Monday, October 19, 2009
How funny that my last post on here was the day I went into labor!! Here it is...
Calder’s birth story began on Saturday, Sept. 26, around 10 PM. My water broke…literally…just like they say it does, very strange! I could feel it pop, and the leaking/gushing began! Because my experience with Caydree was so different, and happened so quickly, we decided to head to the hospital right away. We got there about 11:00, and they monitored me for an hour before putting us in a labor and delivery room. The contractions weren’t bad, and I was about 3 cm…very do-able, I thought. Started to walk around some maybe 1ish, tired of lying in the bed, and not making a whole lot of progress. Around 4:30, I still was not making very much progress…barely 4 cm, so they asked me if I wanted to start some pitocin. Usually, along with pitocin comes the epidural, so I opted for both! I got those before 6 AM, so I was feeling pretty good about things, just a bit tired. My contractions remained fairly irregular until about 10 when things started moving faster. By 11ish we were finally getting ready to have a baby!
Pushing without an epidural (Caydree) was much easier than pushing with one…because we didn’t seem to be making much progress with that either. After about an hour of what seemed like “fruitless” work, the doctor started to check other things. She found that the baby’s head was pretty much stuck—pushing wasn’t helping, she couldn’t move it herself, it was too high for a safe vacuum…and his heart rate had started to show some early signs of distress. We tried for maybe another hour, they brought another doctor in to check, but by now the heart rate was decelerating with each contraction, whether I was pushing or not. He was not coming out! They assumed that the cord was compromised somewhere, kinked or wrapped at some point, which isn’t the best scenario for the baby. The next offer was a difficult decision, and the easiest one, all at the same time. We could try for a bit longer, risking unknown stress, and an emergency c-section, or we could just go with the c-section then and cause less stress for the baby. We went with the “lower stress” c-section option, which I must say wasn’t really low stress for me!
For those of you who did not already know, we found out that the baby would be born with a cleft lip and palate at our 20-week ultrasound. Testing had ruled out pretty much all of the other health problems and syndromes that can come along with a cleft, but we still had the anxiety of not knowing until his birth just how severe it would be. Knowing that there was now another potential problem with the heart decelerations and the cord…getting him out as quickly and safely as possible was all we wanted.
Back to the c-section…YUCK! Why anyone would choose this option is far beyond me, and I’m a planner, and a control freak. That was too scary. I felt like what should have been a happy time was wrapped in panic, unknown, and stress on my part. Much better for the baby, I know, and I’m super thankful for that, but it was not fun for me. I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe well due to the epidural and the oxygen (I know it sounds strange…), all of the sudden I was claustrophobic because of the blue sheet in my face, and I pretty much had to convince myself the whole time that I wasn’t going to have a panic attack…got the shakes in recovery, 15 staples and a 6 inch scar later…I hated it. Did I mention that c-sections are not for me??
Needless to say, “Baby Boy Jennings” later to be named Calder Saben (chosen by big sis Caydree), was born at 1:53 in the afternoon, with the cord tightly around his neck, but otherwise healthy! They basically determined that the cord was holding him up inside, and it was a very good thing we went with the c-section. I just won’t be doing that ever again!!! He was a whopping 8 lbs, and at the hospital measured 21 in., but the pediatrician could only get him to stretch to 19 ½, so he is somewhere between that it length! Too funny, in my opinion...
As luck would have it, the retired lead doctor from the hospital’s cleft team just happened to be working that weekend, and was able to be there for our delivery. So she was able to immediately assess Calder and let us know that he was doing great. She also got the ball rolling with all of the other doctors and components of the team. God has been very present for me throughout this pregnancy experience, and I know he was hard at work putting everything into place during and after the birth as well! While we were in the hospital we were able to meet with almost all of the amazing doctors who will be taking Calder through his journey of surgeries, therapy, etc. Our worries and most of the unknowns were replaced with answers, timelines of what to expect, and the reassurance that we needed to start feeling like we would be able to handle things.
I know this is long, but if you know me I talk way too much so it shouldn’t surprise you! BUT I’m finally to the part where I’ll tell you a little more about Calder and his cleft.
The initial ultrasounds led us to believe that he had a bilateral cleft lip and palate, meaning both sides of his lip underneath his nose, and both sides of his palate would be affected. It is the more severe type of cleft, and although we were worried, it is still absolutely “fixable”. When he was born, we were surprised to find that his cleft lip is unilateral and only affects the right side. The palate does have a bilateral cleft, but it’s a little different. On the right side of the palate the cleft is complete—meaning that the separation runs the entire roof of his mouth, even through the gum line. On the left side, the cleft is incomplete, and only affects the back part of the palate. This is my understanding of it…and I’m sure we will find out more about it as things progress.
We were very concerned about feeding, as this is usually the biggest challenge for cleft babies initially. With some help from the occupational therapists who specialize in feeding, we left the hospital with Calder eating much better than we anticipated…we really are fortunate. It is often difficult to breast feed when there is a cleft palate (because he can’t get a good enough seal to create suction), so we are using a special bottle that we are able to squeeze and I am pumping. It’s going really well, and although it takes a little more effort and attention than a regular bottle, he is handling it like a champ! Babies are so resilient and adapting…it is truly amazing. He obviously doesn’t know any different, but it’s awesome to just watch him figure out what works!
As far as we know, he will have at least 3-4 surgeries…possibly more to correct the cleft lip and palate. The timeline is very dependent upon other things falling into place, but his first surgery will be to fix his lip (which is so cute I almost don’t want to get it fixed…) when he is about 3 or 4 months old. His palate surgery will be later, when he is between 9-12 months. After that the big one won’t be until he is older…a bone graft to fill the space in his gums, when his baby teeth have fallen out and the permanent teeth are ready to come in. Also scattered in there could be other things like nose and scar revisions…depending on growth and how the other surgeries go! It is definitely not the road we had planned, but we are ready to take it. Our journey so far has definitely had ups and downs, but it has been an amazing, life changing experience. There is a great piece by Emily Perl Kingsley called “Welcome to Holland” that I will post on here as well that kind of sums it all up…read it if you’d like.
SO, we have an adorable new addition (please check out his pictures) who couldn’t be a sweeter or happier baby! Caydree is a very proud and so far mostly helpful big sister…we’ll keep you posted on that one!
I’m trying to get this blog going on a more regular basis...to keep people posted instead of putting it all on Facebook…so bear with me as I will be hit and miss for awhile.
We love you all, and hope that this clarifies questions or concerns anyone might have. Feel free to call us anytime, and we will keep you posted on the little man!!
Kalissa and Shane