Here’s what happened

So, on Saturday night, the 12th, we had been sitting around talking and playing video games. As I got ready for bed, I realized that I hadn’t felt Nate move in awhile, but I couldn’t be entirely sure of that, because I thought maybe I’d just been engrossed in what we were doing. As I went to sleep, I paid attention, though, and felt him flutter four or five times in a row — enough to reassure me that he was there and OK.

When I got up Sunday morning, though, I didn’t feel him move at all. For two hours straight. I knew that was impossible, because Nathan was always a very active baby in utero. No matter what I did, he didn’t move: I walked around; I laid down; I ate and drank; I rubbed my belly; I talked to him, but no response. I called my doctor’s 24-hour line, and they rather dismissively suggested that I could go to L&D to get checked out, but they assured me that by the time we got there, he would’ve started moving again.

When we got to L&D, my doctor happened to be there, and she immediately came over to look at my monitors. Even though Nathan was there, his heart rate was flat, which meant that he wasn’t happy, and he still hadn’t moved in nearly three hours. While my doctor was talking to us — telling us that we weren’t leaving without a baby at this point, because she was ready to induce — she started frowning. “See these shallow decelerations in his heart rate right after your contractions? That means he doesn’t like the contractions.” This was a problem, because they were very light contractions, of the sort I’d had all through the last trimester. While we talked, over the course of about 15 minutes, her frowns got deeper, and she started preparing us for a C-section, because she said he couldn’t tolerate labor. And then, all of a sudden, she said, “OK, we’re going to do this. Now.” We had gone into L&D at 11:30 a.m., and Nathan was born at 1:40 p.m. on Sunday the 13th.

That wasn’t the traumatic and scary part, though. (All I’ll say is that a C-section is a terrible way to have a baby, especially under emergency circumstances.) That came when they took him away for tests in the evening and found that he was breathing too fast. This is common for C-section babies, because they don’t get all the goo squeezed out of their lungs, and, consequently, they have to work harder to breathe. But it meant that he had to be transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital to the Level III (highest risk) NICU. 

Once there, things got even scarier. I should say that he was under excellent, impressive care, so at no point was I worried about that aspect of things. However, the neonatologist explained that she really wanted to pinpoint what exactly had precipitated his distress in utero. To do so, she was focusing on the pathology of the placenta, which had been sent off to, literally, the world’s top expert in placenta pathology, who happens to be at Texas Children’s. We found out on Thursday that a clot in Nathan’s umbilical cord, which they had pointed out to Dan when they clamped it off at birth, extended the entire length of the cord, from him to the placenta, and was extending onto the placenta itself. In essence, he had no blood flow through the placenta for, in the pathologist’s estimation, 24 to 36 hours before birth. Hence, no movement. 

This precipitated a whole slew of tests on Nate, then. Hematology wanted blood tests, and ultrasounds on his heart and abdomen, and an MRI on his brain to make sure that he had no more clots. That meant that, even though his breathing stuff had cleared up by Thursday night, he had to stay through the weekend until he could get the MRI on Monday morning. (As an aside, my brave boy handled the MRI without sedation, holding still for two sets of images, with and without contrast dye!)

But, this afternoon, he was pronounced to have a completely clear bill of health. Nobody knows what caused the clot. He doesn’t have a clotting disorder, nor any other clots in his body. The pathologist was able to determine that the clot was growing from him to me, rather than the other way around, by dating the parts of it, so they really thought that meant it would have to be something weird with him, not with me. I do, however, have to follow up with my doctor to make sure I don’t have a clotting disorder either. The best anybody can tell is that this was just a random, freak incident. We brought our boy home at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Every doctor we encountered over the last week has marveled at this situation. Both my doctor and the neonatologist repeatedly said that I saved his life by coming in when I did, because he couldn’t have survived even a few more hours in utero. I can’t hear that. I fall apart when I think about that. I have to focus on the fact that my boy is here, and he’s been pronounced perfectly normal, healthy, and sound. We had the “luxury” this week of recovering from the birth, getting actual sleep, and not spending every waking moment looking after a newborn. I can’t complain about that part of it, but I would much rather already be exhausted and drained because my boy came home on time and had been keeping us up all night like a normal kid than to be just gearing up for all that because he spent a week in the NICU. 

4 Responses to “Here’s what happened”

  1. Gwen Tevis
    July 22nd, 2008 09:41
    1

    Welcome to the world little Nathan!

    Congratulations on the arrival of your son. I’m so sorry that the three of you had to go through a lot to get him here. I’m relieved to hear he was given a clean bill of health. All the best as you start down the road of parenthood.

    *hugs*

  2. Diana Nemirovsky
    July 23rd, 2008 08:26
    2

    I’ve been thinking of all three of you often these past days. I’m relieved to hear that you’re all home together now, and can cuddle up at home with Nathan.

    What a double whammy that you guys had to face this as first time parents. I’m sure your strength and love pulled you through this, but I’m so sorry you had to tap those reserves. I wish I was there so I could help out in some way.

    Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

  3. Jeremy
    July 23rd, 2008 21:56
    3

    That’s great that everything has worked out and Nathan is healthy, happy, and right now (I’m willing to put money on this) hungry/sleepy. Also, as predicted, you guys are already awesome parents. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I get a spoonful of cereal into Connor’s mouth without it going everywhere, but you guys are really doing great! Nathan will definitely appreciate all your efforts… when he’s thirty.

  4. Abbie (Baker) Lin
    July 27th, 2008 14:24
    4

    Hey Erin – I’m an old friend of Dan’s from high school. Occasionally over the years, I’ve checked out your blogs to see what you’re up to, and so I just wanted to say congratulations on Nate’s birth, and yay for mommy intuition for getting you to the hospital on time! I gave birth to our first child, Meghan, on March 22 of this year, so I empathize, from the deepest part of a new mom’s heart and soul, with what you went through and what you said about falling apart when you think of what could have happened had you waited longer. Meghan’s birth was fairly uneventful (well, I did it naturally, sans epidural, so it was muy OUCHY, and felt like it was lasting YEARS!), but I still understand that heartsinking feeling. Meghan was diagnosed with jaundice (quite common, as I’m sure you know) a couple of days after her birth, so she was taken away from us for half a day so she could bake under phototherapy lights in the nursery, and that was absolutely heartbreaking to my hormonal, two-days-postpartum self at the time. What you went through was so much more — and I’m just glad it all turned out all right.

    Enjoy the next few months; I’m still amazed I don’t have a newborn anymore! Hopefully Nate will be better than Meghan when it comes to sleep — she STILL doesn’t sleep more than 3-5 hours in a row at night. And meanwhile, I recommend Web surfing on an iPhone (I figure you guys HAVE to have at least one in your household, considering…you know, Dan :) ) during those late-night feedings. Free e-books at Gutenberg.org were a favorite of mine, as was Television Without Pity. If you end up reading something interesting, you’ll almost look forward to the next feeding!

    Good luck, and congrats again! :)

    Abbie

    PS Regarding another post of yours, the Stephenie Meyer books are AWFUL!!!! They read like bad fanfic to me — and I say not as someone who think fanfic sucks by definition, but as someone who’s written it herself. I think what’s most frustrating to me is that the books have gotten so OMG POPULAR. No one claimed Sweet Valley High was the Second Coming!

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