Feb. 9th was supposed to be "the" day. The day my second daughter (our first together) was due to be born. After 2 years of sincere planning and trying we were finally going to have our baby. All the conditions were right; marriage, house, job, we were ready. The pregnancy was hard, harder than the first for sure. I chalked it up to being almost a decade older and much busier. "Morning sickness" lasted most of the day every day up until delivery. Kidney stones landed me in the hospital because they caused contractions. I also had symphysis pubis dysfunction. This is where the cartilage between the pubic symphysis split prematurely. This makes it very painful to walk because your pelvis is basically in two pieces carrying an increasingly large baby. In other words, I was really really looking forward to having this baby. The room was done, the shower had, classes taken. We decided to call our daughter Sage Elizabeth.
Feb. 9th came and went...no Sage. We waited and walked, and did much of all the old wive's tales trying to encourage Sage to come on out. One week later we reported for a biophysical profile to make sure everything was still okay. She was sleepy and not responding the way that the technicians wanted so they called the midwife. I explained that A. the medication I took to battle the "morning" sickness made both Sage and I very sleepy in the morning and B. we were hungry!! We went to eat lunch and went back a couple hours later. The second scan was perfect, she moved, breathed, and was very snug down low. So low that they really couldn't see the top of her head. So low they couldn't see the cord right by her face. The midwife was called, we were cleared, and we stopped by her office on the way home. Joy of joys, we were dilated already! We went home and I got the feeling that maybe I should take a nap.
I should probably explain at this point that this was a planned home-birth. I had my first one at home and as a nurse I see first hand the mechanization that has become birthing in the hospital setting. Some places embrace natural birthing in hospitals but definitely, definitely, not here. For that reason I chose the home-birth option. I don't regret that choice as what happened next would have had the same outcome anywhere we had chosen to deliver.
I awoke around 5pm to my water releasing and steam train contractions. The midwife and assistant arrived quickly and assessed that I was 6 cm dilated. Everything was going great. I labored in the shower, on the toilet, in the birthing pool. About 3 hours later I felt like I needed to push. Sage was doing great, heart rate within normal limits and was responding great to labor. I could feel her head with every contraction. I could also feel a cervical lip. I remembered that with my first daughter I had what is called an "anterior cervical lip" hung up. I tried to push it back over the head with the next contraction and felt Sage come down further. Again, her heart rate was perfect. I felt another big contraction come and pushed.
I could feel something shift, something wasn't right. I told the midwife, "something is different". She looked at my face and checked. I saw a flicker of panic as she yelled to my husband to call 911, "tell them prolapsed cord". She threw me out of the pool and on to my chest. Immediately she was pushing Sage's head off her cord. This meant pushing into me to get her head. I remember yells to push hard and not being able to get a grip on anything. I was sliding into the wall. EMS got there in 3 minutes, loaded us into the ambulance as one unit, and took off. The birth was a blur...OR room, mom up against the wall in a mask, midwife, still attached to me in a mask, and an anesthesiologist trying to press a mask to my face which had no air flow. Sage was born vaginally with suction. She was ripped from me and thrown on the warmer table. I watched as they resuscitated her still pink body. I heard someone say that they got a heartbeat back and then I heard the OB say to give Versed. Sage entered this world at 816pm.
I next remember waking up in the regular patient room. I felt so empty...in shock. We all just sat there wondering what would happen next, would she live, and if she did what would be her quality of life. Someone said, "there might only be a one percent brain function". I remember answering, "we'll take it". Around midnight we were told she needed to be transfered to another hospital with a Level 3 NICU, they were just waiting to see which one. It all came down to her ABG. We prayed for the closer one. We were granted that luxury when she improved slightly. I got to see her for a moment as the flight crew wheeled her into my room on the way out to the waiting helicopter. She was on the vent and still seizing, just her right foot, just a little. I learned later that she had major posturing and seized almost immediately after birth. It was an ominous clue.
My dear husband and mother went to the hospital to see Sage, it could be the only time. My midwife stayed by my side. We cried, sat in silence, talked a little about how I never really felt connected to Sage. The neonatologist came in when my family returned and said the kindest thing anyone could have said in that situation. He said, "I am number 8 out of 10 children all safely delivered at home". My worries of judgement were washed away, at least with him. He was honest, as was the physician at the other hospital where Sage had gone. They didn't paint a rosy picture, but did allow for some hope. The OB was also as comforting as he could be. His way was to say that he has, "lost quite a few babies in his time". I guess I couldn't really ask for more. He is a product of his education...who can blame him. He sees the worst of the worst, me included. I was discharged early the next morning...they didn't want me to miss the opportunity to say goodbye to my baby girl.