Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Monday, 24 August 2015

Griffin's Birthday

Griffin's original birth story got lost, since the page it was posted on got removed. I finally found a right up of it, so I am reposting it for my own records now.

He was born on 12 November 2001. I was 27.

Griffin's Birthday 

I had another healthy and uneventful pregnancy, and stayed fit and active right to the end. My due date was estimated to be 15 November, but due to the fact that Quinn was born large (and overdue) we monitored the size of the new baby. An ultrasound at 38 weeks estimated that the baby weighed around 3.9kgs already! With gains of around 250g per week I was not keen to go overdue again... 

So at 7am on Monday 12 November, Richard and I met my midwife Kate, at Vincent Pallotti Hospital to attempt an induction. We deliberately arrived early, to ensure that we'd be able to use the labour ward with the birth pool, as I wanted to have another water-birth. 

Kate inserted the prostaglandin gel at 7:45, and after 45 minutes of monitoring, we were sent out to walk around to stimulate contractions. The walking did help but the contractions were not very strong or regular. By 11:45 I was dilated to nearly 3cm, which was enough to allow Kate to rupture my membranes - releasing a flood of fluid which sounded like a running tap!  

Once the mighty flow abated we went out walking again, and the contractions were stronger, but still not very regular, or intense. Once back in our ward Richard lit some candles and placed some of our aromatherapy labour oil in a burner, while Kate massaged my lower back and bump with some of the aromatherapy oil. 

Four hours after the AROM, at 3:45 Kate again checked my progress, and found I'd only dilated to 4cm. I found this very disheartening, as by this time with Quinn's birth he was almost ready to be born... Kate mentioned that with such slow progress we may have to consider a Pitocin drip. I was very against this, and asked if there was anything else I could do. She phoned my gynae who agreed that we could wait another 2 hours, and then access the situation again. 

I could feel the intensity of the contractions increasing, and was starting to have to concentrate and breathe through them. I alternated between standing, leaning forward against the bed, and sitting leaning forward in a chair. I mostly focused on my own and squeezed stress balls (one in each hand) during the peak of contractions. 

At about 5:15pm I told Kate I would love to get into the birth pool - thinking I was still making slow progress, she suggested I wait until 5:45, when the additional 2 hours would be over, when we could access my progress and make a decision. 

That half hour seemed really long, and I was really having to focus during contractions. I was feeling a bit disappointed, and felt that if I wasn't at at least 7cm by 5:45 I may not have the strength or courage to continue. In the mean time I started feeling really drowsy, and was almost nodding off during the short time between contractions. I laughed and said that if I wasn't in labour, I could have quite happily gone to sleep. Kate said that was a sign that my oxytocin levels were high, as a side effect of oxytocin is drowsiness. 

Finally 5:45 arrived, and Kate suggested I empty my bladder before the internal. She came along with me and I had 2 big contractions while out of the room, and had to hobble back. 

I then climbed onto the bed, while Kate readied herself with gloves etc. Richard, who had not been feeling well since mid morning, and had an upset stomach had been sitting and reading on the side. 

As I got up onto the bed I curled up into a foetal position on my side and suddenly felt a change. A powerful force overtook me and I suddenly felt the urge to push. I yelled that I was pushing, and Kate hurriedly grabbed her phone to call her assistant mid-wife who was meant to be there for the birth. I shouted that I wanted to be in the bath, and Richard leaped up and started filling it.... I could not control the incredible pushing force and felt very out of control on my back, I yelled for them to help me up.. She then ran back in and placed a pillow in front of a chair and told Richard to sit in the chair. She then helped me off the bed, and got me to kneel on the pillow and lean on Richard. Kate then dashed outside to ask if one of the hospital mid-wives could assist. 

I put a hand down to feel, and felt the baby's head crowning. I called for Kate, saying the baby was coming. Before she got back from the door, and without any pushing from me, with the next contraction I felt the baby's head coming out. I felt again and could feel that the whole head was out! I was breathless and a bit overwhelmed by how quickly and suddenly everything was happening. Kate got down behind me and told me to push. I said I wanted to rest and wait for the next contraction - she said, ' This baby wants to come NOW', so I gave 2 pushes and felt the burn of one shoulder then the next and then the slither of the rest of the body coming out. Richard said 'It's a boy'. 

I sat down on the floor and held the precious little boy. I was still in complete disbelief at what had just happened, and was trying to catch my breath. 

I checked the clock and it was still before 6pm. I asked Kate what time he had been born and she said, '6 minutes to 6 - and you only got up on the bed at around 12 minutes to 6!'. 

A hospital mid-wife then popped in at the door to see if we needed help, but it was already all over. Once the chord had stopped pulsating, it was clamped, and then Richard cut it. The placenta was delivered, without much fuss, and then the assistant mid-wife Glynnis rushed in saying, ' I got here as soon as I could'. 

I got up on the bed again to have a few stitches put in, as I had torn slightly when the shoulder were born as they were slightly stuck. It was then that I realised that we hadn't even used the birth-pool, and had no birth photos! 

We named our newest family member Griffin. He was indeed big and weighed in at 4.46kg, which is just 10g lighter than Quinn was, but 12 days earlier! He was 54cm long, and has a 37cm circumference head. His apgars were 8 & 9 - losing points for colour and initial breathing. 

Richard then went home to fetch Quinn so he could meet his brother. 

When they arrived I had been moved to the maternity ward, and as Quinn arrived he said 'Baby! Giffin!' which was very sweet. 

I sent the night in the hospital, and went home after breakfast the next day.

Quinn's Birth Story

Quinn's original birth story got lost, since the page it was posted on got removed. I finally found a right up of it, so I am reposting it for my own records now.

He was born on 3 January 2000. I was 25.

The Mighty Quinn 

After losing our first baby prematurely, under very traumatic circumstances, my husband Richard and I felt strongly that we wanted the birth of our next baby to be a happy and joyous occasion. 

I became pregnant again in April 1999. The pregnancy went very well and once we were past the initial fear of another premature birth, we started looking for a midwife who would work with us, and respect our wishes. We found this in Kate Christie. She was happy for us to plan the birth exactly the way we wanted it, and never questioned any of our choices. She was extremely encouraging during my antenatal visits, in her calm and gentle way. 

My due date had been estimated around Christmas Day 1999, but that day came and went with no sign of the baby's arrival. We had expressed the wish not to be rushed into an induction should I go overdue, so we waited to see what would happen. The New Year also came and went with no sign of any real contractions, and by this time I was starting to feel a little impatient, as we knew the baby was quite large, and I was anxious to avoid too much medical intervention. We had made all the necessary arrangements for a home-water-birth. We had the birth pool set-up, and had all the necessary supplies on hand. 

By Monday 3 January 2000, our second anniversary, at 11 days overdue, I decided it was time to get things going. I phoned Kate to discuss our options. She explained that we could try a prostaglandin gel induction, but that we would then have to go into hospital so that we could be monitored. We decided to go in, as we wanted to try for a natural delivery, and didn't want to risk needing an emergency caesarean, as my blood pressure was starting to rise. 

We met Kate at Vincent Pallotti hospital an hour later. Kate inserted the gel at 14h30, and then sent us out for a walk. I knew that if the gel didn't work I would end up needing a pitocin drip, which I wanted to avoid at all costs, so I walked and walked, inside and outside, and sure enough contractions started. They weren't however very strong or regular. So we finally agreed for Kate to rupture my membranes. This was not in our birth-plan but under the circumstances we decided it would be a good idea, as the baby's head was still high, and wasn't pushing on the cervix - Kate thought the added pressure might be what was needed to encourage progression. Kate performed a controlled rupture of the membranes at 18:15. 

This had the desired effect, and I soon started having strong regular contractions. By 19:30 I was really having to concentrate and breathe through contractions and couldn't find a comfortable position. Kate suggested I try getting into the birth pool for a while. Which I did, while Richard lit some scented candles and put some labour oil into our aromatherapy burner. The water was fantastic, and changed the nature of the contractions from feelings of pain, to pressure. Within minutes of being in the pool I started making grunting sounds, and thought I needed to push. After a quick check Kate declared that I was already 9cm dilated! 

I had to pant and blow for a while to allow my body to finish dilating, and while Kate hurriedly called her assistant, Glynnis. 

Kate then told me to listen to my body, and go with what ever it told me to do. I tried various pushing positions, from kneeling and standing, to sitting, and finally decided that squatting was the most comfortable and effective, it also allowed me to feel grounded, and Richard was able to hold me from behind. The contractions were coming on fast and strong, without much of a break in between. I was finding it hard to push, and seemed to be fighting the feeling rather than surrendering. I could feel the baby's head inside me, but I was starting to doubt my ability to carry on, when there was a sudden reprieve. For about 7 minutes there were no contractions, during which time I gathered my mental strength and even dozed slightly. As the next contraction mounted I braced myself and put all my strength into pushing. The crowning was rather painful and I again doubted myself, when suddenly Kate said, "The head is out, feel it!"

It was amazing a big soft warm head under the water; I couldn't believe how much it was moving & turning from side to side. With that another contraction came and after easing one shoulder out the entire baby slipped out. The feeling was quite awesome. It was 10:22 pm. 

And there suddenly, finally was our baby! A perfect chubby baby looking up and staring straight into my eyes. Richard wrapped his arms around us and said " Happy Birthday" to the baby and "Happy Anniversary" to me. It was only after quite a few minutes that Glynnis reminded us to check if it was a boy or girl, I lifted a leg, and there was no doubt that he was a boy! I said "It's a Quinn". 

We were left together in the pool for a while, and Quinn started suckling hungrily. We were all a little surprised to hear that he weighed 4.47kgs, and was 57cm long  a big baby indeed. His apgars were 9/10. 

Richard went home to get a bit of sleep, while I roomed in with Quinn. I stayed awake all night, too excited and happy to sleep. I watched the bright orange and pink hues fill my window as morning broke the next day. After a perfunctory paediatrician check early the next morning we discharged ourselves, and went home. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Nathaniel's Op Incision

This is a photo taken by Quinn of Nathaniel's incision when I was changing the dressing on Sunday....
It's the first time I have changed the dressing since leaving the hospital. It needs to stay covered as it heals... With my ab repair op back in 2003. I had to keep micropore on it for several months. The plastic surgeons claim that the best way to ensure a neat and thin scar is to keep the incision held together like that. So I suspect we'll keep this one dressed for a few weeks yet.

I think the incision looks good. The 2 scars at the bottom are where the drains were, so those are little crosses. The very bottom of the main incision leaked a little at first in the hospital, but dried out after a day or so, and that area has a bit of a scab on it now. It's not wet or infected though, just has a yellowish scab from the plasma that was leaking.

He is doing well and is mostly back to his old self, and is walking quite nicely again now. He is still a bit clingy and whiny at times, and still wakes up and looks for me a lot more at night. But he seems ok.

He has a check-up with the surgeon on Thurs. I think she'll be happy. In a month he goes back to the paed cardiologist for another u/s to see how his heart and valve are doing and if they have settled in to a nice new normal. He'll also have his 1 year check-up then!

The complaint I sent to the hospital was acknowledged and they said they'd take it up with the relevant department. Let's hope they do.

I took a while to recover. It was overwhelming being back at work last week and trying to catch up and do everything I had to. My whole body was sore, tense, stiff and tired. If I tried to run I would feel nauseous and like I would get another migraine. So I just stopped trying to do much of anything. After a chilled week-end where we spent lots of time just being, playing, getting fresh air and sunshine etc though I feel so much better this week. I did have a bit of a pity cry last night after a tough day, and it felt good to actually finally let go and let it all out, after being so 'strong' and coping through it all. ...

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Nathaniel's' Open Heart Surgery Experience Part 2/2

Following on from Part 1 of Nathaniel's Heart defect diagnosis and surgery we found ourselves settled into ward 12A - the paediatric ward of the hospital. Being the mom, and still breastfeeding I was the default care-giver to stay at the hospital with him. So although A did visit as much as he could and came around for the doctor checks and tests he was able to pretty much carry on with life and get a bit of work done - and help with getting the boys to school etc as they were back at school by now and their lives needed to go on.

I ended up staying in the hospital with him for 4 days and 3 nights, with just one brief break to go home and shower etc once in that time.... those days were LONG and I lost track of time and the outside world, with not even a window to look out of. It was both a tiring, stressful frustrating and sort of pleasant time. I had to sleep IN his cot with him, my back has still not forgiven me for that. And there is so much noise, routine, disruption and frankly nonsense that goes on in a hospital. They really do not leave you alone or let you rest at all. Someone always wants something, even in the middle of the night. So I was busy doing something. Cleaning, dressing, feeding, changing, medicating, checking temps, checking BP, check O2 stats, reading to, playing with, putting to sleep, waking up, cuddling Nathaniel all the time. Day and night and all confined to on or around that little 'jail-cot'.
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But that said despite how awful being in hospital was, that special 'nothing else to do but sit here cuddling' time was super special and I really enjoyed the bonding time and opportunity we had. Nathaniel and I definitely got closer though the experience and I am grateful for that.
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It was also nice to have a break from having to prepare meals and cater for a few days. A cooked meal arrived for him 3 times a day, and once for me too. It was cool being able to just feed him and eat and not have to try to juggle entertaining him and trying to cook while keeping him happy (admittedly the other 2 boys do help a lot with this at home anyway, but still).
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So overall the time in the hospital was mostly pretty bearable and at times bemusedly pleasant, if you just follow the rules and instructions and are not stroppy, but one particular nurse was beyond awful.

She is really not good. She does not communicate well, clearly or even in a pleasant manner with parents, and is rough, to the point of potentially damaging, to children both psychologically and physically. Her bedside manner is very bad and her handling of patients (well Nathaniel at least), is I feel almost abusive. 2 examples:
- On our fist evening in the ward after ICU, after Nathaniel having had all meds via IV or nasal tube prior, she proceeded to shove 5-6 different meds down his throat via syringes in quick succession. It was done FAR to fast and roughly done and as a result a few minutes later he vomited out the entire contents of his stomach. Note that he has NEVER vomited before (or since). She didn't seem to care and kind of laughed it off saying 'maybe he had it too fast'. YOU THINK!?

From then on he went on a meds hunger-strike. And we struggled to get him to take any oral medication, and after trying to add it to his milk he stopped drinking anything from a bottle too. Leaving only breastfeeding as an option to get nourishment into him. On Monday we got nearly no pain medication into him at all, and only on ME telling Dr Vosloo this late that evening did she suggest using suppositories. Surely the nursing staff could and should have considered this option??? He had been clearly in pain all day...  2 Nurses and myself then administered suppositories to him, gently and with no issue over the next day. 

- On the Tuesday evening this same nurse decided she was going to administer a suppository and she literally shoved her entire thumb up inside his anus and rectum so hard and fast and right up beyond the second knuckle that he screamed and shrieked in pain! I was so shocked and horrified I couldn't believe it. Surely that is 1) unnecessary 2) dangerous, and could perforate the bowel!? and 3) actually pretty abusive!? I am absolutely appalled at her treatment and lack of compassion and care. After that he was scared and upset every time we administer the suppositories, and clamped his legs together in fear of anticipated pain, even though I always did it as gently and slowly as possible to ensure there is no pain.

I was horrified and appalled. I was actually a bit traumatised by it myself. After we left I actually lodged a complaint about her as I feel it is important that something is done about it, and to potentially spare any other babies and young children from having to endure unnecessarily traumatic experiences with her.

Nathaniel progressed nicely over the days, and had a follow-up U/S on the Tuesday by Dr Pribut where he measured the pressure differential on the aortic valve to be 20 (down from 80) so that's great. He did detect a bit of a leak, but says it does not look serious at all and he thinks it might settle down quite well in a few months, when we'll check a gain to see how everything has re-stabilised.

On Wednesday morning on her rounds Dr Vosloo examined him and decided he was strong, in good health and his incision was healing as it should so she gave us the ok to go home! YAY YAY YAY.

I packed up and got organised as fast as I could and then hung around the nurses station expectantly and kind of harassed the nurses to get their asses into gear then, as we needed a dressing change of the incision and to get his drain stitches out before we could go. We also had to wait for a prescription of suppositories to be filled. This would have taken hours if we'd waited for them to be sent to the ward. I insisted on going down to the pharmacy to get them myself on the way out thanks.

Eventually we were FREE. Nathaniel and I high-tailed it out to the car and the little boy who usually does not like his car seat or car rides much actually smiled when I put him in it. I do think he was very glad to finally be going home after nearly a whole week in hospital. Poor boy.

When we got home he flopped about on the big bed really happily. Hugging the pillows, turning the TV on, admiring himself in the mirror and chopping on an apple.

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We are now 2 weeks out from the surgery and he is better and stronger every day. After a few really clingy days and nights and struggling to get him to take a bottle or to eat still he has started trusting us and being himself again and is healing from the experience in all ways.

He has a check up with the surgeon this week, but I think she'll be very happy with his progress.

So here's hoping his repaired valve stays in good repair and doesn't give him any more trouble!