Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

[Note:  This is one of the series of letters that I posted to my friends and family on Facebook between January and May of 2011.  They are rough, raw, painful in spots and are completely representative of the level of understanding I had about Down syndrome at the time (read: precious little).  Despite ump-teen years of nursing, I had very little understanding of what Intellectual Disabilities were and how deep my own ignorance ran. 

This one in particular is our "birth story", full of high risk pregnancies, emergency C-sections, twins, medical stuff, diagnoses and post partum blues. -Jxox]   

Life never ceases to amaze me. Not 12 hours after my last post, I was in BCH in labour. What are the odds?

After our plumber adventure and my trip to pick up Quinn, the day was pretty uneventful. Naps were attempted, TV was watched. I was feeling very slow and heavy, so I stayed in bed to rest even after Sean came home. As I lay there, I was planning my evening: find all the bottles and such, get the crib linen washed and on the crib, sort out the bassinets, find a few missing boxes of baby things. It was a short but important list. Sean called me for dinner and on my way downstairs I made a quick stop in the washroom.

Where my water broke.

All Sean heard was "Gaaaahhh!". Once he figured out it had nothing to do with his Beefaroni, we got moving.

The next 20 minutes were a blur as we topped up half-packed bags, fed our son and made plans for his sleepover. Luckily, my friend and I had sorted out the contingency details THAT MORNING. We piled in the van, the contractions hit and honestly, I don't remember much until I got in the ER doors and stumbled my way to the elevators to L&D. I'll spare you the details of the next three hours, but know that when I found out that my OB was on call, I may have been a little exuberant with my "OH THANK GOD!"

I had an emergency C-Section and other than an anesthesiologist who quite possibly thought he was an acupuncturist (OW!), it went reasonably smoothly. Once Mr. Jabby found the right spot, I was numb up to my chest (I could feel and use my arms this time, as opposed to the floating head phenomenon that I had with Quinn). Wyatt was born first, at 10:18 pm (4 lbs, 13oz). He was quickly whisked away to a warmer and I really didn't get to see him. I was about to say something when I felt a punch in the diaphragm from the inside. Seems Miss Zoe did not want to be born; in the words of the OB, she delivered the first baby, turned back and thought "where did the second baby go?", as both babies were head down at the start of the procedure. Zoe apparently did not want anything to do with what her brother was up to, had turned, crawled up as high as she could go and flipped over so that all the OB could find was her back. My OB spent the next few minutes trying to turn her manually (which meant more punches) so that she could be dragged kicking and screaming into the world. Which she was, at 10:21 (4 lbs, 1 oz).

Once she had been suctioned and I heard her cry, I turned my attention back to Wyatt's team who were clustered around his warming bed. They were too quiet. Then I knew.

I knew then, even before the Neo-natologist came over with his sheepish look and cleared his throat what he was going to tell me.

I knew that Wyatt has Down syndrome.

He spoke quietly to my OB for a few seconds before she loudly announced (as she was sorting out my insides) "Jennifer knows. She chose not to have the amnio... she knows a lot about this. She's a nurse. She knows. She knows about the heart. Just tell her." What he said then was that Baby A (Wyatt) appeared to have some of the physical characteristics and hard markers of Down syndrome. We would not know exactly or the extent until the cord blood samples came back in a few days. I have no idea what I said in reply, but he seemed to be accepting of it and shuffled off. Wyatt was brought up to me all bundled a few minutes later and I got to kiss my son before he was whisked off to the NICU. Zoe was brought shortly after that and all I could think of was how small she looked. I didn't get to kiss her before she too disappeared. Sean followed them and I was left with the team, talking shop with them whilst they cleaned and stitched me up.

I had to remain in recovery until I could move my legs and wiggle my toes. I have no idea how long we were there but I managed to con some jello and a cheese sandwich out of my nurse (remember, I didn't get my beefaroni). On the way to my room they wheeled me through the NICU; I got to stroke Zoe's foot and touch Wyatt's hand before I was in my room for the night. It was a long night too... I couldn't have any pain meds until after 4:30 and it was only Naprosyn and Tylenol at that point anyway.

I didn't get to hold my kids until much later the next day when I stupidly made the long walk to the NICU on my first ambulation. I spent three hours there, holding each one, talking to them and trying to not get all our tubes tangled up. It was hard leaving them and I was physically exhausted and in a great deal of pain. That little stunt set me back two days, but I'm happy to say that I am getting better.

As it stands now, they will be in hospital for weeks. There are a few milestones that they have to meet before we can entertain the idea of bringing them home. They are being fad mainly by nasogastric tube, but are encouraged to latch and have the occasional try at a bottle when they have the energy. They have to gain weight and to grow. They may come home together or individually. We won't know until we get there, basically. So far, any issues Wyatt has with anything seem to be due to his prematurity and not his DS.

Both are beautiful babies and have their own personality. Wyatt will be my cuddle bug, I can tell. He has beautiful almond shaped eyes that are blue with a hint of green in them and the longest eyelashes I have ever seen on a newborn. Zoe has no problem letting you know what she wants and has the brightest blue eyes that can melt your heart or stare you down (I have no idea where she gets that from either).

We're waiting for the results of Wyatt's cardiac tests, which should be available tomorrow. His cord tests came back positive for Down syndrome in all samples; we won't know the extent of his delays (if any) until we get there as well. It is what it is.

How are we doing? Quinn is on cloud nine about his new brother and sister. It hits Sean and I once in a while and I have at least one good cry daily and tear up frequently. I love my son dearly; that doesn't mean that I would ever have asked this for him. The grieving process is normal thing... I just have to let it happen (which, as you know, I'm not very good at). I am trying to go with the flow. It's hard, but I have to do it. I have to heal. That too, is what it is.

I am happy to note that neither of them has ever needed oxygen. They came off their IV's two days ago and just have their monitoring leads and NG tubes. Wyatt was moved to a crib yesterday; Zoe will need to stay in her isolette until she grows a bit. Wyatt has shown no signs of jaundice, while Zoe had two days at the spa, basking under the UV lamp (she hated it, BTW). Both are doing very well and are very healthy for preemies.

Both Sean and I would like to thank our friends and family for the tremendous support we have received over the last little while. From a few well placed words of support to looking after Quinn to making sure we remember to eat and sleep, it is all very much appreciated. The next little while is going to be rough, but it helps knowing that you are out there.

We'll keep you posted.

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