Today Luke is one month old! Time really does fly. Since we skipped ahead and did a post about Luke’s hospitalization and MCADD diagnosis before sharing his birth story, I thought this would be a good time to share his story. I am not sure how many people actually read this blog, but Matt and I have enjoyed writing down various events as a way for us to remember.
I was induced for Luke’s birth for two reasons. First, there is recent research about how inductions at 39 weeks, as opposed to waiting to go into “natural” labor, have more favorable outcomes for baby and mom – less risk of c-section and other complications. Second, the hospital recommended inductions for women in light of COVID to ensure a scheduled room and availability of a medical team. An induction also meant no back and forth to the hospital – we would check-in and not have to check out until after the birth. Before the induction, I had been having a few days of near-constant Braxton Hicks contractions so I was optimistic that baby wanted to be born soon!
At 4:00 p.m. on Monday, May 11, 2020, Matt and I parked the car at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury. I was 39 weeks and 3 days along. We double-checked that we had everything, as Matt would not be allowed to leave the room–let alone the hospital–while we were there (due to COVID). When we walked inside the hospital, we were screened for COVID symptoms and given masks that we had to wear inside the hospital. Then we walked up to the second-floor labor and delivery unit and were shown to our room.
In the room, I was allowed to take my mask off, but the nurse instructed Matt that he needed to keep his on at all times while anyone other than me was in the room. We also were told we weren’t allowed to leave the room (even to go in the hallway) and there would be no visitors allowed. This meant if we wanted a glass of water or coffee we had to page a nurse to get it for us. Finally, the nurses would take Matt’s temperature regularly and if he spiked a temp he would have to leave.
The nurse had me get into a gown and shortly after we arrived we started the induction process. The plan was to start with an oral pill overnight and then start a Pitocin drip in the morning. The pill was to help make induction more favorable before starting contractions.
To pass the time, Matt had given me a “push present” the day before — a Nintendo Switch! This meant I could play some games as we settled in for what I planned on being a 24-48 hour process. The evening was largely uneventful.
The next morning (May 12) we started a Pitocin drip around 11:00 a.m. Throughout the afternoon I had very mild contractions but labor did not progress very much. Therefore, around 4:00 p.m., our doctor stopped by to discuss options. We could go another hour on Pitocin, then either try another induction method (foley bulb) or she could break my water. I remember being a bit afraid that the doctor would rule it a “failed induction” and send me home to go into labor on my own, but she assured me that was not going to happen.
In the next hour, contractions finally started picking up, so at 5:00 p.m. the doctor broke my water. The next contraction was absolutely excruciating – I had planned on ultimately having an epidural but wanted to wait a bit to help labor progress, but I knew immediately I would not be able to wait. After the next contraction, I told the doctor and nurse I needed an epidural so they could start the process right away (they have to draw labs, call the doctor, etc.). I continued to labor for approximately two hours and was in absolute agony – due to the Pitocin, my contractions were practically on top of each other so I had no relief. Finally, the epidural was placed around 7:00 p.m. I was somewhat dilated at this time but we fully expected labor to last all night.
The Final Push
At 9:00 p.m., two nurses came into the room for a cervix check. One was a trainee who asked if she could also feel my cervix to learn, so she went first. As she was feeling around, she told the other nurse she wasn’t sure if she was doing it right because she didn’t feel the cervix–only the baby. The other nurse then checked as well and it turned out I was fully dilated! This meant push time was now. The nurse called the doctor who arrived around 9:45 p.m.
Now I started the pushing game. Most of us in the room assumed I would have the baby on May 12 (that same day), even if it took two hours to push (which would be a long time). How wrong we all were! Midnight passed and still no baby. I asked the doctor a few times if she was going to suggest a c-section since things were taking so long, but she explained that we were making good progress and the baby had been doing great with no heart rate decelerations so there was no reason for a c-section yet. After the birth, the OB told me she thought the baby was at the top end of what my pelvis could reasonably birth, which meant my 39 week induction was a great call. Any bigger and we would have been looking at a c-section for sure.
I continued to push for two more hours (yes that is four hours total!). Near the end, I certainly felt like I could not possibly do one more push, but we kept at it. Matt was the best support system and was part of the reason I was able to keep going and stay positive. Finally, Baby ended up being born in one final push–there was no stopping at the shoulders. Dad describes the birth as Baby “shooting out” into the doctor’s arms.
The next thing I knew, the doctor yelled, “And here’s your baby!” and placed Baby on my chest, who cried loud and hard immediately! At that moment, Matt announced the gender to the room. “It’s a boy!” We already had names picked out so I told Matt to tell the room what his name was and he shouted “Luke Matthew!” as he stood next to me beaming down at our son. Matt also got to cut the cord. We were both so happy. Luke was born at 1:58 a.m. on May 13, 2020.
After the Birth
Unfortunately, our happy emotions lasted only another minute or two. Although I was not entirely sure about what was going on, I overheard a nurse and my doctor discussing my placenta, and it appeared that some of it was still in my uterus causing major bleeding (I later learned this is referred to as a retained placenta). I also started to feel queasy due to loss of blood, and I remember telling a nurse that Luke “needed to go to his daddy” because it became clear to me I was not going to be able to safely hold him. The nurse grabbed him and handed him to Matt who sat on the couch with our son.
When my doctor realized the bleeding was not stopping, the room jumped into action. They placed an IV in my right hand (my left hand already had an IV) and pushed some medications immediately. From a combination of blood loss and drugs, I started to lose consciousness. I overheard a few things that I can recall:
- “Do we need to get an OR?”
- “She has an allergy bracelet – what is she allergic to?”
- “She has an allergy bracelet – what is she allergic to?”
- “Call the on-call OB.”
One of the last things I remember was looking over at Matt and Luke, who were sitting together on the couch. Matt was feeding Luke formula and Luke was all bundled up. I thought “what a nice view – my little family” and drifted off to sleep.
Because I was unconscious, I don’t really know what happened next except for what Matt told me. They weighed and measured Luke while I was out. He was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and 21 inches long. I was also 8 pounds, 9 ounces at birth! While I’m sad I missed some first moments with Luke, I know he was in good hands with his dad.
Because I don’t have much of a memory regarding what happened during the next two hours, Matt wrote the next section of this post from his point of view.
The Hemorrhage (section written by Matt)
Luke’s cry permeated the air almost instantly after he was born. So quickly so I didn’t even have time to worry that he was okay.
“It’s a boy!” I announced to the room as one of the nurses passed him to Kristin. I looked at my new little boy laying on Kristin’s chest. What a sight. I was astonished, overjoyed, overwhelmed. Our OB handed me a set of scissors and I cut the cord.
The OB had known the whole time I had been curious about the process and asked me if I’d like to come take a look as she delivered the placenta. It came out easily and in one piece, which is what you hope for. As she continued to talk through what she was doing a voice spoke up above the rest.
“Doctor?” the nurse standing over the placenta uttered.
“Yes” the doctor said as she wheeled around.
“The placenta looks a little thin in this area”.
I walked over to the table and on the side of the placenta that attaches to the uterine wall there was a 2×2 chunk that was extremely thin. I heard Kristin say Dad needed to take the baby and I went over to her bedside and picked up Luke. I sat down on the couch in a place where I could still see everything that was going on. My little boy stared up at me with wide open eye’s. A nurse handed me a formula bottle and he eagerly started eating.
As I looked up at the room again there had been a palpable change in mood as I heard the OB talk about “retained placenta”. What was originally four people in the room had turned into ten. Our OB remained extremely calm as she rattled off medications/orders to the nurses who quickly began to look overwhelmed. They started another IV, gave Kristin several shots, and rattled off vital signs every minute or so. I could see a steady stream of blood continuing to trickle out of Kristin as the OB pulled small pieces of placenta out. A plastic bag was attached to the base of the bed that was catching all the blood, it was looking more and more full. Our OB asked the hospital OB to be paged who showed up and started to assist her in extracting the retained placenta. A nurse asked if we needed an OR. The things I was hearing didn’t sound good.
I started to feel numb. Blood was everywhere, on the floor, the bed, the sides of cabinets, on people. I wanted to ask what was going on but everyone was extremely busy and I didn’t want to distract anyone. I was sitting six feet from my wife holding our brand new son as I watched all of this. I’m not scared of much but I was fucking terrified this entire time. The prospect of losing my wife on the same day my son was born was the unimaginable, yet it felt like I might be watching it happen. Things continued like this for about two hours. Eventually, they got all of the placenta out and were able to stop the bleeding. The OB held up the bag of blood and measured it to be 2 liters, 1/3 of Kristin’s blood volume.
Around 4:00 a.m., the last person left the room and it got eerily quiet. Kristin was still unconscious and Luke was asleep in my arms. I didn’t really know what had happened and couldn’t really process anything until I did, so I had a nurse page our OB back to the room. I told her I was sorry and that I’m sure she was tired but I just need a quick explanation of what happened.
She explained that Kristin had a postpartum hemorrhage. Although it wasn’t immediately obvious, part of the placenta tore off when it was being removed. The placenta is full of blood vessels that connect to the mother’s body at the uterine wall. If pieces of it remain those blood vessels won’t clot and allow blood to continue to flow into the uterus. This will eventually kill you from blood loss and is the leading cause of maternal morbidity in the United States. Once she and the other OB that she paged removed the remaining pieces of placenta, they were able to get the bleeding to stop. Since she had lost 2 liters of blood the plan was to test her hemoglobin now and again at 0800 to see if she would need a blood transfusion and if so how much.
I thanked her and she left. Looking at the clock it was almost 5AM. I fed Luke and put him down so I could catch an hour of sleep.
The Morning (rest of blog authored by Kristin)
After the events of the evening (which actually continued until 4:00 a.m.), I woke up in our hospital room with a baby bassinet beside me and Matt fast asleep on the couch. There was a baby bundled up in a cream-colored swaddle in the bassinet. He made small little cooing sounds as he slept and I longed to hold him. Unfortunately, I was far too weak and could barely move due to blood loss. I knew holding him was not safe at that moment, so I slowly rocked his bassinet back and forth while lying in my bed. I could not believe that I had a baby.
Around 8:00 a.m., the nurses came in and told us they were moving us to a different room. They transported me in the bed as I could not walk, and Matt stayed to pack up the room and walk over with Luke in the bassinet. When we got to the new room, I finally held my baby. I am sure that everyone thinks their baby is the cutest newborn ever, but I think that is objectively true with Luke.
Because I had lost so much blood, I ended up getting two separate blood transfusions while in the hospital. After each one I felt much better and was slowly getting my strength back.
One of the interesting things about the hospital was that Luke did not go to the nursery. Instead, he stayed with us, which is a practice referred to as “rooming in.” This meant Matt got the hang of changing diapers at the hospital really fast and we go to spend a lot of time with our brand new baby. He kept us up almost all night the second night, but I am thankful for the time we spent together in the hospital because little did we know we would not get to spend as much time with him over the next few days.
We ended up staying in the hospital until Friday, May 15 (my due date). Luke passed all his hospital exams with flying colors and we were thrilled to be going home together after a four-night hospital stay.
As those of you who read Matt’s last post know, we unfortunately were only home for five hours before learning that Luke had tested positive for MCADD on his newborn screening, leading to a hospital admission for him for three days. I plan to make another post explaining my perspective dealing with his MCADD diagnosis and sharing an update being a month out – in summary, Luke is doing great and we have adjusted to parenthood quite well. We may already be discussing plans for future additions to the family. 🙂
Also, due to COVID, we were unable to schedule newborn photos for Luke, so we ended up doing them ourselves. Here are a few of our favorites:
Here’s a one-month update for Luke:
- He rolled over when he was two weeks and one day old!
- He likes to go for car rides and handled a three-hour trip to the lake quite well.
- He can sleep through the sound of a vacuum cleaner but not the sound of the toilet lid closing.
- He does not like diaper changes. One of the only times Luke will actually cry is during a diaper change. He also has very strong legs and will do everything in his power to stop the new diaper from being placed on. Sometimes he is almost successful.
- He is a pretty good sleeper except for at 3:00 A.M. most nights.
- He holds his head up and loves eye contact (especially with Mom).
- He settles down when he hears music – it could be from his play mat, Dad playing Waylon Jennings, or Mom singing Christmas music.
I will say it is so true that this time absolutely flies. Luke barely fits into his newborn clothes anymore and is so alert during the day. He is a wonderful little baby and we couldn’t be happier! Matt tells me a lot the parenting is the greatest thing he has ever done and I couldn’t agree more. We hope to continue sharing updates about Luke in the future!