Thursday, June 7, 2012


On the eve of Finlay's eight month birthday, it is hard to believe that this little boy

Finlay Alexander, Seven Months
looked like this not so long ago.

Finlay - just a few hours old and how he looked when I first saw him (that I remember)

My pregnancy with Finlay was very like my other two pregnancies in that I suffered from morning sickness the whole time. Every. Single. Day. Several times a day. Even the anti-nauseant Diclectin only took the edge off. However, I am otherwise healthy so that seems to be my pregnancy thing to bear (resulting in DH's pregnancy thing to bear: a very, very cranky wife).

I started feeling off the morning of October 8th, 2011. Off meant that I stayed in bed, only getting up to run to our en suite facilities every few minutes. I spent the whole day in bed. DH helped me from becoming too dehydrated by bringing me frozen ice pops and I dozed in and out of sleep thinking that this wasn't too bad as I'd be nice and rested by the time my contractions started in earnest. 

The only real bummer was that the rest of my locally living immediate family (Mudder, Fadder, biggest Little Brother, SIL and nephew K) were out in the living room enjoying an early Thanksgiving feast with my boys. We had planned an early get together so that I would be able to attend as our new baby was due at any minute. So much for the best laid plans!

By 8:00 PM, my contractions had started in earnest and very quickly started to come close together. I got organized, convinced DH that we had to go NOW and, no, he didn't have time to chat to the family longer and off we went to the hospital. By the time we got to the Janeway, we had had to pull over once so that I could throw up (again, normal for me) and I was in agony each time we hit a pot hole. Anyone who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador know that there are a couple of pot holes to be found in the province. I think we hit most of the ones between Torbay and St. John's but DH might tell you a different story ;)!

Arriving at Labour and Delivery and the assessment rooms went as anticipated and I requested an epidural as soon as my foot crossed the threshold. The nurses were fairly confident that I knew I was in labour based on previous deliveries and a quick internal exam confirmed it. Mine and the baby's vital signs were taken, recorded and pronounced fine. I was admitted and changed into that oh-so-glamourous-arse-hanging out (like I cared at that point) blue gown. My contractions were coming fast and furious and I was starting to have difficulty holding it together (aka the swearing started in earnest).

While the nurse was out of the room, DH tried to help me as best he could. I am a pretty vocal person while in labour (and have no idea how anyone can be quiet trough that ordeal though I've heard it can be done) and managed to convince a passing gynaecologist and nurse to come in a check on me. After that, things got a bit crazy. The gynaecologist confirmed that I was six centimetres dilated and a labour room was prepped. Just before the stretcher and I were wheeled out, the nurse said,

"I just want to check their vitals once more before we move her." Famous last words. The baby's heart beat was pronounced dangerously low and I remember hearing "We need to get this baby out NOW."

Then things got really crazy and I don't remember all of it. I remember being scared to death and, for the first time in my life, knew that I wanted this baby to live even if it meant I didn't (at the time that didn't seem as melodramatic as it does now). I remember that I was having a LOT of trouble breathing through the contractions and writhing in pain. I remember being wheeled from the triage room right into surgery. I remember being moved from the stretcher to the surgical table and my right arm flopping around which might be the reason why I had a massive bruise from my wrist almost up to my armpit on my right arm when I woke up the next morning. I remember being held down during a contraction because I was in agony and wanted the baby out of me and safe. I remember the anesthesiologist introducing himself to me and my thinking something to the effect of "Don't effing introduce yourself! Just get me out of this pain and get my baby out!". 

I have been under the effects of anesthetic once before and I think what is so disorienting about it is that it feels as though you blink and you've lost several hours. There is no period of darkness like I would have expected, like having slept. Instead, one minute you are watching all of these people hovering and yelling and swearing (because they were. It was all pretty urgent) to the next blink when everything is quiet and I could hear DH and a different nurse's voice talking quietly near me.

The first thing I distinctly remember hearing is DH telling the nurse "She doesn't know yet." 

DH told me that we had a boy and that the delivering doctors felt that he had had a seizure within the first five minutes of his birth. Due to that, he needed to go to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and not with us. DH was white as a ghost and crying. I was still under the effects of a general anesthetic, morphine and an emergency c-section which meant that DH had not seen me in over 2.5 hours and had had to bear the weight of worrying about me and about our new baby by himself. I kept whispering to him that everything would be fine which, for anyone who knows me well indicates just how drugged up I was as I am emotional on any normal day and I would have been through the roof if I'd been in my usual frame of mind. 

Saying 'hello' and 'goodbye' to Finlay before he went to the NICU. I do not remember this picture being taken.

There are pictures of me with Finlay just before they took him away. Sadly, I have little recollection of seeing him or touching him before he went off but do have three pictures as proof.

I held Iain and Aidan within moments of them being born and that includes when Iain's lungs were suctioned due to him inhaling meconium when he was born or when Aidan was born with a giant bruise on his head from being stuck in the birth canal for over three hours. It was almost 24 hours before I held Finn.

Finlay was in the NICU for five days and they were very, very difficult days. First of all, no one could tell us how long he would be there. No one could tell us if he would have another seizure or even if the actions he had initially displayed even were a seizure (and we will likely never know the answer to that question). Seeing him in an incubator was hard but seeing all of the probes stuck to his little body was horrible. One of my few consolations was that the NICU staff was unable to get his IV hooked up through his skull and instead used his belly button. Though their attempts meant that he had little bald patches all over his head, he still looked 'normal' to me. The IV hooked up through a newborn's head is a scary sight as far as I'm concerned.

We got used to some aspects of his situation such as his incubator. I called it his 'man cave' and I bet if we could built them adult male size, we would make a mint selling them. It kept him warm and cozy at the exact temperature he liked. It tipped when he was sleeping so that he had the most optimal sleeping arrangements. And he was provided with nourishment through his IV so he never felt hungry or thirsty. Naturally, he also had someone to change his diaper when he needed it. What a life!

Finn's personal 'Man Cave'

Things quickly got better for all of us especially after I was able to hold him and nurse him. Finn was on IV fluids in his incubator so we were a little concerned that he would not take to the breast but he did. Over the five days he was in the incubator, his IV fluids were reduced and his appetite was enormous. The first time the nurses reduced his 'medicine meals', I got a call in my room saying to come down to the NICU and please hurry because Finlay was HUNGRY!

It is a very strange experience to live on a maternity ward and to not have your baby with you. I felt like a fake-Mom. I was surrounded by women and their families and their gorgeous little newborns and I was worried sick because my baby was too sick to even be let out of the NICU let alone to see visitors. Except for a very precious few family members, we did not tell anyone when Finn was born. I could not handle the "and how is everyone doing?" question. We didn't know how Finn was doing and when a new baby is born, everyone wants to visit the hospital to see the baby and I did not have a baby to show them. Only my parents, my brother and SIL and big brother Iain were granted entry to the NICU to see Finn.

Proud big brother Iain (who also missed his Mama a little bit too much)

To cope, I followed the nursing staff's instructions to a 'T'. Finn's NICU nurse (he had one on one care there) and I worked out a nursing and pumping schedule. She kept maintaining that my job was to rest up in preparation to take on full-time care of Finlay and to produce breast milk. Being overtired would not help either duty so I spent what time I spent in the maternity ward either eating cold hospital food (inevitably I would get a call that Finn was ready to be fed just before the meals were delivered so they would sit and get cold until I got back), sleeping or pumping. I did not go to the NICU overnight instead pumping milk, putting it in the refrigerator and then bringing it to the NICU staff for his night feedings. Luckily, I have been a nursing mother pretty much since Iain's birth in 2007 so milk production was not an issue.

DH and I were present when the paediatric team would do their rounds in the NICU ward. They were amazing and we both felt that our concerns were listened to and acted upon. The NICU head nurse was very pro-breast feeding which meant that Finn's 'medicine meals' were reduced so that I could step up to nurse full-time.

Finlay never did show any further signs of seizure activity in the NICU or at home with us. After five days of no concerns coupled with a normal EEG, Finn was able to come up to my room. The first thing DH said when he held him there was,

"Have you finished scaring the crap out of us yet?"

Have you finished scaring the crap out of us, Fin-Finny?
We were released from the hospital under the condition that we would return if Finlay showed any signs of subsequent seizures (the fact that this was my third baby helped) and that he have an ultrasound within his first week of discharge. 

Finlay has had that ultrasound, additional hearing tests, another EEG and is being followed by a special paediatric group that concentrates on babies who have been in the NICU. They tell me he is the healthiest baby in their program and he has never shown anything else that has concerned us medically.

He cut his first tooth this week, is over 22 lbs, has yet to meet a solid (pureed) food that he doesn't like and can combat crawl on his belly around the house so nothing is safe from his inquiring fingers or mouth these days!

Thanks for joining our family, Finlay, even if it started off a little rough. You have certainly made up for your first week in spades by being a beautifully laid back and cheerful little fellow who rarely, ever cries (and when you do it is for a very good reason). We love you and I don't know how we did without you.

Happy eight month birthday, Finn!

1 comment:

  1. Love love love love love.

    We're very happy that you joined your crazy family too Finlay :)