The birth of Liam Alexander Plato 10.13.11: In memory of his brother
Ethan Amari Plato 1.14.06 - 1.19.06
Ethan Amari Plato 1.14.06 - 1.19.06
On Thursday, October 13, 2011, I woke up early and prepared for what should be the most life-changing day of my existence. Fearful at some level, but overjoyed at another to meet my little man I have been growing for 38 weeks, I showered, dressed myself, and applied makeup to my face. It was the day I had been longing for since I was in high school, and most recently since I had to send my firstborn son, Ethan, back to Heaven, 5 and 3/4 years ago. I was over packed for my 3-4 day stay in the hospital: a diaper bag full of newborn and 0-3 month sized clothes (I wasn't sure what he might fit in), a large suitcase full of maternity nightgowns and some options for clothing to go home in (I wasn't sure what I might fit in...hehe), a boppy pillow, a manual breast pump, a small suitcase filled with Shaun's clothes, a toiletry bag, a bag full of magazines, books, breastfeeding manuals and other reading material I thought I might have time to catch up on (ha! what was I thinking???!!!), a blanket and a pillow for my hubby, and my aromatherapy to help alleviate some of my anxiety.
We drove the 45 minute drive to the hospital and arrived almost two hours early as requested by the nurse who called the night before to give me pre-operation instructions. I was quickly taken back to the OR recovery room and asked to put on a hospital gown and was hooked up to the contraction and baby heart rate monitors. Shaun had the lavender in a plastic bag, which was for me to smell when I felt anxious. And the peppermint oil in another plastic bag for me to smell when I felt nauseous. I did a lot of deep breathing of hospital air, lavender and peppermint oil. The nurse asked me a lot of questions about my histories, my medication, my current pregnancy and other get to know me questions. Once she was completed with my questions, she inserted an IV, and my doctor came to talk to me. My surgery was scheduled for 12:15pm and it was now 11:30am.
Dr. W. sat at the edge of my bed and asked me how I was doing. I sucked back some tears and told her I would be better in an hour when I returned here with my healthy baby in my arms. She smiled and rubbed my legs. "It's almost time, Sunshine," she said, "hang in there. Do you have your aromatherapy?"
I told her I did and she let me know that I was the first patient she had her of who took aromatherapy into the c-section, but there was no hospital policy to prevent it, so she said, go for it. She walked away from the bed, but sat in a cubicle where I could see her, while we waited for the anesthesiologist to come to talk to me. Moments later, my doctor returned to my bedside, and while she pouted her lip, she said, "Ugh, we have been bumped!"
I sighed and asked if she knew how long. She stated she hadn't been told how long, just that an emergency case had taken precedent and she would call the OR to find out. She did and told us that it would probably be 30 minutes. Shaun's parents had arrived to the hospital at this point. The plan was for them to wait in the lobby while I had surgery and then come into the recovery room once the baby and I were stable. Because of my anxiety, I had previously asked that they not come back to see me until after the surgery was complete. Shaun texted them and let them know of the delay.
My anxiety was heightened, but I pushed through it, lowering the lights, listening to my iPod full of great worship music, and inhaling my scents. Over 30 minutes later, a nurse, whom I had met previously at an NST, came out of the OR, squeezed my hand and said, "It won't be too much longer now, Sunshine. You are next, but we have to take care of this surgery first." She grabbed some supplies and returned to the OR. My doctor came back and told us she was going to grab some lunch and hopefully they will be ready for us when she comes back. This doctor is also pregnant, so I knew she needed to eat.
We continued to wait. Shaun texted my friend, Martha, who is like a mother figure to me, that we were delayed. She had planned on coming up to the hospital about 3pm, after our son was to be born. He texted that we were bumped and didn't know when we would go into the OR.
I prayed for the lady and her child who was in the OR. I understood what it meant to have an emergency c-section and just hoped that they were both ok. Realizing that they had been in surgery for almost 2 hours, I wondered if either of them were ok.
The anesthesiologist came out to talk to me and asked some basic questions. I let him know that I was scared to death of what he was about to do and to be gentle with me. He shrugged his shoulders and basically said, I would be fine and it wouldn't be much longer now. I knew that meant I was soon to be going into surgery, but then the nurse who had came out earlier, came out again and again grabbed my hand and said, "I am so sorry, but you will be going back soon, I promise. Hang in there." I was beginning to hate the nurses and doctors who kept telling me it was about to happen, and then here we were still sitting there.
At 3pm, Shaun received a text saying that my dad and step-mom were in the waiting room. This was such a surprise to me as I had invited them and told them that Liam would be born before 2pm and if they wanted to come they could. I didn't get a response from them, so I assumed that they wouldn't be coming. It was a long drive and not something they typically do. So when I found out that they were in the waiting room, I was so happy and shocked. Moments later, my friend Martha arrived. We welcomed her, telling her what was going on as she didn't check her phone for the text we had sent. She brought me in some flowers and said she would wait for us. Within moments, the nurse anesthetist spoke with me and said we were going back now, and was I ready. I told him, no, but take me back. Martha prayed over me and agreed to go into the lobby and let the parents know that I was just going back in for the surgery and should be out within the hour. We knew that Shaun's dad would be upset that Martha had come in to see me, but risked telling him hoping that he would be excited that I was finally being sent into surgery.
I was wheeled into the OR by a team of doctors and nurses. My doctor W. was waiting for me and helped to curl me into a position to get the spinal anesthesia into my spine. I was shaking all over and told her that I didn't want to be paralyzed. She assured me that my shaking was minimal and would not interfere with the placement of the needle. She held me and put the bag of lavender in front of my nose and told me to inhale deeply. I did and laughed thinking how crazy this aromatherapy thing must seem to everyone. She didn't miss a beat. The nurse grabbed my hand and explained what was happening. "Remember I told you that it would hurt less than the IV did and you will only feel the numbing medication go in."
I felt a poke and another and some cold fluid drain into my back. It burned for about 5 seconds. And then I began to shake again. The nurse looked at me in the eyes and said, "and this part, where he is placing the spinal, you are not going to feel a poke at all. You will feel him touching your spine with pressure, and you will think it is going to be painful, but you will feel nothing at all. There, it is done." She was right, I didn't feel the spinal, but I felt my chest and belly and then finally my legs go cold. The team helped me to lie on my back and began draping the blue paper over me.
Within moments, my hubby came in the room, dressed in a marshmallow suit, complete with blue booties, hair net and mask. He sat beside me and I looked in his direction. Behind him was a glass cabinet and I could see my belly reflecting off of it. "Uh, do y'all realize I can see myself in that cabinet?" The nurse said only a few women report that they can see here and asked me if I wanted it covered up. I did.
My doctor and the nurse anesthetist talked me through the entire thing. I had previously told the NA about my cousin who had a heart attack in her c-section and he let me know that he had nitro nearby if necessary, but I was a young, healthy woman and had nothing to worry about. Just then, I told him I felt like I was about to pass out and looked over to the monitor where it showed my blood pressure as 70/30. He said, "nope, I won't let you," and pushed some meds into my IV which caused the pressure to rise to 100/50.
My doctor said she was starting the incision and asked if I mind if she cut a new incision since my scar from the last c-section was really, really low. I told her to do whatever she felt was the safest thing to do, so she said she was going to make an incision an inch above the other one and it would be shorter in length. Once she got through the skin, she told me that my rectus muscles were strong, and difficult to cut through. I must be doing a lot of sit-ups, she said. I chuckled, thinking to myself, are you stinking kidding me? I do not do sit-ups!
She let me know when she was through the muscles and reached the uterus. "WOW," she said, "you have a beautifully healed uterus, I see no indication of a scar or scar tissue from your previous surgery. You have amazing organs, Sunshine." At that point, I was feeling a bit creeped out by this.
The nurse came around and asked me if I wanted pictures of Liam coming out. I agreed and she took the camera from Shaun. She took a picture of him and me before, and then stepped around to where the surgery was in progress. "Ok, Sunshine, the baby is going to be covered in white vernix since he is being born a couple of weeks early," the doctor told me as I heard a faint whimper of what I thought might be my child. "Shaun, do you want to watch as I lift your son out?" He bounced up and then I heard my baby cry softly beyond the blue drape. I began to tear, but just thanked Jesus, out loud. And then told the doctor, "I think I might be able to do this again."
She laughed and said, "did you hear that, dad? She wants to do this again!"
The doctor showed me my slightly blue baby boy and then they whisked him over to the incubator where the NICU team was evaluating him. The doctor told me that in all c-sections here there was a NICU team of doctors and not to be alarmed by their presence. I could hear him crying, and told Shaun it would be ok for him to go be with Liam while they closed me up. He kissed me on the forehead, tearing up a little and went to be with our son on the other side of the room. Soon after I felt a cramping like pain in my right shoulder/neck area. I told the NA. He said I could move my arm now and undid the strap holding it out. That made it worse. I asked him if it was my carotid artery and he chuckled, telling me it was probably referred pain from my uterus being cut. He shared that this often happens and it was not a sign of any heart problem.
And then I felt dizzy again. I think he had to give me more meds to increase my BP again. The doctor continued to tell me what she was doing as she was doing it. At this point she was examining my organs and continued to praise them saying how beautiful they all were. Then she said she was irrigating the organs and my abdominal cavity. It was then that I felt like I couldn't breathe. I kept coughing, huffing, trying to catch my breath. The NA leaned in and told me that what I was feeling was normal while I was being irrigated. It was soon over and I could breathe again.
I was told my baby boy was born at 3:59pm, when Shaun brought over the camera and showed me the pictures of him. He showed me a picture when Liam was on the scale and it said, 7 lbs, 8.6 oz, and then another picture with his foot touching a tape measure at 49. Shaun said, he is 49 inches long. I just about died laughing and asked my doctor if she heard that one. She said, "didn't you hear me chuckle over here, too?" Shaun gave me a look and the doctor said, "what a long baby, especially since your wife is only 59 inches tall." I told Shaun that was in centimeters and asked the nurse what the length was in inches. She said it was 19 inches long. He didn't seem to find the humor in it. The NA asked me what his name was and I told him Liam, but he didn't have a middle name yet. I said, "since you were such a help through the surgery, I might name his middle name after you. What is your name?"
"Gerard," he said.
"Um, maybe not." I giggled and he did, too.
"We are putting you all back together again," said the resident doctor assisting my doctor. "Like Humpty Dumpty," I said. She retorted. "All the kings horses and men could NOT put Humpty Dumpty together again. We are GOING to put you back together," she said. And soon my doctor told me she was doing a running stitch and was placing steri-strips (little strips of tape) criss-crossed over my stitches for extra protection. I was informed that Liam had apgar scores of 8 at one minute and 8 at five minutes, and no one receives a score of 10 unless they were a pediatricians child. He was healthy and we were both ready to be taken back to the recovery room. The blue drapes were still over me when I asked if my legs were bent up, like my knee was cocked into the air. They told me no, that both were lying flat on the table, but sometimes, the spinal makes you feel like your body was in the same position that it was in when the numbing took effect. Strange, I thought.
The team placed a wheeled board under my back and transferred me to my gurney and a nurse who held my baby led us all to my recovery room cubicle. I began having a reaction to the anesthesia. I was still shaking all over. My arms and shoulders were shaking all over. I seemed to be scratching my face nonstop. The nurse laid the baby on me and I tried to get skin to skin with him. It was hard because the lights were all out and I was having trouble holding him because I was itching so badly. Shaun had left the room to tell our families and our friends that Liam had arrived and we both made it through the surgery well. Meanwhile, I was still shocked and seemed unable to enjoy my little boy because of my symptoms. A nurse gave me some liquid medication that she said would help with the itching. I didn't realize until then that it was a reaction to the meds; I thought maybe I was allergic to something.
Shaun returned and I asked him where our parents and friends were. He seemed to be hiding something. He said that he told our friends that all was well, and they both went home. I was upset, thinking Shaun had asked them to leave, saying, I wanted to see them. He said they told him to tall me congratulations and one of them would be back to see me tomorrow. Then he pulled out his phone and started to leave the room. I asked him what was going on and he said, "alright, so apparently all of our parents left. Your friend, Martha, said my dad screamed at her and the four of them left the hospital even before the surgery began." I responded with "what? where did they go? Call them and tell them to come back." He left the room and was gone a good 30 minutes. During this time, I tried hard to breast feed my little one, but he was so sleepy and I was shaking so badly that I couldn't figure anything out. I just laid there with my baby boy's body on my chest and cried. I cried that I finally had a living, breathing baby that I had dreamed of having for so long. I cried because I wished my mama was there sharing with me the joy of this little one's life, she never would have left. I cried because my body was reacting badly to the medication. I cried because I was all alone, without my husband, without my parents or in laws, without my friends to support me in what was supposed to be the best and most wonderful day of my life. I cried because I couldn't possibly understand why all of Liam's living grandparents would abandon him and his mother during what was the most stressful and most joyful moments of their lives. I cried and sobbed so hard that the monitor kept beeping. I asked the nurse what was wrong with me and she said my pulse ox kept going down whenever I was crying hard because I couldn't catch my breath, but it went up whenever I breathed in again. She asked me if I was ok. I told her yes. I guess she assumed that I was crying because of the emotions from my previous loss. I don't think she caught on to the drama that was happening outside of those walls.
Shaun again returned and read to me the text message he received from his step-mom. The gist of it was his father was hurt that I allowed my friend to visit me before the surgery and because of that the parents all decided that they were going home and were not coming back. Shaun stated that he had called and left voice messages on both sets of parents' cell phones and several text messages were left with both sets. Neither responded except for the one message. And while he was gone, his brother who lives Florida called Shaun and said he had heard about the drama. I was overwhelmed with grief. On what I had envisioned as a day that would have no more grief, I suffered a new loss. The loss of support from both sets of parents. I cried so hard that night. I could barely look at my new little person because I was so ashamed that his birth had caused so much drama.
At 7pm, I was released from recovery and was allowed to go to the mother-baby unit. We received flowers and balloon from my parents, who apparently left them at the desk before they left for the night. We sat in the room, the three of us and stared at one another. While we were elated that we were holding our newest living addition to our family, we were mourning the emptiness of our hospital room. This was supposed to be a day of rejoicing, and here we were weeping. I was quickly transported back to the day Ethan was born. I couldn't stop thinking about the experience and comparing everything that had happened.
I was in awe at how much he looked like his older brother. Spitting image of our firstborn. I remember being so tired. I remember hearing Shaun shouting into his cell phone. I heard him tell the person on the other end of the phone that this was going to be a hard thing to forgive and they needed to come back up to the hospital tonight. All I could think of was how the nurses outside that room could hear us and how I thought there was no way that they were believing that my husband was not abusive. I heard swear words that I had not heard in several years. I heard "you're selfish" and "you abandoned us" and then I heard silence. Shaun had hung up and it was over. They aren't coming back, he said. I cried some more. The rest of the night seemed to be a blur. I was overcome with shock and shame and just couldn't enjoy this little precious baby boy I had in my arms. And my nursing staff were 60+ years old and I didn't relate much to them at all. I wished I could go back and redo the entire day. I so wanted to look at my baby and love him for who he was but all I could see was this poor child was abandoned by his grandparents on the first day of his life because of who his mother was. I WAS DEVASTATED.
I sobbed most of the night while my hubby was on the phone trying to sort out what had happened. We were exhausted and I wasn't even allowed to eat that evening. Only ice chips. For 32 hours I went without food. Only ice chips. I think I chewed 4 gallons of ice that night. Liam was taken to the nursery to have his bath, newborn screening blood and hearing tests done and it was established that all was well with him. I finally could look at this boy and saw the face of his father, some long skinny fingers and toes, with a little toe that curled in. Thick, straight, black hair that if it were not on a newborn, would warrant a good haircut in the back. My baby boy was here and he seemed content.
We were able to get a little sleep that first night, but I was ready for my breakfast in the morning. A resident doctor came in early to check my incision and ripped the bandaged off of my belly. It was so sore, but he said it looked good. Also, that morning Liam had his circumcision. The poor baby. We were challenged nursing as he had been very sleepy after having tylenol for the circumcision, plus I was drained from the emotional day we had just had. We welcomed dear friends as visitors throughout the day and I was finally able to get into the shower and freshen up. I was swollen from my lower back down to my toes and was told this was normal. My hemoglobin was low, so I had to take iron supplements. In the evening, a nurse checked my incision and said she believed I was getting an infection and there was skin peeled from where the doctor ripped the bandage off earlier. She ordered antibiotic cream and said the doctor would be in to check it in the morning.
Saturday morning, a doctor doing rounds came in to look at my incision. He said it looked red and inflamed and told me to be sure to wash it a couple times a day and put on the ointment and he would check it again in the morning. Shaun was still trying to piece together what had happened with his parents and he was unable to get a hold of my parents. We were so consumed with trying to figure out what happened that we didn't call all of the people we had intended to call. I was so upset about the situation that I was in tears most of the time I was in the hospital. It was difficult to talk to anyone when they came into the room to visit or when they called up to the hospital. I was sucking back the snot because I still was in shock by it all. I still tried hard to connect with Liam, but he was still very sleepy and nursing was still a challenge with him not latching, he and I both becoming frustrated and me not sleeping much at all.
On Sunday morning, the doctor examined my incision and said, "hmmm...I am beginning to wonder if this isn't a tape allergy. I am going to take one of the steri-strips off and see. Yes, it appears to be only red and inflamed where the strips are and where the tape was. I am going to remove all the steri-strips and see if this gets better. If you want you can go home today, but we will just need to see you in the office tomorrow to check on this. Otherwise, you can stay here overnight and we will check it tomorrow and if I am right, then it will get better. I don't think it is an infection at all. I will put in discharge orders and if you want to stay then I will discontinue them for today." I was relieved that it wasn't an infection, but thought I would be better staying in the hospital because what if he was wrong, and I didn't want to have to drive 3 hours in the next two days just to have my incision checked.
A couple of hours later, Liam was weighed and we learned that he was down to 6 lbs, 13 oz. He had lost almost 9% of his birth weight and at 10% they usually have to do major interventions. The doctor told us that I would need to supplement him with formula after each nursing session. Twenty minutes on each side and then 20 mL of formula every 2 hours. He was not jaundiced, but was just not getting enough milk from nursing. This regimen was exhausting, especially since Liam and I were having so much trouble with nursing. It seemed as though as soon as he was done with a feeding, it was time to do another because it took so long to get him to latch on.
That afternoon, Shaun's parents finally agreed to come visit, however, they did not say much to me. It was a quiet visit, and there will need to be some conversation when we get home in order for the healing to begin in me.
After they left, Shaun needed to go home and do some homework for several hours on Sunday evening and told me he was scared to leave me. I asked why, and he told me that he was worried that I wouldn't be able to feed Liam or ask for help. That was when I felt like he thought I was inadequate to be Liam's mommy. With all the stress I had had with preparing for the surgery, the delay, the drama with our parents, the emotional strain from crying for a couple days, the sleep deprivation, the unplanned fast, the inability to latch, the potential infection, etc., I felt like the break from my husband was just what I needed. On Sunday evening was when I finally met my little guy and was able to talk to him and enjoy him and that was when I decided his middle name would be Alexander.
The next morning, a resident doctor, who also assisted in my surgery arrived and looked at my incision and told me she thought the rash was clearly where the steri-strips were NOT. I asked her how that could be as the other doctor removed them and said the redness was underneath. She thought maybe it was a reaction to another adhesive substance they may or may not have used. I didn't buy it, but thought, jeez, I just may have to stay another night. Later that morning, one of the doctors from my office came in while I was showering. She said she would wait and decided she would change Liam's diaper while I was drying off. She told me he had a diaper rash. I told her that I knew, but the nurses didn't give me anything for it last night. She went out and got some cream for him, stating that he must have sensitive skin just like his mommy. She inspected my incision and said it was not what the resident had said, however, it was healing. She took a picture of it so I could see it and agreed that I would be okay to go home. I let her know that Liam had lost so much weight and I didn't know if he would be discharged, and she informed me that if he was not discharged, she would change the order for me to be able to stay with him.
I began to pack, and Liam's doctor came in to tell us that he had gained weight. He was up to 7 pounds, 0 ounces and he would be okay to go home only if I went to my pediatrician in the morning for a weight check. We agreed and the doctor said we could back off of supplementing down to every other feeding.
The following day, Liam was weighed at the doctor. Shaun removed the diaper as instructed, and Liam showed his winkie and peed a nice stream up over his head. Some of it landed on his face and we all sighed in disgust when we saw him lick his lips. GROSS! Poor child. Shaun and I really need to figure out how not to make this happen. He was again 7 pounds, 0 ounces. The doctor was not concerned and asked us to come back in a week for another weight check. He also told us to continue to use zinc ointment to take care of his diaper rash.
One week later, last Tuesday, we returned to the doctor for a weight check and he was 7#0. The nurse said, let me reset it and do it again....6#15. Ugh. The doctor again assured us that it may take him a bit longer to catch up to birth weight, so we would do another weight check in a week. He then looked at the rash that was not getting better, but was bleeding, and said it was contact dermatitis and would need hydrocortisone on it in addition to the zinc 3-4 times a day. I still felt inadequate as a mother.
Tomorrow is our next weigh in. Praying that Liam is gaining and thriving.
Father, thank you so much for the blessing of my child. I praise you that I had no major complications in the delivery and everything went as smooth as could be once the delay was over. I praise you that you allowed me to look my Liam in the eyes and see the face of my Ethan as well. Give me the guidance to be the best mother I could be to this child and help me to give all the honor and glory to you.
Lord, help me to be a godly example to my parents and my in-laws. I thank you for allowing me to talk it out with my parents and I ask that you work in my in-laws hearts so I can talk it out with them as well. Help me to forgive and let go of the hurt and anger I possess. Give me the strength to stand up for myself in a positive way and to show mercy where it is due. I ask you to show me the good you will bring of this drama when clearly Satan meant it for evil. I ask all this and so much more, in Jesus' name, AMEN!