Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ethan's Birth Story Part 2

Looking back at our hospital stay, I can see how blessed we were.  I had all the right nurses at the right time.  My first nurse was a great teacher.  The nurse I had during the day of the 30th, Kim, was very experienced and taught me to be an advocate for myself.  She had no problems sharing her opinion, but wanted to make sure that I knew every decision was mine to make and no one else's.  It was also a great blessing that she happened to have no other patients that day, so all of her attention was focused on Ethan and I.

So when Kim came back from her lunch break at 1pm, she heard they were prepping me for a c-section.  She was shocked.  When she had left I was off pitocin and things were going okay.  But Dr. F had a different opinion.  

In Dr. F's mind, things were not going okay.  She basically sat down and told us this: 
It was apparent that Ethan's heart was not tolerating labor contractions well.  Every time we started the pitocin to progress my labor, he would go into distress.  But without pitocin, my labor was not progressing fast enough to get him here fast enough for his surgery.  Dr. F was also worried because my water broke a few hours ago, so we don't have time to wait.  Her opinion was that Ethan would not make it through labor and the only sure way to get him here healthy enough for surgery would be to do a c-section.  

I was very wary of doing a c-section.  All through this pregnancy we had talked to Ethan's doctors about delivering him vaginally.  There are many benefits for heart babies doing it that way, which I'm sure I've talked about on here before.  We hadn't talked through this scenario before.  (Plus I had watched "The Business of Being Born" and was aware of the viewpoint that some doctors are just in this for the money.  Not that I thought that was Dr. F's motive, but I was aware that that happens sometimes.  I didn't want to be a "victim" of that mindset.)  I was very apprehensive about going through with the c-section.  

The tears came.  What is going on?  We weren't supposed to have to make these difficult decisions before Ethan came!  The difficult part was supposed to come after.  What are we supposed to do?

Dr. F offered to give us time to think about this decision.  

First, we brought our parents in the room.  We talked through our options and our feelings.  It became apparent that we all needed some more information to be able to make the best decision for Ethan.  But one bit of advice that my dad gave was to be able to look back and know we did our best for Ethan.  He said that if we didn't do the c-section we may always look back and wonder if there was more we could have done.  

My mom worked to find Megan and find out if we could get a hold of Ethan's cardiologist Dr. B, who had been helping us through this entire process.  (He wasn't on call at the hospital that week, but he would have been there following week when Ethan would most-likely have been going through his first open-heart surgery.)  Making this decision didn't seem right without consulting him.  

Jeff and I asked to talk with a neonatologist from the NICU to see how Ethan might do if he was delivered by c-section and not vaginally.  

And my L&D nurse, Kim, was happy to share her opinion with us as well, and made sure we knew we were free to choose whatever we wanted.  

Dr. R (who happened to be the neonatologist we met with in August) was available and came down to talk to us.  His opinion was that Ethan would be fine because he had started to be prepped for birth by going through some contractions already.  He said that babies usually have difficulty with recovery if it was a scheduled c-section with no warning signs to the baby that it is time to come out.  But since Ethan has been through several contractions, his body was aware that it was time to come and he should be able to recover just fine.  Dr. R was more worried about me and my recovery.  He was worried that I would be going through a major surgery with a long recovery ahead for a baby who would probably not live long anyway.  But that part didn't bother me at all.  That was not a factor whatsoever, to me.  I would do anything to give Ethan the best possible chance to live.  

After several phone calls, Megan was able to get a hold of Dr. B.  Yay, Dr. B!  We love him!  (Have I mentioned that before?)  He was working clinic in his office that is about 70 miles away, but he was able to call us back within an hour to discuss options with us.  He talked to me on the phone and said that c-section vs. vaginal birth was not a big debate anymore.  The point now, would be to get Ethan out as healthy as possible and it looked as though that may be via c-section.  Our hope for a vaginal birth was the "best case scenario," but it seemed like that was not an option for us anymore.  

My L&D nurse shared her opinion with us that she thought Ethan was not doing too bad.  It's true, he was showing signs of distress, but he was not in distress.  She thought we could give him another chance with the pitocin.

Jeff and I talked to Dr. F and told her our decision.  We wanted to give Ethan one more chance, but if he was still not looking healthy through these contractions, we would be okay to go through with a c-section.  

They turned the pitocin back on at 1.  (Most women are on pitocin at 4 or 5 and they increase from there.)  Ethan did not do well at 4, so they had turned it down to 2 earlier this morning.  This time they tried it at 1.  They said if he still is not doing okay, we have no other options.  We would be heading for the OR for a c-section.  

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