When will I learn to stop tempting fate by saying things like “BORED.”? Apparently never. Before LittleLordFauntleroy made his 7-weeks-early debut I informed B we were ready for him because we had a car seat and champagne. If you look at the first bit of my last blog post, you will note that I claimed I was BORED (and AGITATED, but that seems not to have offended the Fates). Apparently someone was listening. Below is an account of how I pictured CaptainJack’s arrival (why he’s given a pirate’s name will become clear), and what actually happened. You may note that they do not bear much resemblance to each other. The first involved a fair amount of swanning around looking calm and in control while the later mostly involved me looking startled in the dim glow of flashlights.
Here’s what I pictured happening (and before you laugh too hard at me, please note that I knew perfectly well that not all would go according to plan–but you have to start somewhere): I would go into labor naturally (there was talk of an induction at 39 weeks–which would have given my poor little Captain a Halloween birthday), and when I arrived at the hospital with both B and my impeccably packed labor bag in tow I would impress the doctors so much with my ability to labor that they would discard their talk of c-sections (due to a worry of shoulder dystocia–a very serious but rare complication that Captain Jack’s predicted large size made a concern). Then labor would hurt but I would persevere without an epidural (because being confined to a hospital bed hooked up to machines gives me PTSD flashbacks to getting hit by a Land Rover). The nurses would be impressed. B would be impressed and supportive. The doctors would marvel that they had ever thought Captain Jack would be too big for me to deliver. The baby would arrive, and I would get to move up to the Mother/Baby floor where they have tasty room service on demand instead of nasty hospital food delivered at uncertain intervals. Then we would bring LLF to meet his new sibling, there would be pictures, I would remember to wear makeup and then after a couple of days, the whole lot of us would swan home to live happily ever after.
Sounds pretty nice, yes? I thought so too.
Here’s what actually happened: My water broke on Saturday night while I was reading LLF his bedtime story, and there were signs of potential fetal distress (meconium in the amniotic fluid–if you don’t have kids and know what that is, just ignore it and keep reading. I wouldn’t google it if I were you.) Therefore, B and I rushed off to the hospital leaving LLF screaming for “MAAA-MAAA!!” at Editress (he of course fell asleep about 30 seconds after we were out of earshot of the screams).
When we got to the hospital they kept checking my progress and finally decided that I wasn’t progressing very fast, the baby was clearly very large, my blood pressure was high, and the meconium meant it would be better to deliver sooner rather than later. So a C-Section it was. This wasn’t what I wanted, but since my goal was a healthy baby I didn’t protest very hard. Shoulder dystocia is hard to predict, but very bad if it happens and I had at least two risk factors (diabetes and a big baby). So off we went to one of the three ORs on the Labor, Delivery, and Recovery floor (please note: that’s the floor with the crappy hospital food; the Mother/Baby floor is where they keep the gourmet offerings.) I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow of the surgery (I threw up. At least three times.), but eventually Captain Jack arrived (at 10 lbs 11 oz! He doubled LLFs birth weight!)
Then things started to get interesting. Captain Jack got a 2 cm cut on his cheek when they were opening me up because he was so big everything was really tightly stretched. So they called in a plastic surgeon (but he will have a scar). And while B was dealing with that there was rather more bleeding than they liked from me. But that eventually stopped. Then there was some furious arguing below the curtain (they put up a curtain so you can’t see your opened-up abdomen). Turns out that for some unknown reason the hospital protocol is for the attending nurse to write down how many instruments they start with only when the number doesn’t match the standard issue (which is 7). The problem that both B and I immediately noted with this system is that there is no way to tell that the nurse actually remembered to count the instruments unless the number is something other than 7. After my surgery they could only find 6 instruments. I was not feeling very well, but even I could tell that 6 was not 7. The nurse insisted that if there were 6 to start with she would have recorded that. The doctor insisted that she had not left anything inside of me. (Although as B mentioned, for people who were all “sure” that there were no instruments left inside me, they were awfully mad at each other.) To be on the safe side they ordered an x-ray of my abdomen STAT. Except the radiology department apparently forgot what STAT meant, and the doctor had to call at least two times before the portable x-ray machine showed up. I was happy to learn that there were no instruments inside me. One worry down.
But, probably because of all that calm swanning around I’d been planning to do, the Fates weren’t done with me. I was able to get my hands on Captain Jack, but my blood pressure was still too high. So I couldn’t leave the somewhat grim recovery floor for the promised land of the Mother/Baby floor. I spent the next 12 hours having my blood pressure checked every 10 minutes. Eventually they decided to put me on a magnesium sulfate drip (to prevent seizures from preecclampsia/ecclampsia) and a blood pressure medicine for 12 to 24 hours.
Okay, fine. I don’t want to have seizures. But couldn’t you do it on the floor with the good food? No? You sure? Then B and I will amuse ourselves by playing “Guess That Food”! There was some hot debate about a chicken vs. fish call on my dinner (I still maintain fish ought not to have that texture or be covered in spaghetti sauce), and then the next morning I was sure the breakfast was oatmeal when it turned out to be eggs. Eggs that were so bad that B wouldn’t eat them. Let me repeat: the food was so bad that B wouldn’t eat it. B has (by his own admission), eaten things out of the trash before.
But eventually, eventually… eventually Captain Jack and I were moved up to the Mother/Baby floor on Monday. The food was as good as promised. I enjoyed two glorious meals there before the hurricane hit. Oh, did I forget to mention that this whole time we were waiting for Hurricane Sandy to hit? Well, we were. The ORs were shut down and nurses warned us that while we might lose main power there were generators that would keep the hospital ticking along. HA. HA. Because all the hospitals are along the east side of the island and flooding could easily be a problem they cleverly put the back-up generators on the roof. But CaputMundi law requires fuel tanks to be in basements of buildings. So… eventually the flooding killed the fuel tanks, thus rendering those generators inoperative. GOOD CALL CaputMundi.
We decided that B should leave the hospital on Monday before the storm hit so he could be with LLF (B had been shuttling back and forth between me and LLF this whole time). Thus each of us would be with one of our children during the storm. Captain Jack and I would be safely tucked up in the storm-ready hospital and LLF and B could bachelor it up at home until the worst was over. As I said before: HA! Monday night I watched the flood waters rise and float cars past the hospital. Then the power went out. As in, all the way out. The entire hospital was being evacuated. Nurses were attending to us by glow-stick. You may have seen something about it on CNN. There was no cell phone reception. A few of us mothers who were close enough to being ready to go home were allowed to stay with a skeleton staff all through Monday night into Tuesday morning when we were to be discharged home and given a ride through the flooded streets in ambulances rather than going to clutter up some other hospital. Why wait until Tuesday morning? Because that was the low tide so the flooding would have receded enough to let us make our escape.
Let me just say, for anyone who is wondering, it is REALLY CREEPY to stay overnight in a giant, GIANT (as in four blocks long) hospital that has almost entirely been evacuated and has no power. In case you thought it sounded like fun. But eventually the water receded a little bit and Tuesday morning came. We did our discharge paperwork by penlight and processed downstairs. Each mother and baby got her own little train of attendants. I had two nurses carrying my stuff, one nurse carrying the baby, and one with a light helping me (I had to go down 13 flights of stairs two days after major abdominal surgery. It also fell into the category of: Not Fun.) When we got downstairs the nurses were dismayed to learn that FEMA only allows ambulances to take patients to other hospitals, not act as a taxi service. So the head of the hospital went and found some ambulance drivers who had just gotten here from St. Louis to help out and who didn’t know that yet and bundled us into them before they found out. Captain Jack and I arrived home to an apartment with no power. There was cold water and our gas stove was working, so we stayed the night before fleeing to my aunt and uncle’s place on the upper west side where they had power. And heat. And hot showers. And food. About a week later our apartment got power back and we took the Captain home officially.
It wasn’t the dullest birth experience I’ve had… which is saying something. It’s almost a month later and the hospital hasn’t reopened yet (in fact, at least two of the major hospitals are still out of commission). Captain Jack is thriving, his scar is very dashing, and he’s a very calm little man. Which is good because his older brother has enough energy for both of them right now. And I think, at least, I hope, that I have learned my lesson about planning how things will go. But we’ll see.