Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Westyn's Story

If you missed the first part of the story, find it here. 

The next morning I went to my doctor. I was told there was nothing we could do about the hematoma. It would either 'bleed out' or be reabsorbed. I was sent to a specialist for biweekly ultrasounds to make sure it continued to shrink. 

The specialist was very, very good. He was intelligent, well informed and kind. He treated me as a partner in my care, something I can't thank him for enough. I saw him every two weeks for five months. Each time he would measure the mass in my uterus. It was getting smaller, but very, very slowly. 

"The only thing I can suggest is that there is continued bleeding," he told me. "We can only continue to monitor it." 

"And what if something changes?" I would ask him each time. "Are there any treatments? What can we do?"

The answer was always the same. There were no treatments. There was nothing we could do. We could only watch and wait. 

I was on partial bed rest, but that isn't an easy thing to follow when you have four children and keep an additional four part time. I did my best not to lift the toddler and to sit as much as possible. And I did my best not to worry, but it was easy to dwell on the possibilities; to think about all the things that could go wrong. 

There were talks of steroid shots and contraction-blocking medications, but thankfully the weeks passed with little change. My last appointment with the specialist was at 34 weeks. He explained that at that point, they wouldn't stop me if I went into labor. "Your body knows what it's doing," he said. "We'd like to give you steroids (to help the baby's lung development) if  you begin having contractions, so call if you do. But 34 weeks is good, your baby has a good chance." The hematoma was still there, but much smaller than it had been. I went home to rest and wait. I was confident I would carry the baby to term. 

A few days later, I started having contractions. 

Now. You would think, having done this a few times already, I would recognize when I was in labor. I think I was in denial. The night of June 21st I went to be early because I wasn't feeling well. I was having regular contractions but I was sure that if I went to sleep they would stop. 

They didn't. 

The next morning I got up and began my day as usual. The kids I tutored came over and we did our morning lessons. But by lunch I knew. I called the nurse's line and she told me what I knew she would tell me. I called my husband and my good friend Annette. As soon as the kids were picked up and the babysitter arrived, we headed to the hospital. 

I knew I was having regular contractions, but I was sure they would hook me up to an IV, make them stop, and send me home. (I went in to pre-term labor with baby #2 and that's what they'd done.) I fully expected to go home pregnant. 

When the nurse came in to check me, I think she thought so, too. She smiled and chatted with the Amazing Husband and I. But as soon as she checked me, she got serious. I was already at 8 cm. There was no stopping labor at that point. "You're having a baby tonight," she said, and they began prepping me to move to a delivery room. 

Until that point, I don't think I'd realized just how stressful the pregnancy had really been for me. I had spent the past six months putting on a brave face and telling myself and everyone else that everything would be fine. Now I was about to deliver a baby five weeks early. He could have trouble breathing, bleeding or fluid in his brain, developmental delays, learning disabilities or trouble hearing. (Or, he could be fine. Five weeks is not that early. But at that moment, all I could think of were the frightening possibilities.) I was sure his early birth was my fault for not coming in the day before. 

It was an easy labor physically, but very difficult emotionally. The room was full of people and equipment I hadn't had for my other births. The NICU staff was there, ready to whisk him off. It was quiet and tense, at least to me. 

Near midnight, our third son entered the world at 5 lbs 7 oz. They took him to the warmer to work on him, but I couldn't see what they were doing. My husband could. He had trouble breathing at first, but within a few minutes he was doing well. I was able to hold him before they took him down to the NICU. He was tiny - so skinny! He seemed fragile to me.

But he wasn't. He was very resilient and strong. He spent 24 hours in the NICU before they moved him up to pediatrics, where he spent 6 days. It was a new experience for us. He was weighed twice every day - by grams. We would watch that number intently, because if it went down it meant more days in the hospital. We kept careful track of how much he ate (in milliliters!) and weighed his diapers to keep track of how much he was wetting himself. We tracked his oxygen saturation numbers and his bilirubin count.

I learned what the best cafeteria foods were (oatmeal with dried fruit) and which nurses were the best. I learned when it was okay to turn off some of the monitors so I could get an hour of sleep. And I gained a whole new level of appreciation for parents whose children are chronically ill. 

(The story of how Westyn got his name is rather entertaining. When the nurse told me I was having the baby, I told her I couldn't, because he didn't have a name. I meant it. He was almost a week old before we settled on one. After much debate and consideration and polling our friends, we were at an impasse. So the Amazing Husband pulled out his iPhone and did a search for a baby name app. He found one and started reading of all the names he liked. He read out 'Westyn' then 'Zane' because it was next on the list. He liked it. I liked it. Then he Twittered it so we couldn't change our minds.)

Today you'd never know Westyn was early. He caught up quickly in height and weight, and while he has been slow on hitting some milestones (he doesn't walk or say any words yet) he's not too far behind. He's very happy, he eats like a truck driver and he loves his Mama. 

And we love you, Westyn Zane!

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