Unfortunately, Leapster didn’t do great after the first 12 hours off of CPAP, so she’s back on until probably this weekend. She had her umbilical vein catheter removed yesterday and replaced with an IV in the foot. It took 4 nurses 5 sticks and over an hour to get the stupid thing in. The nurses asked me repeatedly if I would be happier outside the room, but I assured them that I’m a terrible mother and wasn’t going to have a nervous breakdown over her “fragile” veins. Those come from her father, for the record. Anyways, the IV is in and will hopefully be out in a few more days. It turns out they did try to put in the PICC line and forgot to mention that it failed. My kid is an epic PITA apparently. But she’s cute, so too bad. Also, she’s only a week old (-8 weeks if you go with her adjusted age, which is a NICU thing), so I doubt she means to be so difficult. Anyways, back to the birth stuff.
Warning: this gets a little graphic. I was poorly anesthetized due to my super elephant strength, but you are still getting the toned down version.
Once I was in the OR, it was time to administer the spinal block. A spinal block is an injection into the spinal column, which causes numbing from about the waist down. This is different from an epidural in that a block is single injection while an epidural is a catheter, which allows for continuous addition of anesthesia. Blocks tend to be preferred for c-sections, which was fine with me since a block uses a significantly smaller needle and doesn’t last as long. Although, in retrospect since I was going to be on magnesium anyways, maybe I didn’t really want feeling back in my feet ASAP.
I was shivering and dizzy from the night spent on magnesium and the fact that they keep ORs just above cold as balls, so the nurse sat me up and then the resident covered my front with a blanket and braced me to keep me upright (thank goodness we were well acquainted cause I had some serious morning breath). The resident was hand selected by my OB because I had seen her a few times in the hospital and felt comfortable with her. This ultimately made a big difference in keeping me calm. Anyways, the anesthesiologist scrubbed down my back and felt along my spine until he found the spot. Once he was satisfied with his placement plan, he injected lidocaine, a local anesthetic into my back. The thing with lidocaine is it burns like the fires of hell for a minute, but then you know it’s working because the awful burning stops. I was given 2-3 injections of lidocaine (although I only felt the first) and then he told me he was inserting the spinal needle. Apparently it is common to feel some pressure and discomfort during the spinal, but I honestly felt nothing. Leapster went to town kicking me as he was injecting the medicine and I tried not to cry realizing I wouldn’t be able to feel it much longer. As soon as the anesthesiologist finished administering the spinal, the resident laid me down on my back (as my legs quickly got tingly and started to feel heavy) and the doctors put up the drape (they don’t let you watch your own c-section, trust me, I asked).
While waiting for the anesthesia to kick in, the doctors cleaned my abdomen and chatted with me. The OB and I were both really interested to see what my uterus would look like since the ultrasounds had been indicative of a bicornuate uterus, but it’s hard to tell on an ultrasound, especially during pregnancy. Anyways, the anesthesia team seemed a little concerned about how long it took the spinal to kick in, but eventually I was numb to sharp sensations below the waist (it is normal to still feel pressure and know you are being touched, it just shouldn’t hurt) and my husband was allowed in to the room. He says that the doctors started cutting pretty much the second he sat down at my head.
They had warned us that we would smell burning. The doctors cauterize as they cut the skin, which smells a little funky. Luckily, neither of us felt worried or sick. Once they cut the skin I started sobbing, which really freaked out the anesthesiologist who assumed I was in pain. I was actually not in pain, I was just totally overwhelmed at the idea of them taking my baby away from me, especially knowing I wouldn’t see her again for at least a day. My husband was a tremendous comfort, though. The anesthesiologist administered some kind of sedative through my IV, which was when we got our first hint that something wasn’t quite right. Throughout the course of surgery, he administered multiple sedatives, including propofol (the Michael Jackson killer), fentanyl, ketamine, a nitrous oxide mask, and a few other light anesthetics. None of them actually worked. I shouldn’t actually be able to remember most of surgery based on what I was given, but I remember everything. The anesthesia team seemed amazed and slightly disturbed by how resistant I was to their happy making drugs.
The problem with all this was that I was pretty clearly feeling the doctors dig around my insides and it hurt. It wasn’t a sharp excruciating pain, but it felt like someone had reached through my belly button and was grabbing my spine and yanking. Within 30 minutes of starting surgery, though, I heard the most amazing sound of my life.
My baby was crying.
You have to understand, at 30 weeks, even with the steroid injections, there was a decent chance that she would come out with seriously immature lungs. The sound of her crying her little head off might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. The wolf pack of pediatricians (seriously, there are never less than 5 of them in a group), who had been waiting in the OR, rushed forward and took Leapster to a table behind me to examine her and clean her off. My husband followed them (I told him to) and I tried desperately to see what was going on behind me.
Once Leapster was clean and stabilized, they brought her over to my head so I could see her and say good-bye.
I was in some pretty excruciating discomfort through all this, but seeing her little face got me through it. My husband was not allowed to go to NICU with her, so he held my hand while I cried and the doctor sewed me up. I know I had multiple conversations with the doctor during surgery, but somehow I forgot them once I saw my baby. Also, I think they were very busy rearranging my internal organs. Did you know they take your uterus out of your body to sew it closed? Anyways, they eventually stapled me shut, announced that I had lost 600 milliliters of blood (I have no idea why I remember this and it really disturbs my husband), and wheeled me back to my room in labor and delivery to wait out the 24 hours of magnesium. My husband stayed with me for at least an hour until they finally said he could go see his daughter in the NICU. I’m sure that was the longest wait of his life.
The doctor came in to tell me that Leapster was beautiful and had all 10 fingers and 10 toes. She also told me that I do not have a bicornuate uterus, but rather a septate uterus, which means that I have a muscular septum running down the middle of my uterus. This most likely explains any miscarriages as a septate uterus tends to have a high rate of miscarriage, especially in the early second trimester (not that I had a miscarriage that late, but that scares me). More proof that Leapster is a miracle baby. I was rather upset by this news, especially since I was told I have a particularly thick septum and surgical correction may not be an option. Leapster is here and safe, though, so it really isn’t the end of the world. The OB did also note that my uterus was about 4 times bigger on the left side because that was where Leapster implanted and spent most of her time.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that at some point I was given a drip of pitocin. I think it is to tell my body that it’s time to contract my uterus and start making milk. I know they gave me two bags of the stuff and it gave me some wicked cramps post-surgery.
I don’t remember much of the next 24 hours. I spent a chunk of it crying because I wanted my baby. My husband says I kept asking for her, which sounds like it really upset him because he had to keep telling me it wasn’t possible. My mom stayed with me a lot so that my husband could be with Leapster, I think. I think I slept through a lot of that day, but it was such a blur once the magnesium was turned back on. I know my mom was on the phone a lot to tell people about our little Leap Day miracle. Oh, and for some reason I uploaded a picture to Facebook. I forget who told me to, but I manage to follow directions pretty well when I’m high as a kite.
Next: I meet Leapster in the NICU and we learn the plan