Parenthood
March 1, 2009

When I was admitted to the Montfort, part of the "hospital bling" I acquired was a styling allergy bracelet to let people know that I am allergic to sulfa drugs and pineapple.  Both my celiac status and pineapple allergy were duly passed on to food services, who made a point of noting it on the paper menu accompanying every meal.

 

So I was a bit surprised to receive pineapple-orange juice for breakfast.  When they came to pick up my tray, I pointed out that this was a rather dangerous mistake.  The woman clearing my tray seemed rather disinterested, but did promise to pass it on to the powers-that-be.

 

It's possible someone in the kitchen is actively trying to kill me, since lunch was Hawaiian Chicken with a side-serving of wheat crackers.  And no, I'm not kidding...

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February 28, 2009

Mary and Brendan are thrilled to announce the birth of their daughter Elizabeth Eliana. February 28, 2009 at 11:08 am 6 pounds, 3 ounces and 18 inches Mom and baby are both doing well.

 

We went into the hospital for 6am and starting looking for room 1A-159 as instructed by the person at the special number. Unfortunately, I neglected to bring the directions explaining how to find this room (it was 5:30am when we left and I was somewhat preoccupied!). We wandered around the first floor for a bit until we found a real live person and they suggested we go to the maternity triage desk. Since that\u2019s where Jessica the midwife had told us to go, we decided to try it. They were obviously expecting us \u2013 \u201cAre you Dr. Gravelle\u2019s patient?\u201d Brendan\u2019s mom had driven us to the hospital and my mom showed up about an hour later (Grandmothers are allowed to wait to see the baby right away. I guess they figure grandfathers can wait, since they were never mentioned!)

 

The nurse checked out my vitals, listened to baby\u2019s heartbeat, started an IV and explained to us what the procedure was going to be. The IV really hurt, as usual. You could see a red line of irritation gradually spreading and I was starting to feel quite cranky about the IV.

 

Time for our seventh and final ultrasound. A med student came to do the initial ultrasound. She was very tentative \u2013 able to follow the spine but unsure which end she was looking at. So I impressed the med student by pointing out various body parts. After having had so many ultrasounds particularly in the last few weeks I\u2019m definitely able to locate the head when it shows up on the screen, especially since I know where the head is in relationship to my stomach. Her supervising doctor came then to go over it with her. He had a much better understanding of what he was doing, but it made us realize how good the ultrasound techs that do this day in day out actually were (much less having to follow body parts to find other body parts).

 

By this time it was nearly 7:30am, but the doctor explained that there had been quite a few caesareans the day before, which had bumped some emergency orthopaedic cases. Those surgeons were currently pleading their case for operating time. He said we might need to wait until 8pm or maybe even until the next day! Since I had been fasting since 11pm the night before and already cranky about the IV, I was not impressed to hear this. Luckily the wait was actually only about an hour and a half, and before we knew it the nurses were back to replace the saline with various anti-nausea and other drugs.

 

The nurses had all threatened me with having to drink a vile tasting \u201cshooter\u201d \u2013 apparently a different kind of anti-nausea drug. When the anaesthetist showed up, however, he decided I could be let off the hook since I\u2019d experienced virtually no heartburn during my pregnancy (\u201clucky girl\u201d he said) and since I had not had anything to eat since about 9pm the night before. Based on the sheer number of comments, the drug must taste pretty bad.

 

We headed to surgery sometime after 10am. The porter helped me lean forward (\u201cslouch\u201d) sitting on the operating table while they painted my back with a really cold liquid. I was then slathered in some kind of numbing gel, and then a quick pinch for the freezing shot. It didn\u2019t hurt too much \u2013 less painful than getting freezing at the dentist. I was pretty keyed up though. I believe that the morphine shot happened in here too, but I didn\u2019t notice. The actual anaesthetic felt like a warm flush going down my leg. Since the operating room itself was very cold, it felt wonderful! I confess I was a bit worried because the left leg got warm much sooner than the right and I was wondering whether he had missed. The porter and anaesthetist helped me lie down on the table and suddenly everyone sprung into action. Some were attaching a blanket to block my sight, others adjusting drugs for the IV, setting up monitors, still others putting me on oxygen and painting my stomach with iodine. There were a surprising number of people all working together like a well-oiled machine. I could feel that my legs were being moved around, but when they asked me to tell them when I felt the cold of the iodine (one way they check the progress of the freezing), I felt nothing at all.

 

They seemed very happy by how fast the freezing took effect for me. I was told that I\u2019d be pinched hard in places to check the freezing but since I couldn\u2019t feel anything I have no idea whether that happened or not. I remember being surprised by how close the blanket was to my face. For some reason I had expected it to be a foot or so away, not thinking about the fact that in order to operate they\u2019d probably need to see the entire stomach area! After a few minutes things were pretty much set up. The blanket was replaced with a sterile drape. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the surgeons enter the room, hands freshly washed. In addition to Dr. Gravelle, there was a medical student and a second obstetrician.

 

Brendan was ushered in to sit by my head, looking very medical in his scrubs. I was pretty impressed that they managed to find scrubs tall enough to fit him properly! The anaesthetist explained that if Brendan felt lightheaded at any point he was to lie on the floor \u2013 they didn\u2019t want him keeling into the table.

 

All of a sudden, the anaesthetist announced that the surgery had begun \u2013 he actually gave us a bit of a running commentary throughout the operation which was really nice. I was really surprised that the surgery had started \u2013 up to that point I\u2019d felt pressure in various areas as they got things ready, but when it came time for the actual incision I felt nothing at all. The caesarean had been described to me as a lot of \u201ctugging\u201d when I was reading about it in advance, and although I didn\u2019t think much of that description before the surgery, I have to admit that I can\u2019t think of a better way to describe the sensation. I told Brendan sotto voce that it was a really strange way to have a baby. Apparently Dr. Gravelle has very good hearing as she told us that the baby being born was more important than how. It was kind of startling because I\u2019d almost forgotten about all the other people on the other side of the sheet!

 

As they pulled Elizabeth out by the feet, Dr. Gravelle congratulated us on our decision not to try turning the baby and confirmed that the caesarean had been completely necessary, as the umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around her neck three times. Needless to say, Brendan and I were very relieved to hear the baby start to cry. Elizabeth was taken over to the warming station and checked out, and Brendan went to see her. After a few minutes they both came over to see me. She was beautiful! Brendan, Elizabeth, the midwife and the crew assigned to the baby then left to get checked out in the nursery. I was expecting to feel a bit left out and lonely, but the anaesthetist kept me distracted until the end of the operation. It wasn\u2019t long before I was wheeled into recovery and the nurse announced that baby was on her way back to visit! The anaesthetic wore off pretty quickly for me \u2013 whatever drug they used just worked perfectly and was exactly right for what was needed.

 

Today's verse in our little devotional book was very fitting for today.

 

Joshua 10:12-14.

Joshua prayed to the LORD ... "Let the sun stand still ..." So the sun stood still ... There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer. (NLT)

 

Who knows what God might do because of your prayer today!  If you knew God would grant your prayer request, what would you pray for?

 

What a fitting question for today. 

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February 27, 2009

I went to the hospital today for pre-surgery blood tests and was strongly reminded of \u201cLa maison qui rend fou\u201d from Les Douze Travaux d\u2019Astérix (English version)

 

I was initially directed to head to the obstetrics ward to report for my surgery \u2013 which was a bit disconcerting since I thought I was just in for bloodwork! Turns out the receptionist had simply misread the date. I was then directed from one wicket to the next. The nurse drawing blood did a fantastic job \u2013 I have notoriously difficult veins and often end up with multiple pokes and quite a lot of bruising. This time I have no bruising at all, which I don\u2019t think has ever happened before.

 

I have now been officially admitted to the Montfort \u2013 complete with bracelet; but luckily they did let me go home\u2026 After returning to the first wicket with all my paperwork duly stamped I finally did get my special number to call but it can only be used between the hours of two and four pm. It\u2019s a bit disconcerting to know that I am having surgery tomorrow, but not to have any idea when to show up nor where to go.

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February 25, 2009

We attended the Montfort\u2019s \u201cVirtual Tour\u201d this evening \u2013 essentially an orientation session with one of the nurses who went over the various procedures for coming to the hospital, showed us pictures of the maternity ward areas, went over some of the things we could expect and answered questions. The nurse was extremely nice.

 

We filled out some additional paperwork \u2013 one of which was obviously an assessment for post-partum depression risk. I was amused by the question that asked whether we had experienced or were about to experience major life changes recently since virtually every aspect of our life is undergoing major change at the moment. Presumably they were not counting becoming parents...

 

We particularly appreciated hearing about the reasoning behind some of the rules in place on the ward (visiting hours are only 4pm to 8pm daily). She explained that they had found that longer hours were hard on new mothers, resulting often in overtired parents melting down emotionally towards the end of the evening. The regulations have obviously been well thought out. The nurse explained that they do sometimes allow exceptions at the discretion of the nurses \u2013 the idea is not to follow the rules for the sake of the rules, but to look out for the best welfare of mom and baby. Unfortunately Erika won\u2019t be able to come and visit as she is under the age of 14 and not a sibling. We might have been able to get an exception with some begging, except that Erika has also had a bad cold.

 

The entire maternity wing is new as of this summer and it looks very nice. Since we are scheduled for a c-section, we\u2019ll probably be put in a \u201ctraditional\u201d room \u2013 defined as a room with a shower, instead of Jacuzzi tub. (Getting into a tub after a c-section is apparently not something that is very easy at first.) We\u2019ve signed up for a ward room since it\u2019s free and we don\u2019t have any additional coverage. We were also relieved to hear that the Montfort doesn\u2019t \u201cdo\u201d sugar water supplementation \u2013 something that other area hospitals have been known to do without consulting the parents...

 

I was quite embarrassed to find myself in tears after hearing about what to expect during and after a caesarean \u2013 as I told the nurse this is so dramatically different from the natural home birth plans we had hoped for. I do feel a bit better about going to the hospital after the tour.

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Our sixth ultrasound today confirmed that Elizabeth is still a girl :) She is also still firmly transverse, so it looks like the caesarean is going to go ahead as scheduled this Saturday.
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February 23, 2009
The Montfort called today to set up an appointment for blood work on Friday. I\u2019ve been told I need to start fasting as of 11pm on Friday evening, regardless of the time of surgery on Saturday. They didn\u2019t give us any additional information \u2013 details like when and where to show up are apparently on a need-to-know basis and we don\u2019t need to know yet. I\u2019ll apparently get a special number to call after Friday\u2019s appointment which will give us all the information.
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