days, my blood pressure spiked. It was pretty scary alone. Combine it with having gained almost 40 lbs of water weight in the last 2.5 weeks and we weren't willing to just give it time to stabilize. Jason took me into the hospital for monitoring. All tests came back healthy. My blood pressure eventually dropped on its own.

Against my better judgment, I allowed a pelvic exam. Yes, I know these are pointless, and nothing good ever comes of them. I was scared and desperate for answers. I got stupid. They accidentally popped my membrane during the exam. And did we at least get some useful information for the trouble? *eye roll* Ya, right.

It was actually 37 weeks and 5 days by the time the membrane popped. The baby wasn't ready to come out, and my body wasn't ready for birth. I had some contractions, put wasn't going into labor. That meant pitocin. Pitocin sucks. A lot. In every way possible. Not the least of which is how painful it makes contractions... Even unproductive ones!

I had both of my other kids without pain killers. It was hard work, but totally manageable without drugs. I even dealt with a couple hours of pitocin enhanced contractions just fine. After about 6 hours of pitocin... And several dosage increases, which exponentially effect the pain level, the bronchitis started to play it's part. Oh ya, I still have bronchitis. The pain was just too much and I started having wicked coughing fits with every contraction. It became quickly apparent that I wasn't going to be able to push when the time came. I couldn't even catch my breath between contractions.

Faced with a choice between an epidural and possible vaginal delivery, or an almost guaranteed emergency c-section, I opted for the epidural. It was nearly impossible to hold still enough to get it placed, while basically not breathing so I wouldn't start coughing. In the end, it did it's job and there are no signs of lingering problems. Phew! That might have something to do with the length of time it was in. As soon as the pain had subsided enough for me to breath again, Flynn was on his way out. The epidural went in around 6:30am, and Flynn was born at 7:19am. The epidural was back out pretty quickly. Maybe 7:45am at the latest.

We didn't have our home birth, but the hospital staff rolled with most of our preferences with nothing more than curious questions. They caught Flynn in the cute towel Jason had chosen for the task. Liam and Cora were there for the whole thing, and watched Flynn's birth. The Dr impatiently waited for the cord to stop pulsing before clamping it off for Jason to cut. They just had us sign a form to keep the placenta. No one batted an eyelash. The vitamin k shot was their line in the sand though. When we told them we were on the fence about it, they freaked. They got all frantic and started calling pediatricians and social workers and anyone they could think of in to convince us. Not one was capable of holding an informed discussion about the pros and cons, or had any clue how babies body normally functions or how the shot effects those functions. It only made them more frantic to realize we wouldn't respond to anything but facts, since none of them had any. In the end, Jason and I had a gut feeling there would be an issue with Flynn, and decided to get the shot because we feared he'd need an IV or worse. It turned out that we were right.

Upon first appearances, Flynn was perfect. 7 lbs, 11 oz. ... 21 in. ... Scored a 9/10 on the APGAR. He latched on perfectly and nursed well. He was a calm and happy baby. He and I were released after 24 hours.

But he was losing more weight than he should. He was eating constantly but always crying for more. I started pumping between feedings so we could supplement with bottles. He couldn't even handle the low flow bottle nipples without choking and gagging. He became lethargic. He kept losing weight. His Dr put him on a high calorie formula. By then, he was becoming jaundice. His numbers were inflated by the dehydration, but he wouldn't have yellowed so fast if he hadn't had that vitamin k. Three cheers for straining his little kidneys. That got him admitted to the NICU before any damage could be caused. Plus, their standard procedures, as overkill as they may seem, gave us answers we may never have gotten.

Flynn was born with underdeveloped muscles in his mouth, tongue, and throat. He wasn't ready to be born and hadn't finished growing the muscles he'd need to survive. 15 minutes of what appeared to be very productive breastfeeding was earning him only 10ml of breastmilk. At 10 days old, that just didn't cut it. It took 5x as much to maintain his weight, and 7x as much to gain steadily. Unfortunately, he was still choking and gagging and barely actually eating anything, even with the best nipple the NICU had. He would eat 3x as much (just enough to maintain his weight) if we bottle fed him breastmilk fortified with a calorie boost mixed in. I was able to pump just enough to keep him in breastmilk, but I have never had luck with long term pumping. They brought in nutritionists, lactation consultants, feeding specialists. We had loads of information. We had developed a physical therapy for him, that we could continue when we went home. We had a great game plan...if we could just find a nipple he could drink from. He was on the fast track to feeding tubes.

Then nurse Ann came on shift. She realized that if things didn't turn around fast, Flynn was looking at feeding tubes at the end of her shift. She made it her mission to find a way to keep that from happening. She asked lots of questions. She called the Dr and specialists for clarification. Then she disappeared from the NICU for a couple hours. She came back with specialty nipples for us to try. She had called around to lactation consultants and stores for recommendations. Then, she'd convinced a local store to donate enough of the best options for us to have a supply at home if they worked. Flynn was able to drink from two of them. It still takes a lot of work on both our parts, but his intake increased. Nurse Ann had gone home by the time we saw results. Flynn was gaining weight. In fact, he gained so much overnight that he went home the next morning.

It turns out there are some hearing issues too, and he just keeps having more tests to figure out what's going on there. Other than that, Flynn is super healthy now. He's gaining weight quickly, and growing, and today he had his first full meal straight from the breast. We don't expect him to do that regularly for a while, yet, but it's huge that he's nursing productively at all.