I started this post back on June 6… deep in the throes of an anxiety filled pregnancy. I would come and write out my feels on the things going on throughout the pregnancy but I was always too afraid to publish… what if I jinxed the pregnancy!? I’m aware that is not a thing, but the pregnancy hormone mind is not the most rational at times… let’s pickup where I left off in June and then I’ll follow up below that how it all played out… Finely’s birth story.
I’m sitting here 32 weeks 1 day, with my footling breach babe, reading up on various techniques to flip baby, about c sections, and others’ stories in the dreaded pregnancy forms… considering all of the scares we’ve had I’m not feeling too worried about babe being breach… there is still time for him to flip, though I have the feeling he may not… he is small so I would hope he has the room, but perhaps the fibroid is taking up just enough room to prevent his flipping? or perhaps his cord is around his leg?… he was kicking it ferociously a few ultrasounds ago.
So far our pregnancy hasn’t been normal… here’s the thing though, the word normal isn’t a good word for any situation but it’s the general word that gets used for a lot of things… It hasn’t been your average low risk type of pregnancy – that’s what normal means for us in this instance… from leaving the positive screen at 12 weeks utterly devastated after the clinic staff sending us on our way with their apologies for “our situation”… to not being able to complete the CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling) mid proceedure, due to a fibroid in the way, at 13 weeks to investigate the positive screen, so we had the Amniocentesis at 15 weeks… that came back all clear, the low papp-a is what threw off the 12 week screen, it was even noted on the screen that the papp-a was low. Low papp-a is an indicator of placenta function issues, there is the marginal cord insertion, babe is SGA (small for gestational age), and then after feeling like we were in the clear around 25 weeks the various EFW clinic doctors scared us when babe’s long bones measured short and referred us to talk with a geneticist around 28 weeks… which we did… and we had them run a chromosomal microarray on the left over amnio fluid… which also came back all clear… he’s just small… stocky… our family is full of stocky folk… then came weekly ultrasounds to keep a close eye on his growth… well at 31.5 weeks we were pushed back to biweekly ultrasounds and feeling like we could breath again and let go of the newest anxieties that were seemingly thoughtlessly dropped on us by on of the EFW doctors with poor bedside manner and/or lack of clinical discretion… their words went something like – “the long bones could be short due to a whole host of genetic issues, it could be dwarfism”… UM WHAT ABOUT THE LOW PAPP-A!? Isn’t it most likely that!?
We’ve come to not expect that things are going to be smooth and easy… every appointment I try to go in with empty brains… though many I’ve gone into with fearful teary eyes as we’d been scared so many times over the past 32 weeks… but what is happening is happening and we’ve been handling each thing as it has comes up… it has been incredibly tiring and yes we would love to have had a “normal” low risk pregnancy but that’s just not been how things have fallen out for us… from 28 weeks on, which we felt lucky to have made it to, we’ve been on standby each ultrasound that he may have to come early if he stops growing because of the placenta issue.
Now all of that is the lead up to our upcoming birth… we have some preferences for our birth… most people do. We don’t have a hard and fast plan because we’ve learned from all of the things above that well most of what is going to happen is really out of our control and the best thing that we can do is to learn about all the various ways things can go so that we’re as prepared as possible for however this all has to go down.
Honestly I will feel disappointed if we don’t get to attempt a “natural” birth… but I refuse to be devastated and come out with a birth story based in disappointment because it did go HOW WE WANTED IT TO GO… either delivery route will be an incredible and happy birth story as it is the story of how our babe will come into this world… all of the issues so far have prepared us… well scared us… either way it has given us the realistic view that things can go any which way and expecting everything to go a certain way is just setting ones self up for a harder time of processing what actually goes down if it isn’t what we were hoping for/imagining/wanting for our birth.
Here’s the thing… we’ve been told that if he doesn’t flip or if he stops growing due to the placenta issues that he’ll be coming via section… I’m excited to have made it to 32 weeks so far without him having to come early as we’ve been hoping from scan to scan for the last few weeks that he’s grown and can stay in residence for awhile longer… we hope that I get to make it to full term… he’s still small but he’s been growing a little from scan to scan… we want him to be at a healthy as possible a weight for delivery.
Now section isn’t on the top of my preferences list but a healthy safe delivery for babe and me are. There are other things we want to have happen such as delayed cord clamping and skin to skin contact as soon as possible which our hospital and OBs are advocates of… even when delivery is via c-seciton – barring any emergency situations… there is the being realistic kicking in again… at this point I wouldn’t even expect that a section would go “normally”… or not go normally for that matter… we’re staying open to whatever hand we are dealt. We feel that our care team has our health in mind front and centre and are not just out to push a quick option for delivery.
Happiness is a product of being grateful for what we have… and in the end regardless of how he gets here we’re going to have our baby bear in our arms and that matters more than any delivery method.
Back to today:
Now that I’m six months postpartum I’ve had time to reflect on the pregnancy, and delivery. We know now for certain that the placenta was the problem (as indicated by low papp-a) but confirmed by pathology – the placenta was smaller, and we were aware of the marginal cord insertion. The wonky placenta caused Finely’s growth to slow at the end of the pregnancy and why he was measuring small. His body did what it needed too and focused its energy into growing his brain… once he got out, and got the nourishment that he wasn’t fully getting on the inside, he started to grow and catchup. He stayed breach as the pregnancy progressed as his cord was wrapped around his neck 2.5 times.
In all honesty I do feel robbed of the “happy pregnancy experience.” I spent weeks holding back tears, and many more days not able to hold back tears, in my cubicle at work after appointment upon appointment where an EFW clinic doc scared the fuck out of us… I was terrified to go shopping for baby items as we were left feeling, after most ultrasounds, as if we could lose babe at any moment. At 36 weeks our OB (an incredible doctor – who started scanning us at the hospital around 28 weeks instead of having us go to the EFW clinic after all of the traumatizing they’d done to us) advised that we should delivery Finely via C-Section the following week… 37 weeks 1 day as she did not want me to go into labour as Finley as he was so small, breech and his cord was wrapped around his neck… they do support breech births but as Finely was also SGA and cord wrapped it wasn’t worth the risk of stressing him out. It was also noted that if he was under 5lbs he would have to go into NICU. I spent the week leading up to his delivery crushing milkshakes trying to fatten him up, and hoping that all of their weight estimates were off. Here is how the day went down as captured by our doula… and added to from my memory of the day:
The Birth Timeline of Finley Christopher Pike – July 11th, 2017
6:45am – arrived at the SHC hospital with Chris and my mother after getting a last at the house before baby photo. Jennifer our doula met us at the hospital.
8:00am – we arrived into a L&D traige room as no other rooms were available prior to the C section. Chris and Jennifer scrubbed up. If babe had to go to nicu Chris was going to go with him… and Jennifer would come into the OR with me to keep me company because I’m a big baby lol. I was given a hospital gown to change into. I was swollen… boy was I puffy… I had cankles (see photo above by lord did I have cankles)… and this was before the two bags of fluid they’d pumped into me while we waited to go to the OR. We talked, joked, laughed about family back home and the soon-to- arrive baby boy. We didn’t talk too much about the upcoming birth… honestly I was thinking about not freaking out Chris or my mother by letting on that I was scared shitless while we were waiting for me to go into the OR…
8:45am – I got hooked up to IV and promptly had to pee.. lol
9:05am – we recorded baby’s heart rate on the monitor… they’d put the monitoring thing around my belly and gave me the button to press to count his movements
9:35am – we continued chatting and waiting, the anesthesiologist came in to discuss the cesarean birth (I don’t really remember him coming into the room prior to seeing him in the OR)
10:18am – Chris was beside me, helping me to feel calm and relaxed
10:30am – we are given the OK to head down to the OR; everyone was given a hair cap and mask. The OR for births are on a different floor… I dragged my IV along and we walked to the elevators to get to the OR… the nurse with us tried to be distracting and handed me a little bottle and said “here shoot this”… only I wasn’t that easy… lol… she was saying shoot it for a reason… so I asked why and cracked a few jokes… turns out it tasted like shit… well not exactly lol.. its’ very acrid… It was to help neutralize the acid in my stomach to help keep me from getting stomach sick.
10:37am – I head into the OR with the nurses while Chris and Jennifer wait for me to be prepped. Chris and Jennifer chat about how excited they are and anticipate meeting baby. Chris was nervous and worried about me being by myself in the OR, he just wanted to come in and be with me. In the OR I sit up on the table… there are pop hits playing in the room – I was surprised by the tunes… it felt very casual… but casual in a reassuring way. There were nurses around getting things prepped and they ran through the epidural proceedure… “it’ll feel a little worse than a bee sting” she says… “I’ve never had a bee sting.” The anesthesiologist ran through things too before sticking me. I had one of the nurses hold hands with me because I was nervous… Honestly the Doc was so good I hardly felt a thing. I laid back and as the freezing began to creep up I began to feel a little panicky. Janice came into the OR to visit with me just as the freezing panic was setting in so having her there with me for that helped immensely. We chatted for a few minutes and then Janice left. Janice works in recovery at the hospital and I was incredibly fortunate to have her waiting for me to finish up so that she could recover me! Janice is a friend from home, Newfoundland, that Chris went to elementary school with, and we’re all great friends now.
I remember joking with the nurses that it was Amazon Prime day, and it turned out to also be their Pancake Breakfast (Calgary Stampede) day… My OB Dr. LeJour came in and everyone was in great spirits chatting (well talking about what was going on lol) I was asked what song I wanted played when babe was born – and I didn’t realize they meant up on the L&D ward… There was already music playing in the OR so I’d thought that was great as it was. If I’d know I would have picked something from their list (in the days after every time I heard the little songs play I burst into tears knowing a new baby had just been born – I wish I’d had realized and had done that for Finley – my first moment of mom guilt)
I opted to have the curtain up for the surgery because I was afraid I’d freak out if I saw my insides on the outside…
11:06am – Chris is called to head into OR, Jennifer stayed out waiting for the call to go into the OR. Chris sat up by my head. There was a team from the NICU waiting all ready to go just in case babe was under 5lbs. Dr. LeJour asked me to let her know if I felt anything, I said yes, and she quickly replied “WHAT?!” lol I meant yes I’ll let you know if I feel anything not yes I feel you testing to see if I was frozen.
The anesthesiologist stayed on our side of the curtain keeping an eye on me and the progress on the other side of the curtain at the same time. Chris and I played a couple word games, in whispers, and he held my hand and stroked my head. The doctor noted that I would feel some pressure when babe was coming out…
Finley Christopher Pike arrived at 11:12 am on July 11, 2017 at 37 weeks 1 day 🙂
Here he is coming-out! OMG!… Chris didn’t realize that these photos were on his phone until a couple days later!… one of the nurses had scooped up his phone and got photos of Finley’s delivery!
I remember feeling pressure… I don’t remember hearing him cry… he didn’t cry right away it took a few moments. They held him up above the little curtain for us to see… They didn’t lay him on me. I didn’t get to touch him – I reached up but I wasn’t allowed to touch him, he was brought over to the team that was on standby. They did their assessments and weigh in… he weighted in at 4lbs 11oz meaning he would have to go to NICU. They brought him over to us all bundled up, a nurse took Chris’s phone to take a photo of us three, which was really nice, but she couldn’t figure out how to work the camera (?) for a first shot of the three of us. Then babe had to go back to the NICU team and up to NICU. Chris left the OR with babe.
11:25am – Chris left the OR so excited with NICU team and baby FINLEY! Announces birth to Jennifer and says that he was just under 5lbs so headed to the NICU but otherwise he was a healthy baby! Just after Chris left the OR he popped his head back in to ask our Doula’s name! In the excitement he completely blanked when one of the nurses asked for her name. Jennifer was called into OR. She came in and held my hand and told me what a great job I had done! After the birth Jennifer told me that I couldn’t believe he was born so fast and I had said how cute he was and that he was tiny. I said that I couldn’t wait to see him. I was shaking a ton from the shock (which turns out is a normal reaction to cesarean). Jennifer kept asking me about him while she stroked my hair and the doctors closed me up. I remember Dr. LeJour looking at me and saying that I looked great – like I hadn’t just had a baby. (I totally did during my recovery – in the next days a cafeteria cashier asked me how far long I was when we get to get lunch… uhhh I gave birth 5 days ago *blink blink tears*) Apparently I kept licking my lips and telling Jennifer how fast the birth happened and how tiny Finley was. Dr LeJour was joking about the song playing in the room when he was delivered (I don’t remember which song it was) and telling me much of a rockstar I was. I remember Dr. LeJour commenting on how Jennifer and I sounded like two old friends catching up <3
12:00pm – we were wheeled up to recovery to Janice. I was shaking uncontrollably from the surgery and cold. Janice covered me with lots of warm blankets (like she full on burrito’d me) and kept me toasty warm while Jennifer held my hands and stroked my hair. I told Janice that I couldn’t believe I’d done it and Finley was here! I wanted to see him. Janice was monitoring my vitals and I was so very thirsty. Jennifer fed me ice chips…..tons of ice chips! The shaking started to subside a little and all my vitals were perfect. More ice chips! Janice and I talked about back home and joked.
I remember in recovery we were tucked into a corner behind a curtain… at one point when I had to take some pills Janice handed me the little plastic cup with the pills inside, not thinking anything of it I grabbed the cup but because I was shaking so hard the pills started bouncing all over the place like popping popcorn almost spilling out everywhere… we all burst out laughing at the sight. Chris had sent some photos from nicu to Jennifer’s phone so I got to see my sweet babe. I remember Janice checking that the feeling was coming back in my body… with ice in a nitrile glove… she would touch it to my upper chest… side… upper tummy to see how far down the freezing was wearing off… once it was well on its way to wearing off we hit the road… well hallway. Janice and Jennifer and I all made our way towards the nicu. I remember laying up on the bed seeing Janice talking to a nurse, Kacey I later found out, just inside of the nicu doors… then I was rolled into nicu and into the first room on the left…
12:26pm – UNIT 76, Room 33 –
I remember rolling into the room and seeing Chris sitting and holding Finley against his bare chest, he’d already given him the syringes of expressed colostrum that we brought along with us. My memory is fuzzy after this point but I have photos and Jennifer, Janice and Chris’s recounts.
I remember rolling in and seeing Finley on Chris’s chest… they were skin to skin – I was so proud of Chris and Finley having such an incredible moment.
Jennifer: As we entered the room Chris was doing skin to skin with Finley. You looked at him and said “WHAT?! I want to hold him”. The nurse lifted him off Chris to pass him over to you so you could do skin-to- skin with him. 12:33pm – You got him on your chest and you said “WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT IS THIS?! I can’t believe he’s here!!!!” “I can’t believe it”….you were looking at Janice when you said this. You said “oh my baby, hey baby” and you kept kissing him on his head repeatedly. It was such a sweet moment. He lifted his head to turn and looked up at you. You kept saying how tiny he was and look at his little arms and hands….You also commented on his hair haha.
Janice: I remember you tearing up when you got to nicu when you saw Pickle doing skin to skin with Finley. Then when you first held him you said “oh so tiny,” tearing up, excited but nervous, right in love, was the sweetest thing.
Chris: When you held him the first time you teared up and said “I love him so much. He’s so beautiful”
I don’t remember holding Finely for the first time and my heart aches for this missing memory. I’ve cried many times for this memory that I just can’t make my mind produce… I am fortunate to have a few snaps that captured this precious moment, from both Chris and Jennifer.
My mom was waiting in the Postpartum Room with all the bags – UNIT 76, ROOM 20
My mom came into the NICU room and cried at the sight of me holding Finley. Chris was proud to show off his weight and height on the chart to her. I stroked Finley lots while he was on my chest and removed the blanket to attempt the first feed. Finely was tired and sleepy; he latched on a couple times but was too sleepy to nurse.
1:14pm – the nurse removed Finley from my chest to place him in the cot so she could monitor his vitals. Grandma went to comfort him and played with his feet. Grandma was over the moon happy.
Jennifer: 1:20pm – You were wheeled over to your postpartum room with Chris, and I followed. Chris told you how great you did and kept reassuring you that he was perfect, just a little under weight but was perfectly healthy! You just kept saying how much you wanted to hold and cuddle him. It was hard for you to be away from him. The nurses came in to check on you and congratulate you. You had the compression stockings on your legs and once those were able to come off you could go back to the NICU to be with Finley.
2:15pm – Grandma was cuddling Finley in the NICU and had him swaddled with a hat. He was asleep.
2:45pm – Chris switched off with Grandma
3:23pm – Chris was feeding Finley his bottle in the NICU, he did such a great job! Perfect hold and burp!
4:15pm – Jennifer gave us many hugs and said her good-byes, so that we could have some much needed family time, with the promise to return the next day!
I remember being so hungry and destroying crackers that were in the room, and ordering food. Nurses checked me constantly and as soon as I could that afternoon, with the help of the nurse, Chris and a wheelchair, I got over to nicu to hold my babe.
Even though Finley was one of the healthier babies in nicu, not requiring assistance to breath and not throwing any alarms, the days that followed were nerve wracking as the doctor was aggressively trying to increase Finley’s food intake, he ended up with an NG tube and gavage feeds.
I was pumping around the clock to encourage my milk to come in – the nicu nurses were so incredible with Finely and in supporting the start of our breastfeeding adventure.
I was angry and I cried when I was discharged, I didn’t want to leave without Finley. We spent very little time at home over the 8 days that Finely was in nicu… sitting at home to scarf down late suppers felt awful, laying in bed for the night felt awful without Finley at home… we were at the hospital in nicu every single day before the sun came up and we were there until late after the sun went down.
The day we got to take him home we walked out of that hospital like two peacocks… so proud and we were so pleased when people cooed over our little bear as we departed the hospital.
Looking back at photos now its almost unreal to see him this small… Finely’s now a whopping 14lbs! (hehehe)
Once we got home the real party began… oh man the first three months of a new baby is CRAAAAY… like I knew babies were hard but oh boy! no amount of heads up could have prepared us for Finley’s first three months!… but thats a post for another time 🙂