Thursday, July 3, 2008

Special Delivery!

We’ve been asked many times to recount the story of Susie’s delivery from last week. I love telling the story, because it’s amazing to me how obvious God’s direction and timing were apparent in our situation. So I wanted to write the story down for two reasons: so that everyone out there in blog world that is interested in reading can do so, and also so we can have a written account of it to refer to and to show our little Cade when he gets older and time has blurred details.

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008, was a pretty normal Sunday for us. We went to church in the morning, had lunch with some friends, took a nap in the afternoon in between chores, and had Bible study at our house with our small group from church. That night our group had brought over some baby gifts that included crib sheets, diapers and wipes, and a baby monitor. We had the third baby in our group in the last few months, so we benefitted from the experience of others in the selection of their gifts.

Susie and I went to bed around 11:00 that night and shortly after we turned out the light Susie groaned and said, “It feels like he just dropped.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew she wasn’t feeling good at that point. I figured he’d rotated or moved in a way that pressed against a nerve or somehow made her uncomfortable. We had just attended our first childbirth class the day before and started to kind of jokingly discuss what we’d do if he was really coming. We came to the conclusion that we’d probably head to Evansville because we had heard a number of horror stories regarding births and other types of care coming out of the hospital here in Owensboro. Because we weren’t confident in the care we would receive here in town if we had a premature baby we thought if he came early we’d go over the river. Neither of us really slept well that night. Some massaging helped her with her pain, but she slept in the recliner for a lot of the night.

The next morning (Monday, the 23rd) I made her scrambled eggs, tortillas, and a smoothie for breakfast hoping to help her feel better. She was still in pain but was going to just try and take it easy that day. She had to go into Kentucky Wesleyan to do some work, but other than that was going to try to stay off her feet. At lunch time I was talking with the guys I work with about it and telling them about our decision to head to Evansville and kind of joking about an early baby with them. Around 3:00 I talked with Susie and she was still not doing well. She thought she’d passed her mucous plug (which I didn’t even know existed until two days before!) and was having pretty bad cramps that felt like menstrual cramps. That worried me a little, but she said she’d left a message with the doctor and was going to head home and get in the bath to relax. I didn’t leave work right away, but wasn’t planning on staying late.

I got home around 4:30 and found Susie in the bath tub in a pretty good deal of pain with Chili playing nurse, licking her face to keep her calm. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that her pain was coming in waves. She said the cramping still felt localized below her belly, but I could definitely tell that it was her entire belly tightening up in a big way. What we later determined were actually contractions were coming about every three minutes and lasting about 30 seconds apiece. She still hadn’t heard back from the doctor’s office so I tried calling again. The on call nurse called me back shortly and told me to take her into the hospital. She had already called ahead for us and told us that since our doctor was on vacation we would be seeing another doctor. I won’t use that doctor’s name here, but it was the specific one we had heard so many bad stories about. I didn’t mention this fact to Susie because I knew it would make her upset and anxious but my heart dropped when I thought about this particular person delivering our baby. We didn’t know what the evening held, so we didn’t know what to bring, but luckily I did throw the camera in my pocket.

When we got to the hospital (a little after 5:00) they brought us into one of the L&D rooms and started hooking Susie up to monitors to keep a eye on her contractions and the baby’s heart rate. At this point they also hooked her up to an IV with magnesium sulfate. This was introduced to slow the contractions down, because now they were coming at a pretty rapid rate and increasing in intensity. They checked her and found that she was 4-5 centimeters dilated. They told us that if they were successful in stopping her contractions Susie would have to stay in the hospital on complete bed rest until the baby came (they had already put a catheter in her). At that point everything was happening way too fast and we weren’t really sure what sounded more intimidating to us, bed rest or a premature baby.

I called both of our parents to let them know what was going on and asked for prayer. We really had an unsettled feeling and weren’t sure about what was best for Susie or the baby. God provided a comfort for Susie at this point in that the nurse supervisor was a lady that lived three houses down from Susie in the Tampa area years ago. Susie had actually babysat this lady’s two daughters. The fact that Colleen was in the room in a completely different state from their previous life as neighbors really helped to settle Susie because she knew what an outstanding nurse Colleen was and knew that she wasn’t just another patient in labor to her. As the contractions subsided it looked to be more of a waiting game. But about 6:15 or 6:30 the nurse checked Susie again and found that despite her reduced contractions she was 8 centimeters dilated!

At this point there was no way to stop the baby from coming, so the nurses stopped the magnesium sulfate and started preparing the room for delivery. I called Susie’s parents and asked them to come as soon as possible, because the nurses told us that 34-week babies are usually sent straight to Evansville for more intensive care. I wanted her parents here so I could go to Evansville with baby and still have someone here with Susie. Almost immediately after stopping the IV, the contractions came back in full force. We had a brief moment in the room alone and Susie asked if I thought she should get an epidural. Before labor she was pretty insistent on going as natural as possible, so I reminded her of that, and the fact that a nurse had told her she was almost there anyway. Her resolution was incredible and she wanted to continue on with no epidural.

I was still wondering about the doctor situation after hearing that the only one we specifically didn’t want was on the way. But the door opened and the doctor that walked in was someone else. She said, “My name is Dr. Ottman. You’re going to deliver a 34-week baby. A 34-week baby has the exact same survival rate as a full term baby.” That was exactly what we needed to hear at that exact minute. It didn’t take much longer for Susie to completely dilate, and it was time to push! Dr. Ottman has an incredible, easing, calm bedside manner that made a stressful situation more manageable and we can’t say enough about her and the nursing staff and their care of Susie and Cade.

Susie was unbelievable. The nurses kept saying that they’d never seen anyone so in control of their body in delivery, and were even more impressed because she was doing it naturally. I felt truly helpless to do anything but hold her hand and encourage her as much as I could. Her devotion to eating well and staying in shape by walking Chili and working out at the gym while pregnant served her well while in labor.

The one thing that kept nagging at my mind during the delivery was how big he would be. I had this fear of a tiny little guy coming out. But as the head started coming out and as it kept getting bigger and bigger I was put more and more at ease. I knew it was going to be a battle for him, but I knew that since he had pretty good size he would have a better chance of being fully healthy sooner.

I cannot describe the feelings present while watching my son being born. I didn’t know what I was in for when people would tell me, “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.” It really was something that I can’t put into words. If you have children you know exactly what I’m talking about. As part of being married to someone and living with them 24/7 through well and sick times you end up seeing each other in all states and from all angles. But Susie’s body did something that I never thought was possible. I mean, I knew it was possible, but to witness her giving birth was completely indescribable.

After the head and the first shoulder came out the rest came out like a torpedo. I have to say that Dr. Ottman might do well as a receiver in the NFL with hands like that. She sucked his mouth dry with a bulb and the screaming that ensued was the greatest sound these ears could have heard. All I could do was half laugh/half sob and stare in wonder at him. She clamped the umbilical cord in two places, handed me some scissors and said, “If you’re going to cut the cord, do it now!” So I cut it and the nurses whisked him over to the other side of the room where they cleaned him off and started evaluating him. On his way out of the room they brought him by Susie for a quick mommy/son picture. We still knew he might be on the way to Evansville and we were unsure about that, but we knew he was here and in good hands. He was born at 7:44 PM, less than three hours after we showed up.

I think the rest of the story is pretty well documented previously on the blog. His birth completely caught us by surprise, but it was an amazing experience. In my life I’ve been good at slowing important minutes down, but it seemed like this went by extremely fast, which is one reason I wanted to write this out. In my mind I envisioned this long, drawn-out labor which is common for first time moms, but he just wanted to see the world. And since I know some of you just come for the pictures, here are a couple of cute ones of him sleeping last night. :) Thank you all for your prayers. I can’t wait to get another post up solely about God’s amazing timing in this whole thing.

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