Evanna is already almost 2 weeks old, and I’m already forgetting details surrounding the day she was born! It’s been a crazy few weeks to say the least (um…they decided to send us back to Calgary only 3 days after she was born!), but it was all worth it.
Her birth story starts a few days prior to her entering the world. On Thursday April 24, I had my second OB appointment with Dr. Wong in Edmonton. But by this time I was at my whit’s ends, and I was DONE with being pregnant. I had just spent Easter weekend alone in Edmonton (well technically my friend Bev was with me), and I was becoming an emotional wreck. I was missing my husband, family, friends, kitties, and just the fact that I was away from the comfort of my own home was taking a toll on me. My belly was getting bigger and bigger, and it was getting increasingly harder and harder for me to move around. Also, with soo much free time on my hands, I was browsing the internet looking up more and more on Evanna’s heart condition, and like always, one click leads to another, and those clicks sometimes end up to the sad stuff, and I was beginning to really stress myself out.
Every night I was going to bed thinking “is this the night my water will break and I’ll start having contractions?”, and I was overanalyzing every little weird thing my body did thinking that maybe my contractions were starting. I was constantly getting daily messages from family and friends asking me how I was feeling, and I have to say that it was starting to get disappointing responding back that I was feeling great, and had no hints of contractions. I was also growing angry because I came up to Edmonton extra early due to my high amniotic fluid levels, and the chance I would go into labour early, and I didn’t. Anyways, I was on the tipping point of a total melt down, and was hoping Dr. Wong would be able to do something about kick starting this labour – whether it was stripping my membranes or inducing me – I didn’t care.
So during my appointment Dr. Wong checked me. I was still only 1cm dilated and my cervix was still very long - baby girl was riding high (meaning she had not dropped). However after reviewing my previous days ultrasound, he noted that my amniotic fluid levels rose again from 31cm to 33.5cm (again, the normal range is 8-18cm, so that tells you just how large I was!), and I was now measuring at 42 weeks. He was really concerned at the complications that could arise if my water were to break while not in a hospital setting. I also began to hint at my emotional state and that I didn’t really want to wait another week to have this baby. He definitely agreed that an induction was the route to go for a number of reasons. First, like I just stated, if my water were to break while at home or in public, there was a HUGE risk of cord prolapse (the cord coming down before the baby and oxygen and blood circulation getting cut off). Second, because of baby girl’s heart condition, it was just safer overall for my entire labour to be monitored in a hospital setting in case she were to go into distress and her heart rate drop. Next step was to figure out a date for the induction. Dr. Wong said he likes to schedule inductions at the beginning of the week because the Stollery NICU and transfer team are a little better prepped at the beginning of the work week verses the end of the week and weekend. It’s not to say that they can’t and aren’t prepared to take a baby whenever, but overall it was just better to deliver at the beginning of the week. So Dr. Wong went back and forth over April 28 and May 5 (both are Monday’s). This meant a difference of me having her at 39 or 40 weeks. This decision weighed on me a little because I didn’t want to come off being selfish in wanting to have her at 39 weeks instead of keeping her safe inside me for another week. Really – when it came down to it, I wanted what was best for Evanna. However, Dr. Wong reassured me that there was really no difference between having her at 39 or 40 weeks, and she would be just fine. I also informed Dr. Wong that my parents were coming up that weekend, and my husband was also coming up anyways on Monday, so it was settled – I was going to have this baby on April 28.
After signing some paperwork, I left his office and made phone calls to Nick, my parents and Nick’s mom Sandy, letting them know that not only were we having this baby soon – but we had an actual date! With having an actual date, it made things a little easier to plan. Sandy was able to inform her work and decided to come up Monday afternoon and stay up until Thursday. My parents, who were already coming up for the weekend – made arrangements so they could stay a little longer, and Nick had to had to decide on whether to take off his last shift and come up Sunday afternoon, or work his last night shift and drive up immediately after his shift ended on Monday morning. Both Sandy and I thought Nick should have taken his last day off so he could come up to Edmonton and get a good night’s rest before the big day, but if anyone knows Nick, knows that he worked until the last possible moment. Oi.
The weekend before my induction was spent hanging with my parents and celebrating my cousin Chelsea’s wedding. I was so happy that I was able to attend her Edmonton reception, and my grandparents also came up to Edmonton, so I got to see them too. On Sunday we had breakfast at my Aunt’s house and then we all went to church.
|Last picture of me pregnant - 3 days before Evanna was born. I know - I was HUGE!|
It was definitely hard to sleep the night before my induction knowing that I was about to have this baby. I was so nervous and yet so excited for her to finally be here. The last several months since finding out about her heart condition has led to this moment, and so it was a little scary.
Now, when it came to the induction, I was told I had to wait for a phone call from the Royal Alexandra Hospital either Sunday night or Monday morning telling me when to come in. Boy, I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated a phone call so bad! Well Monday morning rolled around, and I just lied in bed awake just waiting and waiting. I finally called the induction unit around 6am asking them when they wanted me to come in, and they replied by saying that the induction team starts making phone calls around 7am. So I waited and waited some more. Finally I called again around 9:30am seeing if I could get a clearer answer. The person that answered the phone knew my name, but again told me to just sit tight and I should hear from them shortly (I’m VERY impatient). At 10am Nick arrived to the Ronald McDonald house, and just as he was walking up the front porch, the hospital called asking me to start making my way there. Talk about timing! Nick then called his mom to tell her that she should start making her way to Edmonton as the baby was officially on its way!
Around 11am we all packed into my parent’s car, and my dad drove me, Nick and my mom to the hospital and dropped us all off. We checked in, and they had me change clothes. A doctor came in to assess me, and he thought that I was about 2-3cm, so they began the process and hooked me up to oxytocin. Once they had that going, they had me move from the induction area to the labour and delivery unit. Not too long after, Dr. Wong came in and assessed me himself, however he thought I was only 1-2cm dilated, and my cervix was still 3cm long (so again, baby was very high and she had not dropped into position). So he stopped the oxytocin, and instead inserted a cervidil into my cervix to help soften it. Now usually when this happens, they will send the patient home for the evening, but because I was a high risk pregnancy (for high amniotic levels and Evanna’s CHD) they had me admitted for the night. Basically it became clear that I was not having the baby that day which made me a little sad. I was under the impression that the day you go in for an induction is the day you actually have the baby, but I now know that isn’t the case. Oh well.
After making me walk several laps around the hospital and drink raspberry leaf tea nonstop, my mom and Sandy finally left for the night, and it was finally just me and Nick. I slept pretty great until about 1am when I started to get a little uncomfortable – which I know realise was because I was starting to have contractions. Not sure of the exact time, but they finally came and got me, and we headed back up to the induction area to begin the process all over again! However this time I was for sure having pain in my lower abdomen pelvic area and Nick began to time them. They weren’t too painful, but I knew that these were officially contractions. Dr. Wong came and assessed me himself, and he was very pleased with my progress (I think I was at 3cm dilated and my cervix had softened dramatically). Next step – breaking my water! Now this was one of the WORST parts of my entire delivery (which some people find surprising). Usually when they break someone’s water the baby is already generally low and they only have to use one hook. With me, they had to use 3 hooks, and at the same time push the baby down so her cord would not slip out. This was incredibly painful and because of how much fluid I had, was an incredibly long process. I was on the verge of tears and just wanted it to be over with. I think Nick felt very bad, and he just held my hands very tightly. The one nurse stated that she had never seen so much fluid in her life (though she wasn’t very old), and it was like a 2L pop bottle had split onto the floor. I was so relieved when the process was over, and it was amazing to see the difference in the size of my belly after all the fluid had been drained out. Seriously, it was like I was 33 weeks pregnant all over again. Nick couldn’t believe how much smaller my stomach looked and Dr. Wong pretty much said that the baby went from having an Olympic size pool to swim around in, to a little wading pool, lol.
The oxytocin drip was restarted and I was again led over to the labour and delivery unit. However this time I was actually having contractions, so I knew this time was the real deal. Nick and I called our moms to tell them to head over to the hospital, and now it became a waiting game. Just before my mom arrived I decided that I wanted the epidural, so they called the anesthesiologist in. Now I was a little afraid that it would hurt, but I can honestly say that other than the normal needle pinch, it didn’t hurt at all. I don’t think anything can compare to the pain of my water getting broke though at that point!
|You know the epidural is working because I'm in no pain, and I'm on my phone!|
For the next several hours I just hung out while having contractions, and every hour they upped my oxytocin levels. I however didn’t up the epidural levels because I wanted to feel something come time to push, however this became a huge mistake. Around 3pm the contractions were getting really strong and started to hurt a lot. I got a new nurse because of shift change, and she was getting concerned because there had been a few instances of the baby’s heart rate not recovering quick enough after each contraction. She went and got the resident who took the fetal monitoring strips to discuss with her colleges, but they decided it was too soon to call my OB (my mom thinks this was a huge mistake on their part – but whatever, what happened happened). They did however prep me in case I needed to have a C-section. Within a half hour my contractions were getting extremely painful and I was having this awful pain down my right side. I finally asked for a top-up on my epidural, but the anesthesiologist was in another surgery, and so it would take a little bit before he could come and do that. I was getting really restless and I could not get comfortable. I also didn’t have too many position options because of how many machines I was hooked up too. They gave me oxygen in hopes that it would help keep the baby from going into distress, but nothing was working. Finally they pulled in the first doctor on the unit they could find and within minutes she made the decision that a C-section had to happen. She asked my mom to hit the code button and within seconds my room was filled with tons of people. They were racing to unplug machines from the wall and started to literally rush me out of the room and run me down the hallway to the OR yelling at people to get out of the way. As they were running me down the hallway I quickly stated to the doctor “you know the baby has a congenital heart defect, right?” The doctor looked down at me stunned and then back up to her staff and yelled “WHY DIDN’T ANY OF YOU TELL ME THIS WAS OUR HEART PATIENT!?!” Just as a side note: you have to realise this wasn’t my OB, it was just the first doctor they could find on the unit, so it wasn’t like she had time to review my chart (but she was obviously aware that one of the patients currently on the unit was delivering a heart baby). Anyways she looked back down at me and asked if I knew what the condition was, and I said “Yes, Pulmonary Atresia”. She quickly thanked me, and told me that I was very smart for letting her know. They rushed me into the OR and transferred me over to the OR bed. All I hear is “just splash her”, “baby has a heart defect” and “call the NICU transfer team”. The anesthesiologist starts asking me a whole bunch of questions about my health, and a nurse leaned over and says “everything is going to be alright, we’re here to take care of you”. They began to hang the blue curtain up and all I managed to say before they put me to sleep was “she has to go to the Stollery, she has to go to the Stollery!”(I just really wanted to make sure they knew about Evanna's heart condition, and that she needed to be transferred).
Nick and my mom said overall, it was a very chaotic situation. Nick said while they were rushing me out of the room, my IV pole almost hit my head, and the speed at which they were unhooking machines and racing me out of my room was very fast. Apparently within minutes after I was rolled into to the OR, my mom saw Dr. Wong speed walk down the hallway towards to OR – so he must have walked in just after I was put under. The nurse came out and told my mom and Nick how proud she was of me. She said that I remained very calm and made sure that everyone was aware of what needed to happen for the baby.
Evanna was born at 4:10pm and came out crying. She weighed 6lbs 12oz, and was 47cm long with a head full of red hair (which I was secretly hoping for). Nick was brought in just shortly after she was taken out and took lots of pictures while they were cleaning and assessing her.
I woke up, and heard Dr. Wong talking (he has quite the distinct voice), so I quickly asked how the baby was, though it hurt to talk because I had been intubated. Dr. Wong said the baby was fine, so I then asked how Nick was doing. Dr. Wong chuckled and said Nick was fine too. They wheeled me into recovery, and I remember my stomach being very sore. I asked if they could give me something for the pain, but they said I had to wait, and they rolled me over onto my side to remove the epidural line. Finally they told me that the NICU transfer team was almost ready, so they were going to bring the baby to me. I was very confused as I didn’t know how much time had passed and thought Evanna had already been transferred over to the Stollery (I guess I had only been put under for about 30 minutes). About 5 minutes later they wheeled Evanna into the recovery room and Nick was right behind her. They gave us about 15 minutes alone time and we got our first moments as a family. I was able to touch and stroke her and I remember her sucking away on her fingers. I just couldn’t believe she was here and how beautiful and perfect she looked. I remember looking at Nick and I could literally see how much he was in love with her.
|Already sucking on her fingers!|
Finally they came in and told us it was time for them to take her over to the Stollery. Nick followed and I was taken to the postpartum unit. My mom joined me, and they finally gave me a shot of morphine for the pain. I tried to eat some jello and drink apple juice, but it didn’t matter because nothing I had stayed down. My mom ended up staying the night with me, while Nick and his mom stayed with Evanna at the Stollery before heading back to the Ronald McDonald house to get some sleep.
The next morning they granted me a 4 hour pass so I could leave and go over to the Stollery to finally see and hold Evanna. When we first arrived, she was having an ECHO being done, so Nick and I were only able to touch and stroke her sweet head and fingers. Finally the ECHO tech finished and I was able to hold her. Tears flowed – I was finally holding my baby! She was so tiny and I felt so much joy and happiness. At the same time, I was also a little sad because of how many machines she was hooked up too and the reality that I wasn’t able to take her home was setting in. I just held her and held her some more before I finally had to leave and go back to the Royal Alexandra Hospital. My heart ached when we left, and I hated that I had to leave her.
Not sure how to end this post, because the story truly doesn’t end there, but at the same time, the rest of the story doesn’t have to do with her “birth”, so I guess I’ll stop here.
I’m so grateful for my amazing husband and supportive mom and mother-in-law who never left my side. Nick was so great and remained so calm through the whole process, and I’m not sure I could have done it without him. We are now parents to a beautiful little girl who is so strong and doing so well. We love you Evanna!