Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been

Ok, so it's only been 9 days since Quinn was born, but given all we've experienced in that week and a half, it feels like a lifetime. Shortly after my last post about Quinn's birth, the nursery pediatrician came in to let us know that he would be moved to the NICU because he had failed to get his jaundice and breathing under control. Despite expecting a long NICU stay upon our little dude's arrival, we were still pretty devastated. They suspected an infection and wanted to get him on antibiotics as soon as possible as a proactive measure. Infections and illnesses in newborns are serious business, especially in preemies and infants with Down syndrome.

Sad little guy...
One of the most challenging aspects of his NICU stay was that I had been discharged even though Quinn wasn't allowed to go home. Brian and I decided to spend that first night by our little guy's side, trying to sleep on the painfully narrow bench (Brian slept on the floor) amidst the constant beeps and whirs of the machines in the room. Because Quinn was under the billi lights, the function of which was to break down the high billirubin that causes jaundice into smaller particles for his liver to process, he wasn't allowed to eat or be swaddled. Naturally, he wasn't too thrilled about this prospect after spending the last 8 months snuggled in the dark and quiet. So in addition to the machinery, we also were forced to endure his unhappy grunts and whines. Thankfully, our nurse Priscilla was amazing and took great care of all of us (looking back, I think we needed more from her than Quinn ever did). She was constantly reassuring and positive, patiently reminding us that, despite the wires and tubes sprouting from our dude's body, he was in good shape and would be on the mend soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Mighty Quinn: A Birth Story

If you're already a parent, you know your kids are the ones really calling the shots. On Monday afternoon, Quinn made that apparent with his early and unexpectedly quick arrival. Just when I thought I would be pregnant forever, I woke up at around 2am with a pretty intense, but short-lived contraction. I know that this tends to happen toward the end of pregnancy, so I ignored it and fell back asleep, but this continued for most of the evening. At around 5am, I decided to get up, take a shower, and start timing the duration and frequency of the contractions. They hurt, but there was absolutely no pattern to them at all. Most labor and delivery rooms have a strict policy that laboring women are not admitted until their contractions are 4-5 minutes apart and at least 60 seconds long. I was nowhere near there, so I decided to head into work. I needed to help my students prepare for their finals and, after laboring with Atticus for 19 hours before any real progress was made, I felt like I had time even if this was the real thing.

At work, I had a few more contractions, but they were irregular and infrequent, despite their intensity. My students would notice me pause and grimace occasionally, and a few made jokes that they weren't fully qualified to deliver a baby. I laughed it off and told them that it's not like the movies and labor doesn't happen that quickly. Nevertheless, I put in a call to my doctor. She told me what I was suspecting: it was likely prodromal, or false labor, but she wanted me to come in and be monitored to make sure that the baby and I weren't in any distress. I figured I'd be slapped with an order for bedrest and a prescription to assist with the pain. I called in for a sub, hopped in the car, and drove to the hospital to see my doctor, texting Brian along the way to let him know what was going on.

When I made it to the doctor's office, the contractions became pretty frequent and painful. My OBGYN wasn't in the office that day, but another doctor in the practice came in to check on me. The look she gave me was one I'll never forget: it was a mixture of shock, urgency, and a how-the-hell-did-you-not-realize-you-were-in-labor? I was almost fully dilated and the baby was coming. Soon. They ordered a wheelchair to send me downstairs to labor and delivery and told me to call my husband and order him to hurry or he would miss it. When we got downstairs, the delivery room was already packed with a whole team, including the delivery doctor. Within the hour, Brian made it, I pushed a few times, and Quinton Robert Emil Mennes was born at just 35 weeks, over a month early.

Weighing in at a healthy 6lbs. 13oz. and over 18 inches long, we spent most of the day in shock. How did this happen so quickly? How was he so healthy for being born so early, especially after such a terrifying pregnancy? How the hell did I manage to teach three classes that morning, drive myself to the hospital, and deliver a baby before lunch? We asked and attempted to answer these questions for hours, telling and retelling the story to anyone who would listen. It really was like the movies, and had I decided to stay and teach my 4th period (like I really wanted to), I probably would have delivered this baby in an ambulance or along the side of the road. Turns out our little dude was in a hurry to meet us.