So we have a date. And a plan.
Yesterday was the first appointment with my doctor in three weeks, since the incident. Though I had taken time off work to spend with family visiting from afar, I had to make three appointments back-to-back, so I spent much of a vacation day in the car and on a table. After another detailed ultrasound provided a better picture of what may be going on with the placenta, my doctor made some decisions.
She does not recommend pushing back delivery from 34 weeks to 35. This baby’s birth day is now scheduled for 34w2d, which is three weeks from yesterday(!). So no hospital bedrest unless there is further bleeding or signs of preterm labor. They plan to give another round of steroids to mature the baby’s lungs before delivery. She still anticipates 1-2 weeks in the NICU for breathing and feeding issues. Based on baby’s current size, we’re hoping to reach close to 5.5 lbs by delivery.
She will not attempt to save my uterus. Due to the evidence of accreta (embedding), she will proceed with a hysterectomy without wasting critical time and blood trying to deliver the placenta too. Already she anticipates that I will need 4-6 units of donated blood. She doesn’t want to place me at risk any more than necessary when my womb will be clearly damaged beyond repair. Even with detailed ultrasounds, she can’t know how bad it is until they go in. Yet she is relying on the expert opinion of two senior radiologists in making her decision. She will have a pelvic surgeon assist in case of further complications.
I can accept the hysterectomy as medically necessary — as I said before, if I can have a baby out of this, it’s a fair trade I can live with. No more periods, no more fibroids. But this changes the entire birth experience as well as my recovery and, more importantly, opportunities for bonding with our preemie baby.
When I realized I could actually deliver a real live baby, I started drafting a plan for cesarean birth. While I knew this would be a highly medicalized procedure — i.e., and the very opposite of Baby Jaye’s birth experience — I still believed there was room to make it our own. For instance, I planned to be awake during delivery with Mac present and the screen down so we could witness the birth of our baby. I wanted immediate skin contact on my chest, even if just for a moment or as soon as possible, and a few other measures to ensure the best possible chance at early bonding and nursing.
My birth “plan” is now just one more thing I need to let go. My doctor told me yesterday that I won’t even get to touch or hold our baby after birth. They will need to begin the hysterectomy immediately following delivery, as I will be losing a lot of blood. Once Mac is ushered out of the ER and our baby is whisked off to the NICU, they will administer a general anesthetic and put me out for as long as necessary, at least two hours with no other complications. My recovery will take longer now, and while most c-section patients can rest with their babies while in recovery, I won’t be able to. Whether I will be able to even pump is questionable as “pump and dump” for the first batch is recommended with general anesthesia. Does this include colostrum? I don’t know and plan to ask a few lactation consultants. According to my doctor, I “should” be able to meet our baby later that evening.
Finally due to the placement of the placenta, the incision will be high and vertical instead of low and transverse, which is more painful with a harder recovery. To be clear, I don’t care about the scars. But I am concerned about my recovery and ability to care for a newborn and toddler, even with help.
As I was expressing how I felt about hearing this definitive plan, Mac reminded me about the big picture. In other words, we’re having a baby. I know. And that is an incredible and unbelievable thing.
On one hand, nothing else matters. There is no “but.” The ultimate goal is a healthy baby and mama. That thought alone — i.e., that by some miraculous turn we are so blessed to welcome a new baby to our family — makes me want to burst into tears of joy.
On the other hand, there is so much about this that makes me want to cry for other reasons — i.e., so many fears and concerns about a premature newborn, establishing critical early bonds, questioning whether nursing will even be possible, leaving our baby at the hospital after I am discharged, my recovery, etc. It may seem unimportant in the long run, but the thought of not even holding our child after birth — not even for a few seconds before being taken away and tended to by others for an indefinite period of time — well, I can’t really describe how that makes me feel.
I learned to let go of control when it comes to family building a long time ago. This is not about control. It’s not even entirely about MY experience. I gave up on that a long time ago too. I’m far more concerned about our baby. And while I know the baby should be fine in the excellent care of the NICU staff, with Mac available every chance he gets, it doesn’t change the fact that I should be with our baby yet can not. It doesn’t change that what I had hoped to be able to do — e.g., welcome our child to the world and care for her in whatever way possible, through comfort, by nursing, whatever — I won’t be able to do.
There is much more I want to say, but can’t seem to find the words. I realize that my feelings about this birth and my recovery and the thought of a preemie who, by most estimates should be fine in the long run, may seem petty and unimportant. I get it. I might get annoyed reading my posts too. But that doesn’t change what I’m processing right now as I prepare for this.
Thank you all for your concern and well wishes. It means so much to both Mac and me. We are doing our best to line up our support network, and we appreciate every positive thought headed our way. Many thanks.