Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God and Tomas, part eight

Some days after the first week in January my husband told me that the division he was now working for was having its annual meeting out in CA the following week. Did I think he should go? How was I supposed to answer that? He would be home by the 19th, and the c-section wasn't until the 28th. Well, I'm the go-for-it kind of gal so I said sure, go ahead. He then demanded to know if I was going to have the baby while he was gone. He was serious, he wanted me to tell him when the baby was coming. We went back and forth for a while, and I left it with Murphy's law would reign. If he left I would have the baby, and if he stayed I would not. He finally decided to chance it and left the early morning of the 16th.
The late morning of the 16th I had a regular OB appointment, but was also having those pesky contractions again. She checked me and I was still closed tight but told me to go home and take two of the muscle relaxers the hospital docs had given to me a while back to relax my uterus. If they didn't stop I needed to go to Orlando and get checked out.
I had my girls with me but as we were leaving a friend called to check on me, when I told her what was going on she told me to drop the girls at her house and go home and try to sleep a bit, that she would bring them home later. So I did. I went home took two pills and laid down. That was around 10am. At noon I woke in sharp pain from contractions, but they felt weird, just different. Even though I had two c-sections for the girls I labored with the first so I knew what they should feel like, and these hurt, but in a strange way. So I called another friend. A few words about her, we met when our girls were on the same soccer team. She was and is a pediatric nurse. I remember thinking, "hmmm, she would be a good friend to have". Well, that was 5 years before that phone call and she was a great friend for many, many reasons. She had agreed to be my backup "doula" in case anything happened while my husband was away. Poor girl.
I called her at noon and told her that I felt funny and I thought I should go get checked out in Orlando. She had her daughter with her and was babysitting her nephew as well. She called a friend to see if she could take her daughter to an afternoon activity, and she called her mother to see if she could drive up and watch her nephew until his mom came to pick him up. Well, friend said yes, and mother said yes, so my friend said yes she could take me.
A little while later I was driving to her house. I tried to time it as best I could. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart at that time and she lived 20 minutes away. So I waited until one set was over and then left, hoping to make it there with only one set while driving. Well, I had only one set, but it was on the bridge that took me off the island. I remember being on the stupid bridge and doing those stupid breathing exercises and please, oh, please just let me not fall into the river. Luckily it only lasted about a minute and then it was clear sailing the rest of the way. I got to her house and she was finishing up the last minute instructions with all parties involved, and then we were on our way.
I got to the hospital and got all strapped in and monitored and the trauma doctor came in and checked me, and said everything looked good. Just watch me for a little bit longer, but then I could go home. Phew, close call. I hadn't even called my husband because we had so many incidents like this that it didn't seem worth it. My friend went to get a snack and when she got back I begged her for a cookie. Up until then I couldn't eat anything, but since the doc had just said I could go, she gave me one. Well, we should have known. Really, two grown women couldn't figure out that if you give a pregnant lady a cookie while she is hooked up to fetal monitors at the hospital that even though the doctor just said she could go home, it was never going to happen?
A few minutes after "the cookie" the  fetal heart rate monitor began to nosedive during a contraction. Another word about my friend - she was a labor and delivery nurse before she was a pediatric nurse. Did I forget to mention that? Nope, just saved it for the good part. She jumped up from her chair and began flipping me like a pancake from side to side, and mashing my belly to make the baby's heart rate climb. A few minutes later and it happened again, and then she happened again, and then the hospital nurse came in. Not until after two heartrate drops did the staff come in. The nurse put me on oxygen and then said, "The chances of you going home tonight without delivering a baby just went to very slim". Excuse me? I think that was around 8pm or so. Frantic phone calls were made, her husband, my friend who had my girls, and my husband. My friend with my girls was going to bring them over to my neighbors house and they would spend the night there, another neighbor had a key to my house and let them all in to get some things for overnight. Her husband had already picked up their daughter and fed her some atrocious dinner, but they would be fine nonetheless.
My poor, poor husband. Did I not tell him? He called a bunch of places but to get from CA to FL is impossible in less than 6 hours. It takes almost that just for the flight. So I told him to let it go, get on a flight the next morning, as there was no way he would make the birth anyhow, and just get there when he could. Next the nurse came back in and told us the docs were going to do the c-section that night as it was too risky to the baby to go any further. Then she asked me when was the last time I had anything to eat. Well that did it, a highly tense situation degenerated into fits of hysteria over that damned cookie. Here I was, about to deliver a Down syndrome baby with a major birth defect, my husband was clear across the country, the baby's heartrate dropped with every few contractions, and I couldn't stop laughing.  I'm sure they taped a sign "Raving Lunatic" outside my door.
We got moved upstairs and waited for an OR room to become available. The nurses came in and out and long enough went by that the cookie was no longer an issue for anesthesia. I got wheeled down to OR and when they opened to doors and brought me in, it was so crowded! There were so many people there! The anesthesiologist, the surgeon and his assistant, the neonatologist, and at least 4 or 5 nurses. That was why the doctors pushed for the amnio - they were ready for Tomas. My friend sat up by my head and comforted me. As the surgical team came closer, she looked over the curtain and said, "Dr. So-and-So?". Turns out she knew him, she was one of his nurses before she left the hospital, and now he was at the women and children's hospital teaching something (I can't remember), they chit chatted a tiny bit (talk about surreal) and then everyone got down to business. But my friend leaned in and whispered that I was in good hands, and that felt nice.
This was it, all those months, and here we were. For so long I had tried to keep him inside. I knew it couldn't stay that way much longer, but he was safe as long as he was in there. Not anymore, with the heartrate drops it was now more dangerous on the inside than it was on the outside. A few tugs and a bit of pressure and at 11pm exactly he was born. No cries at first, and then just some pathetic kitten sounds. The nurses worked on him and my friend went to take pictures. She came back to tell me his legs were bent up with his feet over his shoulders (like any good DS baby!), and that he was very cute. The neonatologist came to tell me that the baby did, in fact, have DS. I remember thinking I didn't know that was still unresolved. He told me he was stable but that they needed to get him to NICU quickly. The doctor brought him over and with genuine warmth placed him by my face for me to kiss him. He was so tiny, but his little small face was just perfect. There I was, loving him on the outside, just as I had prayed for.


  1. I just ruined my kids lunch. I was cooking mac and cheese for their thermos and well I got so involved in your story the macaroni is slightly overcooked! I can't believe what I'm reading, it's amazing. Everything!

  2. I have just loved reading Tomas' story and his journey to you.Can't wait for part 9!!