Monday, December 10, 2007

Subject Two: The Young Dude

Look at him! Isn't he sweet? Subject two, "Van" to his friends.
This is Van's birth story. It' couldn't be more different from Nuvy's if it tried (see the Obligatory Montessori Birth Story at the very beginning of this blog)

Van, like his sister, gave us a completely uneventful pregnancy, except that it was a little longer than usual (10 days late the first, 9 days the second). Unlike his sister, he then decided to scare the bejeesus out of everyone on his way out.

We are 0 for 2 for birth center births. We were transferred from the birth center to the hospital with Nuvy, after a very long and dysfunctional labor, but decided to try again for the home-y, jacuzzi-equipped, birth center birth of my dreams with baby #2. I had all my prenatal care with the wonderful, WONDERFUL midwives at The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr, PA. Without exception, they rock. Julia, one of my rockin' midwives, delivered Van at Bryn Mawr Hospital, but that's getting ahead of myself.

At 7 days past due, Van got an A+ on his "non-stress test", which is a physiological assessment based on fetal heart rate and movement to determine whether or not the uterine apartment is still up to code. No problem, so no eviction.

Day 9 started busy. Nuvy was scheduled to spend the afernoon with her Baba--my mother-in-law--who was and is my local lifeline when this mommy thing gets hairy (as it does when you're well past due with a busy toddler under foot) so our usual routine was a little accelerated to get ready for the special outing. It was only after Nuvy left that I noticed a weird silence in me belly, and it hit me that I hadn't felt a single squirm or kick all day. I immediately gorged myself on high-octane Indian restaurant leftovers and lay down on my left side (I'm an avid reader of alarmist prenatal literature, so I knew just what to do).

I waited almost two hours.

Nothing. I called.

As I drove myself to the birth center, my mental tire swing oscillated between feeling like an overwrought jackass for asking to make an unsceduled and probably unnecessary prenatal visit in a very busy practice, and wondering what I would say to all the people who kept asking if I'd had "that baby yet", when it turned out that there wasn't going to be any baby after all.

Unable to contain myself, I called my poor husband to share my terror, and told him through my sobs that I was terrified, and that there was nothing he could do. Nice, huh?

When I got to the birth center, it appeared that there was a third possibility I hadn't thought of. They put me in a chair, strapped me to a monitor, and after a couple of minutes of less-than-70 bpm fetal heart rate, the nurse calmly handed me a pillow and told me to get down on my elbows and knees, and someone would get my husband on the phone and get me a car to the hospital.

The birth center office manager drove me to Bryn Mawr hospital, about a 500 foot drive, where I was taken to labor and delivery, gowned, strapped, and IV'd, and it was determined that the baby was happy (heart rate wise) only if I lay on my left side. I still hadn't felt any movement at all, but I took the bouncing green line on the monitor at face value--since that was the best news I'd had all day.

At this point I was not in labor, but was having the kind of piddly little contractions a person (at least this person) tends to have for several weeks before any baby gets around to being born. The midwives and labor nurses discussed various possibilities regarding induction, caesarean, and such, and a doctor whose face and name I still can't remember--it was the first and last time I ever saw the guy--came in and shook my hand and assured me that I would not leave the hospital without a baby. I called my mother, my doula and my husband. The nurse set me up with a potty chair, and told me not to go anywhere. Everyone then promptly left, and I lay there, on my left side, recalling my first (three day) labor and wondering how long my left hip and shoulder were going to hold out.

Incredibly, I started having real, live, serious contractions. Right then. Julia says I willed myself into labor, but I still say it was Van who said, "get me the hell out of here!", and my body complied. My doula called back to say she was in traffic and would be there when she could, my husband called to ask me what he should take to his mother's for Nuvy. I think I said the word "pyjamas" and that this was going to have to be my last phone call, because I didn't think I could talk anymore. He asked some more questions I only half heard. I hung up the phone, since I couldn't think or speak anymore. I think maybe half an hour had gone by since the first real contraction. I labored alone, on my left side, thinking that this was not AT ALL what I had in mind, for what didn't seem like nearly time enough to get the job done.

After a little more than two hours of labor, Van was born. Kent was there for about twenty minutes at the end. Wendy, my doula, was there for the last two of the four pushes it took to get him out. And now, we learned what all the silence had been about:

the knot.

Yes, there was actually a knot in his umbilical cord. See how dark it is above the knot, and how pale below? EEK! Several of the childbirth professionals present had never seen one before. The midwife said she'd seen one or two--ever. But for all that apparent lack of blood flow (which must have tightened up at the VERY end, or ... I can't even think of it), he seemed the picture of health.

To make a too-long story short, he is the picture of health, but there were some complications. In the end, after a five day stay in the NICU and a couple of brain imaging scans, he was pronounced normal-looking and sent home with the same lifetime guarantee everybody else gets.



Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog through a Montessori Yahoo group and am so glad I did! My husband and I have a beautiful 6 month old baby girl and we are attempting to raise her the Montessori way. I love the theory but sometimes it's just hard to get a clear idea of what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm reading through your archives and it's immensely helpful! Do you have any recommended reading?

Thanks so much for doing this blog, it's really a great resource!

NOLA mom said...

RE: Birth story #2 -


(He's really cute though!)

Tonia said...

What a cutie! My second also had a knot in his cord. My doctor also said it is very rare.

Amy said...

he looks absolutely postitively EXACTLY like Nuvy! WOW! Millie and Holden said " Is that Nuria?" Absolutely positively beautiful! Can I say Absolutely positively any more? Absolutely positively! We are sending big hugs and kisses and we miss you so much! I know Gussy would LOVE to play with Groovy Nuvy. The knot picture is amazing. ( as all your pictures are!) Life sure can be mean sometimes, huh? We can't WAIT to meet the new little noodle.

Kathy said...

wow, you are lucky. You really are. It was a good thing you went in when you did. Knots are a huge cause of stillbirth. I lost my son at 40 weeks, he did not have a knot but did have a cord issue. I have met so many loss parents who lost a child due to a true knot.

If you are ever to get regnant again, there is research being done showing cord issues can and do repeat. They can see knots and cord issues on ultrasounds, which would mean you would need more extensive monitoring. And while knots are rare, they are NOT that rare. 1 out of 150 babies are stillborn, about 40,000 a year. They say a good chunk of those are cord issue babies, and therefore their death could have been prevented.

Testdriver said...


I am so sorry for the loss of your son. Through my niece, Gracie's illness, we have encountered many families who are working through the experience of losing a child. We see, but really, we can only imagine.

When he began to have seizures that arrested his breathing, and when he was intubated and chemically sedated, I knew that I was looking over the razor's edge of oblivion. I can only imagine how desolate the view must be from beyond that edge.

Thanks for your post. We will certainly make sure we keep a close eye on the cord, should we be lucky enough to have a third pregnancy.

Best to you and yours.