As a testament to just how nutty my life has become chasing after two children, I am JUST NOW finishing this post… a post I started a mere 6 weeks after Milo was born. He will be 15 months old in just over a week. Oh well… Better late than never!
Milo’s Birth story, for my memory and for his:
I can already feel the details slipping away. In the chaos that is giving birth, followed by the haze of exhaustion afterwards, followed by a complete inability to get one’s world back in working order, it is a wonder that anyone can remember any of it. But I wanted to write down Milo’s story so that I don’t ever forget the details.
His story starts a good 6 weeks before his arrival. At 28 weeks along, a high-risk Ultrasound determined that my cervix had opened up almost half way (called an incompetent cervix) and the likelihood of a full term delivery was slim. I was placed on full bed rest at home. My doctors were guessing that, if things went well, I’d make it to 32 weeks along. To take any extra pressure off of my cervix, I needed to be in a fully reclined or laid-out position. I was allowed to go to my doctor’s appointments, to walk to the bathroom, and to make one round trip up and down the stairs in our house each day. Otherwise, it was “Park it, Sister” until delivery.
I spent 6 weeks in that chair. My Mom, my MIL, my Hubby, and several close friends and other family members took turns taking care of me and of Abigail. Everyone tried very hard to help me stay positive – lots of people told me to “enjoy” bed rest. Hahahaha, yea right. I was bored out of my mind! I watched WAY too much TV to pass the time. I got a TON of work done for Brienne. And I spent an exorbitant amount of time online. But the effort was well worth it. I was able to keep Milo in for a full 2 weeks longer than my doctors predicted. As we know, every single one of those extra days counted towards a healthy delivery. It is odd to be proud of doing something as mundane as sitting still, but seeing as I am the type that can never do so, I am actually very proud.
But, as seems to just be the way it is with me, pre-term labor came when I least expected it and there was no stopping it. It was a Friday. I was 34 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy. Nothing was out of the ordinary. No cramps, no odd signs. Status quo. Then around noon, I had a little cramp. Nothing big, but noticeable. I had a handful within the hour. I couldn’t actually tell if they were contractions or not, but I wanted to be safe. I called my OB’s office. They had closed early for the day and forwarded me to an on-call doctor named Dr. Fields. When I told her I couldn’t tell if they were contractions or just cramps she told me it didn’t really matter to her – she wanted to know how far apart they were, regardless of “what” they were. She told me that if they were coming less than 10 minutes apart, I was to go straight to the hospital for observation.
We timed them, and by now (over 2 hours in) I was pretty sure they were, in fact, contractions. They didn’t hurt, but they were uncomfortable and they were happening faster as time went on. When we timed them, they were 8 minutes apart. I felt defeated. I really wanted to go longer than 34 weeks. But my mother gave me that knowing look that only she can give me and convinced me that we better go in. Luckily, Paul (my Brother-in-law) was there, waiting for my MIL and my Niece to arrive. He told us to go, he’d stay with Abigail. We saw my MIL and niece in passing as we got ready to go. I remember that my MIL postponed leaving town for a few hours, “just in case.” But at this point, we all thought that the hospital would try to stop my labor and buy us some more time. I was dreading hospital bed rest.
The truth was that I was ready for Milo to be born. I didn’t want him to come early if he didn’t have to, but I wasn’t going to fight it if that was what was meant to happen. Dr. David and I had discussed at length our plan of action – and we both agreed. Anything past 35 weeks and we’d let nature do its thing – we wouldn’t fight it. I was 6 days shy of that marker. I was a bit on pins and needles about what to do. I wanted my doctor, who was unreachable at that point.
I hopped in my mom’s car and we headed in. I called Anthony, who left work early to come be with me. Thank goodness it was a Friday afternoon! This time around, I got to enter the hospital through the front doors. My mom wanted to walk in with me, but didn’t know what she should do with the car. The parking garage was a good walk away, which I couldn’t manage. The valet guy wasn’t there at the front. Just as my Mom had decided to leave the hazard lights on and walk me in before running back out to the car, he reappeared. She looked at him with her “urgent face” on and said, “My daughter is in labor, can I leave the car with you?” He smiled and said, “Go! Go! Not to worry, I’ve got this covered.” She handed him the keys and we were off! We went to admitting and sat for what seemed like forever. I had to pee twice. Anthony arrived and we got everything taken care of. I was wheeled up to Labor and Delivery into the room right next door to where I recovered from giving birth to Abigail (The hospital had done a remodel, and what was then “recovery” was now “Labor and Delivery”). A couple of nurses whose names I do not remember came in and out, hooking me up to monitors and asking me questions. Another hour had passed and by now the contractions were undeniably that: real contractions. The painful kind. Still about 6 minutes apart. The nurse who was filling out my chart started asking me all of the “we need to know everything about you” questions to put into the computer. During which time Dr. Fields made her first appearance. She was bubbly, and a little too perky for my liking (which is saying something if you know how perky I can be!), but she was now in charge. She told me Dr. David had been notified but that he was stuck on the 405 in bumper to bumper traffic headed in the OPPOSITE direction from us. He was going to try to make it back. But for now, I was in her hands. She asked me her own round of questions and I answered as best I could through contractions that suddenly started to come hard and fast.
At this point, the first major problem had arisen. I mentioned that I had planned to have my tubes tied during this surgery. But in the state of California, you have to sign the paperwork for consent more than 72 hours before surgery. I had – weeks prior, actually. But those papers were in Dr. David’s office, not the hospital. And they were telling me that they wouldn’t be able to do the procedure if they couldn’t get the paperwork faxed before we started the C-Section. Dr. Fields ran off to try to rectify the problem.
It was about 4:30pm and now the contractions were really crazy. Long and strong and under 2 minutes apart. I was over half way dilated and 90% effaced. The nurse asking me all the medical questions (and trying to get answers through Anthony, as I couldn’t breathe, the contractions were so painful) gave up. She said it didn’t matter anymore, we needed to get into an OR before I just had the baby the old-fashioned way (which could have been dangerous for me). They took Anthony to get moon-suited up. Another nurse came in to draw blood and hook me up to an IV. She was great! She saw how sacred I was and how serious I was when I said I was needle-phobic. So she did a 2-in-1 and drew my blood through my IV. That was cool! Only 1 prick! Wahooo! I high-fived her.
Before I knew it, it was go time. They wheeled my bed out of the room and down the hall to the OR (hitting not one, but TWO supply carts on the way there, btw. Anthony started to get upset). The phrase “Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times” played loudly in my head in both English and Spanish. We made it to the OR in one piece. They were prepping for me. The best part of it all was that, this time, Anthony was with me every step of the way so far. He held my hand, he talked to me and held my focus, he made me feel so much better. A complete 180 from my first experience.
They got me up on the operating table, ready for the spinal tap. At this point my contractions were less than a minute apart, and lasting 30-45 second each. The anesthesiologist braced me for what was coming. He told me that he usually did this in between contractions, as it is VERY important that I don’t move while he does this. But there was not a break long enough between them to accomplish his task. So he said we’d have to manage THROUGH a contraction. He actually waited until one started, so that I was less likely to move. Anthony held my arms as I grabbed onto his sleeves. I pressed my head on his chest and he held me there as best he could. I was SO scared. But it really wasn’t that bad! In actuality, I barely felt it. The contraction was the only thing I felt, and Anthony was able to hold me still long enough to get the job done. Within 30 seconds my body started to relax. I felt one more, significantly weaker, contraction. They laid me down and before I knew it, I couldn’t feel a thing. To the point that he poked me up my leg, past my hip, and all the way up to my bra line before I could feel the pin he was poking me with. Holy Moly!
Dr. Fields had not yet returned from her paper-finding mission. That was majorly concerning me. Not doing the procedure today would mean yet another procedure in the near future. My worry was becoming an all-consuming focus at that point. But the next people to walk through the door were the best distraction possible! The friendliest faces I could have asked to see charged through the door with smiles and “So good to see you!” and “We’ve got you covered.” You see, for every C-Section performed at Los Robles, 1 NICU nurse and 1 NICU RT (respiratory therapist) must be present. But this was MY baby we are talking about here. Los Robles NICU is family. So I got 2 NICU Nurses, 1 RT, and a Neonatologist. Everyone of whom I knew by name. It was like a family reunion. And they all pulled out their phones to snap pictures for me. 🙂
Dr. Fields returned, ready to go. She announced that she’d received the signed paperwork needed to perform the extra procedure. Even though the office had closed early, and Dr. David could not help, his AMAZING staff went back into the office after already going home for the weekend, and delivered what I needed. Once again, my incredible OB staff came through for me in a pinch. They are fantastic people.
And with that, it was time. Anthony and I talked to the NICU staff while Dr. Fields cut into me. It took mere minutes to get Milo out. They held him up for me to see, and told Anthony to stand up and look at his son. (Side anecdote: peering over the curtain meant that Anthony could see my exposed abdomen… and all of my displaced insides. This did not bother him in the slightest! But it will bother me forever that he gets to tease me by saying, “I know you now – Inside and out.” Ugh.) The NICU staff took Milo, weighed him, cleaned him up, and handed him to me. They told me he was breathing great! And that he was big! Over 5 lbs. It was better than we could have hoped for. We snapped a few photos and it was time to take Milo to the NICU. The crew was getting ready to go and they asked if Anthony wanted to come with them. I told him to go – I’d be fine. So off he went, admiring his new best bud.
In all honesty, the strangest experience I’ve had in my life to-date was that C-section. To be awake, unable to feel the pain, but 100% able to feel the pressure and movement. When they moved something aside, I felt it. When they put something back, I felt it. At one point, I remember they were pulling on something and it literally shook my whole body – which I totally felt – and said “Sorry about that!” WTF were they doing???? Tying my tubes took almost triple the amount of time it took to deliver Milo. Obviously, they wanted to get it right. But it was like I wasn’t even there – the doc and her assistant were chatting about some personal family thing the whole time. The Anesthesiologist tried to talk to me, but I was just like, “This is weird. I need to be done now.” Oh, and I’ll never forget the shivers. I was concerned about how much I was shivering. Apparently it’s totally normal but no one warns you about anything, so it freaked me out.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was really only about 15 minutes) it was over. I was stitched back up, they carried me back to the mobile bed, and wheeled me to recovery. I was visited by a few people – My sister, my MIL, my parents all stopped by. Anthony came in at one point to update me and then run back. And then, the drug induced haze of happiness kicked in and I slept. Like, for hours. I actually didn’t even see Milo until the next day. I had peace of mind knowing he was in the best hands possible, and I was so utterly exhausted that sleeping in that hospital bed was the best sleep I’d had in months (and would prove to be the best sleep I would have for almost a full year after).
I saw Dr. Fields several times over the weekend. Dr. Ghausi called me the next morning to check in, and Dr. Saul (Abby and Milo’s pediatrician) came to visit me and check on me as well. Dr. Ghausi saw me Monday morning and said I was probably well enough to go home and recover but that if I wanted to stay, he’d give me one more day. So I stayed.
Visiting the NICU for the first time, the day after Milo was born, was like a party. I wobbled my little butt into that room and received the warmest of welcomes. Hugs and cheers and “OMG, he’s gorgeous!” from all angles. I was given my first NICU update in 3 and a half years, and it all flooded back to me like I’d never left. I was told that certain primary nurses of Abby’s were fighting over who would get to care for Milo. We laughed, and we played catch up, and we pretty much scared the daylights out of the poor couple next to us who were so obviously going through something similar to what we went through in 2010. I pulled this new mother aside and I told her, “I’m so sorry if we scared you – these people are family, as this is our second child in this ward. I promise you, your baby is in the BEST hands she could be in. And if you need to talk to someone, I’m more than happy to listen.” She never took me up on my offer, but at least she didn’t seem so afraid of me anymore.
Milo spent 19 days in the NICU. He kicked every test’s ass, never had any major set backs, and only had to stay the extra week because of the damn apnea. Abigail met him on day 3, and visited often. She was so utterly in love with this tiny creature and would tell anyone who would listen that he was, “My Baby Milo.” Which made my heart melt, because I said the same thing to anyone who would listen the day my sister was born.
I don’t remember much else. I recovered quickly. We managed to move from Anthony’s parent’s house to a place of our own less than a week after I’d left the hospital. I remember my In-laws finally got to return home to NorCal after staying to help for weeks while I was on “Bed Arrest.” I also remember my Mom got shingles and couldn’t see any of us until after Milo came home which made both of us miserable. Life returned to “normal” so much more quickly than it did in 2010. Abby adjusted so well, and we all just started living this amazing life as a family of 4. It’s been more than a year now. He’s walking, has several basic words (His first word was Mama!!!), mimics dozens of sounds, and loves Abigail more than anything. He’s completed our family, and we love him to the moon and back. I’m at the point now that I have trouble recalling what life was like before he arrived. It is both an odd and incredible feeling.
I’m one blessed Mama these days. Thank you, again, for everyone who helped us and prayed for us during that time. You made a difference to me, which made a difference for him.