Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Further Adventures in Baby-Having

In this previous post, I told the story (in excruciating detail, I'm sure) of the birth of our first child, 1F. Of course, we've had seven other children since then (what can I say? I think she kinda likes me), and there are a few stories to be told of their births, as well. . .

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2F's birth was much quicker than 1F's. Whereas Molly had been in labor for 13 hours with 1F, her second labor was over and done with in about 5 hours. This time, Molly let me be in the birthing room the whole time, although she had another experienced birth-giver for her labor coach again.

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When Molly was pregnant with 3M, she tripped on some steps, and broke her foot. So, to the normal discomfort of pregnancy, was added six weeks of crutches. And, when 3M had some growth-hormone issues in his toddler years, he was at first diagnosed with a form of short-limbed dwarfism (a very interesting episode in our family's life, all in its own right), and Molly and I immediately wondered if it had anything to do with the X-rays on her foot. Which was the occasion for some major second-guessing, for a while. But it turned out to be a pretty garden-variety endocrine thing, and we breathed large sighs of relief.

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With 4M, all was well, until about a week after his birth, when, out of nowhere, Molly got extremely light-headed, and lost her vision. I mean, she couldn't see - her eyes were open, but there was only a black screen, so to speak. And she passed an extremely large blood clot. Fortunately, she was visiting with one of our neighbors at the time, who put her in her car and drove her to the emergency room, with baby 4M in tow. When Molly got to the ER, her blood pressure was 60/0. Yeah - that 'zero' was not a good thing. Turned out that there were some micro-fragments of the placenta left inside her uterus, and that was stimulating some nasty infection. A D&C cleaned out the gunk, and she was good as new.

But not before spending another night in the hospital. Which got us into a kind of 'Catch-22'. Molly was nursing, and didn't want to have any interruption, so she wanted to have the baby with her in the hospital. But 4M was not, technically speaking, a patient, so he couldn't be admitted, and no-one in the hospital was willing/able to tend to him, even just to bring him to his mother (who was bedridden) to nurse. So we ended up working out an arrangement where we brought a bassinet from home, and they let me sleep on the floor (shades of John & Yoko), and when the baby fussed, I could bring him to Molly. Thankfully, that only lasted for one night. Major gratitude to the folks from our community who took in the other three kids so I could be at the hospital, too. . .

That situation after 4M was born was probably as close to abject terror as I've ever experienced. I was staring into the face of the non-trivial possibility of losing my wife, and having four children, including a week-old infant, to figure out how to raise without her. When her vital signs stabilized, I may have been the most relieved husband and father in the entire civilized world. . .

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After 4M, I don't remember so many of the details of Molly's pregnancies or labors. I do recall that, as she went along, Molly got MUCH mellower and more laissez-faire about who came with her for her birthings. Once she arrived at a certain 'comfort level', where she pretty much knew what she was doing, some friend of hers would tell her that she'd never witnessed a childbirth, and she'd always wanted to, and Molly would invite her along to watch. I remember that 2F, who was only 10 at the time, came to watch 6F being born (1F had declined the offer). 1F (who was 16 at the time) saw 7M being born. 'Labor Coach' became, for all intents and purposes, an honorary designation; I joked that we should give the hospital advance warning when Molly's labor started, so they could bring in bleachers. And I would take orders for carry-out, if the labor started going long. I think it was for 7M's birth, though, that Molly's labor coach was a bit too low-key (or maybe just timid). Molly started flagging a bit in mid-labor, so I, having been through six of these before, and having a pretty good feel for what was required, stepped in and got Molly back on-task. So I got to take my turn as 'labor coach' after all.

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By the time Molly was pregnant with 8M, she was 45 years old. And 45-year-old women just don't do pregnancy quite as well as 25-year-old women. As the due date drew near, Molly was beyond weary of being pregnant, so when a few desultory contractions began, she walked (yes, walked) to the hospital (it's a bit less than a mile from our house), hoping to get things going, but by the time she got there, the contractions stopped, and they sent her back home. The next day, contractions started up again, more vigorously this time, and when she got to the hospital (this time, she had a neighbor drive her), the docs were all set to give her the pitocin and let 'er rip (uh, so to speak), but when they did the preliminary checks, they found that 8M had flipped into a breech presentation, so they gave her a labor-stopping shot instead, and sent her home again, with a different set of instructions.

It turned out that the hospital had a doctor - a woman, unsurprisingly - who was trained in a technique for 'flipping' breech babies. And Molly, being on her eighth pregnancy, was an ideal candidate for the procedure - her uterus was sufficiently 'pliable'. So the docs told Molly to come back the following day, and they would have the 'baby-flipping' doctor on-call. I took the day off work, and we walked to the hospital again, Molly's third trip in as many days. When they did the preliminary checks on the baby, he was still in a 'head-up' orientation, so they called the 'baby-flipping' doctor, and she came right over. I watched as she laid Molly on her back and sort-of 'lifted' the baby, and just slowly torqued him around, all while hooked to an ultrasound, to keep track of the umbilical cord, and such. The whole procedure took less than a half-hour, and once he was properly head-down, she got him 'engaged' with Molly's pelvis, and all was in readiness. And at that point, the regular family doc started the induction, and a few hours later, we had our eighth child, and fifth son.

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Looking back, I'm actually a little bit impressed at the number of stories that have been generated by Molly's eight pregnancies and deliveries. I mean, we might have had eight pretty uneventful pregnancies/deliveries, and I'm sure a decent percentage, even of mothers-of-eight, have exactly that. But we have more interesting stories to tell. . .

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Our week at camp went wonderfully well. The weather was beautiful all week - mid/upper 70s, hardly any rain (quite a bit was forecast, but hardly any actually fell). Just a wonderful time in the woods, on a lake. And for the Entertainment Night, eight of us Joneses (Molly and me, 2F, 4M, 5M, 7M and 8M, along with 6F, who came up for a visit that evening) regaled the camp with a rousing rendition of 'Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da'. And yes, it was definitely nice to have Molly at camp with me, for the first time in the 18 years I've been going to this camp. . .

8 comments:

lime said...

woww, the one story was in deed a bit scary. very glad it had a happy ending.

as for the baby flipping, THAT'S the maneuver i'd want to see. I can't imagine. seems to me every OB/GYN should be trained in that. think how many c-secs could be avoided. yeah, that's my area of dubious expertise since all three of mine wound entering the world that way.

Cocotte said...

For me, the 9 months of carting the kid around inside was always worse than the actual labor/delivery. I'll admit that was probably my main reason for stopping at 3. I was just a miserable pregnant person. If I gain 5 pounds, I'm miserable, so you can only imagine when I put on 50.

Will there be some camp stories??

FTN said...

Geez, you had to sleep on the floor of the hospital? I hope they at least gave you a cot. All the times Autumn has been in the hospital for multiple nights (2 births plus infections during each pregnancy) I've at least been on a small pull-out couch. Well, more like a mini-couch. Which about half my body fit on. But at least it wasn't the floor!

Long hospital stays like that are funny. Since I wasn't really a patient, I had plenty of freedom (and some boredom) to walk around at night. Talk with nurses, hang out, watch movies, read books. What a way to spend vacation time from work, eh?

The blood clot story was scary. Glad that had a happy ending.

I could probably write my own stories on this topic on my own blog. Maybe I should get on that.

for a different kind of girl said...

I have watched an episode of The Baby Story on TLC where a doctor flips a breech baby and have thanked the stars that I never had to experience such a thing because it looked a bit like torture, and labor is torture enough, though I shouldn't complain because honestly, my two labors have been dramatically short and birthing a baby has seriously involved no more than two pushes both times. The only time I was out of my mind in labor was when I'd miscarried and then went into labor several months later because the doctors didn't perform a D&C on me and there was uterine lining that dislodge. I thought I was going to die while trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and there was sadly no happy baby in the end.

Glad your week at camp was fulfilling!

Desmond Jones said...

Lime - Yeah, the baby-flipping thing was pretty cool to watch. Sorta like flipping a kid end-for-end in his bed, while he's buried under a bunch of really heavy blankets, except that the 'blanket' was Molly's belly. . .

And don't get me started on c-sections. One of my sisters had two c-secs, and found out later that the hospital she went to did over 90% of their births by c-sec, 'cuz they're faster and more schedule-able for the docs. You know, to hell with the actual women, we've gotta keep up a high production rate. . . (Not, of course, that I'm being the least bit critical of you, or the specific circumstances of your children's births. . .)

Cocotte - You're miserable with 5 extra pounds? Man, I can gain 5 pounds without even noticing. . .

There really aren't a lot of 'camp stories', as such; we had a great time, and God was with us. . .

FTN - Geez, 4M was born 19 years ago. I really don't remember what, exactly, I was sleeping on. There was probably some kind of cot; or maybe I commandeered a recliner, or something like that. Didn't mean to mislead you. . .

And you have no idea how scary the blood clot thing was. . . I've done some genealogy work, and the most striking thing you encounter in doing that, is that, before the Civil War or so, somewhere between a third and a quarter of women died in childbirth. To our modern, antiseptic minds, that just doesn't come close to computing. And I really had no desire to gain any personal experience with that. . .

faDKoG - I should ask Molly what the 'flipping' felt like. I vaguely recall her making some comment about it feeling weird, but I don't think it quite rose to the level of 'torture'.

And we've had some friends whose baby died in utero, and the mother said that having to go into the hospital to deliver a baby she knew in advance was dead, was about the saddest thing she's ever done. . .

Suldog said...

Fascinating stuff, Desmond, especially so for a non-parent like myself. That's been my choice - I should say "our choice", of course - and no regrets, but certainly interesting stuff.

lime said...

thanks for the words of support there. one of the docs in the practice when i had my third had a MAJOR attitude about the whole thing and i had to rather firmly tell him i was looking for opinions based in medical fact not personal, misongynistic bias.

Desmond Jones said...

Suldog - Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found it interesting.

Lime - You're welcome.

And - "personal misogynistic bias"? Yikes! Sometimes you run into a doc whose god-like opinion of himself just gets to be a bit much, eh?

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And for those who wondered, I asked Molly what the 'flipping' felt like. She said that they told her in advance that it would be very uncomfortable, but it was just sort of a weird feeling, neither painful nor not, just weird. But it was probably easier for her than for the typical 'flipping' patient, since it was her eighth child, and her uterus was considerably more 'pliable' than a typical mother's would be. . .