Shane's Story - Chapter 2
My water broke at 6:00 am. After waking my husband up and assuring him that no, I didn't have an accident, we got up to go to the hospital 2 weeks before my due date.
Polyhydramnios is a condition where there is too much amniotic fluid. This dehydrates the mother and indicates a fetal anomaly. In normal pregnancies, babies swallow this fluid. In cherubs, some just cannot swallow it (with their stomachs, intestines, etc displaced). My polyhydramnios was undiagnosed. No one had thought to measure me so when my water broke, I mean my water REALLY broke. It wasn't the cute little puddle shown in the movies and on TV. I soaked the bed mattress, 3 changes of clothes before we left the house, the bathroom floor as I sat on the edge of the tub to shave my legs (hello, I was getting up on a delivery room table but not with hairy legs! You women understand), the seat of the car and fluid was literally dripping from the stretcher they put me on in the ER to take me to L&D. Yeah, that's not normal.
I was set to deliver at a small hospital in the county in Virginia where we lived. It was about an hour from my house or maybe 45 minutes (it was 21 years ago). There was no specialist, no NICU, the L&D unit had only 4 beds which probably only filled during a full moon. It was one of only 2 options of nearby hospitals and it was where my sister had given birth 2 years earlier. They didn't drop my nephew so I figured it was an ok hospital. I was 19, what the heck did I know?
We got to the hospital by 7:30 am, our families arrived by 9:00 a.m. and filled the waiting room. We are both blessed to come from large, healthy families. Soon my contractions became noticeable.
13 hours I was in labor, which is pretty average. I don't remember much about it honestly except that I was STARVING and there was a Burger King across the street from my hospital bed. Other than that I remember climbing up my tilted bed to the top of it during a contraction and passing out and sliding down until the next one. Giving birth is exhausting. From 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., they remained bearable and I only dilated 1 cm. At 6:00 I started to beg for pain killers. I was given 2 shots of Demerol and at 6:30, I had an epidural. Too little, too late. I was fully dilated and started to push. The baby's head seemed to be stuck in the birth canal. The doctor performed an episiotomy and at 6:55 p.m. my son made his entrance into the world with the help of forceps. With only the doctor, a nurse, an anesthesiologist, and Jeremy in the room, the baby was laid on my chest as the doctor cut the umbilical cord. Then my nightmare came true.
The baby turned blue as he tried to cry, with only little whimpers coming out of his tiny mouth. Jeremy had just left the room to announce to the world that he had a son. The nurse grabbed the baby and took him to the other side of the room, which was equipped with medical paraphernalia. The doctor delivered the placenta while I repeatedly asked; "Is he OK?". The baby was taken out of the room and over the hospital intercom blared "Code red, Newborn Nursery". I was in a state of shock, my nightmare was really coming true. For a while, I could only lay there, left alone on the delivery table, absorbing this fact. Jeremy came in and we both knew that the intercom operator was talking about our son. Jeremy went to tell the families but when he entered the waiting room, he broke down crying. I began screaming "Where's my baby? What's wrong with my baby?".
You know those books and movies about out of body experiences? I could hear myself screaming but it was like I was listening to someone else. I was in the nightmare I had had every night for 9 months. The room was the same bland hospital room, the bed the same. I was alone. I was screaming.
My doctor came in to stitch up the episiotomy and the tearing that was caused by delivering the baby by forceps. He wouldn't answer my pleas, only did his job and kept quiet while listening to my screams and threats. 20 stitches so he was there a long time not answering me! I was starting to yell that I was going to get up off that delivery table and hunt my baby down. Literally as I was pulling myself up off the table, the nurse came in with the pediatrician. It was my anesthesiologist who figured out what was wrong with my son, not my OB or the pediatrician. There was no pediatrician in the hospital at 7:00 pm to rush in to help my baby so the anesthesiologist took care of him until the pediatrician got there. By this time they had been gone so long they had done x-rays and bagged him (CPR mask hooked to oxygen shoving air into his lungs by hand pressure) for probably 30 to 45 minutes, maybe over an hour. This is not something a CDH baby is very fond of to put it mildly.
The pediatrician held up the x-ray in front of Jeremy and me and said coldly, with no expression on his face "By x-ray we can tell your son has many problems. He was born with multiple, severe birth defects that affect his lungs, heart, and reproductive system. He has a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, which means there is a hole in his diaphragm and organs in his chest cavity preventing him from breathing. He will need surgery to correct all his problems. I sent for the helicopter. You need to tell him good-bye because he probably won't live to be transported" and he walked out of the room.
January 28, 1993 - my CDH Awareness Day.
I wish I had some cute delivery photos of a proud mom and dad and disgustingly un-washed newborn swaddled in my arms, but I don't.