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We are parents!

November 2, 2018

This is a long post, and I didn’t bother much with personal finance considerations.  Here is the story of the end of my pregnancy, how we became parents, and how things are going so far.

Late Pregnancy Complications

After a remarkably easy time for the bulk of pregnancy, things got complicated in the last few weeks. I have a devastating feeling that my normally very healthy body failed me in the task of pregnancy.  However, I have a seemingly healthy baby, so I guess it didn’t fail completely,

  • At 33 weeks, a growth ultrasound showed baby was measuring quite small (<10% for gestational age).  Induction at 39 weeks was recommenced since they expected her to grow better on the outside at that point.  I was scheduled for 2-3x weekly monitoring appointments to check on the baby’s activity, my fluid levels, and the cord blood flow to ensure she was still getting nutrients.
  • At 35 weeks, my blood pressure was worryingly high during my appointment for the 2nd time, so the doctor moved my induction to the 37th week to limit the risk of pre-eclampsia.  I  started disability / maternity leave after this appointment, two weeks earlier than planned. The handoff of tasks was less smooth than I had intended. Some of my coworkers did not seem to understand why I was leaving so early, and kept expecting me to be available to continue things from home. (This may be because most women in California are eligible to start leave 4 weeks before their due date, so they thought I had a month of hanging out at home with no complications.) I must not have articulated the situation well, but also, I looked perfectly healthy and not like I would having a baby in 2 weeks. They did stop bothering me when I produced a baby!
  • At 36 weeks and 4 days, my home blood pressure reading was above the threshold where I’d been instructed to call. They asked me to come in to labor and delivery triage, where I expected they’d run some labs and send me back home.  Instead, despite blood work showing healthy kidney and liver function, they recommend induction ASAP. The blood pressure and protein in my urine was enough to convince them that things were only going to get worse, and the baby should come out now.

The Birth:

After I was admitted, I was given medication to lower my blood pressure, put on an IV of magnesium to reduce risk of seizures, and given a steroid shot for the baby’s lung development since we were before 37 weeks. Induction started late in the evening with a foley balloon, which produced contractions relatively quickly.  The contractions became painful within an hour, and I started vomiting from… the pain? The pain killer I had with the insertion?  General labor symptom?  Who knows why, but it was a regular occurrence until after the baby was out.  Knowing I wanted an epidural, I requested it at that point. I was already confined to bed due to the magnesium IV, so there really wasn’t a drawback. The epidural was placed without complication at 2:30 am, and I attempted to sleep while being poked and prodded all night. At about 5:30 am, the balloon came out and we started Pitocin to help contractions progress.

Things went normally throughout the morning.  Since patients control epidural strength and I kept it fairly minimal, I could feel sensations without feeling pain – just some mild discomfort. Just after noon, nurses and doctors rushed into the room after one of the contractions. The fetal heart rate had dropped significantly, but recovered after the contraction.  They determined I was entering transition phase, suggesting this could cause of the heart rate drop temporarily. Not too much later, I began pushing in earnest. I wasn’t pushing for long – perhaps 3 contractions – when a few pushes were followed by major hemorrhaging. The doctor suspected placental abruption and even more medical staff flooded into the room.  They began preparation for an emergency c-section, and whisked me down the hall to the OR.  The anesthesiologist amped up my epidural in an attempt to completely numb the area so we could avoid general anesthesia.  Pediatricians were standing by to check the baby when she came out. The doctors were checking my progress and checking the baby’s positioning. The nurses hooked me back up to fetal monitoring, and gave me lots of encouragement.

Fortunately, the fetal heart rate had stabilized en route to the OR, and the doctor recommended we continue with the delivery attempt in the OR. The baby needed to come out quickly, so forceps were suggested. If forceps failed due to the baby’s position or any other reason, we’d immediately fall back to the c-section. I was given a few chances to push with the forceps. By this point, my lower half was totally numb. I couldn’t feel contractions or whether I was pushing at all, much less productively.  But I was pushing!  And it was good pushing!  The forceps were working!  She was born, let out a cry, and was plopped onto my chest for skin-to-skin.

As predicted, she was small. At 1.99 kg, she was a hair under the threshold where NICU time is typically required.  Her APGAR was great and she showed no signs of needing extra care, so the doctors let her stay with us, unless something else were to come up.  Both of us were closely monitored for the next day. Her blood sugar was checked regularly, among the other newborn shots/tests. My magnesium IV stayed in for 24 hours, which made me feel terrible and kept me chained to the bed. Once that was out, my recovery went smoothly with a normal amount of pain. We had significant time with a lactation consultant, and despite a learning curve, nursing was off to a decent start by the time we left the hospital.

The aftermath

With clean bills of health, we were discharged from the hospital about 48 hours after birth.  T and I were still processing the fear we’d felt during the birth, and the joy of finally having her safe in our arms. She was small, but she was healthy!  And we were going home!

I walked into the house first. T had left in a hurry, but things were in disarray disproportionate to a frantic rush to the hospital.  The freezer was open, something he would never do… then I noted the screen on the kitchen window appeared to be falling off.  It took me several seconds of working through denial to realize what had happened: while we were in the hospital, our house had been burglarized. I immediately broke into tears, as T frantically checked all the rooms  to assess what was missing or damaged.

Irrationally, I feared the thieves had stolen the baby gear I’d spent months acquiring.  “Good, the bassinet is still here!” I exclaimed with relief.  In fact, while every other room had been ransacked, the nursery was left untouched. Baby and I camped out there while T dealt with the police and cleanup. I don’t know if I slept at all the first night, between the emotions from the burglary combined with worry about the baby.

The thieves were likely disappointed – we don’t have valuable jewelry, aside from my wedding rings, which were with me. We had our personal laptops and iPad at the hospital. My work laptop was at home, and was the most valuable thing they got, along with an 8 year old iPad. Leaving the freezer open caused the most damage. Not only was there a $300 repair, but it destroyed ~15 freezer meals I’d spent the last few weeks preparing, in hopes of easing the transition into newborn life.  I’d also stocked up on meat and other snacks at Costco and the store in preparation for coming home. All the food in both the fridge and freezer had to be tossed – hundreds of dollars worth of food, and more so, the emotion of losing all the work I’d done to prepare.

Friends, family, and neighbors were very helpful, sending or delivery meals and offering words of encouragement and help.

Newborn Daze:

As far as infants go, she has been remarkably easy (with one noted exception). She goes to sleep fairly easily after eating. She has several alert periods throughout the day when we can get to know her and introduce her to the world. We anticipate this may change as she matures. She is a bit of a sleepy eater, but breastfeeding has started out well – a big relief. We are trying to enjoy this stage as much we can.

The biggest challenge is her feeding schedule. Due to her size, we need to wake her up every 2 hours to eat if she hasn’t already requested to eat. It can take 45-60 minutes to complete a feeding session, with diaper changes, burping, and poking her so she stays awake, etc. It’s exhausting, although only a bit more than any newborn schedule would be.

Since she arrived over 3 weeks ahead of schedule, T is still juggling fall semester responsibilities before he gets his semester off of teaching. This isn’t ideal, but it is what it is. (He did have guest lecturers cover him the first week and during the birth.) My mom was here for a long weekend, and my sister is coming for a week, then my mom & dad will come back again for a longer stretch (the originally booked tickets). So, despite being so very far away, we do have some help in these early days.  T’s schedule also provides some flexibility, but he has more on his plate than would be ideal. I’m eager for December, when we’ll have more time together as a family.

Once home, my recovery went well.  My blood pressure has dropped to its normal healthy levels, and I no longer need to take anything for pain. The hormones and emotions are a bit wild, but we’re getting there.  The exhaustion is real, but nothing totally unexpected.

Onward

The blog will continue at its usual slow pace, and personal finance topics will return soon enough!  In the meantime, I’m hanging out with the baby and we are figuring out parent life!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2018 3:27 pm

    What a roller coaster ride! Reading about the burglars leaving your freezer open breaks my heart. I’m so sorry that happened to you on top of all the birthing stress, but am glad you and your baby are doing ok now.

  2. November 3, 2018 4:37 am

    Congratulations! The drama in your story made my heart race. I wish you calm and happy days, months and years ahead 🙂

  3. November 3, 2018 4:45 pm

    Congratulations!!!

    And that really sucks about the burglary. 😦

    Yay baby!!!

  4. canadian_sadie permalink
    November 3, 2018 6:52 pm

    Congratulations!! I’m so sorry to hear about the break-in, but look how lucky you were to be not there at the time! Enjoy your beautiful family!!! ❤

  5. November 5, 2018 1:38 pm

    I’m glad she’s here!!! Congratulations! I’m glad you’ve had lots of help you’ve wanted too 🙂 hope dog is treating her well too!

    I can’t even imagine how awful you felt discovering the burglary – I felt awful just reading that. Holy hell, that combined with the hospital stress.

  6. November 5, 2018 1:52 pm

    congrats guys! enjoy this quiet newborn family time if you exp is anything like ours (once we got to his EDD he got fussy and gassy and a lot less sleepy!) Can’t believe we both had ours at basically the same age – it’s crazy – glad you got to leave hospital fairly quickly.

    my heart dropped reading about your house – so sorry about the burglary, i am ENRAGED about the loss of those meals :@

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